Friday, 19 August 2022

Burial fees set to rise with grave digger

THE cost of burial at Fair Mile cemetery in Henley could increase if a professional grave digger is employed.

The service is currently provided by individual undertakers but the town council, which owns the cemetery, says it is sometimes done poorly and mistakes have been made, causing distress to grieving families.

Earlier this year the council had to apologise after Janine Stevens, of Greys Road, complained that her husband Andrew’s coffin was “squashed” between two other graves. Mr Stevens’s body had to be exhumed and reburied.

The Henley Standard understands that at least one other complaint has been made about burials at the cemetery.

Town clerk Janet Wheeler is to investigate the cost of a grave digger and devise a burial pricing structure to cover the cost and increase the revenue from the cemetery.

The council has already budgeted for a part-time cemetery warden next year and the two roles could be combined.

Mrs Wheeler told a meeting of the council’s recreation and amenities committee that she favoured a grave digger from Wallingford who would charge about £140 for a single grave and £500 for a double.

She said: “Some horrendous mistakes have been made and we must stop the random grave-digging that’s going on as a result of the undertakers using their own people.

“I’m sure if you know the details of these incidents you will agree with me.

“The most important thing is that they’re qualified and there aren’t a lot of people who do that job, for obvious reasons. We’d want them to start as soon as possible.

“The town council will re-charge the cost direct to the undertakers, who will pass on this cost to the families.

“The town council will reserve the right to charge a higher rate to families outside the Henley boundary, which is common practice with local authority cemeteries.”

Councillor David Eggleton said: “It doesn’t seem fair that Henley residents or workers who move out later in life would pay more. Is there anything we can do about that?”

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