Wednesday, 22 May 2024

The seaside city trying to deter burials as its running out of cemetery plots

Southend Council is on a mission to deter people from having burials by hiking prices by 20 per cent.

The Essex council has reached crisis point after the number of available cemetery spaces at Sutton Road Cemetery dropped to 2,500 which could be used in just seven years, reports EssexLive.

Now in a bid to encourage crematorium services the council has turned to price increases to help manage burial demand.

Speaking at a cabinet meeting which addressed wider cuts predicted to cut a £30 million deficit, Councillor John Lamb, who is responsible for regulatory services, said: “We did make a suggestion of some land that should be looked at and I haven’t had any feedback.

“I do appreciate how difficult it is to make land available and suitable. I didn’t want to see that it had just been left. The work needs to start now for the future of our people and our burials.”

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Council chief executive Rob Tinlin said: “It’s something we haven’t started to act on yet but from grim experience, finding alternative suitable space for burials is not a straightforward practise and it requires us to test the land and ensure it is suitable and capable of taking burials.

“We did this exercise eight or nine years ago and it posed us immeasurable challenges to try and get up to the point it could be readily drained and safely drained. We haven’t forgotten about the proposal and we will continue to do that.”

Some were unhappy with the proposals, with Kursaal Ward Labour councillor Matt Dent saying the price hike was a “grief tax”.

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Mr Tinlin said the council were looking for a “management tool” due to the scarce number of plots available.

He added: “That will allow us to keep some plots available in the cemetery until we can find an alternative. That alternative is going to take us probably seven years by the time we get through all the legal processes and all the land testing.”

According to figures published annually, the average crematorium fee in South Essex is £995 in 2023. Cremation is usually cheaper than burial because you don’t have to pay for the burial plot.

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Even if you purchase a small plot to bury a loved one’s ashes, this will be cheaper than buying a grave plot.


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