A COUNCIL review could see cemeteries in Argyll and Bute closed in a bid to save money.

A “reduction in the number of live burial grounds” is one of several ideas being proposed by Argyll and Bute Council to enable it to maintain the area’s cemeteries more efficiently.

A range of options for the future management of the area’s cemeteries was considered by the authority’s environment, development and infrastructure committee on Thursday.

A report by Pippa Milne, the council’s executive director with responsibility for roads and infrastructure, states that one possible option is “progressing a plan, over several years, where we could look to reduce the number of live burial grounds in each of our four administrative areas with additional burial grounds on each of the main islands”.

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Ms Milne’s report state: “The advantage of this would be reduced future development costs and reduced operating costs, however, this would have to be carefully balanced against the expectations of our communities for the council to provide a proportionate and reasonable burial ground provision.”

The document asks the committee to agree to a public consultation on the issue.

The report revealed that more than half of the 131 council-run cemeteries in Argyll and Bute are full. A further 14 are expected to have no space left by 2024, while two could run out of room by the end of this year.

However, none of the cemeteries where there is a shortage of space are located in Helensburgh and Lomond.

Also under consideration is a proposed policy position over the next 10 years where all open cemeteries have a target of at least 10 years’ burial capacity.

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Ms Milne said in her report: “The council seeks to get to a position over the next 10 years where all open cemeteries have a target of a minimum 10 years’ burial capacity based on a rolling five-year average of previous internment numbers.

“The policy is caveated based on the deliverability of additional lairs at any particular burial site, which will be assessed on a case by case basis.

“New lairs are sold with an option for the council to claw back the lair if not used in 50 years from the date of purchase.

“This report is proposing that an asset management approach is taken going forward for the management of future cemeteries.

“As part of the development of an asset management policy, a consultation with communities on the future provision of cemeteries, including future capacity, is proposed.

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“Funding for cemetery extensions would come from either the existing capital block allocation or from prudential borrowing funded through cemetery income, depending on the demand for physical works and available budget.”

The report also stated that there are some 8,000 available unused lairs across Argyll and Bute's cemeteries – as well as around 1,439 lairs which were sold at least 70 years ago and still remain empty.

Additionally, the report recommended that Cardross should remain the site of Argyll and Bute’s only crematorium.

A separate report on cemetery maintenance and grass cutting will be provided to the committee when it meets in March.

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