BLUNDERING council contractors have cut down flowers at a Canvey cemetery after a group of volunteers dedicated months to planting them.

Volunteers from the Friends of St Katherine's group were bitterly disappointed to discover an array of spring bulbs, bluebells and snowdrops planted in the autumn have been removed.

The flowers were removed by Pinnacle, a company employed by Castle Point Council as its "designated street scene partner".

The group has been meeting every Friday since August to tidy up the overgrown graveyard, in Canvey Road, after relatives with loved ones buried there complained about long grass and rubbish.

Dave Blackwell, organiser of the Friends of St Katherine’s group, is annoyed the flowers can’t be replanted until later in the autumn.

Mr Blackwell added that the group will continue working to brighten the cemetery.

He said: “It’s disappointing as we have been hoping to have a good working relationship with Pinnacle, but when something like this happens, it just puts a dampener on it.

“There’s nothing that can be done about it for another year, because we started planting those types of flowers in the autumn ready for this time of year which is when they’ll be at their best.

"I’ve been in horticulture for about 40 years, so I think I am qualified enough to know about this.

“It was hard work putting them in as the ground was firm and we had to be sure we were using the right plants and soil.

"Sadly we’ll have to wait until next year to replace them. This won’t stop us though, and we’ll keep going and hopefully in future the flowers can be protected when the grass is cut by Pinnacle.”

Jay Blissett, of Haarlem Road, is a member of the group and says she is frustrated the contractors weren’t more careful.

She said: “It’s disappointing really as we’ve worked hard there to make it a nicer place for everybody visiting.

“It’s ironic as this all started when families complained about Pinnacle spraying weedkiller on sections of the grass, so a group of us got together and tried to do something about it.

“We just hope in the future that things like this won’t happen again.”

After complaints about overgrown grass reaching two-and-a-half feet, contractor Pinnacle carried out a weedkiller trial in parts of the graveyard, replacing the turf with woodchips.

St Katherine’s volunteers received a £500 grant from Canvey Town Council to buy gardening equipment to make the cemetery easier to maintain.

The group had been looking for cash to buy new tools and get outdoor electrical sockets at St Katherine’s.

A spokesman for Castle Point Council said: “We are very sorry that our contractor has cut down flowers planted by the Friends of St Katherine’s Churchyard.

"We will be taking this up with our contractor Pinnacle and will also contact the volunteers.”