Stoke & Staffordshire

Heath Hayes graveyard 'inaccessible' to mourners

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Media captionFamilies say they have been forced to tend the graves themselves

Overgrown grass is preventing people visiting the graves of loved ones in Staffordshire.

Paths have been covered and memorials hidden by the long grass at St John's Church in Heath Hayes, near Cannock.

Cannock Chase District Council said it was waiting to take over the maintenance of the graveyard in August.

Maxine Barber, whose mother, sister, brother and grandparents are buried at the site, said she was "distraught" at the situation.

Image caption The grass cannot be cut until August, Cannock Chase Council has said

Ms Barber said she had started doing some of the work herself, including building a new fence.

A district council spokeswoman said the council was taking over the maintenance from the church.

"There is a complicated procedure for transferring responsibility for the grounds maintenance of a closed graveyard, involving parochial church council, parish council and district council," she said.

"St John's Church acted properly in passing on responsibility for maintenance of the graveyard in 2011/12, but the transfer process has taken longer than usual.

"We are now working urgently to complete the process of adopting the graveyard and identifying appropriate budgetary provision to undertake the grounds maintenance work on an ongoing basis."

A report is due to go before the council's cabinet in July to seek formal adoption of the graveyard.

Image caption Families said it was a struggle to reach the graves of their loved ones

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