RESIDENTS who have bought their final resting place will get an extra 25 years’ bang for their buck after Stafford Borough councillors approved extensions to grave leases.
Since 1964 grave leases, granting exclusive rights of burial to the owner, have been sold covering a 50-year period. Previously graves had been sold in perpetuity.
But the earliest 50-year leases sold are due to expire this year and concerns about the graves’ future are already being raised by living owners and relatives of those already buried in their resting places, a report to Stafford Borough Council’s cabinet committee said.
Last week the cabinet approved the extension of the leases to 75 years. This covers both existing and newly granted leases at cemeteries at Tixall Road and Eccleshall Road in Stafford and Stone Cemetery, off the A34.
The council report said: “Increasing the leases to 75 years will not in practice reduce the amount of grave space available in the cemeteries in the Borough. When a grave lease expires the grave ownership reverts back to the council.
“The council cannot exhume any remains. However the council could use any space in the grave to place remains and remove any memorials.
“In practice it is very unlikely that the council would do this in view of the sensitivities involved. Any gains in burial space are far outweighed by the potential for reputational damage.
“Extending the current grave leases by 25 years provides reassurance for those tending graves in the borough’s cemeteries. Granting all new leases for 75 years provides better value for money for grave purchasers at no cost to the council. “