Burials suspended at Arlesey cemetery as future remains in doubt

PEOPLE are temporarily banned from burying their loved ones at a waterlogged town cemetery, with its long term future also in doubt.

In a heated debate at an extraordinary meeting on Tuesday, Arlesey councillors discussed whether the town’s cemetery should close for good.

Views were split and a decision was not reached, but councillors did agree to temporarily suspend burials at the Hitchin Road site while they produce a report on options for the cemetery.

But, when asked on his gut feeling of its future, expert advisor Justin Smith said unless the council was prepared to put “a big wad of money on the table”, councillors should consider closing the cemetery for good.

“There are financial and ethical issues to consider,” he added.

“[You have] got to look at the options on the table. If you want to continue, you have to think about coming up with some serious options.”

Currently, regulations set by the Environment Agency on water levels are being breached at the cemetery.

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There were also claims by Cllr David West that contaminated water had been pumped onto the grass, near to where people mourned at loved ones graves.

Potential measures can be taken to meet regulations, but are likely to be pricey, with some examples given costing in excess of �150,000.

Cllr Andy White told the meeting: “I would suggest the long term future is there is no future, and we look to have a new cemetery on top of the hill.”

But Cllr Mick Holloway said: “I’m not ready to give up.

“I would like to see a sense of urgency. I would like someone to get actual numbers so we know what we are up against.”

As the Comet reported last week, the burial of a man at the cemetery had to be cancelled because of the flooding.

In a letter read out at the meeting, his family said they were left “distressed”, and faced unbudgeted costs.

Responding to the letter, chairman Nick Daniels said: “I have said that, as a council, we will try and do anything we can to support that family, particularly from a financial aspect.”

If burials were permanently cancelled, bodies already buried in the cemetery could remain, and the site could remain as a garden of remembrance.