Burial plot and grave reopening fee increase for non-residents in Derry & Strabane being examined

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A Derry & Strabane elected representative has suggested almost tripling the burial plot purchase fee for non-residents in the Derry City & Strabane District to bring it more in line with other regions in the north and raise revenue to maintain cemeteries.

The suggestion was made by DUP Alderman Keith Kerrigan as council members discussed increased burial charges for non residents.

An Officers’ report on the matter was brought to members of the Council’s Environment and Regeneration Committee meting on Wednesday, during which it was stated that the charges for plots and first and second opening were amongst the lowest of the Councils across the region.

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Derry & Strabane charges for purchase of plot, first opening and second opening for non-residents are £400, £205 and £195 respectively, which are considerably less than other districts like Antrim and Newtownabbey (£1,500, £1,300,£1,000) and Lisburn and Castlereagh (£2,260, £1,400, £1,400).

Derry’s  City Cemetery. DER2017GS027Derry’s  City Cemetery. DER2017GS027
Derry’s City Cemetery. DER2017GS027

The report also stated that members “may wish to consider amending these charges as part of the upcoming rate setting exercise and in advance of the 25/26 financial year”.

The cost of buying a plot is higher for non-residents than it is for residents in Derry and Strabane.

For residents, the cost of purchasing a grave rose by £10 as of last month and is now £230, while the cost of interment is £205 and grave reopening £195. This is no cost for interment of stillborn babies, children and young people under the age of 18.

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Permission for the erection of a headstone costs £65 and a grant of title and registration is £42. There are no extra charges applied in Derry & Strabane for over-sized coffins or interment at weekends or bank holidays.

Ballyoan Cemetery. DER2815MC008Ballyoan Cemetery. DER2815MC008
Ballyoan Cemetery. DER2815MC008

The cost of exhuming a body in the Derry City & Strabane District Council area has risen slightly from £1,300 to £1,350 as of April 1.

In terms of the costs applied for non-residents, DUP Alderman Keith Kerrigan proposed raising the cost for purchase of the plot, first opening and second opening for non-residents to £1,100, £850, £800 respectively, which he said would still be “equivalent to or below the average cost [for non residential burials] across the other ten councils in Northern Ireland”.

“The additional revenue would to invested in the maintenance of cemeteries,” he said. “And It’s an ongoing issue because we’re hearing that we don’t cut the grass or we don’t have the staff to do it.”

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Director of Environment and Regeneration, Karen Phillips, suggested withdrawing the proposal until a future Committee meeting, to allow Officers to “bring back a report which adds in potential income, etc…, and give members more time to consider it”.

DUP Alderman Keith Kerrigan.DUP Alderman Keith Kerrigan.
DUP Alderman Keith Kerrigan.

UUP Alderman Derek Hussey said he needed to know the number of non residents actually purchasing sites, and therefore the potential increase in revenue, before taking a decision.

Ms Phillips said she hoped the report could be ready for the next Environment and Regeneration Committee meeting in June, but it would be dependent on the scale of work needed.

Andrew Balfour,

Local Democracy Reporter.