Complaints about the state of Dereham cemetery from relatives of people buried there have been rejected by a town councillor who said it does a “brilliant job”.

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Issues included headstones covered with grass cuttings, fallen leaves not being removed during the winter, uneven pathways and leaf stains on memorials.

One complainant, AE Arnold of Wayland Close, Attleborough, wrote: “It seems the powers-that-be have no respect for the dead or their relatives left to see the appalling state in which their loved ones are buried.”

However, the town council has hit back, saying the graveyard is in a better state than many others, the grass is cut weekly, and plot owners are responsible for the upkeep of memorial stones themselves.

Robert Hambidge, chairman of the social and welfare committee, inspected the cemetery yesterday, and said he could not understand criticism of the site, which has had just over 10,000 burials since 1859.

He said: “I’m sorry but is this not a beautiful, tranquil place to be? I have absolutely no idea where it’s coming from. Maybe they should visit a few other cemeteries and then maybe they will realise how well looked after this cemetery is. We do more than a pretty good job. We do a brilliant job.”

He said minor damage to some footpaths was caused by tree roots, and the cemetery would be much worse off without the trees.

Town clerk Tony Needham said: “It’s people’s expectations of what we do. We keep the grounds nice but the headstones are the responsibility of the people who own them.”

The cemetery has about three year’s of burial space left before a new one is opened near the football ground.

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