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Widow's distress at grave problem
Buy this photo » Jackie Flynn at the new grave plot for her late husband Peter. Picture: OX56052 Jon Lewis
A widow has criticised a council for not checking plots for graves were fit for purpose before they were sold.
Two days before her husband was buried Jackie Flynn was forced to go to Bicester cemetery and choose a new plot despite buying one eight years ago.
Grave diggers had excavated the spot where Peter Flynn’s coffin was due to be buried, but hit water three feet down. Because it was a double grave, it needed to be about six feet deep.
Mr Flynn, a Bicester Town Football Club stalwart, had suffered from Alzheimer’s for the past 16 years, but died suddenly last month from an unconnected illness.
Mrs Flynn wants to know why sites are not tested before they are sold.
The grandmother, of Orchard Way, Bicester, said: “I purchased the double plot about eight years ago and I was never told anything about a water table. Surely they dig bore holes and do tests?
“I’m highlighting this because I want to prevent other people having to go through what I went through.
“If there’s a problem in the cemetery it needs to be addressed.
“People don’t realise how hard it is watching the man you married and lived with go through Alzheimer’s, and I didn’t want all this grief.”
Mrs Flynn said she felt pressurised to take the replacement grave as the funeral was already arranged, but was unhappy with its position in the far corner of the cemetery next to the fence.
In a statement, Bicester Town Council’s chief officer Sue Mackrell said the council did not know which parts of the cemetery were affected by ground water until they were excavated.
She said: “In normal circumstances the water table is much lower and ground water is not a problem.
“The grave space in question was reserved some years ago when the climatic conditions were very different to those we experience now, and BTC could not have foreseen the conditions that we are now facing.”
The council said it acted quickly to find an alternative site to minimise the distress to the Flynn family.
It did not plan to make any changes to its system, but had stopped allowing people to reserve plots as space was running out. It also confirmed there would be no exhumation of any bodies due to the high water table.