Mid and East Antrim Borough Council have confirmed that new drainage works are planned, and will begin in the near future to alleviate recurring flooding issues at a local cemetery in Ballymena.
It comes after families who have loved ones buried in Ballee Cemetery, Toome Road, have in recent months called on the local authority to take action over ongoing flooding at the site.
The issue was first highlighted by Love Ballymena back in October when Storm Agnes (27th September 2023) caused a number of the graves to be under water. But according to the families at the time, it has been an issue that has plagued the cemetery for a number of years now.
One woman explained:
"In times of persistent rain, the ground quickly becomes very swampy and it is necessary to wear welly boots when I visit. Parts near the lower gates of the cemetery can be covered with up to half a foot of water.
"The ground becomes so waterlogged the graves themselves just become pools of water. It really is very impacting to see your loved one's resting place in that state."
Another woman shared how she had witnessed staff digging graves and watched while the hole filled up with water, from the bottom up, with the ground being so waterlogged.
After the issue was initially highlighted last year, Council staff first thought the water was flowing into the cemetery from the roadside. However, after corrective work failed, more substantial works are now afoot and expected to begin in the coming weeks.
Today (Monday 15th January), a spokesperson for Mid and East Antrim Borough Council said:
“Following recent flooding of a section of Ballee Cemetery, new drainage works are planned for the areas affected when current weather conditions improve.
“In addition to the drainage works, any affected grave plots will be raised. Council is committed to mitigating the risk of flooding and preventing a recurrence.”
Councillor Colin Crawford
Ballymena Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) Councillor Colin Crawford met with a number of local families in recent months and listened to their concerns on the problematic flooding.
On Monday evening Cllr Crawford welcomed confirmation of the works, saying:
“I welcome this news from Mid & East Antrim Council and trust it gives the families some comfort knowing that work will commence at Ballee in the near future.
"I would like to thank Council for listening to my concerns and ask that they continue to prioritise this at a matter of urgency”
Love Ballymena understands Mid & East Antrim Council are also currently working on plans to upgrade existing roadways and pathways within Ballee Cemetery. These will be carried out separately from the drainage works.