Oxford MailWidow's distress at grave problem (From Oxford Mail)

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Widow's distress at grave problem

Oxford Mail: Jackie Flynn at the new grave plot for her late husband Peter. Picture: OX56052 Jon Lewis 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.”

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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.

Comments (5)

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4:40pm Mon 10 Dec 12

West Oxon Webwatcher says...

The council policy seems to me to be very reasonable. To dig bore holes on every grave would be extremely expensive requiring a very large increase in the grave purchase prices that many people would object to and it sounds as though the water table can vary from year to year, this year being much higher because of the recent high rainfall so that a grave space that might have been OK a few years ago is not today.
The council policy seems to me to be very reasonable. To dig bore holes on every grave would be extremely expensive requiring a very large increase in the grave purchase prices that many people would object to and it sounds as though the water table can vary from year to year, this year being much higher because of the recent high rainfall so that a grave space that might have been OK a few years ago is not today. West Oxon Webwatcher
  • Score: 0

6:42pm Mon 10 Dec 12

Bob 1900 says...

In fact the council would have known the problem with the high water table and being a seasonal problem is not an exscuse. The test bore holes were carried out as part of the survey of the new cemetery extension and this was identified as a potential problem at certain times of the year. This can not be blamed on the changing climatic conditions, we are not talking about the start of a new ice age.
The point that is being missed is the fact that this could happen to any other family who may have reserved a grave as a double depth in this particular part of the cemetery. The problem needs to be addressed as a matter of some urgency.
In fact the council would have known the problem with the high water table and being a seasonal problem is not an exscuse. The test bore holes were carried out as part of the survey of the new cemetery extension and this was identified as a potential problem at certain times of the year. This can not be blamed on the changing climatic conditions, we are not talking about the start of a new ice age. The point that is being missed is the fact that this could happen to any other family who may have reserved a grave as a double depth in this particular part of the cemetery. The problem needs to be addressed as a matter of some urgency. Bob 1900
  • Score: 0

8:41pm Mon 10 Dec 12

Budowaah says...

Not a nice story to read, admittedly.

Perhaps when the summer comes and the hedge blooms, it won't be quite so bad. If it's any consolation, I wouldn't mind a little secluded corner.
Not a nice story to read, admittedly. Perhaps when the summer comes and the hedge blooms, it won't be quite so bad. If it's any consolation, I wouldn't mind a little secluded corner. Budowaah
  • Score: 0

6:22pm Tue 11 Dec 12

Pavinder Msvarensy says...

I don't normally encourage people to take our money, but in this case i will make an exception. Mrs Flynn, sue them.
I don't normally encourage people to take our money, but in this case i will make an exception. Mrs Flynn, sue them. Pavinder Msvarensy
  • Score: 0

7:43pm Tue 11 Dec 12

Bob 1900 says...

The worrying fact is that if this alternative grave was not available Mrs Flynn would not have been able to be buried with her husband. The council have well and truly fouled up, I would suggest a public enquiry at the very least...............
......oh and guess what! they are putting the price of burials up in Bicester cemetery
The worrying fact is that if this alternative grave was not available Mrs Flynn would not have been able to be buried with her husband. The council have well and truly fouled up, I would suggest a public enquiry at the very least............... ......oh and guess what! they are putting the price of burials up in Bicester cemetery Bob 1900
  • Score: 0

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