THE owner of a specialised machinery firm has offered to cut grass in Darwen Cemetery for a day free of charge.

Tim Harrison, owner of Groundcare Engineering Ltd in Altham, has made the offer after reading about concerns over the state of the cemetery.

Residents, the local friends group and even Darwen MP Jake Berry have voiced concerns over the lack of grass-cutting in the cemetery, which has suffered as a result of cuts to the council’s budget.

Mr Harrison said he wanted to donate his company’s services for a day with a view to a long-term contract to cut the grass at a discounted price.

He said: “I own Groundcare Engineering Ltd, which I started last October with the help of the Jobcentre and the Government-backed New Enterprise Scheme. Over the past year we have grown steadily and now offer grass cutting to local councils and companies.

“We are based in Altham and actually have a graveyard situated at the top of our private drive which was not being cut or maintained due to budget cuts and the ever-increasing cost of local grounds maintenance companies.

“I contacted the priest responsible for the graveyard and after a very quick phone call we now maintain it at a fraction of the cost which was previously paid.

“I would like to offer the services of my company to support the volunteers in their efforts.

“More importantly, I would also like to donate one full day of grass-cutting for the Darwen Cemetery where my staff and our heavy duty equipment can tackle the grass at its longest.”

Mr Berry said it was a very generous offer which should be considered.

He said: “I am very pleased this company has made a generous offer to bring the cemetery up to standard we all want to see.

“It seems a pity that it is so neglected by Blackburn with Darwen Council that we are having to rely on charitable offers to ensure that our public cemeteries are up to that standard.

“The town council and Friends of Darwen Cemetery should look at the ‘Community Right to Challenge’ in the Localism Act so we can make this a permanent arrangement and Darwen can break free of this shoddy maintenance from Blackburn Council.”