Heated exchanges over position of cemetery site in Royston

Don Shewan.

Don Shewan. - Credit: Archant

A meeting in Royston descended into a heated row between members of the public and councillors over the proposed site for a cemetery.

Royston Town Council has already been granted planning permission to build a cemetery on a site at Wicker Hall, but a further meeting will now be called after members of the public spoke out against the location at Royston’s annual town meeting on Thursday.

They cited concerns about its position on top of a hill, and the fact that the site is too small to cater for a growing population.

One person shouted: “How are funeral cars going to get up and down that hill?”

When objections to the site were raised at the meeting, Councillor Peter Burt said: “We have already surveyed all areas through the town.

“Wicker Hall has come up. I can’t believe that Wicker Hall is unsuitable. It’s the only site, we should use it.”

As the debate became more heated, it was suggested by one member of the public to put the discussion to a vote.

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Chair of finance, Councillor F John Smith said: “We don’t just have votes on the spot.

“We want to get on with the job. I believe it’s possible to get on with this.”

When he continued being heckled, he said: “I work for Royston and I don’t take it kindly when someone suggests my motives are impure.”

A man from the audience shouted back: “I’ll think about that. Put it to a vote.”

An ad hoc vote was called, where people made a show of hands to suggest whether they supported the planning application.

Don Shewan, who lives in Echo Hill, expressed his concern at the lack of room at the site.

He said: “It’s not fit for purpose. You’re only allowed to bring eight people per year, what if you were the ninth? Present estimates are that there is a need for a minimum of 12 plus, and this number will grow, as the town does.”

A spokeswoman for the town council said: “We have been granted planning permission to build at the Wicker Hall site, but we have conditions we have to comply with.

“We will discuss the site at a future committee meeting and will hold a public meeting.”