A NEW Friends of Yeadon Cemetery group will hold its inaugural meeting next week after outrage over vandalism and loutish behaviour at the graveyard.

Years of problems came to a head in May amid claims that plane spotters had turned the cemetery into a ‘mini-festival’ with picnics, football, and people urinating on graves.

Grieving relatives were left shocked and distressed by the behaviour of crowds of people who descended on the graveyard to catch a glimpse of a huge military transport aircraft.

The Royal Canadian Air Force Boeing C-17 arrived at Leeds Bradford Airport for the start of a week-long military exercise - but the attraction led to distress for bereaved families.

There was local outrage after relatives described how some visitors had picnicked in the cemetery while children had been allowed to play football and run around on gravestones. A grave was trashed and one visitor was even seen urinating on a gravestone.

The idea of a ‘friends’ group was raised at a public meeting in July where Leeds North West MP Alex Sobel brought residents together with West Yorkshire Police and Leeds City Council.

Mr Sobel has since been working in the background with residents and council officers to ensure that the idea gets off the ground.

He said: “I am hopeful that we have a good turnout of residents to Tuesday’s meeting. Officers from the Parks and Countryside Department will be there to help the group set a constitution. This will allow the new group to operate and act legally on behalf of the Cemetery.

“There were many people who wrote to me after the disrespectful behaviour in the summer. It is important that the community have ownership over what is clearly a very important asset.

“I am encouraged by how positive and proactive members of the community have been on this and I hope that we can achieve something positive out of a very upsetting event.”

The meeting will take place at the Leeds Sailing and Activity Centre between 7pm and 8pm on Tuesday, November 6.

Problems at the cemetery have been on-going for

a number of years.

Relatives of those buried there have described cars being driven across burial plots, children running amok and adults sitting on headstones.

Some plane spotters have also been accused of leaving litter and urinating on walls. Last year visitors to the cemetery were urged to show some respect.