Harrogate Borough Council accused of ‘disrespecting Ripon’s dead’


Last updated Jun 10, 2021
From the left: Pat Park, Lilly-May Williams, Tina Ward, cllr Pauline McHardy and Rita Stuart, all have relatives buried at the cemetery

Harrogate Borough Council (HBC) has been accused of ‘disrespecting the dead of Ripon’ and causing ‘distress’ to their relatives and friends.

People visiting the city’s cemetery on Kirkby Road this week spoke of their ‘distress and disgust.’

They are concerned about unmown grass that has grown to a height that makes finding and visiting graves difficult.

In some areas of the cemetery, overhanging trees and hedges completely obscure rows of graves.

Ripon City Council leader Andrew Williams, who has generations of his own family buried at the cemetery, told the Stray Ferret:

“The very limited maintenance of the grounds, perimeter hedges and trees is disrespectful of those who have their last resting place here.

“Visiting the graves of loved ones should provide consolation and help those who grieve, but instead of finding this peace, the state of the cemetery adds to their distress.”

Pictured above is the last headstone visible in a line of graves engulfed by an overgrown perimeter hedge

Rita Stuart, whose husband Robert died in February, was visiting to place flowers. She said:

“I feel as though the council doesn’t care.”

Tina Ward regularly visits the cemetery to pay her respects to family and friends who have passed. She pointed out:

“For many years this used to be a peaceful and well-kept place, with a man who looked after it living in a house within the grounds.

“Now, there is no proper care and It has descended into this disgusting condition.”

Pat Park, whose parents and sister are buried at the cemetery, added:

“Many of the people who visit are elderly and have limited mobility.

“The length of the grass makes visiting the graves very difficult, if not impossible.”

A grave completely obscured by a tree that has not been trimmed

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Recently the council has been accused of not doing enough at another cemetery in Knaresborough where areas of the graveyard were overgrown. 

In responding to the concerns an HBC spokesperson, said:

“Visitors to several of the cemeteries across the district may start to notice that some areas are being left to grow and not mown.

“We want to encourage biodiversity so are working with parish councils to leave specific areas to grow, attract pollinators and create habitats

“We have a regular programme of work, across all of the district’s cemeteries that we manage, and when specific issues are raised we will work to address these and carry out any required maintenance.

“We will of course continue to mow the grass along pathways and around gravestones so that mourners can pay their respects to their loved ones.”

Independent city and Harrogate district councillor Pauline McHardy has family members, friends and former nursing colleagues buried at the cemetery.

She said:

“There has been no consultation with Ripon City Council about plans for ‘re-wilding.’

“It’s clear to me that this is an excuse for cutting costs, instead of cutting the grass and trimming hedges and bushes.

“This is a cemetery, not a nature reserve.”


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