Church paving stone affair could have been handled much better

ALLOW me to try and penetrate the “smoke and mirrors” which have sprung up over the removal of paving and walling stones from the burial ground at Mount Zion Methodist Church in Cornholme.

According to the contractors who removed them, the stones have been sold and are not coming back. This is contrary to what we were told in the Todmorden News two weeks ago where the minister of the Upper Calderdale cuircuit, Rev Tony Buglass, was reported to have said “it’s work being done by an authorised contractor who is takling them away for work to be done to restore them.” He may be right, but we won’t see them again.

The walls of the church, left at shoulder height, have been torn out, leaving an unsafe rubble heap in their place. This is dangerous as children do visit the churchyard as do people visiting the graves of their deceased relatives (the newest memorial is dated 2006). Indeed, only last year the burial ground featured in a BBC Radio 4 programme about a gravestone there.

The flagstone pathways have been removed, except for the broken flagstones which have been left making the paths very slippery and unsafe. The small Remembrance Day service in the burial ground this year will see participants scrambling over blocks and rubble left lying about directly in front of the memorial.

So far as I know, there was never any aborted theft of stones. Concerned local residents quite rightly rang the police as the contractors arrived, but they were only stacking the stones for removal.

I think it is here that the problem lies. No-one from the Methodist Church had the forethought to contact local residents as to what they were about.

Indeed, if they had, there would have been an outcry at the plan. No-one wants to see an old friend maimed in front of them and this is how it appears to people who live with the burial ground every day.

I understand that the burial ground needs money spending on it, but why didn’t the Methodist Church contact locals to ask for their help? The burial ground is a peaceful haven in the village and also attracts a great deal of wildlife.

I am sure local residents would have helped secure such a valuable space in the village.

Perhaps Incredible Edible Todmorden could have been involved and truly made the burial ground a local resource?

Instead we are left with a lot of bad feeling among residents, suspicion and an unsafe area.

Chris Jones,

Mount Zion, Cornholme.