Debate over damage to Louth graves: are vandals to blame?

Eric Barton blames vandals for the damage caused to the metal flower pot at his mother's grave.
Eric Barton blames vandals for the damage caused to the metal flower pot at his mother's grave.

A man has branded suspected vandals as “scum” after a metal flower pot at his mother’s grave in Louth’s London Road Cemetery was cut in half.

Former Louth man Eric Barton, 60, said that if it was an act of vandalism, then those responsible for the damage were the “lowest of the low”. Police say that damage has been found in the cemetery for some weeks.

The top of the metal flower pot at Eric’s mother’s grave was found in the grass nearby, cut in half, and Mr Barton was horrified to discover that similar damage had been inflicted upon a number of other graves nearby.

Mr Barton said: “These people have no respect for others. Maybe one day they’ll lose somebody close to them and they will realise what they’ve done.

“I can’t understand it. Louth seems to be a nice place with a tight-knit community, but if this is happening then something has clearly gone wrong.

“I’ve bumped into one or two other people who have been affected by the damage, and they’re all unhappy. We can’t believe it, people have been laid to rest there.”

Mr Barton said that the PCSO he spoke to said that they could have been accidentally damaged by a lawn mower, having been blown off the grave in the wind - a claim supported by Louth Town Council, which maintains the cemetery.

Mr Barton said: “If that was the case, then why not stop and pick them up?

“I can’t see it being a lawn mower because it’s a straight cut - surely a lawn mower would just chew it up.”

“Personally I’d like to see security cameras put up in the cemetery to stop this from happening again.”

Wolds Community Policing Inspector, Terry Ball, said: “It has been reported to us that there has been an incident of damage to the aluminium flower pots on a grave or graves in Louth London Road Cemetery.

“As a response to this, PCSO Ian Porter has attended the cemetery on a number of occasions and is liaising with Louth Town Council and the person reporting.

“Although Louth Town Council do not identify any incidents of damage or anti-social behaviour, the issue of damage - however minor - and disrespect to such a place is unacceptable.

“We will continue our patrols at random times in this area and will deal severely with anyone found acting with disrespect to the departed.

“This is an emotive subject and we ask for your assistance. If you see or hear of anyone messing about in the cemetery please contact PCSO Porter on 101.”

Louth Town Clerk Linda Blankley, however, maintained that the damage was accidental rather than an act of vandalism.

Speaking on Tuesday August 19, Mrs Blankley said: “I have had the opportunity to meet with Mr Barton this morning at the cemetery and, as I was only made aware of the issue late Monday afternoon by the PCSO carrying out the investigation, I had no prior knowledge of the issue.

“After visiting the grave and area of the cemetery in question, I am quite confident that the wind is the culprit on this occasion.

“It is a common occurrence that the lightweight aluminium vase tops are carried by the wind, particularly when flowers have dried out.

“The vase tops are not always easy to spot when our contractors carry out the grass cutting and there is clear evidence that the top in question has been sliced by the mower blades.

“Mr Barton was very happy with this explanation and the replacement top that we provided for him and made a suggestion of having a central repository for misplaced vase tops that visitors can help themselves to if they become victims themselves, which we are happy to provide.

“I have received no other reports of vandalism within the cemetery but would encourage any concerned visitors to contact myself and I would be happy to meet anybody on site to discuss any issues that they may have.”