Published: 06:00, 23 June 2021
| Updated: 15:03, 23 June 2021
A cemetery has become so overgrown with grass some relatives struggled to find the graves of loved ones on Father's Day.
Relatives of the deceased at the graveyard in Watling Street, Dartford were furious at the unkempt state of the site.
Some were unable to locate or access graves and monuments last week and took to social media to vent their frustration.
One resident described the grass being "up to their waist", while others said it was "disrespectful" to the dead.
Most of the grass has been left overgrown with some patches cut back by family members resorting to using their own sheers.
The issues were first flagged to Dartford council earlier this month and the authority said at the time it aims to cut the grass fortnightly but had been facing problems due to the recent weather conditions and grass growth.
As such it had arranged extra resources for the cemeteries team to maintain the grass to the required standard.
But problems still persisted at the site this weekend when Darenth resident Avril Clark visited to tend to the graves where both her parents were laid to rest.
The 70-year-old said: "I have been going to the cemetery for years. My mum was there first and my dad passed away this year so I have been taking over their graves."
"It's the worst I have ever seen it. The grass is so high you can't see the gravestones at all.
She added: "It was disgusting – the cemetery has never been like that. It would have broke my dad's heart if he had seen it."
Mrs Clark says some relatives were crying over the state of the burial site on Sunday.
"Some of them were so disgusted," she said. "They could not locate their relatives graves on Father's day because the site is overgrown with tall grass.
She added: "One lady went home and got a pair of scissors to cut round her father's grave."
Mrs Clark says they pay good money to secure plots and expect the site's upkeep to be better than it is currently.
She added: "Some people were crying. We came home."
Disappointed family members directed their complaints to cemetery staff before leaving but were not satisfied with the response, she added.
"Cemetery staff could not come up with a plausible reason," Mrs Clark said. "They were putting it down to Covid and all this business."
Mrs Clark says there is also a risk of injury, particularly to older people with one man tripping and injuring himself on Sunday.
The council has recently put up signs warning visitors over the state of the site.
A notice pinned to the front gates read: "We are cutting the grass however some areas do remain very long please be careful and mind your footing.
"You are entering the cemetery at your own risk. Thank you for your patience at this difficult time."
There was some suggestion the site had been allowed to overgrow due to a "No Mow May" initiative, intended to stimulate lawns and promote the growth of wildflower meadows.
But the council ruled this out. It also said it had been taking into account different preferences over "more natural landscaping" at sites.
A spokesman for Dartford council said: "We can only apologise to residents who were disappointed that the condition of the grass at our cemeteries over Father’s Day weekend has not met the usual high standards we set.
“In common with other councils, the problem has been caused by the unusual weather patterns, with high temperatures followed by heavy rain, which has led to high growth and difficult mowing conditions.
“Because Dartford works with a small, in-house team that care for our cemeteries, they have had to balance the grass cutting with managing of new funeral services.
“Over the years we have received many compliments about the condition of our cemeteries, so putting this right is a very high priority for us and we have engaged extra resources to help the team get the cemeteries back to a satisfactory condition by the end of the week.”