Select Committee on Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Memoranda



Memorandum by Southport Crematorium—Cemeteries (CEM 41)

ENVIRONMENTAL, HISTORICAL AND CULTURAL SIGNIFICANCE OF CEMETERIES FOR LOCAL COMMUNITIES

Local history

  Memorials, information, unusual occupations, families.

Nature

  Flora, fauna, tree age, protection and conservation.

Symbolism

  Religions, Christianity, Jewish, Muslim, etc.

Arts

  Epitaphs, design, inscriptions.

Personal

  Dealing with death, bereavement process.

  Feelings of loss and sadness.

  Remembering/treasuring, tending.

  Prompt to sharing concerns.

CONDITION OF EXISTING CEMETERIES

Vandalism

  The increasing use of contractors to dig graves and maintain the cemeteries has resulted in a lack of interested staff on site and increased vandalism and misuse of cemeteries.

Danger

  Vandalism, neglect and lack of controls relating to authorising stonemasons' work has led to memorials becoming dangerous.

Buildings

  Many cemetery lodges, chapels and buildings are old, badly maintained, derelict and well below the required standards for other Council buildings and housing. Some are listed and some have been listed after they have fallen into disrepair.

ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE DETR AND OTHER GOVERNMENT DEPARTMENTS AND AGENCIES—MANAGEMENT AND PROTECTION AND PUBLIC POLICY

Environmental

  Water, drainage, waste management.

  Dog fouling.

H & S Exec

  Memorial safety/stability.

Conservation

  Listed buildings and memorials.

LONG-TERM PLANNING FOR NEW CEMETERIES AND BURIAL SPACE

Law

  Change in law to allow for re-use of old graves—dig and deepen.

  Many cemeteries are experiencing shortage of burial space.

Land

  Land and planning for new burial grounds is not easily available.

  West Lancashire has run out a new burial space but has granted planning permission to a private company to develop a crematorium and burial ground.

THE MANAGEMENT AND PROVISION OF CEMETERY SERVICES

CCT

  Compulsory Competitive Tendering brought about the contracting out of cemetery maintenance and grave digging. If specification had been expertly drawn up, this could have been a vast improvement, however, in reality, standards have slipped, training is lacking, as is commitment and interest.

IBCA

  Where management are active, qualified members of the Institute of Burial and Cremation, there is a greater awareness of the requirements and legalities relating to Cemetery services.

Joint Committee

  The cemeteries seem to have become the Cinderella service within local authorities, with most investment going to Crematoria and other Council services. Management appears to be better balanced in Joint Committees and Boards, where funding is ploughed back into the service.

FUNDING AND ECONOMIC VIABILITY OF CEMETERIES—NATIONAL LOTTERY

Funding

  Fees and charges should be realistically set, based on costs and not on annual inflation. Local Authority Cemeteries should be funded from taxes and income and kept to a high standard, as in the private sector.

Lottery

  Heritage lottery grants should be made available for the repair and maintenance of listed buildings, memorials and lodges.

OTHER MATTERS

Chambers

  Burial chambers are widely used in Europe, both below and above the ground. This could be the way forward in Britain to facilitate re-use of graves, exhumation, safety, drainage, manpower charges and memorial stability.

Schools

  Liaison with primary schools is recommended to encourage participation in projects. This not only addresses many areas of the curriculum but also encourages respect and proper use of cemeteries later on.

December 2000


 
previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2001
Prepared 29 March 2001