By Ian Dipple Tuesday 11 September 2012 Updated: 13/09 16:16
EXTRA hours are being put in by borough council staff to overhaul a town cemetery after the wettest summer for more than a century delayed essential maintenance work.
Workers have been unable to dig graves and mow grass during the summer months because the ground has been too wet which has led to a backlog of work needing to be carried out and complaints from residents about the state of the Plymouth Road cemetery.
The problem has been added to as the wet conditions and warm temperatures have led to grass growing quicker and thicker.
The Standard reported in July how residents had hit out at the council for allowing grass to overgrow around war graves in the cemetery.
The recent spell of dry weather has allowed landscaping staff to catch up on the backlog they are putting in overtime to help rectify the short-term overgrowth problem.
The cemetery has now been mown and will be done fortnightly until mid-October, path edges have been strimmed, weeds killed and the wildlife area at the front of the cemetery is due to be mowed.
A long-term maintenance and management plan has also been drawn up for the cemetery and a map of maintenance schedules and specific wildflower areas is being prepared and will be introduced from next April.
A bid is also set to be submitted for money from the council's capital fund for next year to make repairs to the cemetery's paths and some damaged headstones.
Coun Debbie Taylor, responsible for local environment on the council, apologised to residents for the lack of maintenance over the summer.
"I became aware of problems at the cemetery earlier in the summer and now with the improved weather we have been able to start the extensive landscaping work as part of a revised long-term maintenance plan," she said.
"We have organised a few more hands to the pump and so we should soon have the site back to top condition. I hope residents will see a real improvement."
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