A HAMPSHIRE vicar has criticised the people responsible for dumping a large amount of human ashes in a village cemetery.

The Rev Dr James Bruce spoke out after it was revealed that the remains of several people appeared to have been tipped on to the grass at a graveyard near his church.

It happened at Bolton’s Bench, Lyndhurst, in an act the parish council has compared with someone emptying a fireplace.

Dr Bruce, vicar of St Michael and All Angels Church, said the cemetery was under the parish council’s jurisdiction.

But he added: “As a vicar it’s distressing to hear that human ashes have been unceremoniously dumped without any proper respect being shown for the deceased.”

Councillors heard that the remains were found by a maintenance worker.

Parish rules say anyone wishing to scatter ashes at the site should register them with the parish clerk, Margaret Weston, and pay a £115 internment fee.

However, Mrs Weston told members that the unknown remains had been thrown on to the grass.

She added: “To my mind it’s incredibly irreverent. It’s the last thing you do for a person, and yet these ashes have just been dumped there.”

Council chairman Mark Colle added: “It’s like they’re emptying a fireplace – that’s what it sounds like. It’s ridiculous.”

Cllr George Bisson claimed it seemed to be a case of someone saying: “I’m not burying someone, I’m just scattering their ashes, so I can do it where I want.”

Councillors agreed to install another notice highlighting the rules.

Speaking after the meeting Cllr Rolle said: “It was the sheer volume of ashes that caused such disquiet.

“We’ve put a lot of time and energy into mapping the cemetery so that anyone trying to find lost relatives can discover who is where.

“We welcome people leaving ashes but they must go through the proper channels.

“Maybe they didn’t know there was a process to be gone through. I’d hate to think they were just trying to dodge a fee.”