A way forward sought after stone sale anger

Protesters and church officials at the Mount Zion graveyard, Cornholme
Protesters and church officials at the Mount Zion graveyard, Cornholme

ANGRY residents have met church officials to try an find a way forward after it sold stone from a graveyard.

For several weeks residents near the graveyard at the former Mount Zion Church, Burnley Road, Cornholme, have been bewildered as builders removed the stone, telling them it had been sold.

Residents have ctiticised the church for not consulting them or keeping them informed about what was happening and the state they say the work left the graveyard in, particularly upsetting in the approach to Remembrance Sunday, when some people still came to pay respects at the war memorial there.

They were also angered when a statement given to the Todmorden News by one of the church’s ministers indicated they had been taken away for repair when contractors had told them they were being sold.

This week residents, with ward councillor Anne James who has taken the case up with the church, met at Mount Zion with church officials to air their grievances and the outcome may be a positive way forward for both parties, with community involvement in the graveyard’s upkeep.

The Rev Ian Coverdale, joint superintendent of the Calderdale Circuit, said the comment made to the press about the stone being repaired was an honest mistake and confirmed it had been sold. Last Tuesday, he said the builder had been back to do a little tidying and was due back a day later to do some more.

“The issue we face is that when they were established there was a church on site and a working community, and we relied on that to maintain the graveyards. The church up at Cornholme closed several decades ago and there has not been a community group we have related to. Where we have these we are happy to work with them,” he said.

The stone had been sold for two reasons, he said. The sale raised some finance which could be used for maintaining church property and the church feared it would tempt thieves at some time in the future - so it was decided to sell it. He hoped a positive way forward could now be taken after meeting with concerned residents.

Liz Hinchliffe, secretary of Cornholme Community Project, said she would take a proposal for the local community to get involved back to the group. It was possible they could work with residents and as an established community group it was easier for them to raise funds.