Burial ground near Leeds Bradford Airport could be protected after "disrespectful" behaviour

Councillors at the cemetery.
Councillors at the cemetery.

“Drastic” measures are being considered to stamp out disrespectful behaviour including football games and picnics at a burial ground.

Otley and Yeadon councillors met with the head of Leeds City Council’s bereavement services last week to discuss what could be done to tackle the mistreatment of Yeadon cemetery.

They say a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO), which would prohibit certain “inappropriate” actions at the site, could now be drawn up.

Coun Ryk Downes said: “What we find so disappointing is the fact that we even have to consider such orders as if only people showed the solemnity and respect that a cemetery deserves then none of this would be necessary.”

An area in front of the cemetery is used as an ad-hoc viewing space by people watching planes at nearby Leeds Bradford Airport.

Coun Colin Campbell said a minority of people had been climbing on cemetery walls, having picnics, littering, and playing football at the site, causing “great distress” to those who have loved ones buried there.

He said it came to a head earlier this month when dozens of people gathered to see the Canadian Air Force C17 aircraft.

He said: “I am constantly amazed that people behave in that way in a cemetery but unfortunately some do and as a result, I think we are having to take rather drastic action.”

Coun Sandy Lay said a PSPO would mean the council and police could move people on who were behaving disrespectfully.

Coun Lay said: " "As a plane spotter myself we have no desire to penalise those of us who like to watch the planes responsibly from the ad-hoc viewing area in front of the cemetery. So we agreed that in the long term we'd like to see a proper viewing area but at the moment this is difficult due to land ownership issues and finances"

A council spokesperson confirmed it was exploring the possibility of a PSPO.

In a statement, the spokesperson said: "We very much shared the concerns that were raised regarding the behaviour of some people gathering in Yeadon Cemetery earlier this month to watch planes fly into Leeds and Bradford Airport.

“All cemeteries should be a place for respect and quiet reflection, and we are asking people once again to please not gather in groups and use this cemetery as a vantage point for watching planes. The playing of ball games for example, or using memorial headstones to sit on or lean up against is completely unacceptable behaviour within a cemetery and shows a total lack of respect to the friends and relatives of the deceased.

“We have made this very clear in prominent signage erected in the cemetery which requests that people respect these burial grounds and do not disturb those who come to visit their loved ones graves. We have also met with local representatives to discuss this issue, and are looking at what options might be available to deter people from using the cemetery as a vantage point to watch planes in the future.”