Survey work starts at Hartlepool cemetery in bid to stop floods leaving graves under water

Waterlogged graves in Stranton Cemetery. Picture by FRANK REID
Waterlogged graves in Stranton Cemetery. Picture by FRANK REID

A council chief says survey work has begun to solve distressing flooding in one of Hartlepool’s biggest cemeteries.

Heavy rain in March, following on from the biggest snowfall in years, meant much of Stranton Cemetery was left covered in large pools of standing water and relatives unable to reach the graves of loved ones.

Councillor Dave Hunter, who is chair of Harlepool Borough Council’s Neighbourhood Services Committee, gave an update of the work underway to address the issue.

He said surveys of the ground are being done to establish what direction the water flows in.

A trial is also underway to decide the best type of drains to use.

Speaking on Facebook, Coun Hunter said: “As you know this is something I have been pushing/pursuing for a while, and something as dear to me as a number of you.

“Topological surveys are being carried out to identify the direction of the water when it rains.

“Also a trial is underway to look at the effectiveness of vertical drains.

“It is a long journey with no overnight fix, but hopefully between us we will see the fruits, and deliver to our loved ones a comfortable place of respect as they sleep.”

Members of the council’s Neighbourhood Services Committee expressed concerns at the flooding at its last meeting and asked for all councillors to be kept up to date about progress.

Coun Marjorie James said she, like many others in the community, had relatives in the cemetery who “spend nine months of the year under water”.

Tony Hanson, assistant director for environment and neighbourhood services said at the meeting: “We do have sympathy with people that have relatives in that cemetery.

“It is important to reassure people that we are looking at this, we accept we need to look into it in more detail to find a solution and the cost involved. “We appreciate it is a very sensitive issue and the inconvenience it causes.”

Council leader Christopher Akers-Belcher previously said almost all councillors had received complaints of the issue.

Cemetery users expressed their feelings via the Mail’s Facebook page.

Janet Marie Alton said: “It’s horrendous when you go to visit your loved ones. Something needs to get done quickly.”

Rachael Bird said: “I have to quickly go put flowers on and quickly get off, it’s like a swimming pool.

“The water comes up to your ankles.”

And Chris Leslie commented: “It has been like this for years but getting worse every year.”