Chapel demolition fears after storm damage

DISAPPOINTING RESPONSE Dewsbury Cemetery Action Group member Simon Reed. (D521B405)
DISAPPOINTING RESPONSE Dewsbury Cemetery Action Group member Simon Reed. (D521B405)

Members of an action group fear Dewsbury Cemetery’s historic chapels could be demolished after stormy weather caused damage.

Kirklees Council has kept the Cemetery Road access closed to vehicles since last Wednesday because of safety concerns.

It believes the storm on Wednesday February 12 may have left one of the two Grade II listed chapels unsafe.

But Dewsbury Cemetery Action Group said it could see no evidence of further damage to the council-owned buildings, which have been in a very poor state of repair for many years.

Member Simon Reed said they were worried the council would use it as an excuse to demolish the chapels

“We’ve seen the council do this before, say a building is unsafe and knock it down,” he said.

“We’ve got photos from a week before the storm and after the damage. We can’t really tell the difference.

“There seem to be a few slates gone, but it’s nothing significant.

“What’s disappointing is they’ve ignored our previous suggestions to cover chapel roofs for winter. Instead they’ve been left to the elements for years.”

A council spokeswoman said its teams were still assessing what damage had been caused, how the area could be made safe and the potential costs.

Kirklees has previously been criticised for allowing the chapels to fall into disrepair in the first place.

But the spokeswoman said it had been trying to find external funding or other groups who would take on the chapels for many years without success.

She also criticised the action group itself for not doing more.

“The financial climate has been such that Kirklees has been unable to fund the maintenance of the buildings itself and remains unable to do so as these constraints become ever tighter,” she said.

“Match funding and support were offered to Dewsbury Cemetery Action Group some time ago but did not result in maintenance on the buildings.

“The council is keen to work with any local community group to determine a practical way forward for the chapels and the cemetery.”

Parents of pupils at nearby St Paulinus School have been asked not to use the area near the chapels for parking, although it remains open to pedestrians.

People visiting graves at the bottom end of the cemetery are still able to gain access by using the bottom gate.

The action group’s next meeting is at Asda in Dewsbury on Thursday, 6pm for 6.30pm start.