Published: 09:40, 21 April 2017
A woman says a new grave has been dug far too close to her father’s.
Sallee Panayi said she was left devastated after visiting Whitstable Cemetery and finding her father’s headstone unstable and damaged.
Her father Alan Archer, from Whitstable, was buried in the cemetery two years ago in a plot next to Timothy Somers Moorhead.
However, Martin Somers Moorhead has now been buried between the two – seemingly laid to rest beside a family member.
Mrs Panayi, 47, said: “When I saw what had been done I sobbed as it is an awful thing to see.
“It is despicable that the council have allowed this to happen – especially without telling me about it. Mourners would have stood on my dad’s face as there is just no room there.
“My dad and Martin Somers Moorhead are now shoulder-to-shoulder in the cemetery – it is just disrespectful and upsetting.”
There is no fixed law detailing the minimum distances between plots – however the general view is there should be a 3ft gap.
Mrs Panayi, who travels from Essex to visit her dad’s grave every two months, wants to know why the burial was allowed.
“I sympathise with the other family and understand that they would want family members to be next to each other, but I do not like that it is encroaching on my dad’s resting place,” she said.
“If I died and wanted to be buried next to my dad it would not be possible as I would have to be 20 blocks downs. The situation has consumed me as I think about it when I go to bed and when I wake up – it is all I am thinking about.
“I want answers to find out why this was allowed to happen. I want to know if my dad’s coffin has been damaged and I want to know what can be done about it now.
“The headstone cost around £2,000 and now it is toppling over – it is just devastating.
“After my dad’s burial, there needed to be a long wait for the ground to settle before the headstone could be put in place. But now that this new grave has been dug, the ground is unsettled once again.”
Officers at Canterbury City Council have apologised for the damage and have promised to cover the cost of repair work.
Spokesman Rob Davies said: “We are sorry for the damage that was caused to Mrs Panayi’s father’s grave. Our cemeteries registrar has already spoken to her to explain what happened and how we will rectify the situation.
“During the digging of a grave next to Mr Archer’s grave, there was a collapse. Our contractors will be on site to topsoil and grass seed where necessary on the new grave and ensure the ground is correctly defined to show two separate graves.
“Once this work is complete we will contact the stonemason and ask them to refix Mr Archer’s memorial, which we will pay for.”
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