A REMOTE-controlled gate and bollards could be installed to allow motorists access to Witney’s Tower Hill Cemetery without needing to make an appointment.

Witney Town Council closed the gates earlier this year after incidents when cars were driven across graves or drivers disrupted funerals.

Disabled and elderly residents who have relatives buried at the cemetery and find it difficult to walk to graves complained about the closure.

They said a system of making appointments for council staff to open the gates was inflexible and made them feel they needed to rush visits.

On Monday, councillors voted to visit the cemetery to see how the proposed system would work before making a decision next month.

Melanie Jones, 44, of Burwell Drive in Witney, has relatives, including her mother and brother, buried at Tower Hill.

She said: “It looks like it’s now going in the public’s favour and we will be allowed into our own cemetery. I would like people to be able to visit the graves whenever they want during daylight hours and for it to be locked at night.

“I feel I haven’t been able to attend graves of my loved ones, and I can’t grieve properly if I can’t let that grief out.”

Cars were banned from the cemetery in April, with disabled blue badge holders allowed in but having to make appointments.

Previously the cemetery was open to all vehicles between 9am and 4pm on weekdays and between 11am and 1pm on the first and third Saturday of the month.

But council facilities manager Claire Swan said the limits on access had not stopped drivers damaging gravestones.

She said: “Last Monday, even though these changes are in place, there was quite a serious accident in the cemetery. A bollard and gravestone were badly damaged by a driver at the widest point.

“We were contacted by the driver to see if she could claim against our insurance for damage to her car.”

The proposals would see a remote-controlled gate fitted at the main entrance in Curbridge Road. Remote control keys would be issued to drivers by the council.

Wooden stakes with reflectors would be installed either side of the main path into the cemetery to protect graves.

A one-way system, which would be signed, would be introduced and six car parking spaces, wide enough for disabled use, would be provided.

Retractable bollards would be fitted to ensure cars do not drive outside the designated areas.

The cost of the work is expected to be £11,500.

Councillors agreed to delegate the decision to the leisure and recreation committee on Monday, July 8, after members visited the site.