Concern at out-of-town cemetery plan

By Lisa CleverdonELDERLY residents could be forced to travel up to three miles to visit the graves of loved ones following a plan to open a new out-of-town cemetery.

By Lisa Cleverdon

ELDERLY residents could be forced to travel up to three miles to visit the graves of loved ones following a plan to open a new out-of-town cemetery.

St Edmundsbury Borough Council said a decline in the number of spaces at its cemetery in Bury St Edmunds had forced it to find an alternative site.

Following negotiations with the Westerleigh Group, which owns the West Suffolk Crematorium in Risby and consultation with Risby Parish Council, a new cemetery will now be provided by the company just outside the village.

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But the proposed location for the new cemetery has sparked concern from charities amid fears elderly people will find it difficult to visit graves that are so far out of town.

A spokesman for the Bury Volunteer Centre, which operates a dial-a-ride service for people unable to use public transport, said changes in bus services could also prove a problem for elderly and disabled members of the public.

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“Lots of people have difficulty getting on and off buses, which makes it difficult for them to get around,” he added.

“But changes to bus services now means that people who might have had a bus stop near their homes, now have to walk further to get on a bus, so there is a real possibility that having a cemetery outside of town might cause problems for some people.”

The borough cemetery in Kings Road has a number of reserved spaces, but little space left for new graves.

A council spokesman said it had started looking for an alternative site some years ago, but no land was available.

Some sites were ruled out by the Environment Agency, others had access problems and often the landowners were unwilling to sell.

Maggie Moss, cemetery registrar, said: “While it is disappointing that we have not been able to find a suitable location for a council-run cemetery, I am pleased that our negotiations with the Westerleigh Group mean that the burial service can continue within our borough.”

Richard Evans, of West Suffolk Crematorium, added: “The new cemetery is located in the grounds of West Suffolk Crematorium, which is well-known in the area for its rural setting and high standards of care.

“We will ensure that the people of the borough will have a well-maintained and beautifully landscaped cemetery for many years to come. We will also be providing traditional and woodland graves as well as the lawn graves provided at the town cemetery.”

The council spokesman said hourly buses were available to take people from Bury St Edmunds to Risby from Monday to Saturday.

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