Residents are being invited to contribute to a review of how cemeteries are managed – but concerns have been raised.
A new bereavement services manager at Adur and Worthing councils is carrying out what the councils called an ‘audit’ of facilities, including plots and landscaping.
As part of the work a Friends of Durrington Cemetery group has been formed, which is hoped to be fully operational next spring once the review is completed.
A meeting to discuss the remit of the group on September 25 was postponed – angering bereaved relatives who had planned to raise concerns about how the process had been handled.
Clifford Marsh’s granddaughter, Scarlett, rests in the cemetery and he has been frustrated by the council’s communication around the sensitive subject.
“This is an issue that does not require an ‘audit’ but requires care and compassion, both of which the council has not demonstrated,” he said.
“I am not against a friends group being formed if that is going to help the cemetery to be maintained in a caring and efficient way. They must draw this group not from the narrow confines of Findon Valley, but from bereaved families who have a deep and personal interest in this resting place.”
Mr Marsh said bereaved families had been left feeling ‘excluded’ by friends group.
Bereavement services manager Kate Greening said her team regularly talks to relatives and friends groups were working with council staff to contribute their ideas.
She said: “We haven’t had an audit for a while so this feels like a good time to examine whether our facilities are as good as they can be and that we are communicating clearly with relatives about what can and cannot be done with the plots and green spaces we have.
“We want to continue to ensure that the cemeteries are quiet, beautiful places of reflection, remembrance and contemplation.”