Grave sharing fears over city burial plots

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GRIEVING families could face total strangers being buried on top of their loved ones in council cemeteries.

And to stop such invasion they must pay a £480 ‘exclusive rights’ fee – every 30 years.

Though such grave-sharing has never happened before in Milton Keynes, the council has admitted this week it may have to resort to such practice in the future.

Burial space is already tight, with Stony Stratford and Wolverton full to capacity and New Bradwell and Bletchley being extended.

And when the eastern flank is developed – with no plans for more cemeteries – a chronic shortage could develop.

Now city funeral rights campaigner Teresa Evans is warning people to insist on exclusive rights when burying their loved ones.

Teresa lost her son Boyd in a road accident four years ago and has since become an expert on grave and funeral legislation.

Last week she took her campaign for clearer information about funeral costs to Parliament through MP Iain Stewart.

She told the Citizen: “When I lost Boyd I knew nothing about exclusive rights. I paid for his grave and it wasn’t until a year later that I discovered I had no right to stop the council allowing someone else to be buried in it too.

“The thought of a total stranger being buried on top of my son was just horrific. I just want to raise awareness of this extra cost.”

Each local authority sets its own funeral fees and terms of lease for graves. A single plot grave in Milton Keynes costs £612. To buy the exclusive rights for 30 years costs a further £480.

In London, where cemetery space is at crisis point, grave-sharing is already commonplace.

Said one funeral director: “You can actually see the added coffins sticking out of the top of the grave in places.

“While any good funeral director will explain the exclusive rights payment fully to grieving relatives, families must ensure the message is passed on to future generations and the payment made to the council every 30 years.

A council spokesman said: Where there is no exclusivity, we could inter another person into that grave but we have never done this.

“There is currently no shortage of burial space in Milton Keynes as a whole but the time may come when we need to inter more than one body in one plot where there are no exclusive rights.”