North Lanarkshire Council has encountered some problems with its plans to expand cemetery provision for several communities.
The council has been working to increase cemetery capacity at several locations, most urgently in Wishaw, Coatbridge and Airdrie, but a new report has highlighted various issues including rising costs and a lack of available land.
Construction of the new cemetery at Pather Farm serving the Wishaw area will still be put out to tender and is expected to cost in the region of £5 million.
However, a £2.7 million project to extend Coltswood Cemetery in Coatbridge, which is expected to run out of space in less than three years, have encountered issues with contaminated land which require additional assessment to determine if the project is viable.
In order to mitigate the risk of space running out in the meantime, it is planned to create an additional 600 lairs on the existing cemetery by changing the current landscaping design, removing shrubs and trees.
As councillors considered the report during a recent meeting, SNP group leader Tracy Carragher said she was concerned that the landscaping alterations at Coltswood would involve the removal of ad-hoc memorial objects and also asked if any existing graves would be affected.
She was advised that graves would not be disturbed and the other memorial items would be returned to those who placed them when known, or kept in storage for owners to claim.
Councillor Kirsten Larson (SNP, Coatbridge North) asked if the land in Morven Street currently earmarked for cemetery use would be sold off four housing if deemed unsuitable for its intended use. It was stated that the land would be declared surplus to requirements through the usual channels.
Councillor John Jo Leckie (British Unionist, Fortissat) noted comments in the report about some future graves at Pather Farm needing to be slightly shallower due to differences in the water table at those locations, meaning they would hold two coffins instead of three and be sold at a reduced cost of £800, saying that previous reports had indicated all lairs would be the same depth.
It was confirmed that initial boring tests had not picked up the differences in available depths but further investigation had revealed this.
In response to a question from Councillor Greg Lennon (Progressive Change North Lanarkshire, Gartcosh, Glenboig and Moodiesburn) about whether the land survey at Pather Farm had been redone, it was confirmed that additional bore holes had been dug to confirm where new plots could be created.
Councillor Lennon also asked why feedback from the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency was not included in the report and it was confirmed that if any significant concerns had been raised those would be featured.