Council ‘vandals’ axe tribute tree in Eastbrookend Cemetery

PUBLISHED: 07:00 08 October 2014

(L-R) Sisters Catherine Osbourn and Det Wakeling in Eastbrookend Cemetery  (photo: Arnaud Stephenson)

(L-R) Sisters Catherine Osbourn and Det Wakeling in Eastbrookend Cemetery (photo: Arnaud Stephenson)


A conifer planted 21 years ago by a now-dead woman on her husband’s grave was razed to the ground just days before the anniversary of her death, prompting accusations council workers are “acting like vandals”.

Catherine Osborn, 59, said her family were “inconsolable” over the tree’s removal from Eastbrookend Cemetery, along with a shrub on her nearby grandparents’ grave that was planted in 1977.

Neither Catherine, her sister Det or brother Vincent, who has learning difficulties, were given any warning the plants were at risk of being cut down.

It’s not the first time that the family have had issues with the Dagenham cemetery, either. Their father’s grave was accidently dug up by the council in the 1990s.

“It has been really, really upsetting,” Catherine, of Elm Gardens, Dagenham, said. “The conifer has been cut literally right down to the ground.

“It’s been there 21 years and it wasn’t in anybody’s way. There’s just a gaping hole where the tree used to be.”

The three-and-a-half-foot conifer was planted by Catherine’s mum Theresa after her dad Charles died in 1993.

Catherine says it used to bring the family comfort and they would decorate it with coloured lights at Christmas time.

“The shrubs and trees over the cemetery are what makes it a pleasant place to go to,” she said. “Seeing people’s personal tributes to their loved ones is really nice.”

“They [the council] have even chopped down some of their own trees over there - again they were not overgrown or unsightly.

“The people making these decisions are a bunch of vandals.”

In a statement, the council said: “Under cemetery rules, trees are not normally permitted in our cemeteries and can be removed without warning.

“In this case the tree in question was removed because its roots were growing into neighbouring graves.

“Ms Osborn was written to by a Council officer in July. “We apologise for the distress this has caused Ms Osborn and her family.”

Read more:

Mourners told shrubs and bushes will be removed from graves because they are “dangerous”

If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Barking and Dagenham Post. Click the link in the orange box above for details.

Become a supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Latest from the Barking and Dagenham Post