‘DISRESPECTFUL’ plans by a council to store five-tonne wagons in a cemetery have been slammed by nearby residents.

Rossendale Council has applied for a Goods Vehicle Operator’s Licence to add an operating centre to keep six goods vehicles at Haslingden Cemetery in Grane Road.

Council chiefs said the vehicles would move from The Whitaker in Rawtenstall where work will be taking place to improve the museum.

The wagons will transport gardening equipment, flowers and other displays as well as emptying litter bins, and will come in and out of the cemetery.

But Michael Murray, chairman of Grane Residents’ Association, who have made an objection to the plans, said they show a ‘total lack of respect’.

An online petition against the plans has garnered more than 1,200 signatures.

He said: “There appears to be a total lack of respect, not only for the people buried in Haslingden Cemetery, but also for the hundreds of relatives and friends who visit the cemetery to pay their respects.”

Eric Mizon, 91, who has lived on Grane Road for 64 years, added: “This is a place for people to visit graves and the plans are disrespectful.

“There’s also already a lot of traffic on the roads without these big wagons coming down it and they’ll be using the cemetery entrance which will cause safety problems.”

MP Jake Berry has also written to council leader Alyson Barnes urging her to rethink the plans.

Tony Watson, head of operations at Rossendale Council, said: “We are currently going through the process of getting permission from the traffic commissioner to extend our vehicle operating licence at Haslingden Cemetery.

“We have used space at Haslingden Cemetery for council vehicles for many years but the extension is simply to allow the council to continue be able to legally operate some of its new more environmentally friendly vehicles from there."

Mr Watson said the council had tried to identify other places to develop into a depot but claimed that there are no alternatives available in the borough.

He added: “To reassure residents and cemetery visitors these vehicles will not be constantly going in and out of the cemetery and we will make sure we will continue to be sympathetic to the environment as we are now.

“Also to clarify, these vehicles will continue to be used for things like transporting gardening equipment, transporting flowers and other displays around our cemeteries, parks and emptying litter bins. They are not refuse collectors.

“ We have met with residents and also residents’ groups and listening to their views which we have fed back to the traffic commissioner.

“We will continue to have a dialogue with concerned residents while we await for commissioner’s decision.”

A meeting takes place today at 8pm at The Holden Arms pub in Grane Road.