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The Future Of City Burials

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Views help shape burial space strategy

People in Leicester have been having their say on a range of proposals that will help meet demand for burial space in the city over the next 100 years.

Results of the 12-week consultation show overwhelming support for most of the ideas in the draft strategy, including using all available space at the city’s cemeteries – such as flowerbeds – and adopting a more flexible lease period for graves, which is currently fixed at 99 years.

There was clear support for a new cemetery, with people recognising that the city’s existing cemeteries will reach capacity within the next 25 years, and respondents also agreed that the council should provide space for natural burials.

Assistant City Mayor Cllr Piara Singh Clair said: “While there was widespread support for most of our proposals, an emotive subject like burial understandably raises concerns.

“But the feedback we’ve received has helped us to modify and clarify our proposals.

“For example, we’ve now drawn up a list of criteria that must be met before space in an old grave can be used, so that people can be reassured that we won’t be disturbing previous burials – and we won’t be making it compulsory for people to use vacant space in old graves.

“Following the consultation exercise, we’re also proposing that all graves will be dug to a minimum depth of 6ft in future.

“This means that all new graves will be able to accommodate at least two burials, which will help make the most of the limited space that we have – and should also encourage families to use all the space available in the plot that they lease.”

Although the council’s proposal is to reduce Rights of Burial from 99 years to 50 years, families will have the option of renewing their lease on a grave every 10 years – effectively meaning that a family can still have exclusive use of a grave in perpetuity.

Some 300 people took part in the consultation, which ran from 14 October 2013 until 5 January 2014.

Around 800 burials are carried out at the city council’s cemeteries each year.

Members of the Heritage, Culture, Leisure and Sport Scrutiny Commission will be briefed on the findings of the consultation at their meeting on 25 February.

Extensions to both Saffron Hill and Gilroes cemeteries mean that Leicester has enough burial space for the next 25 years, but to ensure that future demand for space is met, the city council will now start the search for a site suitable for a new cemetery. The new cemetery will also include an area for natural burials.

Any recommendations made by the scrutiny commission will be considered, before a final decision on the proposals is made.