Greaving relatives and cemetery staff have been left shocked and saddened by the latest spate of vandalism at a borough cemetery – which includes extensive damage in the children’s garden.
Staff at Macclesfield Cemetery were met with the sight of smashed stone plaques and vases, scattered floral tributes and a destroyed memorial tree. They are now examining how best to make the cemetery secure to prevent further incidents.
The cemetery, in Prestbury Road, is managed by Cheshire East Council’s arms-length company Orbitas and, owing to the large size, nature and location of the site, it is difficult to protect from vandals and drug users, who have been known to congregate there at night.
Last week saw evidence of vandalism on several mornings, with the extent of the damage escalating.
The latest spree included the children’s garden, where a cherub was smashed, also the large formal gardens, where flowers were ripped up and thrown around – remembrance plaques and personal items of pottery were also destroyed.
Evidence of drugs paraphernalia was found among the debris. Photographs have been taken of the extent of the vandalism but the council has chosen to release only a small number in order to avoid causing additional distress to families.
One image shows spring daffodils strewn along a pathway, another a dedicated buckled. Others show smashed stone plaques and vases.
Cheshire Police are investigating the latest incident.
Councillor Don Stockton, Cheshire East Council cabinet member for environment with responsibility for the borough’s cemeteries, said: “This is the most upsetting and appalling episode of cruel vandalism one can imagine.
“Firstly, our thoughts go out to those families who will be so upset to learn that this has taken place. We will do all we can to support them.
“I would appeal to anyone with information to report these incidents to the police as we need to prevent this from happening again.”
Councillor David Marren, chairman of Orbitas, said: “This wanton vandalism is an attack against the community of Macclesfield as a whole by an individual, or individuals, who care nothing for others.
“I hope they are caught and exposed and appropriately punished for their behaviour.”
Sergeant Helen Percival, of Cheshire police, said: “This is very upsetting and distressing for the families affected. We are working with the cemetery staff and council to make the area more secure and have been patrolling in the area to deter anti-social behaviour.
“I would urge anyone who knows who is responsible to contact the police and I would appeal directly to those responsible – just think how you would feel if you had a loved one who had died and someone had vandalised their grave.
“Please think about the consequences of your actions. This type of behaviour is deplorable.”
Macclesfield Cemetery spans 68 acres of well-maintained grounds and dates back to the Victorian era. It contains two chapels, terrace walks, streams and the graves of service personnel from both world wars.
It has been targeted by vandals on a number of occasions in recent years and its secluded corners have experienced problems with youths gathering, drug users and rough sleepers.