A STOLEN vehicle smashing into a garden of rest causing thousands of pounds worth of damage to memorials is one of the reasons the council is considering closing two Merthyr Tydfil cemeteries to vehicles at night.
The council is considering preventing access to Cefn Coed and Pant cemeteries for vehicles at night because of anti-social behaviour and fly-tipping incidents as well.
A report to the full council on Wednesday, March 3 said that as a result of previous efficiency savings, cemetery gates throughout the county borough have been left open.
It said that since cemetery gates have been left open “there have been numerous public concerns raised through various channels, ie. local councillor representation, derogatory comments on social media, as well as receipt of a petition with over 500 signatures requesting that the gates be locked at night.”
The report added that in recent months complaints have increased due to various issues.
These include anti-social behaviour, a stolen vehicle smashing into the garden of rest at Cefn Cemetery causing thousands of pounds worth of damage to memorials, and also an increase in fly-tipping within cemetery grounds.
The proposal is that a budget is made available for a security company to lock the gates to the cemeteries at night.
The gates at Pant Cemetery are not working fully at the moment so a bollard at each entrance will be put up at night stop vehicles from entering until the gates can be repaired.
Under the proposals from October 1 to March 31, they would open at 8 pm and close at 5 pm.
From April 1 to September 30 they would open at 8 am and close at 8 pm.
The cost of bringing in the security company would be £22,380 a year plus VAT.
The council did consider getting its own cemetery staff to lock the gates but this was deemed unfeasible due to staff being based at one cemetery and due to operational requirements and capacity to cover leave and sickness.
Standby officers, the police and fire services will all be given spare keys for the cemetery gates.
Bedlinog ward members and Merthyr Vale ward members have confirmed that they want their cemeteries at Graig Fargoed and Aberfan respectively to remain open.
Treharris ward members would like to consult the public before deciding whether or not to close Beechgrove Cemetery at night.
The report said:
“Burial grounds are sacred places and when people visit, they should feel safe in the knowledge that their loved ones have been laid to rest in a safe environment which is both tranquil and pleasing to the eye.”