People are being urged by Hartlepool Borough Council to respect the town’s Stranton Cemetery as part of a new campaign.
The campaign has been launched in response to complaints about a range of issues, including the theft of memorial items from graves, irresponsible dog ownership, unauthorised vehicle access and inconsiderate parking.
It signals the start of a wider piece of work by the council to look at a range of possible improvements to the cemetery.
Coun Christopher Akers-Belcher, leader of the council, said: “The council works hard to maintain the cemetery as a special place where families and individuals can go in peace to grieve for their loved ones.
“The majority of people support us, but there is a minority whose inappropriate behaviour causes significant problems.”
Coun Marjorie James, chair of the neighbourhood services committee, said one of the major problems was people parking their cars on graves.
She said: “Some people refuse to walk even a few yards when visiting graves and they have even been known to park their cars on adjacent graves.
“That is really appalling.
“I would strongly urge people to consider whether they actually need to drive into the cemetery.
“If they don’t they should park in either of the car parks at Inspirations Coffee House and Garden Centre or adjacent to the cemetery’s Brierton Lane entrance and walk in.
“I accept that may not be possible for some people with genuine mobility problems but they should always drive through the cemetery with the utmost care and always park considerately.
“I would also stress that the cemetery should never be used as a shortcut from one part of the town to another.
“In addition, visiting a loved one’s grave and finding the area – including the actual grave - covered in dog mess must be heartbreaking.”
Stranton Cemetery is covered by a dog control order that stipulates that dogs must always be kept on a lead.
Coun Akers-Belcher added: “It is the responsibility of all owners to ensure that they clean up after their dogs.
“They can use the dog dirt bins within the cemetery or take their waste home for disposal.”
Dog owners who fail to co-operate run the risk of receiving an £80 fixed penalty notice from council civil enforcement officers on patrol.