This article appears in today's Leicester Mercury:
Cemetery extension as burial plots running out
A cemetery will be extended to help prevent a burial crisis in the city.Some 1,000 new plots will be created at Saffron Hill Cemetery by Leicester City Council as part of a £450,000 extension.
The city is rapidly running out of burial space and the move will create enough space at the cemetery for the next 10 years.
Adrian Russell, the council's director of environmental services, backed the extension.
He said: "As everyone knows, our cemeteries are quickly filling up and we're running out of burial space in the city.
"This extension, on land already owned by the council, will allow the cemetery to continue operating for another decade.
"It's a relatively short-term solution, but, later in the year, we'll be examining the options open to us to deal with the issue in the much longer term."
Councillors have previously floated the idea of creating a new graveyard outside the city boundary, because of the lack of suitable land within the city boundaries.
Tony Donovan, executive director of Age UK in Leicestershire, said: "The extension is good news because so many people who were born and raised in Leicester want to be buried here in the city and not outside in the county somewhere.
"Having burial sites within the city makes it easier for local people to visit the graves of loved ones.
"If new sites were created out in the county, it would mean longer journeys by public transport for many visitors, who are often older people."
Saffron Hill cemetery is Leicester's second-largest burial site and serves the south of the city.
It has a general burial area for traditional lawn graves, a small Polish burial area, a children's section and a Muslim cemetery with prayer house.
The cost of the extension includes landscaping, roads, drainage and paving.
Kenny Hill, 62, from New Parks, said: "When you've grown-up in a city you want to be buried there when you die, but if the space runs out then I'd have to get buried somewhere else and I don't think I'd like that idea.
"I think it's good news the cemetery is being extended."
Margaret Sinton, 70, from Spinney Hills, said: "It's great that they're extending the cemetery but there are more old people around than ever before so what is a problem now will eventually become a crisis."
The city's main burial site – Gilroes Cemetery – was recently extended across eight acres of farmland.
The other two sites in the city are Belgrave Cemetery and Welford Road cemetery.
The work at Saffron Hill will be completed within two years.