Cemeteries in Northumberland are to remain open after council u-turn and apology

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Northumberland County Council has issued an apology after reversing its decision to close all of its cemeteries.

Cemeteries and burial grounds across the county will now remain open after the authority had previously announced that the public would not be admitted to them, unless it was to attend a funeral.

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They added that it was “a requirement of the new Government legislation around coronavirus and the council has had to close the cemeteries to meet these requirements.”

However, after feedback from Northumberland residents, it was decided that visits to the graves of loved ones can still go ahead, as long as people stick to social distancing rules when they go there.

Some residents had expressed how upset they were at the prospect of not being allowed to visit graves. The council’s decision was changed within hours.

A council statement said: “We have received many comments from bereaved families and residents following our earlier update. Following this, we have sought further clarification on the guidance and legislation which has been recently published.

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“With this in mind, the county council have decided that all of our cemeteries will remain open at this time.

Spitalford cemetery, which serves the parish of Embleton. Picture by Jane Coltman.Spitalford cemetery, which serves the parish of Embleton. Picture by Jane Coltman.
Spitalford cemetery, which serves the parish of Embleton. Picture by Jane Coltman.

“We sincerely apologise for any inconvenience and distress this may have caused. Visitors to our cemeteries should adhere to social distancing measures at all times.

“We will make every endeavour to re-open these as soon as possible on Saturday (April 4).”

The u-turn was welcomed by Northumberland residents on social media.

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Melanie Scott said on Facebook: “I can’t thank you (the council) enough for changing your mind on this. My daughters forever bed can now look nice for her 13th birthday. Goes without saying social distancing will be followed.”

Kin Purdey said: “Well that’s one hell of a back track NCC. I genuinely feel heartbroken for every single person your previous post devastated. Thank you for listening to your community’s needs and wishes at this difficult time.”