On January 9 this year the county council permanently locked the toilets at Mayfield Cemetery, Cramlington, a disaster for us oldies who walk there – especially in cold weather with nowhere else around.
Getting satisfactory answers proved time consuming but illuminating.
Q. Was this a one-off or something permanent? A. The Friends of the Cemetery requested closure, due to their use as a drink and drugs den. They would now only be open during burials and relocked immediately afterwards.
Q. When did the ‘friends’ make their request? A. Approximately October 2012.
Q. What consultation took place with ordinary visitors to the cemetery? A. None.
Q. What notice was given to ordinary visitors to the cemetery? A. None.
Q. For how long have they been used as a drink and drugs den? A. Unknown.
Q. What publicity was given to this problem? A. None.
Q. What steps were taken to warn ordinary visitors to the cemetery about this problem? A. None.
Q. What steps were taken to warn ordinary visitors to the cemetery about the possibility of coming across drug taking paraphernalia in the toilets? A. None.
Q. Other than locking the toilets what action was taken by the county council to deal with the issue? A. Police were informed and asked to make regular visits into the cemetery and staff were also made aware to be extra cautious.
Q. What keys and keyholders were there? A. This data was not specifically held.
Q. As a responsible council tax payer and regular cemetery visitor could I have a key? A. No.
Now the action was clearly taken for a good purpose but shouldn’t the visitors to the cemetery have been warned, as the staff had been, especially when many are elderly and visit alone?
If the council were told three months before then they hardly dealt with it urgently so why couldn’t they give adequate notice in the same was as they did with the request to remove Christmas wreaths?
I have been visiting the cemetery regularly since February 2006 and almost daily since February 2012 and I have never seen a uniformed police or community support officer in the cemetery.
Shouldn’t they have taken other appropriate action so as not to simply push the problem elsewhere, as I know it did?
Shouldn’t they have known how many keys there were and where they were for security and other purposes?
Isn’t this further evidence of a lack of consideration for visitors to Mayfield Cemetery, Cramlington?
Meanwhile I will have to continue to plan my two mile round trip to the cemetery very carefully.
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