GRIEVING relatives want urgent action to tidy up a rundown, overgrown Canvey cemetery.

St Katherine’s churchyard is overgrown by grass and weeds and its rubbish bins are overflowing.

Canvey West councillor Ray Howard has apologised for the state of the cemetery and vowed to get Castle Point Council to act.

However, families are fuming at the way it has been allowed to deteriorate.

Janet Harrington has been visiting her parents’ graves there for more than 40 years, along with those of her two babies, Tracy and Nichola Smith, who died aged 14 and 20 months.

She said: “It is a disgrace. The grass is 2ft high.

“My parents and my two children are there. My first child was buried there in 1966 and at that time, it was kept really nicely. It was very neat and tidy. It has really deteriorated.

“They are just letting it get too long. It’s horrible. I went on Father’s Day and when I walked in, you couldn’t see some of the gravestones.

“You’re walking across in the grass – it’s a field. It’s not pleasant and it’s disrespectful..”

Mr Howard said he was disappointed the cemetery had been allowed to fall into such a state.

However, he added: “It’s been a tremendous year for grass.

“Everywhere, grass is growing so much. I did receive representations recently, just last month.

“It’s got out of hand again, as far as I’m concerned. St Katherine’s churchyard is very dear to me. Although the churchyard is full, there are still family graves. I’m extremely sorry and I will promise to get on and make serious, official representations.

“The contractors are doing their best and they are all over the borough at the moment, but I think churchyards should have some priority.”

A council spokesman said: “In warm, wet conditions grass grows extremely quickly.

“We are working with our contractors to improve cutting schedules, but it is sometimes challenging to keep on top of the growth.

“We would appreciate if residents could help us by tending family plots.”