Belle Isle: Joy as security fencing work starts at Hunslet Cemetery

Hunslet cemetery campaigners
Some of the Hunslet Cemetery campaigners with Cllr Kim Groves (second right) as work starts ona new security fence today. Photograph: John Baron/

Work has today started on introducing security fencing around vandal-hit Hunslet Cemetery following a hard fought three-year campaign by local residents.

hunslet cemetery work
Diggers moving in to help make Hunslet cemetery a safer place

Hunslet Cemetery is one of the oldest municipal cemeteries in the country but has been blighted by vandalism, thefts from graves, anti-social behaviour and dog fouling.

And this afternoon campaigners who have fought for better security measures gathered at the site to see work start on substantial new security fencing to deter vandals.

There were hugs and congratulations as a small group of members of the Friends of Hunslet Cemetery Group, who also help keep the cemetery clean and tidy, attended a press photocall to mark the occasion.

Middleton Park councillor Kim Groves said the fencing would improve safety and security by replacing a hedge which currently goes along the perimeter and paid tribute to the campaigners. She said:

“We have come a long way. These people have campaigned tirelessly for the security fencing, which is a significant investment from the council.

“Thanks to their efforts they have helped reduce the problems in the cemetery. They’ve stood up to people in the community who they knew were causing problems. They have been the difference and I’m so proud of them.”

Campaigner Gaynor Purvis said:

“We managed to secure an extra police presence when the problems were at their peak. Thefts are still ongoing but it’s not as bad as it was. I hope replacing the hedge with a fence will make it more secure, but also more open and people will be able to keep an eye on it.”

One of the campaigners, Dawn Horkan, who has a relative buried at the cemetery, said she had become so ‘sick’ of vandalism, thefts and other anti-social behaviour in the cemetery that she decided to do something about it. Dawn had previously confronted local perpetrators and threatened to ‘name and shame’ them.

South Leeds Life understands the package of improvements also includes some work in the older cemetery – and there are also plans to set up a local history group to help record the cemetery’s rich history and importance.

Cllr Groves also paid tribute to the efforts of her fellow Middleton Park ward councillors Judith Blake and Paul Truswell, and neighbouring City and Hunslet ward councillors Elizabeth Nash, Mohammed Iqbal and Patrick Davey who had also contributed financially to the work.

The Friends of Hunslet Cemetery group has a lively Facebook group with over 1,100 members.

8 Replies to “Belle Isle: Joy as security fencing work starts at Hunslet Cemetery”

  1. Can put a fence up yet they take down headstones and put them back in the wrong plot! My great auntie and uncle are in unmarked graves because the registered next of kin don’t care! Neither do the groundskeepers!

    1. groundskeepers dont take headstones down and replace them, if they have to do anything with a headstone it would be for safety reasons only, and that would be to lay it flat nearby tp prevent some kid from being crushed underneath if it had beome loose, who ever bought the plot that owns the deeds is responsible for the headstones securely placed in the grave, the groundskeepers keep the area clean, tidy and safe, if u have relatives with wrong headstones in place that,ll be more than likely vandals doing it, and this is one of the many reasons we campaigned for a fence putting up so the fence will benefit your family as well as ours,

  2. whats a waste of tax payers money,,,, have you got a relative in this cemetery or any cemetery and is your families graves getting trashed and things robbed from them, cos you might not be so quick to moan about tax payers money if ur families graves were getting the same done to them as what r families r

    1. Yes I have got relatives in this cemetery, but it doesn’t take a genius to realise that putting a fence around a cemetery that has it’s gates open all day long isn’t going to keep people out. Yobs and thieves won’t think twice about climbing over the fence or gates when it’s locked up at night either. Unfortunately the cemetery is in an area where crime and anti-social behaviour is widespread. While ever there are items worth stealing in there they will be stolen, fence or no fence. Sad but true.

  3. its not a waste of money at all, at the moment the gaps in hedges are all around the cemetery and kids go thru quiite often and damage graves graffiti graves and its adults that have been stealing from graves mainly and with so many exit routes out they have an easy escape, with a metal fence up and gates that limits escape routes to just 2 and one is thru the churchyard where a family lives and will deter people from pinching and walking past there house where they are at risk of getting caught the other exit is straight onto middleton road wide open for cars passing and in view of all the houses directly opposite, whilst locked at night the risk of climbing over on a main road will allow them to be seen by traffic and neighbours who will know there up to no good and report them, it will also stop people walking dogs in there and allowing there dogs to use peoples graves for toilets, which they do at present and the council pay to keep the hedges neatly groomed in the summer which will save them money, and with a metal fence people can be seen in the cemetery at all times from the road which will deter many incidents and our graves will be safer

    1. I regularly visit my relatives graves at night after work when the gates are locked. I just climb over them. Nobody has ever challenged me or reported me.

      How do you know that it’s adults that have been stealing from graves? I’m not aware of any successful convictions or even arrests for that matter?… I do know that on the Facebook group there have been instances of people being seen acting suspiciously and have been followed by group members etc. but this only reiterates my point that they were there during the day when the gates were wide open, making the fence a bit of a moot point.

      One of the biggest disappointments for me personally is that sitting in the cemetery used to be peaceful and relatively private. When the see through fence is installed it will expose all the goings on around the outside of the cemetery, such as traffic and passers-by, which will spoil the serenity of the place.

      Anyway, it seems that what’s done is done and we’re getting a new fence. In my opinion it’s just another example of councillors throwing a load of money at a pointless project in an attempt to secure a thousand or so votes the next time the local elections come around. Call me cynical but I’ve been around the block a few times and know how it works.

  4. simon why do you climb over the gates when theres gaps all rd to cut thru, hunslet cemetery has probably been outdated for many years with the hedges, as the older one aross the rd has always had fencing, this fence is almost done and what a tidier place the area looks already, in spite of your cynical opinions, leaflets were posted in houses directly opposite the cemetery and the public facebook group is the place to put your opinions or was should i say had you been for or against the fence, why did you not state your waste of money back then, one of the groups admin found a house full of items from graves including items from her families graves and there was a prosecution, there was a prosecution too for youths found defacing graves with grafiti, cleaning up day where these youths had to clean there art work up. had you had any major interest you,d know all this, but 1 negative moaners opinion certainly does not stop what over a 1,000 people wanted, and councillor groves lives in the area, and shes definately got my vote, ps. the cemetery has opening and closing times if you cannot make it during those times due to work when do you get chance to sit in the cemetery in the peaceful private surroundings, seems your just one moaner out of a minority and after closing times are you not tresspassing, and if i saw som eone climbing over id think this was rather suspicious and id let the police confront you

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