COUNCIL bosses have come under fire for the state of war graves in Blackburn Old Cemetery just days before Monday’s centenary of the 1914/1918 conflict.

Historians, borough residents and heritage bosses have been angered by the overgrown plots on recent visits.

Now Blackburn with Darwen council is undertaking a last-minute tidy-up of the graves.

Chester resident Margaret Hart said: “Recently I returned to visits the Whalley Old Road cemetery to do some research on some war graves, this being the centenary.

“I was disgusted to find that 184 of the graves are covered in grass and weeds. I must say what a disgrace some parts of the cemetery are in.

“There are some people who are trying to keep the cemetery tidy but the borough appear to be doing nothing to cut the grass.

“It is a beautiful cemetery. Blackburn with Darwen council should be ashamed.”

Blackburn resident Ellan Ashcroft said: “On the August 4 it will be the 100 years commemoration of the First World War.

“I decided to visit the war graves in Blackburn old cemetery and what a shock was in store.

“The graves were overgrown the grass not cut and in many parts too dangerous to venture.

“What a way to treat our young brave men. I found it very disrespectful that the council have let this cemetery to be so neglected.”

Blackburn, Darwen and Rural Civic Voice Secretary Simon Hugill said: “There is a problem with overgrown war graves. They needed to be cleared up before the centenary commemorations.”

Borough environment boss Jim Smith said “Council officers are tending to the war graves within Blackburn Old Cemetery.

“The problem is our original contractor gave backword so we had to find another one.

“The work clearing up the war graves, and the whole cemetery, is now in hand.

“It is being done as a matter of urgency so the war graves are in the best possible state to mark the start of the First World War and remember all those who gave their lives for us.”