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Graves in Cemeteries in Walsall

Volume 542: debated on Wednesday 21 March 2012

The Petition of citizens of Walsall,

Declares that the Petitioners object to Walsall Council’s plans to remove borders around all graves at cemeteries in Walsall including Streetly Cemetery, thus allowing lawnmowers, workmen and members of the general public to pass on top of the graves; declares that the Council has never objected or removed any of the borders before or maintained the cemetery as a lawn cemetery and that no consultation has taken place with the families of those buried in this and other cemeteries in the borough; and declares that the Petitioners believe that the plan to remove the borders around graves, which would allow lawn mowers and workmen to pass over graves, is an infringement of their human rights, beliefs and dignity.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to take all possible steps to encourage Walsall Metropolitan Borough Council to reconsider their decision to remove borders from around graves in cemeteries in Walsall.

And the Petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Valerie Vaz, Official Report, 1 February 2012; Vol. 539, c. 954 .]


Observations from the Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice:

The Local Authorities’ Cemeteries Order 1977 (LACO 1977) details the management, regulation and control of cemeteries. Under this order, responsibility for maintenance in cemeteries which it owns rests with the relevant local authority.

LACO gives burial authorities the power to do whatever they consider necessary or desirable for the proper management, regulation and control of a cemetery. This includes levelling the surface of any grave to the level of the adjoining ground and removing kerbs surrounding graves.

Before exercising these powers LACO provides that the burial authority is required to display a notice of their intention to do so in conspicuous positions at the entrances to the cemetery and to publish a notice in two successive weeks in the newspaper or newspapers, which in their opinion would secure the best publicity in the area served by the cemetery.

Neither this Department nor the Government more widely have a role in such decisions or powers to intervene and the MOJ cannot comment on the way in which Walsall metropolitan borough has decided to maintain its cemeteries.

Nevertheless, if the petitioners are concerned that the appropriate procedures have not been followed, they may wish to use the internal complaints procedure which the council has in place. Should they then remain dissatisfied with the council’s response, they are at liberty to complain to the local government ombudsman.