Gravestones at an historic Birmingham church will continue to be used as car parking spaces – because there is no money to move them.
Visitors to the church and local businesses regularly park their cars on Georgian and Victorian tombstones which have been laid on their side in St Paul’s Churchyard, in the Jewellery Quarter.
However despite calls for the stones to be moved out of respect, both the church and Birmingham City Council said there was no money in the budget to carry out the work.
Euro MP Mike Nattrass, who runs a city centre commercial property firm, said the parking showed a lack of respect and raised the issue with vicar Rev Mary Gilbert and Birmingham City Council.
But in a response to the angry MEP Stephen Hughes, chief executive of the council, said after discussions the stones would not be moved.
He said: “Officers have recently spoken to the Vicar at St Paul’s who is content to see the existing area used for parking with the likelihood that, if the gravestones were removed, they would have to be broken up as they are already damaged. The cost of removing them and resurfacing the area concerned is likely to be circa £20,000 and this is not felt to represent good value for money particularly given these austere times.
Rev Gilbert, who has been at the church for three years, said the church could not stump up the cash to move the stones.
She added attempts were made in the 1970s, when the stones were moved from the graveyard, to contact the families of those who the stones commemorated but said none could be found.
“It’s going to cost an awful lot to move the stones and level the surface and make it flat. We don’t get any funding, we rely entirely on volunteers.
“There are no graves under the stones and in the three years I’ve been here he (Mr Natrass) is only the second person to raise the issue.”
Mr Nattrass said he was saddened by the response. “These gravestones should either be cordoned off or be relocated within the churchyard. This is an embarrassing situation that should never have arisen.
“It is deeply disrespectful to park on these memorials.”