A Cemetery Strategy for Watford 2016-2026
Report of Environmental Services Client Manager (Parks, Open Spaces & Projects)
A report was received from the Environmental Services Manager (Parks, Open Spaces and Projects). This set out the final findings of a review of Watford’s cemetery service and recommendations for a ten year cemetery strategy. This also included an update on the establishment of a weekend and bank holiday service for those who required it for religious and cultural reasons.
The Council currently managed and maintained four cemeteries:
· North Watford Cemetery
· Vicarage Road Cemetery and
· Two closed cemeteries (All Saint’s Cemetery and St Mary’s Church Grounds – grounds maintenance only).
Councillor Scudder introduced the report. The cemetery strategy had been developed as a result of a comprehensive review of cemetery provision in Watford and following extensive consultation. Areas the strategy covered included how to manage supply as the Council had limited supply available. It looked to the future at any ways to increase supply which was more difficult. The strategy also focussed on service improvements for visitors, users and staff. The strategy included increased staffing provision and some improvements to the Council’s premises particularly at North Watford cemetery.
Councillor Scudder explained that the strategy was also about income generation in order to help cover costs. The service provided was expensive and currently did not cover its costs. With regards to increasing provision to enable the Muslim community to bury their deceased at weekends, the Council was working with the Gardens of Peace charity and was close to finalising an arrangement.
The Head of Corporate Strategy and Client Services stated that it was anticipated that a weekend or bank holiday service would be used approximately six times per year. She continued that the plan was over a 10 year period. The report listed the key objectives. These included the weekend service, managing demand for burial space, looking at memorial regulations regarding safety and also improving staff cover. The costs would be covered by increased fees and charges.
The Head of Corporate Strategy and Client Services continued that progress had already been made with a detailed audit of existing space being commissioned. This would identify how the Council could improve the use of the existing space. With regards to weekend services there would be a consultation in March with the service starting in April.
In response to a question from the Mayor, the Head of Corporate Strategy and Client Services explained that the Council’s chapels’ improved heating and roofing work at North Watford was scheduled for later in 2016. Work had already been carried out on Vicarage Road chapel last year and it was now in quite good condition.
The Mayor suggested approaching Christians Across Watford to adopt the chapels in order to increase community involvement and so there could be community activities such as spring clean days as were currently held at some of the churches.
The Environmental Services Client Manager (Parks, Open Spaces and Projects) commented that in the Institute of Cemetery and Crematorium Management report which the Council had commissioned, it had suggested holding carol services and clean-ups. The Vicarage Road cemetery was full. However, it was a very historic cemetery which could potentially be a Heritage Lottery Fund project. The Council would look at the use of space in a different way in order to celebrate the heritage.
the contents of the Cemetery Strategy and Action Plan and approves
for adoption with any subsequent amendments delegated to the Head
of Corporate Strategy and Client Services.
- receives regular updates to Cabinet on progress made.
- notes the progress in relation to establishing a weekend and bank holiday burial service in partnership with the Gardens of Peace charity.