Resident campaigns for disabled access footpath at cemetery

The west side of Walstead Cemetery. Picture: Colin Lucas
The west side of Walstead Cemetery. Picture: Colin Lucas

A Lindfield resident is campaigning to have a footpath for disabled access laid at the west side of Walstead Cemetery.

Colin Lucas said: “In late 2016 my father sadly passed away. Since then my family visits and tends his grave at the west side of Walstead Cemetery.

The east side of the cemetery where a footpath was laid. Picture: Colin Lucas

The east side of the cemetery where a footpath was laid. Picture: Colin Lucas

“As with the majority of later plots this is at the bottom end of the cemetery and furthest from the parking area.

“Two of our family have mobility issues. Due to the uneven nature and slope of the cemetery ground this requires the use of a wheelchair and a strong able-bodied person to ferry us to my father’s grave. This can be nerve-racking.

“After speaking with funeral directors they confirmed that people attending burial services have commented on access issues.

“In some cases those in wheelchairs or with mobility issues have had to stay at the top of the cemetery while the burial service takes place.

“During 2017 provision for disabled access for the east side of the cemetery was addressed when a footpath was laid.

“With this in mind I contacted Lindfield Rural Parish Council and asked them to consider laying a similar path for the west side of the cemetery as this would benefit wheelchair users and those with limited mobility but this was rejected.”

Vera Grainger, clerk to Lindfield Rural Parish Council, responded to Mr Lucas’ concerns and said: “Walstead cemetery was first laid out in the 1850s. In the centre there is an area of grassland which is in fact an area of unmarked graves.

“It is also an area which supports the growth of protected wild flower species such as wild orchid.

“The council recently constructed a path to the Remembrance Garden. Itwas able to do this because it had a grant of funds to assist with the costs and was able to construct the path wiithout encroaching on any grave site.

“It is in the process of digitally mapping the site to locate the unmarked graves and has undertaken a CCTV survey of drainage pipes in order to establish where excavations for a path may be constructed.

“The council recently considered two proposals for a path way. These were rejected because they were not viewed as a solution to this particular issue. It is considering alternative solutions.

“The council has a Registrar at P&S Gallagher funeral directors. It gets feed back on a regular basis. Our understanding is that people choose Walstead as it is a rural cemetery.

“The council is always pleased to answer questions from residents at any of our meetings.”

To sign Mr Lucas’ petition, click here.