It certainly appears that Mendip District Council is determined to ruin our Shepton Mallet Cemetery.
We all realise that more interment space is required, but we are also aware of an easier and more efficient way forward. The land adjacent to the cemetery has been offered for any necessary extension, similar to one carried out several years ago.
It therefore beggars belief that Mendip is considering allowing at least 500 HGV lorry movements, each weighing about 32 tons and carrying soil with which to raise the central section by about two metres, allowing single burials in existing graves.
This would require the removal of existing gravestones and trees which are more than 100 years old. It would also require the removal of the gates and pillars, and the introduction of a traffic light system in Waterloo Road, which will inevitably create serious traffic problems. The bridge spanning Cowl Street, being the only access into the cemetery, was originally constructed for pony and trap traffic more than a century ago and was under repair several years ago.
At that time I was advised by a county officer that a five to seven-and-a-half ton weight restriction should be applied. So, to allow these 32-ton HGVs could spell disaster, certainly for the residents of Cowl Street.
The 16ft wall supporting the driveway and to the rear of Silk Close could be in danger of collapse due to the continuous leakage of water into the garden areas. The driveway, paths and turning areas would be severely damaged owing to the continuous movement of these lorries. In view of this, surely visits to the cemetery by relatives would be severely restricted under health and safety regulations.
I am in receipt of a copy of a letter from a Mendip District Council officer who states: "We have now made contact with the owner of The Meadows and will be investigating the adjacent land. I agree this would be an easier and probably the cheaper solution if the land is suitable".
When one considers that most of the cemetery was part of The Meadows years ago, surely it is a problem solved.
I only hope common sense will prevail.
Colin F Lockey
On November 6, I attended the cabinet meeting of Mendip District Council.
On the agenda was the proposed work at Shepton Mallet Cemetery whereby "free" soil (nothing is ever free in this life) is intended for use to cover a large area of existing graves.
Where is this free soil coming from? Not Bridgwater, I hope. Although it was said tests would be done to make sure it was good to use, who pays for that?
It was proposed that large lorries would bring the soil in, which would be some 500 deliveries. They now say they are going to use smaller lorries, so more deliveries, over a very old bridge built for horse and cart.
Traffic lights will be installed in Waterloo Road, causing access problems for people wishing to visit the graves of loved ones, over quite a long period.
Already they have existing flooding problems, experienced by residents in Silk Close. Could they be sure that graves in the lawn section would not become flooded, as a very large yew tree is for the chop, which must take up a lot of water?
We believe that adjoining landing to the cemetery (The Meadows) could be purchased. Would it, in the end, be a cheaper and more practical solution?