Disabled woman calls for town cemetery gates to be re-opened


Staff reporter (Border Counties)

FRESH calls are being made for the gates to Oswestry Cemetery to be opened to the public.
Some elderly and disabled people are now unable to visit the graves of their loved ones because they cannot manage the distance from the gates to the burial ground on foot.
The gates were closed to cars nearly a year ago.
Seventy-eight-year-old Kathleen Oliver, of Whitefriars, Oswestry, revealed she has been unable to visit the graves of her first husband and her son since last Spring.
“It’s really getting me down now,” she said.
“I’ve been holding off to see if the council would change their mind but their birthdays are coming up, and the anniversary of when they died, and I’m not going to be able to go and see their graves
“Both me and my husband are disabled and we don’t have any children to help us visit.
“We had to ask a neighbour to go and lay a wreath for us at Christmas,” she added.
Mrs Oliver, who suffers from arthritis of the spine, says there are many more people in the same position who are simply no longer able to visit the cemetery at all.
Oswestry Town Council took the decision to prohibit vehicular access to the cemetery, other than for funerals, over health and safety concerns for pedestrians and damage to verges and graves caused by visiting cars.
But Terwyn Jones, who is now unable to visit his first wife’s grave as often as he would like claims the decision is “discriminating against the old and disabled people”.
“It feels like it’s their way or the highway,” the 78-year-old said.
“People are allowed in if there’s a funeral but a mourner is a mourner whether it’s at the time or after,” he added.
David Preston, clerk to Oswestry Town Council, said visiting cars had previously caused the delay of a funeral but the authority was trying to come up with a solution to suit everyone and had consulted disability groups for advice.
He said: “We have been looking at a number of options to improve access from Victoria Road but we have been frustrated in this.”
Mayor of Oswestry, Councillor Chris Schofield said the decision to close the gates was not taken lightly and added: “This is a very difficult issue for the council.
“We’re very sensitive to the local concerns that exist but we have to be mindful of ensuring the safety of visitors to the cemetery, everyone employed on the site and representatives of the funeral profession,” he added.

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