Council committee to help find land for burials

A COUNCIL committee set up to help find new land for a cemetery has said it is “their duty to Royston” to ensure residents can be buried in their home town.

The Cemetery Working Party, comprising of town councillors Peter Burt, Bob Smith, F John Smith, John Davison and mayor Martin Beaver, have vowed to try and find suitable land in the town to be used for burials before the January 2012 deadline.

If they do not, full-body burials will cease to be carried out in Royston and will be moved to Letchworth’s Wilbury Hills Cemetery.

North Herts District Council (NHDC) extended the deadline to next year from April of this year in order to allow time for land owners to come forward and donate plots that could be used.

Cllr Peter Burt said: “We’re trying to find someone out there that would be willing to enter talks with us and see if we can work out a suitable plot of land.

“The town council fully supports residents’ concerns about the distance involved in travelling to Wilbury Hills, especially as it is not served by any direct public transport from Royston.

“This is a sensitive issue, but as councillors it is our duty to Royston to gain a solution.”

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Cllr Beaver said the committee were pleased NHDC had put back the deadline, but the cost of land could be a stumbling block.

“We are pleased that NHDC has delayed implementing the ban as it gives us a bit of time,” he said.

“But the cost of the land could be the main problem. We are hoping to find something suitable that we can afford or that could be donated.

“One of the main objectives is to have a sustainable long-term solution for at least 100 years so we are not in this situation again in the near future.”

Another option could be the re-using of old graves, an issue being raised in Parliament by North Herts East MP Oliver Heald.

Cllr Burt said: “Some of our graves are 150 years old so we have to ask ourselves whether this is an effective use of land.

“In London this is possible but we are applying through Oliver Heald to try and get this reviewed.”

Suggestions from residents on possible plots are being welcomed by the committee, but they warned that several issues have to be taken into account before land is considered.

Cllr Bob Smith said: “We are encouraging members of the public to come forward with suggestions but there are a number of factors that have to be taken into consideration.

“The owners must be willing, there must be a water supply, the size of the land must be suitable and it must be affordable.

“Any landowners, farmers or public members in Royston or the surrounding area that feel they could help should contact the town hall with their suggestions.”

To suggest suitable land for burial ground phone the Town Clerk on 01763 245484 or email