nantwich cemetery

An advisory panel has been set up to look at future cemetery provision in Cheshire East after a councillor branded the existing strategy “callous” and “ludicrous”, writes Belinda Ryan.

Cheshire East reviewed the strategy in 2018 and a long term proposal was that families would have to bury loved ones in Crewe or Macclesfield as other local cemeteries became full.

Cheshire East is responsible for 10 cemeteries across the borough, including Nantwich, Coppenhall, Crewe (Badger Avenue and Meadow Brook), Alderley Edge, Congleton, Macclesfield, Sandbach, Weston and Wilmslow.

At the environment and communities committee, Cllr Joy Bratherton (Crewe East, Lab) criticised the strategy adopted in 2019 saying the matter had been “looked at from an officer’s perspective, but not in the perspective of bereavement”.

Cllr Bratherton, who works in the bereavement services, said: “Somebody from Sandbach would have to pay £5.50 return on a bus to get them to Macclesfield, an hour’s journey each way, and a 20-minute walk from the nearest bus stop in Macclesfield to the cemetery.

“That is no more than callous as far as I’m concerned. That has not been arrived at with any view of a bereaved person in mind.

“To suggest that Crewe Meadow Brook Cemetery and Macclesfield are the two principal cemeteries is ludicrous.

“I would ask that we set up an advisory panel of cross party members to look at the whole question of this strategy once more, but we look at it from the view of how it is to be a bereaved person, how it is to know that your loved one might be buried 15 miles away, and you can’t get to see them.

“I want us to look at different ways of managing our cemeteries.”

The Crewe councillor said there were areas of land not utilised as burial sites in some cemeteries.

“We need to look closely at how we can develop those particular swathes of land.”

She said people did not necessarily always want burials so the land could be “more vaults, more walls, more whatever, we need to open our eyes and open our hearts to what is needed in this question”.

Sandbach councillor Mike Benson (Con) agreed.

“Let’s use the opportunity to see what we’ve got, see how we can enhance the facilities, see how we can provide the things like memorial gardens, land to put the scattered remains, for example,” he said.

But he added there had to be a time frame, as it was four years since the last assessment had been done relating to cemetery provision.

The committee approved an up-to-date assessment be done of the future demand and capacity for burial within the borough, including identifying options to optimise existing space within cemeteries where there is less than 30 years capacity remaining.

It also agreed to create an advisory panel of councillors to contribute to a report to enable a further review of the cemeteries strategy based on the updated demand and capacity assessment.

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