Devon

Torquay cost of burial 'forces cremation'

A Devon woman said she had to cremate her mother-in-law against her dying wishes to be buried alongside her husband because of the cost.

Rosemary Bishop was quoted £1,728 to reopen a double grave the family owned at a cemetery in Torquay for her mother-in-law Phyllis.

That is double the normal rate because Mrs Bishop, 96, had moved out of the area two years before she died.

Conservative-run Torbay Council said its charges were under review.

'Held over barrel'

Great-grandmother Mrs Bishop, who lived in Torquay for 94 years, died in hospital on 10 March.

The usual charge for a burial is about £725, but because Mrs Bishop had moved to a nursing home in nearby Newton Abbot two years ago, it was deemed to be a burial from outside the area.

Her daughter-in-law told BBC Radio Devon that they had been "held over a barrel" by the local authority.

She said: "When we went to the undertaker's, they said 'You do realise how much it is going to cost to open up the grave?'

"They said it was £725 plus VAT if you live in the area, but because she lived in Newton Abbot for two years it is double.

"They said it was £1,728 just to dig 5ft down just to put her coffin in the ground.

"In the end we talked it through and decided she wouldn't have wanted us to pay that, she would have been horrified at the charge."

The burial service is provided by a private company, Westerleigh, but the charges are set by Torbay Council.

Westerleigh said the council wanted the charges to be a "realistic and fair".

A Torbay Council spokesman said: "When the council transferred the management of the cemeteries and crematorium to Westerleigh, they also took on the pre-existing operational arrangements which included charging double fees for out-of-area residents.

"We do keep our arrangements under review and will continue to work with Westerleigh on this matter."

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