Fears that space is running out in Falkirk’s cemeteries

Grandsable Cemetery in Polmont is one of those with capacity issues
Grandsable Cemetery in Polmont is one of those with capacity issues

Moves to tackle the threat of cemeteries running out of room have been criticised for not being good enough.

Space is running out so fast a scheme allowing families to buy lairs in advance at six sites has been suspended.

The temporary policy to stop plots being sold unless a burial is imminent was introduced by Falkirk Council in June. It also agreed to find and develop new sites and set up a special committee to look into the crisis.

Councillors were told capacity at six cemeteries - Polmont, Muiravonside, New Grandsable, Hills of Dunipace, Airth and Larbert - would be exhausted within 10 years. At the same time finding suitable land for new or extended cemeteries is becoming more difficult.

But the progress of the scheme has been criticised by the SNP.

At a meeting last week Councillor Stephen Bird said: “Falkirk Council is in danger of running out of space in four of its nine cemeteries within three years and has admitted it could take perhaps 10 years to find suitable replacement sites. and the best it can do is set up a development panel to talk about it.

“This situation needs action not words and action very quickly. New Grandsable has barely three years capacity, Polmont and Muiravonside around two and Hills of Dunipace six years, even after the decision to ban advance lair purchases.

“Incredibly, Polmont had actually been allowed to get below one year’s capacity before this issue was ever brought before council. This is nothing short of a gross dereliction of duty by this administration who have claimed the issue only came to light when the estate was transferred between departments. As a collective the Labour/Tory administration must tell people where they are going to bury their loved ones when the local cemeteries run out of space.”

Councillor Craig R. Martin, spokesman for the environment and community safety, said: “After this situation came to my attention we have acted very quickly and that work is on-going. There will be a two-pronged approach to find new space and we will be looking at how other council’s approach similar situations.”

Soil conditions at one of the council’s main cemeteries, New Grandsable, has added to the problem. Some parts of the ground may not be able to be developed as planned, halving the number of lairs available to 190.