FAMILY members with relatives buried at Mossley Cemetery are campaigning to improve conditions of the burial grounds.
More than 40 people attended a public meeting last month to highlight their concerns and raise their issues with Tameside Council.
They intend to keep up the pressure with another meeting planned for next month.
Mourners visiting the Cemetery Road extension site in Micklehurst, which opened in 1974, have contacted the Correspondent to complain about the muddy and boggy conditions of the ground.
Recent heavy rain and snow falls have exacerbated the problem, notably at the smaller of the two burial grounds.
Mourners and others coming to pay their respects or lay flowers at the graves have complained about constant swampy conditions underfoot.
In the main Victorian built cemetery, conditions are better but the Correspondent found parts of the steep and undulating circular path slippy and slimy.
“People shouldn’t have to put up with such conditions,” said one resident who has family in the cemetery.
“We know all about the flooding problems experienced in Micklehurst recently and this is another example.
“It shows the extent of the feeling something needs to be done when so many people turn out for a meeting organised at short notice.”
Tafheen Sharif, one of three Mossley councillors on Tameside Council, attended the public meeting and is hoping to address residents’ concerns.
“The poor ground conditions at the extension go back many years to 1974 when it was first opened,” explained Cllr Sharif.
“Since then, many friends and families of loved ones have had to endure a lot of inconvenience and distress at what is meant to be a simple and peaceful visit.
“Some of the experiences families have spoken about have been heart breaking, and although it is historical I felt like something needed to be done.
“We held a meeting’ at the end of January to gain a better understanding of the issues and history, to share knowledge and expertise, and to help formulate the way forward.
“Together we have come up with over a dozen actions, one of which is for me to write to Tameside Council with the concerns and a suggested way forward.
“It may be that drainage needs to be re-considered but families really need a long term solution.
“Tameside Council have responded immediately and have offered to meet with me at the Cemetery to look at the problem and explore possible solutions.
“Through our joint efforts I am hopeful that we will be able to achieve some positive outcomes.”
A TMBC spokesperson said:”Cemeteries across the UK are experiencing issues because of unprecedented rainfall over the last few years.
“Not only are levels higher than they have ever been during winter, but they are consistently high in summer, too. That means the ground doesn’t get chance to dry out.”
Many cemeteries have had to stop burials due to the water conditions. Tameside Council has never been in this situation and does not envisage it ever will be.”
“The area affected at Mossley is only in the extension, not in the old part of the cemetery, and only a few graves affected. Over the last two years we have only had one official complaint. “
Mossley Cemetery opened in 1877 and was extended in 1974. Additional drainage was added in 1994 and 2003.
The ground within Mossley Cemetery Extension is made up of very thick clay, particularly in the first few feet of the ground.
This results in surface water taking much longer to soak away. Boards are put down wherever possible to protect the ground and surrounding graves. However, they were subsequently removed as being too slippery.
Engineers are aware of some of the gullies are blocked at the end of Princess Close and are assessing the area to see what can be done to clear them.
There are approximately 600 graves with around 80 plots left which would be enough for several years as burial rates are continually falling.
The next meeting of the working group is Tuesday, March 27 at 6pm (for a 6.15pm start) at the Britannia Inn, Manchester Road, Mossley.