'Our dead relatives are turning in their graves'
A GROUP trying to reclaim a deserted and overgrown cemetery has told councillors they should be ashamed of themselves for not supporting their campaign.
Members of the Friends Of Score Cemetery group said they were disgusted by the lack of interest shown by Ilfracombe Town Council and said their dead relatives would be turning in their graves.
They accused the authority of providing no support to their campaign and of ignoring evidence of desecrated infant graves and defaced headstones.
The last recorded burial at Score Cemetery was in 1978 and since then the site has fallen into disrepair and become wildly overgrown.
In May the Journal reported on the Friends group's ambitions to reinstate the unloved cemetery which contains the graves of more than 1,000 people.
Several members have relatives buried at the cemetery, some of whom served their country in the two World Wars.
The group claims the cemetery was left to the people of Ilfracombe and has raised concerns about the ownership of the adjoining grade two listed Score Chapel which was converted into a house in 2005 and has since been sold twice.
At last week's Ilfracombe Town Council meeting the group said it had recruited a specialist solicitor to investigate the matter but was concerned the council wasn't interested.
John Goodman from Knowle said: "I've got photos of stacked up gravestones and the desecrated graves of babies and war heroes.
"All of you should be ashamed to let this happen.
"Only one councillor has shown any interest, the rest of you have done nothing, you don't give a damn."
Friends group founder Betty Engmann, whose father and grandparents are buried at the cemetery, said: "This whole situation smacks of fraud.
"The cemetery belongs to the people of Ilfracombe but we've been locked out.
"You lot sit on your duffs doing nothing because you let people in Barnstaple rule you.
"I'll spend every penny I've got to reopen the cemetery, even if it means taking this council to court.
"I wouldn't vote for you again."
Another founder member of the group, Inger Lovelock, listed reasons why the chapel should never have been converted into a house.
She said: "English Heritage were not consulted, listed building consent was not applied for and threats to owls and bats were not considered."
Later in the evening the council discussed a motion from Councillor Peter Rawle, who has met several times with the Friends group, which proposed the council supported the group in its research.
Mr Rawle said: "Score Cemetery was gifted to this town but it needs investigation, possibly to see if there has been fraud.
"The Friends group is determined to sort out the legalities and they now have a specialist solicitor who has come out of retirement to help them out for free.
"However, to progress the matter they will need to raise money to pay a barrister.
"We need to support them in their quest for truth."
Councillor Janice Donovan said she was upset the council had been accused of not supporting the event as she understood Mr Rawle had been representing the authority at the group's meetings.
Mr Rawle said there would be no financial implications for the council, though Councillor Mike Edmunds said the Friends group could apply to the council for grant funding once they had more information about legal fees.
The council voted unanimously to support the Friends Of Score Cemetery in their research.
"I've got photos of stacked up gravestones and the desecrated graves of babies and war heroes. All of you should be ashamed to let this happen."