A 'MISUNDERSTANDING' led to a 'grave' mistake at an Open Area of Local Significance (OALS) site in Frome.

Trainee grave diggers undertook training in Easthill Field on January 28 - and a group who have been campaigning to stop the site being used for social housing were concerned Mendip District Council (MDC) were "breaking promises".

"Safeguarding this irreplaceable habitat is the whole point of our campaign," said Nicola Player, on behalf of the Friends of Easthill group.

"When MDC placed a pause on the development process we trusted that the field would not be interfered with in any way during the time the pause was active."

The grave diggers filled in the hole, but a pile of earth has been left on the site and the ground has been damaged.

Somerset County Gazette: Easthill, Frome. Pic: Friends of Easthill Field

"A digger has been used and after finishing, the efforts at tidying up are woeful; there is still a pile of earth at the site that had been dug and the ruts have made a real mess of the ground, which has experienced extreme pressure and damaged the substrate," added Ms Player.

MDC said their specialist grave digging training company had a cancellation and so they took them up on the offer of a slot.

The training is usually carried out at council-owned cemeteries across the district, but this time, burial services were taking place in all sites.

"It was clearly inappropriate to conduct training at a location where a grieving family would be saying their goodbyes to a loved one," said a spokesperson for MDC.

"Given the short notice, Easthill was our only available location. Instruction was provided by the council’s bereavement team to the contractor, to conduct the session on a section of land within the boundaries of Easthill cemetery.

"However, this instruction was misunderstood, and they undertook the first stage of the training on land to the north of Easthill – a site which has been subject to robust discussions in recent weeks.

"Having reviewed the situation and discussed the matter with all parties involved, I am satisfied this was simply a communication error with no bad intent, albeit with significant consequences."

Once MDC were made aware of the miscommunication, they removed the team and ensured the second day of training was at a different location.