A COUNCILLOR in charge of cemeteries refuses to improve security and makes a joke of recent vandalism at Chadwell St Mary cemetery claims a Labour councillor.
Wednesday’s full council meeting saw Chadwell St Mary Labour Councillor Sara Muldowney ask for improvements in security at the borough’s cemeteries following a shocking act of vandalism at her local cemetery, which saw many graves desecrated and stripped of mementos and keepsakes.
After the meeting, Cllr Muldowney said: “I came to council at the request of residents to ask the Portfolio Holder to improve the security at the borough’s cemeteries in light of the awful incident at Chadwell cemetery a couple of weeks ago.”
“My initial request to him was for the council to start locking the cemetery gates after dark as a deterrent. I know from my enquiries that stopping this practice was partly a cost saving measure on the part of the council, to save on overtime pay, and felt this was a false economy.”
“We had heard in response to an earlier questions how nearly £110,000 had been spent on the waste bring sites during the bin strikes, and part of that cost was hiring security to watch the gates at night. Compared to that I thought that asking for the gates to be closed after dark was a reasonable request from residents. The culprits who desecrated graves in Chadwell cemetery have not been caught and the police have nothing to go on because there are is no CCTV or night security like there was for the waste sites.”
“Not only did Cllr Jefferies refuse to make any improvements to security or meet with me to see what else could be done to protect the burial places of the borough’s loved ones, he then made a joke out of the whole incident, while his Conservative colleagues laughed and cheered him on.”
“I am so upset for residents with loved ones in the cemetery. One resident wrote to me this week to say that she didn’t feel that the council understood what it is like to have your loved ones’ resting place desecrated, and the Conservative Portfolio Holoder certainly proved her right on Wednesday.”
“I am utterly appalled by Cllr Jefferies’ attitude and that of his Conservative colleagues. Keeping our cemeteries safe and secure is not a political issue, and what happened is not a laughing matter. This adminstration can afford to hire security to watch the gates at waste sites, but not to pay a bit of overtime for someone to lock the cemetery gates after dark, so the borough’s loved ones can rest in peace. I think that he should apologise unreservedly to Thurrock residents for his appalling behaviour and immediately implement some of the actions I have suggested to improve security.