New arrangements for weekend burials at council cemeteries are being introduced by St Albans City and District Council following a recommendation from the Local Services Scrutiny Committee.
On 4 September the Committee recommended that the Council works with the Gardens of Peace Muslim Cemetery charity, to provide a weekend and Bank Holiday burial service.
The Council’s Portfolio Holder for Community Engagement and Localism has now decided that the new service will be made available at the London Road Cemetery.
The move follows concerns raised by the Muslim community that the current arrangements are not sufficiently flexible to meet their needs.
Under Islamic religious law, the deceased should be buried as quickly as possible once all formalities have been completed. A similar requirement applies for Orthodox Jewish burials.
Currently, burials can take place in council-owned cemeteries outside of the working week on Saturdays mornings, provided notice is given by 3pm on the preceding Friday.
The enhanced weekend service will be provided at no extra cost to the Council. Relatives of the deceased will pay the same rate as currently charged for Saturday burials.
Councillor Robert Donald, Chair of the Local Services Scrutiny Committee, said: “Arranging a funeral is a difficult and sensitive time for all families. This is doubly so for those such as Muslims and Jews whose religion requires that burial should take place within a very short space of time. This can prove difficult to achieve at the weekends and public holidays sometimes locally, despite a limited out of hours service. In order to meet these needs better than at the moment, therefore, the Committee was asked to review the Council’s current arrangements for weekend burials. We decided that they are too restrictive for the needs of the Muslim and Jewish communities. We have recommended that the Council works with the Gardens of Peace charity to provide a more flexible weekend burial service for the Muslim community. We have also recommended that discussions take place with members of the Orthodox Synagogue in St Albans about the possibility of offering a similar service for the Jewish community.”
In addition, the Committee proposed that the cemetery records are digitised, at a one-off cost of £4,500, and made available to the public. This service has also been approved by the Portfolio Holder for Community Engagement and Localism, subject to funding being found.
A webcast and agenda for the meeting on 4 September are available on the Council’s website.
Cllr Robert Donald, Chair of the Local Services Scrutiny Committee, St Albans City & District Council
Tel: 01727 841647
Contact for the media:
Amanda Wilkinson, Media and Internal Communications Officer, St Albans City and District Council, Tel: 01727 819317, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
1. Information about the role of the Local Services Scrutiny Committee, formerly the Overview and Scrutiny (Public Services) Committee, is available on the Council’s website at: http://www.stalbans.gov.uk/council-and-democracy/Overview-and-Scrutiny/
2. Gardens of Peace Muslim Cemetery is a charity that manages a Muslim cemetery in Hainault in Ilford, Essex and provides funeral services. More information is available at: http://www.gardens-of-peace.org.uk/funeralservices.php