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Cemeteries and Crematoria

The latest network queries circulated for this service are listed below. 

If you would like more information about any of these queries or want to submit a response, please email Wayne Priestley.

Network queries from previous years are available on the links at the bottom of the page.

GM0547 - Grazing on cemetery land and the use of grass retardants - 01.06.17

A member authority is enquiring whether any other local authorities
have been approached to allow sheep to graze in older parts of the
cemetery as a grounds maintenance measure?

The member authority is also interested to discover if any
colleagues have experience of using a growth retardant on
cemetery grass, as they historically do not allow weed killing around
memorials. and since the introduction of new legislation around
vibration, the current use of strimmers, is becoming less viable.

As such they would welcome any ideas from other authorities on
how to deal with this issue.


GM0533 - Provision of Muslim graves – 08.02.17

 A member authority is looking for advice from any other Local
Authority which is operating a Muslim cemetery or Muslim section
within a Cemetery in a heavy clay soil and the associated problems
of ground water runoff, poor drainage and a high water table. We
are looking to open a new Muslim section in heavy clay soil and
would appreciate advice and guidance on:

  1. How do authorities deal with this problem
  2. Are graves lined in any way and if so does it work?
  3. How are the graves sealed?
  4. Advice on any other problems and solutions identified.


CEM042 - Privacy Notices - 25.07.17

A member authority is enquiring regarding the introduction of the
new GDPR legislation which will be live from 25 May 2018 . An
explanation of Privacy notices can be found below:

“Privacy notices tell our customers and staff what to expect when
the council collects their personal information. A privacy notice
should exist at every point that we collect data, be it verbally e.g. via
the contact centre or personal interview, in writing on a form or other
documentation or electronically via a website or other online

The introduction of the new GDPR legislation, which replaces the
current Data Protection Act from 25th May 2018 requires privacy
notices to be clear, transparent and easily accessible to staff and to
any of our customers including children. To enable the council to
comply with the GDPR all current privacy notices must reviewed,
any gaps identified and new notices written. This also includes
notices given by other organisations who collect data on behalf of
the council.”

Privacy Notices are going to apply not only to local authorities but
also to funeral directors and memorial masons too.
The enquiring authority has looked at the ‘best practice’ examples
on the Information Commissioners Office website but examples
seem to be targeted for web based and/or sales use which they feel
doesn’t really apply to Bereavement Servoices at the moment.
They are therefore enquiring whether any councils have some
samples / suggestions of appropriate notices / wording that could be
used ?


CEM041 - Columbarium Pricing Structure - 17.07.17

A member authority is asking whether any other authorities have
Columbarium and if so what lease options they have implemented
to bereaved families regarding leasing options of 5 & 10 & 25 years
and what their current prices are.

They would also like to know if any authority has a different price
structure according to the position of the plaque on the columbaria.


CEM040 - Small excavating machine for digging graves - 17.07.17

A member authority has for a number of years used a Lewis Badger
digging machine to excavate graves. The machine is small enough
to get between the rows of graves without causing damage.

Several years ago they went to replace one of their Lewis Badger
machines and found they were no longer being made.

They are there enquiring whether any authority uses a machine:

  • that isn’t tracked,
  • is small enough to easily access graves in sections where burials have already taken place.

The authority is aware that they could use a larger digger for
excavations on new sections, but not in ones where burials have
taken place – especially for pre-purchased graves in the middle of


CEM039 - Bird damage in cemeteries - 10.07.17

A member authority has had a number of complaints from grave
owners regarding damage to flowers on grave plots and of
someone pulling flowers out of their pots that are integrated into the
headstone bases.

Initially it was thought it may be vandals, but following the police
leaving a temporary camera at the cemetery, it became apparent
that it is wildlife, and in particular crows, that are causing the

The cemetery has been open since 2009 and this is the first year
that we have experienced this issue.

The enquiring authority has suggested that grave owners try
artificial flowers but this doesn’t seem to have helped.

Does any local authority have any suggestions as to how the
enquiring authority can tackle this problem?


CEM038 - Cemetery and crematoria software systems - 10.07.17 

A member authority will be building and running its own
crematorium and are looking at system software for running the
services for both cemeteries and crematoria.

They are currently use Civica but will shortly be having
demonstrations of Clear Skies (BACAS), Gower Epilog and Epitaph
Edge IT Systems.

They are enquiring whether memberscould provide any feedback on
the systems they currently use and also if there are any reviews with
the intention of changing from/to any of those mentioned.


CEM037 - Emergency crematoria technician cover - 03.07.17

A member authority is looking to put into place structure and
support for their Crematoria, and an aspect of that is emergency
cover, particularly in needing qualified crematorium technicians.

Have any member authorities had to use any organisations which
can provide such services and if so can they provide contact details.


CEM036 - New burial/cemetery space - 03.07.17

A member authority is interested to find out from members the

  • Specifications for a new burial/cemetery space including consultants brief,
  • consultants used and costs,
  • build specifications and costs,
  • business case for sustainability.

If members are unable to provide this level of detail, could they
indicate if they have built a new cemetery in the last seven year and
a key contact with whom the enquiring authority could have a
conversation with.


CEM035 - Scattering of cremated remains across formal parks and open spaces - 20.06.17

Would other authorities share their policies or advise if they allow
the scattering of cremated remains across formal parks and open

  • If they allow the scattering of cremated remains, how do they manage the request and maintain records.
  • What issues have they experienced and how have they overcome them?
  • The enquiring authority have had a request on the above but they do not currently have a specific policy and their initial thoughts are that they restrict the scattering of ashes to cemetery grounds.


CEM034 - New cemetery developments - 20.06.17

A member authority would be interested to receive any details from
other member authorities who have developed a new piece of land
just for cemetery use in the last 5 years, in particular:

  • How long it took from start to finish.
  • Did it include roadways, access and buildings?


CEM033 - Filming of crematoria staff during funeral services - 06.06.17

A member authority is looking to clarify the position of colleague
authorities in respect of the rights of cremation staff where services
are either recorded or webcast.

  1. Where Cremation Authorities have the facility to record or webcast cremation services, do they ask staff to sign a waiver or other legal disclaimer in respect of their anonymity or identity?
  2. In these circumstances are there any other methods applied to protect the rights of employees?


CEM032 - Disposal Of Wood Based Arisings - 25.05.17

A member authority is enquiring, with regard to local authority
arboricultural contracts, what provision do Council’s make for the
disposal of arisings, namely wood chip and timber?

  • Do Councils maintain ownership of wood chip and/or timber? If so do they store it, sell it to a third party such as for biomass, process such as for fire wood sales?
  • If wood chip is sold in bulk for biomass, could they supply a list of potential purchasers and indicative prices per tonne?
  • With regard to fire wood sales, could we have a brief description of the business model with regard to labour and capital outlay?
  • Alternatively, is the responsibility given to the contractor to deal with arisings and if so what requirements and responsibilities are expected from those contractors?


CEM031 - Dispute over burial rights - 25.05.17

A member authority has received a signed letter from the owner of
two burial plots stating that the individual wished to transfer the plots
to another person, which we did. However the original owner died
and the family of the deceased then alleged the letter was a
forgery. The deceased was then buried in one of the plots and
currently the family of the deceased and the person whom the plots
were transferred to are now in dispute regarding the remaining plot.
The member authority is looking for advice/ views on how best to
deal with this situation?


CEM028 - Unauthorised memorabilia on children's graves - 21.04.17

A member authority has a number of communal graves dating from
the 1950’s to the year 2000, which are the subject of unauthorised
They are interested to hear from other local authorities with similar
communal burial areas as to how they deal with the matter of
memorabilia (crosses – Wooden & Stone / trinkets/ teddy bears /
wreaths etc. in particular relating to children’s communal graves
Have local authorities allowed memorabilia in some form, for
example amended regulations to compensate for families not being
able to own the grave.


CEM027 - Unauthorised memorabilia in parks and on war memorials - 11.04.17

A member authority has experienced problems with the placing of
unauthorised memorabilia within parks and other locations including
war memorials.
This memorabilia may well arrive unannounced and can be
unsightly and its removal can often cause upset.
The member authority is therefore enquiring what experiences,
policies and procedures other local authorities have in dealing with
these incidents.


CEM026 - On-Line booking facilities for burials - 21.03.17

A member authority is keen to know if any local authority operates
an online booking facility for burials. They have an online booking
facility for their 2 crematoria, but these are bookable slots defined
by time and in specific locations.
The member wants to know if anyone has developed, or is developing,
an online booking system for burials to allow for:

  • Remote access by funeral directors and burial committees
  • Bookings for a number of cemeteries across a large geographical district
  • New graves, re-open graves, ashes interments
  • Same day Muslim faith burials i.e. booking for a very responsive service
  • Links between the bookings system and workflow / job allocation within the operational team


CEM025 - Unauthorised memorabilia on graves/crematoria grounds - 23.02.17

A member authority is enquiring as to how other local authorities
deal with unauthorised memorabilia on graves.

  • Do you have a council policy on unauthorised memorabilia on graves/crematoria grounds?
  • Do you have information available to the public on unauthorised memorabilia on graves/crematoria grounds e.g. web pages, leaflets, notice boards in cemetery/crematoria grounds?
  • How do you deal with the persistent placing of unauthorised memorabilia?


CEM023 - Creation of new cemeteries and burial grounds - 31.01.17

A member authority is asking for information regarding any authority
which has recently opened up a new cemetery or a new section
within an existing cemetery for further burials and the issues they
may have faced and solutions employed.
They would appreciate any information which may prove helpful to
them in their pursuit of creating new burial space.


CEM022 - Memorial headstone policies - 13.01.17

Using the document ‘Managing the safety of Burial Ground
Memorials - Practical advice for dealing with unstable memorials’ as
a guide for headstone memorials inspections A member authority
has developed a routine program of inspections within its cemetery
When a headstone / memorial is categorised as ‘dangerous’ their
response is to contact the deed holder / next of kin (where records
are available), lay the headstone / memorial flat on the ground and
place a small sign in front of the memorial.
As the number of headstones being laid down increases they are
introducing further ‘risk’ within the cemetery and hampering
grounds maintenance teams.



Promoting excellence in public services

APSE (Association for Public Service Excellence) is a not for profit local government body working with over 300 councils throughout the UK. Promoting excellence in public services, APSE is the foremost specialist in local authority frontline services, hosting a network for frontline service providers in areas such as waste and refuse collection, parks and environmental services, cemeteries and crematorium, environmental health, leisure, school meals, cleaning, housing and building maintenance.




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