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Second wave of Covid-19 could bring forward opening of new burial space at Upminster Cemetery

PUBLISHED: 17:09 22 July 2020 | UPDATED: 17:09 22 July 2020

Upminster Cemetery. Picture: John Hercock

Upminster Cemetery. Picture: John Hercock

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The opening of extra burial spaces at Upminster Cemetery could be accelerated if there is a second wave of Covid-19 infections.

Documents were published ahead of a meeting of Havering Council’s Overview and Scrutiny Board concerning the proposed awarding of a £5m contract for the second and third phases of a project to extend the cemetery.

A briefing note said that the project is intended to be completed by the end of August next year and will make space for around 4,425 graves.

It added that there is only about 500 burial spaces available at the cemetery and these are set to run out by next December.

The briefing said: “It should also be noted that if there is a second wave of Covid-19, then burial space is likely to run out sooner.”

When asked by the Recorder if the completion of the project will need to be sped up in this case, council leader Damian White said: “A second wave of Covid-19 could affect the expansion.

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“In the event that there was a need to accelerate the opening of phases two and three, then the council would request that a section of the new phases be made available for immediate use.”

The 5.5 hectares of land next to the cemetery, in Ockendon Road, were identified in 2013 and phase one of the project was finished in 2014.

Another report published ahead of Tuesday’s (July 21) meeting said that a contractor for the work had been identified.

During the meeting, Cllr Keith Darvill asked whether there had been an increase in demand for burial space notwithstanding Covid-19.

Louise Roast, bereavement and registration services manager, said: “There has been a bit of an increase. We undertake approximately 300 burials a year without a pandemic being factored in. Before the pandemic, we had noticed more people were choosing burials than normal.”

She confirmed that the timetable for the work was formed before the Covid pandemic, adding: “At this moment in time I feel pretty confident that if we can stick to this timetable we will be OK.”

The decision to award the contract is scheduled to be made at the end of August, a council spokesperson said.


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