A GREIVING man is calling on Bathurst Regional Council to maintain rural cemeteries after having to mow a Hill End cemetery himself days before burying his wife.
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Graham Mobbs' wife Sarah died suddenly on November 13 at the age of 44, leaving behind her husband and their four young children.
Despite currently living in Narromine, he decided to have his wife's funeral and burial at a cemetery in Hill End on December 1.
"That's where we grew up. She grew up in that area pretty much her whole life, apart from the last three years," he said.
"My father is buried there as well and her family's in the local area."
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Within a few days of her death, he contacted council and requested the area, which was significantly overgrown, be mowed to enable the funeral to be held there.
Council denied the request, telling Mr Mobbs that there weren't resources available to do the mowing.
He said he was told he would have to mow the area himself.
"I had to go out there on the weekend with my brother and my brother-in-law to mow what we could of the cemetery to make it look good for [the funeral], and I think it's quite rude," he said.
"... It was really quite emotional, because it's pretty bad that I had to mow the lawn for my wife's funeral, and we had to take rubbish away from the cemetery, and then we had to go mow the local church.
"I think it's quite wrong."
Given he resides in Narromine, it took Mr Mobbs several hours to drive out to Hill End, followed by around five hours mowing and then the trip home.
Mr Mobbs is calling on council to step up, either with its own staff or a contractor, to ensure other families don't have to go through what his has.
"At least keep the lawns nice and tidy. It's a resting place for people. People's family have passed away and they want to at least go to a nice, clean cemetery to visit them," he said.
"... I know it's an old cemetery, but people are still going there when they die."
The Western Advocate approached council for comment about the situation.
In a statement, manager of recreation Mark Kimbel said council "does not and has never provided mowing maintenance services at any of the rural cemeteries" and had informed the Mobbs family of this when it received the inquiry.
He said council does not have the resources to mow rural areas, including cemeteries.
"The ongoing rain over the past two years has caused relentless grass and vegetation growth throughout the Bathurst region and council's resources continue to be stretched to the limit trying to keep up with this excessive growth on all land it has the resources to maintain," Mr Kimbel said.
"Unfortunately, though, council does not have, nor has it ever had, resources to maintain rural cemeteries and villages, including mowing maintenance operations.
"This constraint extends to all rural cemeteries located across the Bathurst region, not just at the Hill End Cemetery."
He said mowing services have, in the past, been undertaken by local community interest groups and community village associations.
"For the past several years, the NSW Department of Corrections has been providing community mowing services to the region's many rural villages and cemetery areas, with the Hill End Cemetery being included for periodic mowing maintenance activities," Mr Kimbel said.
"This free service is continuing, however as with council's resources, the correctional centre also does not have the resources to increase its frequency of mowing operations to the many areas that they attend to."
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