Grave error causes heartache

DISGRACEFUL: Ab Privett standing in front of the six graves in the Methodist section of the Lawn Cemetery that were damaged when council staff drove a three tonne excavator over the top of them. WORLD War Two Veteran Ab Privett was devastated last weekend when he discovered his late wife Nancye’s grave had been desecrated, along with six others in the Methodist section of the Lawn Cemetery.
Nanjing Night Net

Mr Privett lives in Sydney but travels back to Goulburn each weekend to visit his partner’s final resting place and replace the flowers. However, when he made his last visit he discovered that the grass on top of her grave had been removed and the top soil had been depressed by five or six inches.

The damage was done when Council staff drove a three tonne excavator over the area to dig a grave in an adjacent row. Mr Privett worked in the engineering industry for 25 years, as a senior member of staff for both Civil and Civic and the Land Lease Corporation, and was incensed by the incident, saying it ultimately came down to the poor design of the cemetery.

“It’s not just me who has been affected but everybody (who has loved ones buried) along here,” he said.

“It is a bloody disgrace. Council has made a mistake by not allowing access to the plinths that run North West… it has been badly designed and those plinths have been incorrectly placed.”

Mr Privett also feared that similar incidents would continue to occur across the entire section until the 18 remaining graves in the adjacent row had been dug.

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He said it wasn’t just the north western plinths in the Methodist section that required machines to travel over the top of existing graves but every plot in the lawn cemetery.

With narrow rows, plots being presold and the unpredictable nature of mortality, staff never actually know where they will need to dig next. They are also not allowed to dig graves by hand for OH&S reasons.

In this particular case, Mr Cooper said mats had been put down to minimise the impact on the ground but that the wet weather conditions had caused more damage than expected.

“We don’t want to interfere with graves,” he said.

“Council spends a lot of money keeping that cemetery up to a certain standard. Unfortunately, in this particular case, due to the weather conditions, the ground was damaged and we’re now undertaking our standard rehabilitation to bring the surface back to an acceptable standard.”

He said this would involve redressing the top soil and reseeding the area. However, this process will take months because it is currently out of season. Mr Privett wants to see the entire area restored immediately. He described the constant damage and restoration as a waste of ratepayers’ money, caused by a poor design. Council did not issue an apology.

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