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Preston Cemetery rules consultation announced – these are the four options

Posted on - 3rd September, 2017 - 7:00pm | Author - | Posted in - News, Preston Council, Ribbleton
Jon-Jo's grave at Ribbleton Cemetery
Jon-Jo Highton’s grave at Ribbleton Cemetery was referenced in the review

Following pressure from a campaign group the rules around Preston Cemetery are being reviewed.

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The city council is to consult on four options on how memorials can be left on graves and who should upkeep them.

Those with loved ones buried at the Ribbleton cemetery handed a petition of more than 4,500 names to the Town Hall in November last year.

It followed a number of complaints about ‘over-zealous’ enforcement of council rules when it came to decorations being left on graves – with the mother of murdered Jon-Jo Highton among those affected.

Patricia Varty handing in the petition at the Town Hall, flanked by Ribbleton councillor Jonathan Saksena and deputy leader councillor Jon Swindells
Patricia Varty handing in the petition at the Town Hall, flanked by Ribbleton councillor Jonathan Saksena and deputy leader councillor Jon Swindells

Now the cabinet member responsible for the Cemetery is preparing to ask the city which of four options about maintaining graves should be adopted.

Councillor Robert Boswell, responsible for community and environment, said: “Following the petition we received earlier this year, we have initiated this consultation to invite all users of Preston Cemetery to consider the proposed options.

There is not an easy solution, because not all residents and users of the cemetery have the same wishes. This consultation is the opportunity for everyone to have their say, and we welcome that feedback.”

Read more: Fly-tipper who left Preston Cemetery in a state is caught

Four options are to be consulted on by the city council. They have been put together by council officers after visiting other local authority cemeteries and consulting with a focus group of family members.

The options are:

A) The existing rule concerning the area of two foot 6 inches remains unchanged and the Council will require all grave owners to remove their personalisation within an agreed time period (this could be one, three or six months).

B) The conclusion of the review of other cemeteries within Lancashire demonstrated that the Council is currently less restrictive than others, therefore this is an option to reduce the distance allowed to include the headstone only and any memorialisation is placed on the concrete rafts that are placed at the head of the grave. This would only be enforced for new grave deed holders following the implementation date and the existing grave deed holders would have to follow option (a) above.

C) The rule is changed to meet the requests of the Friends of the Cemetery Group and personalisation of graves, including kerbing, would be allowed over the full length of the grave. It would be a requirement that the grave deed holder would have to maintain their grave. If this is not completed to a set of standards agreed or it has not been maintained for a period of 3 months, then the Council would be able to reinstate the grave as a lawned type.

D) The rule is changed to incorporate the compromise suggested by the Focus Group, where personalisation of the grave is extended to either three or four foot. Again, as per Option (c) grave deed holder would have to maintain their own grave. It would also include the same agreement regarding the lack of maintenance equalling reinstatement by the Council.

Read more: Cost of dying and council tax to rise in Preston

The report from the city council says not having well policed graves, with excessive decoration, makes it difficult for the grass to be cut and burials to take place. Council officers estimate not enforcing the cemetery rules could cost the city council more than £60,000-a-year.

The consultation is now live on the city council website and runs until 7 November.

Patricia Varty, one of the Friends of the Cemetery group, is organising an open meeting about the proposals at St Mary’s Magdalene church hall in Ribbleton from 7pm on Friday 15 September.

You can see the full report on the city council website.

What do you think about the four options? Let us know your views in the comments below

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