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Councillors debate the cost of burials
A ROW has broken out over burial fees at Ledbury cemetery.
A suggestion that fees should rise to meet costs, or to match fees charged by neighbouring towns, has caused considerable disagreement among town councillors.
The matter was debated at a recent meeting of the town’s environment and leisure committee, with some councillors taking the view that significant rises are necessary, and others calling for only a small increase at best.
Coun Allen Conway said: “I don’t want us to make a profit; I don’t want us to make a loss.”
On paper, it seems as if Ledbury Cemetery, off New Street, is making a loss.
In the financial year, 2011/2012, the council spent about £17,500 on the cemetery, excluding the grounds officer’s salary and his equipment, but the income was only £14,000. Income, however, depends on the number of burials in any one year.
In this financial year, 2012/2013, spending could top £33,000, but that figure could include £20,000 on improvements to the mortuary.
But several councillors objected to the most recent figures being used for a debate for a rise, because they may not be representative of a typical year. Coun Annette Crowe said: “I propose we get the basic costs, before we make any recommendation.”
Other councillors warned against large increases.
Coun Tony Bradford said: “We would need to explain these rises to the people of Ledbury. We represent the community. We are not a business, and I think we have to be proportional in putting up our prices.”
Coun Bob Barnes suggested a rise of 10 per cent as a one-off because charges have not gone up since 2011.
Ledbury’s burial fees are currently lower that those of neighbouring towns.
The purchase of a single grave space is £270 in Ledbury; £414 in Malvern and £1,521 in Gloucester. The matter has gone back to the town’s Ledbury Cemetery working party, for further consideration.
Town clerk Karen Mitchell said the working party would draw up is new average income/outgoings figures.
Income comes from grave plots and grave digging.
In the financial year 2010/2011, expenditure was £20,000 and income £13,000, and in the next financial year, 2011/2012 expenditure was £17,500 and income, £14,000.