More burial space needed in Leighton-Linslade as town council sets about identifying potential sites

Vandyke Road Cemetery, Leighton Buzzard. Picture: Google MapsVandyke Road Cemetery, Leighton Buzzard. Picture: Google Maps
Vandyke Road Cemetery, Leighton Buzzard. Picture: Google Maps
Burial space is at a premium in the Leighton Buzzard area four years on from the pandemic, a meeting heard.

In the worst case scenario, the capacity the parish has “could be exhausted within weeks”, warned Liberal Democrat (Independent) Leighton Linslade West Central Bedfordshire councillor Russ Goodchild.

Leighton-Linslade Town Council with the help of consultants has identified 22 potential sites, of which 20 are within the parish boundary, Central Bedfordshire Council’s executive was told.

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Only seven of these local sites are potential suitability, according to councillor Goodchild. “The two sites out of the boundary meet the criteria and are available to purchase,” he explained.

During the pandemic, CBC wanted parishes to make burial space available for the wider area.

“The town council sought a written guarantee that CBC uses its statutory powers to secure the expansion of viable burial capacity in Leighton-Linslade parish,” said councillor Goodchild.

“It also suggested the project identifying and securing appropriate land be afforded the highest of priorities and begin as soon as working conditions allow, and that the two local authorities work together to identify and secure extra burial space by compulsory purchase if necessary.

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“This was on the basis that in the worst case scenario, what capacity the parish had could be exhausted within weeks.

“The local authority had been actively lobbying CBC to identify extra burial capacity as part of the urban extension east of the town. But to the town council’s frustration, the site allocated wasn’t fit for purpose and was unusable.

“Nearly four years on from the pandemic, the town council is left with a burial capacity problem. It commissioned consultants to identify cemetery sites of between one and two acres, with 22 sites identified, surveyed and analysed to address suitability against 17 credible factors.

“Of these, 20 were within the parish boundary. Only seven are potential suitability,” he added. “The town council asks that CBC doesn’t renege on the authority’s previous commitment and provides sufficient resource to progress this project and produce a suitable outcome.”

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Council leader and Independent Potton councillor Adam Zerny suggested compulsory purchase would be a last resort and wondered if the town council has tried to buy any of the 22 sites.

Councillor Goodchild replied: “The previous authority made a commitment to help.

“With the new administration, if there’s a requirement for LLTC to receive help from CBC on screening sites, it’s reassurance that resource is available. With sites outside of the parish, the town council may need your help.”

Councillor Zerny noted his comments, adding: “If there are further issues and LLTC needs support from CBC officers, you can approach me.”

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A report to the executive committee said: “CBC continues to be committed to working constructively with Leighton Linslade Town Council to help it identify and secure viable burial capacity within the parish.

“CBC’s role includes an annual review of burial authority capacity, but the duty to identify and secure land for future burial capacity is that of the burial authorities, namely the town and parish councils within Central Bedfordshire.”