This story form sunny Devon highlights the unforeseen cost of choosing to bury the ashes of a loved one in a family plot. A lady, called Phyllis Bishop, a long time resident of Torquay, passed away and her wish was to be buried alongside her husband at their family grave in Torquay. However the family ended opting for cremation as the cost to reopen the grave for burial was very expensive ordinarily £725, but because Mrs Bishop had spent her last two years in Newton Abbot (stones throwing distance) the family needed to pay an extra £1000 as she was deemed to be from outside the area (ouch!).
They chose to have the ashes buried at the family grave instead, which wasn’t cheap either – the cost to have a hole dug for the urn – £500. Why this so high we are not sure and it is unclear what percentage (if any) the local authority make, and compared to other authorities it does seem high. We conducted a straw pole of half a dozen authorities chosen at random, the costs for interning ashes varied between £100 and £215, which seems a little more reasonable.
I am not what percent goes to the private company operating the cemetery and what to the authority I am guessing it all goes to the company. If authorities choose to outsource to private companies these by their very nature must make a profit, but it is the Authority that set this tariff not the company – the company will wish to negotiate a good rate so it can make money – but all these should be reasonable and as this is in effect a monopoly public service transparency wouldn’t go a miss either. The spokesman for Torbay council response was a little underwhelming:
‘When the council transferred the management of the cemeteries and crematorium to Westerleigh, they also took on the pre-existing operational arrangements which included charging double fees for out-of-area residents.
‘We do keep our arrangements under review and will continue to work with Westerleigh on this matter.’