Littleport Parish Council says until they can open a new cemetery, burials will stay restricted to parishioners only - despite outcry over dying woman’s wish

Littleport Parish Council chairman Clive Webber

Littleport Parish Council chairman Clive Webber - Credit: Archant

Councillors voted 9-2 to keep a policy that allows only parishioners to be buried locally.

Littleport Parish Council stood their ground despite a public outcry last week after a former Littleport woman was denied her dying wish to be buried in the village.

Council chairman Clive Webber confirmed retention of the existing policy following a special meeting on Friday.

Faced with a wait of up to four years for a new burial ground, he said the council was “committed to protecting burial space for parishioners,” he explained afterwards.

Last week Rosemary Talbot looked likely to be denied her dying wish to be buried in Littleport – alongside her mother and father- after falling foul of the ‘non local’ criteria. She had moved away from the village some years ago but always felt herself to be local.

The crisis for the family was averted when an anonymous member of the public gave up a plot they had reserved to allow Mrs Talbot to be buried in the village.

Cllr Webber said a policy first considered in 2005 was put in place to tackle an expected shortage of burial plots.

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in forthcoming years.

“However, parishioners who have moved to a home or hospital, outside of the parish, to receive care in their final years, were and still are permitted burial,” he said.

“All local funeral directors were made aware of the policy in 2005 and this is printed, in bold, on documentation they hold.

“We are also in the position that land for a new cemetery has only been secured recently after a 10 year exhaustive search, hampered by the suitability/legalities regarding burial land, and availability.

“We are still three to four years away from the new cemetery being in use, as much work still needs to be done. There are many rules, regulations and legislation regarding burial land, all of which must be met before the cemetery is available for use.

“The existing cemetery has a maximum of 120 available plots but within this, there is an area which has previously been disturbed and may be reduced to 105 plots.

“In the past five years, an average of 30 plots per year have been required.

“Without due care and forward planning we could run out of available plots for residents before the new cemetery is ready for use and be in the position of locating burial space outside the parish.

“We are committed to protecting burial space for parishioners.

“This policy will be reviewed again once the new cemetery is available for use.”