FLINTSHIRE councillors have discussed plans to develop two cemeteries in the county.
Flintshire Council’s Corporate Resources Overview & Scrutiny Committee met on Thursday (November 16) to discuss a report on the Capital Programme, which included plans for Hawarden and Buckley cemeteries.
The programme covers the council’s investment in assets for the long term “to enable the delivery of high quality and value for money public services”, according to the report.
Included in the report were plans for Hawarden Cemetery, which stated that following an allocation of funding in a “previous programme” to purchase a newly identified site to extend it, funding is needed to implement “necessary interment infrastructure” including burial plots, cremation plots, columbaria, natural burial area, garden of remembrance and garden for the scattering of ashes.
The development will provide “in excess of 100 years burial capacity” and enable the council to develop alternative burial and cremation provision in the future, according to the report.
During the meeting, Cllr Sam Swash (Labour) questioned the figure given for the development, which is £300,000 in the report for 2024/25 due to the reference of the allocation of funding in a previous programme.
He questioned whether the site was already owned by the council as he was aware that it had previously been mentioned in the council but was “not aware that the purchase ever went through”, so if they didn’t own it, where was funding allocation.
It was explained that there was an allocation of £265,000 in the programme in 2021/22 and that’s been carried forward each year as land purchase is taking place, so it currently sits in the current year’s council budget – with the intention of purchase.
Plans for Buckley Cemetery are different. The report states that the existing cemetery will reach capacity within four years, possibly sooner, and there is “no option for extension”, though there is an area of low-lying land within it that has not been used for burials.
However, ground investigation determined that a “shallow water table exists in this area making it both unsuitable and dangerous for grave excavation due to the levels of saturation”, however the report states that the proposal is to install burial chambers and develop infrastructure to support the installation, following engagement with specialists.
The proposed utilisation for “unsuitable land” would ensure that burial provision for local residents in those areas continues for at least the next 15 to 20 years, and allocated £190,000.
The use of burial chambers would also be a first in Flintshire. The report says: “All other graves are earth graves apart from those faiths who require or request a bricked vault for burial. The use of chambers would be a significant change from the normal practice, however, there are no faith implications associated with their use.”
Cllr Ibbotson (Labour) questioned the burial chambers during the meeting, asking if it meant columbaria for the site.
He said: “I know previously various committees have looked into the possibly of columbaria, and I think they got a positive reception from at least two of the councils committees.”
It was explained that it is not columbaria, but concrete precast panels that are slotted into the ground to allow coffins to be placed into them because of ground conditions.
Now that the programme has been reviewed, it will be presented to Cabinet on November 21.