Ottery Town Council has issued an apology for distressing residents – by wrongly suggesting that quad bikes had damaged the cemetery in Higher Ridgeway.
The authority made a Facebook faux-pas after blaming ruts in the ground on possible ‘vandals’ – when in fact they had been created by a grave digger in the wet weather.
Its initial statement on social media – which said the matter had been reported to police – prompted anger and worry among people whose loved-ones are laid to rest at the site.
The since-debunked post yesterday morning (November 5) said: “It appears that quad bikes have been driven through the town council cemetery, leaving ruts in the ground.
“We have also found empty beer bottles under a bench, so if anyone is aware of his or hears anything in the future, please could you let us know.
“This has been referred to PCSO Jonathan Sims.”
The council was subsequently told to ‘check its facts’ and accused of causing unnecessary upset and concern that burial plots could have been damaged.
One fuming man said he dashed to the cemetery yesterday morning after reading the claim.
He added that ‘anyone with an ounce of sense’ should have realised the tracks led to a freshly-dug grave.
The council in turn issued an apology which stated: “We would like to offer our sincerest apologies for any confusion and distress that may have been caused.
“Subsequent to this posting it has become apparent that the tracks were caused by the grave digger’s equipment and the very wet ground that he was having to work on.
“The initial report was made by a member of the public this morning.
“A member of the council office staff then proceeded to inspect the cemetery and found evidence of deep tracks and what appeared to be damage.
“Unfortunately, that person is not an expert in grounds maintenance or the equipment used and this led to them mistakenly feeling that the report should be taken seriously.
“It is our responsibility to respond to all reports in the best manner that we can.
“In this instance, unfortunately, mistakes have been made in regard to the accuracy of those reports.
“We will review procedures in order to ensure that where possible this is not repeated in future.
“Once again, please accept our apologies for any concern or distress that may have been caused in relation to this issue.”