A TAMWORTH councillor has called for council to look into allowing family members to be buried next to each other in closed cemeteries.
The Tamworth region has 18 cemeteries, with 10 of those operational and eight now closed for burials.
At Tuesday night’s meeting, Cr Glenn Inglis said while it was uncommon for people to be buried in a cemetery that is closed before their loved ones could join them, it was a situation council should investigate.
“In the management plan, if you can identify that you are a relative of a person in a closed cemetery, we will allow the returning of ashes back into the closed cemetery,” Cr Inglis said.
“That sounds sensible to me, but what struck me then was, why don’t we also have the same option for burials in closed cemeteries when a family can attest to the fact they have a family member in the closed cemetery?
“It isn’t something I think would happen very often, but to not allow it, I couldn’t satisfy myself about the fairness of that.”
Cr Jim Maxwell endorsed his fellow councillor’s idea.
“I must admit I’ve got the same feelings – if a great-grandfather was buried there, why can’t the great-grandmother be buried beside him even though it’s a closed cemetery?” Cr Maxwell questioned.
“I’d like to see a report come back on it and see whether we can do it.”
The request comes as councillors endorsed the draft Plan of Management for Cemeteries 2017, which will be placed on public exhibition for feedback until February 27.
The plan, which will guide the future management of cemeteries, includes the creation of memory gardens, the addition of columbarium walls, the construction an amenities block at Barraba Cemetery and erecting a memorial at the Nundle Cemetery recognising the Chinese pioneer graves it contains.
In May last year, councillors supported a plan to expand the existing Tamworth Lawn Cemetery to provide about 3000 plots over 20 years once it opens in 2019.
The existing Tamworth Lawn Cemetery on Showground Road, which dates back to about 1970, has 260 burial plots remaining and will be full in three years based on current annual usage levels of 90 plots a year.