Select Committee on Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Memoranda

Memorandum by the Metropolitan Borough of Wirral (CEM 87)

  I understand that you are gathering evidence on behalf of the Environment Sub-committee. The Metropolitan Borough of Wirral is responsible for five operating cemeteries and seven closed cemeteries. We undertake approximately 1,500 burials per annum and have adequate supply of land for future burials.

  I would wish to draw the Committees attention to three issues.

  Firstly, the increasing concerns about the safety of memorials in cemeteries and who has liability. We have commenced a process of inspection and recording dangerous memorials and where necessary attempting to make them safe. This is a growing problem and is likely to lead to increased costs for local authorities.

  Secondly, the handing over of closed churchyards by Parish Councils to the local authority. We have recently had to assume the maintenance of two closed churchyards at an additional cost of £40,000. No allowance is made for this in any government grant or assessment. We estimate that a further six churchyards could apply for closure in the near future.

  Thirdly, the importance of older cemeteries to the local community. Flaybrick Memorial Gardens was opened in 1864. Planted with many exotic trees and shrubs it was in a poor condition in the 1980s suffering badly from vandalism. A Friends Group was established with an interest in assisting in the maintenance and promotion of the cemetery and the local authority responded by appointing a ranger. This has proved a successful partnership and a great deal of restoration work has been carried out and vandalism reduced. There are now 40 members of the Friends group and they regularly undertake work in the cemetery as well as leading guided works etc. I enclose a copy of a leaflet about the site for your information.

J L Lester

Head of Parks and Open Spaces

December 2000

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