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Last Updated: Wednesday, 26 October 2005, 05:48 GMT 06:48 UK
War grave access 'unacceptable'
Llanbeblig church yard
Jim Rowlands finds one of the graves in the overgrown church yard.
Overgrown graveyards are making access to war graves precarious, according to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC).

Llanbeblig Church in Caernarfon is among 17 cemeteries for war dead which the CWGC said is "unacceptable".

Although the body said it pays to have the war graves tended, overgrowth around them makes access difficult, particularly for elderly people.

One rector said measures were also needed to deter vandals.

Some of the cemeteries highlighted by the CWGC are still open but others are now closed such as the churchyard around Llanbeblig church - which accommodates 31 war graves.

STATE OF WAR GRAVES
10,964 are of an "acceptable" standard
146 are "improving"
749 are "declining"
118 are "unacceptable"
Source: Comm War Graves Commission, figures for UK, Rep of Ire and Iceland

Jim Rowlands, of the local branch of the Comrades of the Royal Welch Fusiliers, said: "The branch want proper access to these graves, especially as it is nearly Armistice Day. There is no way older people would be able to get to them."

The rector Rev Roger Donaldson, who looks after 11 different churches in the Caernarfon area, accepts that Llanbeblig church has overall responsibility for the churchyard.

"There is a 1,000 grant from the local council each year to clear the site, and we need volunteers to help us with this work," he said.

"But after the site is cleared the area will be open to vandalism, and we might have to look at putting a CCTV camera on the church tower.

"We accept that it is our responsibility, and we are open to suggestions of how we can move forward."

'Meagreness'

The CWGC has an overall interest in preserving the graves of men and women from the two world wars, including those who died of their injuries back home from the front line.

"The situation in Wales is no worse or better than anywhere else," said UK director David Symons.

"A lot is are being done to improve things, but in the end it is down to pounds, shillings and pence," he added.

When a churchyard is declared or redundant in England, its care is transferred to the local council but in Wales it remains the responsibility of the Church in Wales.

A church spokesman said: "The meagreness of our resources, in this context, means that it is often the case that churchyards are not maintained to the standard which we'd want.

"We are presently lobbying the national assembly and the Home Office in London with the goal of seeing Wales being treated on a basis of equality in this regard."




SEE ALSO:
War memorial and graves damaged
20 Oct 05 |  Humber
Mourners want cemetery clean-up
07 Sep 04 |  Leicestershire


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