Memorandum by the Metropolitan Borough
of Wirral (CEM 87)
I understand that you are gathering evidence
on behalf of the Environment Sub-committee. The Metropolitan Borough
of Wirral is responsible for five operating cemeteries and seven
closed cemeteries. We undertake approximately 1,500 burials per
annum and have adequate supply of land for future burials.
I would wish to draw the Committees attention
to three issues.
Firstly, the increasing concerns about the safety
of memorials in cemeteries and who has liability. We have commenced
a process of inspection and recording dangerous memorials and
where necessary attempting to make them safe. This is a growing
problem and is likely to lead to increased costs for local authorities.
Secondly, the handing over of closed churchyards
by Parish Councils to the local authority. We have recently had
to assume the maintenance of two closed churchyards at an additional
cost of £40,000. No allowance is made for this in any government
grant or assessment. We estimate that a further six churchyards
could apply for closure in the near future.
Thirdly, the importance of older cemeteries
to the local community. Flaybrick Memorial Gardens was opened
in 1864. Planted with many exotic trees and shrubs it was in a
poor condition in the 1980s suffering badly from vandalism. A
Friends Group was established with an interest in assisting in
the maintenance and promotion of the cemetery and the local authority
responded by appointing a ranger. This has proved a successful
partnership and a great deal of restoration work has been carried
out and vandalism reduced. There are now 40 members of the Friends
group and they regularly undertake work in the cemetery as well
as leading guided works etc. I enclose a copy of a leaflet about
the site for your information.
J L Lester
Head of Parks and Open Spaces