Select Committee on Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Memoranda

Memorandum by the Manchester Crematorium Ltd (CEM 76)

  The way that we treat our dead plays a major role within our society. It reflects public morality, discipline and behavioural patterns.

  The major problem we now face within our profession is that there is little respect for either persons, property or for the environment in which we live. The care and maintenance of our cemeteries, crematoria, public buildings, public transport and open spaces has been run down to a minimum and vandalism has become rife. Something needs to be done to improve matters and soon.

  The disused cemeteries are deprived of maintenance and laid wide open to misuse. Vandals, drug users, muggers are frequent visitors to lay prey to the few people who visit the graves and feast on the seclusion. What they leave becomes a very dangerous environment for children who innocently wish to play but leave themselves open to all sorts of atrocities.

  Many of our existing cemeteries are large and unkempt and due to the low volume of visitors are again open to gross misuse.

  It is my view that the disused cemeteries should be re-used by the community.

    (a)  Grave stones laid flat, soiled and grassed over. Pathways restored to a reasonable level of maintenance and the cemetery become an area of quiet recreation. A small park in the middle of a city or its suburbs to be maintained by the Council for public use. "No sports".

    (b)  The graves to be re-used using the "Lift and Deepen" method that has been developed in Australia.

  Whichever method was adopted the land would be used once more by the community and the more people that were brought into the area would reduce or prevent the misuse of that land.

  If the ground was to be re-used as a cemetery there would be no need to redesignate its use and would preserve the right of the dead to be laid to rest within their own community. It would also relieve the local authority of the expense of funding a new cemetery location and the additional cost of operating a second site.

  Without the "Lift and Deepen" facility soon earth burial will be denied to many people on cost alone and those who do afford the expense will be subjected to a great deal of inconvenience having to travel considerable distances to visit the grave.

  The excessive travelling is again an environmental disaster.

  The majority of the people within this country have accepted cremation as the method of disposing of the dead but not every person or religion can accept that majority lead and it is important that we maintain earth burial as an option for those people.

Andrew P Helsby

Superintendent & Registrar

December 2000

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