Major improvements announced for district cemeteries

Samuel Ryder is buried in Hatfield Road Cemetery

Samuel Ryder is buried in Hatfield Road Cemetery - Credit: St Albans Tour Guides

Cemeteries across the district are set to undergo major improvements as part of a detailed plan approved by councillors.

The three cemeteries run by St Albans district council (SADC) are Hatfield Road and London Road in St Albans, and Harpenden's Westfield Road.

The first of these includes the grave of former mayor and golf competition founder Samuel Ryder, and a selection of Commonwealth war graves.

Proposals include enhancing gardens of rest, better monitoring of the upkeep of new graves and action to reduce litter.

A report on the cemeteries was given to a meeting of SADC's public realm committee, where a detailed plan was agreed to improve the cemeteries and to implement that plan over the next year.

This will be developed in consultation with faith, bereavement and community groups including those involved with heritage and the environment.

Committee chair Cllr Helen Campbell said: “Cemeteries are one of the most important services that we provide our community.

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“They are not only places for burials but also places where people go to find peace and solace, to pay their respects and to reconnect with their past.

“I am delighted that the committee has approved a cemeteries improvement plan that will ensure we achieve the highest possible standards in all areas provided we identity sources of funding.

“The plan sets out ways for improving our grounds maintenance, land management, building maintenance, customer service and engagement with the community.

“We will be consulting intensively with all interested groups in the months ahead to ensure the plans respond to the needs of all our communities.”

The committee also agreed a proposal for a small-scale mausoleum at London Road cemetery could be provided if there was shown to be demand.

This would be an alternative to a previous project to create a large mausoleum with 200 spaces after a feasibility study revealed similar buildings elsewhere have not been a particularly popular option for those who had lost a loved one.

The Institute of Cemetery and Crematorium Management recommended the revised approach.

It concluded that the best way forward was to concentrate on other areas such as investment in the gardens of rest. Its recommendations form the basis of the improvement plan.

Cllr Campbell added: “In setting out our plans we have subjected previous proposals to a thorough re-examination and taken aboard the advice of the Institute. This has been a rigorous exercise and we will continue with that approach to deliver the improvements.”