MOURNERS in Redditch say they are "desperate" to visit the graves of their loved ones following the closure of the Abbey Cemetery.

Brenda Messenger, who lives on Watery Lane, says she was "shocked" when she was unable to visit her late husband David's grave, something which she usually does twice a week.

The 76-year-old told the Advertiser that she was unaware of the closure of the grounds at Redditch Crematorium and she was left feeling "upset".

Brenda said: "There are three of us who are desperate to go.

"A few people who have lost their loved ones are very upset. We are only asking for it to be opened once a week.

"A couple hours on Sunday would be marvellous. When I go I don't see that many people there.

"It gives us a little bit of comfort. I have lost my husband and I have nobody.

"Just up from my husband's grave there is my mum, dad and brother's. The whole family is there. I go twice a week.

In line with current Government guidelines Redditch Borough Council has closed graveyards to the public except for funerals or burials, as part of measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and maintain critical services.

Mike Birkinshaw, Bromsgrove District Council’s Bereavement Services Manager, said: “This is not a situation anybody wants to be in, and we very much appreciate these concerns.

“However new Government legislation explicitly requires burial grounds to be closed except for funerals or burials during this temporary ‘emergency period’. It would be unlawful for them to be open until that situation changes.

“To publicise that they are closed and explain why, signs are up at every entrance to every cemetery including the Crematorium, the press have been informed, the council’s website has been changed, it has been discussed on social media, and our staff are explaining the situation where required.”