No more burials in Royston from April

NORTH Herts District Council (NHDC) approved plans on Tuesday to prohibit full body burials at Royston cemetery, allowing for just the interment of ashes to take place there.

In September, it was agreed to adopt the Wilbury Hills cemetery in Letchworth as the main cemetery for North Herts, due to limited space in Royston, which has just ten years space left.

NHDC’s cabinet agreed to allow only the burial of ashes at Royston cemetery, which will come into effect on April 1.

The decision means that there will be no body burials at these cemeteries, potentially resulting in people unable to be buried near their families.

Royston district councillor Tony Hunter, who was at the meeting when this was approved on Tuesday night, disagreed with the plans.

He said: “To get to Wilbury Hills for many of the old aged people in Royston is going to be a distance and a half. You shouldn’t have to travel on trains and buses just to visit a grave.

“The proposals before us don’t make any recognition for the needs of Royston and there are no exceptions or special circumstances.”

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It was also agreed by cabinet that fees will rise to cover the costs of burials so that NHDC will not have to subsidise them in the future.

This was said to be “essential” due to the current financial climate.

But a controversial proposal to introduce a fee for the burial of those under 18 was rejected.

“We have thought long and hard about these changes because we do understand what a sensitive issue it is,” said Cllr Peter Burt, NHDC portfolio holder for environment.

“We have created a superb new cemetery at Wilbury Hills with enough land to cater for our population for 100 years, overlooking open countryside but also easily accessible to many residents and on a bus route.

“It is unfortunate that our fees will be rising, but the council can no longer afford to subsidise funerals, which is what we have been doing for many years.”

The proposals will now need to be signed off by full council next month.