GRIEVING Dudley people were reduced to tears after a cemetery blunder left them out in the cold on Christmas day.

Family members hoping to visit the graves of relatives at Dudley cemetery on Christmas morning found the main gates locked at the Clee Road entrance – meaning they could not drive into the grounds.

A gate on Stourbridge Road was open allowing pedestrian access to the 14 acre site but visitors said that pensioners and people with health problems were struggling or, in some cases, unable to make their way to gravesites.

Brian Taylor, aged 71, from Summerfield Road, who has a heart condition, made five attempts to visit the grave of his son Wayne Taylor, who died three years ago aged 43.

Mr Taylor said: “On Christmas morning it is important to go and visit. We had to walk all the way to the grave, with my heart problems it did me in.

“People were in tears because they couldn’t get in, people were complaining and there was uproar.”

Sadly the failure to open the gates at the Dudley Council-run cemetery added extra trauma to Mr Taylor’s sad morning – he went to Dudley Cemetery from Tipton’s graveyard after a visit to the grave Wayne’s brother Carl, who died aged 40 seven years ago.

Mr Taylor said: “We went to Tipton and there was no trouble at all - we felt choked up.”

Mrs Mary Wood, aged 78 from Fairfield Road, told The News all five of her children attempted to visit her husband Robert’s grave at Dudley Cemetery on Christmas Day and found the gates locked.

Mrs Wood, said: “My children all come here on Christmas morning, I was very angry. There is no reason to lock the gates when they know people are going. I would like an explanation and an apology.”

Councillor Tracy Wood, Dudley cabinet member for environment and culture, said: "It appears there was a misunderstanding regarding vehicle access to Dudley cemetery on Christmas Day.

"As soon as we became aware that the gates had inadvertently been locked, we immediately made arrangements for them to be reopened.

"We can confirm that the gates were reopened at approximately 12.30pm. I sincerely apologise to those visitors who were affected."