Gwent Local Resilience Forum (LRF) statement on numbers at BURIAL services

Today (01/07/20), the Gwent Local Resilience Forum, including the five councils, agreed to increase the number of mourners permitted to attend funerals at cemeteries within the five local authority areas of Gwent to 20. This will come into effect on 02/07/20.

Due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and in line with government restrictions, it is still necessary to limit the number of people in any public space and ensure necessary social distancing. Therefore, the number of mourners permitted to attend cremations at the Gwent Crematorium will remain at 10.

However, the councils fully recognise and understand how difficult these restrictions can be for the family and friends of the deceased.

The level of demand and related risk at these sites has been under constant review and restrictions were eased as soon as it was deemed safe and appropriate to do so for both the public and staff.

All decisions are made following a review of risk assessments and take into account a number of factors, including the ability to safely maintain and enforce the two metre social distancing requirements and the impact any increase in attendance would have on the continued health, safety and welfare of all those attending, managing and officiating the funeral.

The current numbers support the continued protection of the public, the ongoing effort to slow the spread of the virus and ensure bereavement services can continue to manage a safe and dignified funeral.

The original decision to limit the numbers of mourners was not taken lightly. Respect for the deceased and compassion for the bereaved is an important part of our decision-making, but protecting the health and wellbeing of the public, funeral and cemetery staff must be the foremost concern during this ongoing public health emergency.

Partners of the Gwent Local Resilience Forum will keep this matter under continual review while the Covid-19 pandemic continues to affect the Gwent area.

Here you will find information on the following:

  • Cemeteries owned by Monmouthshire County Council
  • Contact
  • Exclusive rights to burial
  • Home burials
  • Exhumations

Monmouthshire County Council is a designated “burial authority”. The four open cemeteries that we manage are:

  • Chepstow
  • Llanelly Hill, Abergavenny
  • Llanfoist, Abergavenny
  • Monmouth

We also have responsibility for a closed cemetery at Old Hereford Road.

The Cemetery Service is managed by the Cemeteries Officer,  tel 01873 735852, cemeteries@monmouthshire.gov.uk

For burials in Caldicot please contact The Town Council on 01291 420441.

Please see our 2020-21 cemetery fees and interment forms and burial information

Exclusive rights of burial (ERB)

For every burial in the council’s cemeteries, an exclusive rights of burial (ERB) is issued to an agreed responsible person or persons (usually a family member). This means that the ERB holder has some rights over the grave.

How do I transfer an ERB from one person to another?

There is a variety of reasons why it may be necessary to transfer the exclusive rights of burial. For example, the death of the ERB holder or the holder wishes to renounce their rights.

The way in which the transfer is dealt with can vary considerably depending upon the circumstances. You are therefore asked to contact the relevant community hub for advice.

Home burials

It may be possible to bury loved ones on your own private land, further information can be obtained by contacting your local Environmental Health Officer.

Exhumations

There are occasions when, for a variety of reasons, an exhumation of the deceased may be required.

You may wish to contact your local community hub or a funeral director to guide you through the process.

Permission for all exhumations must be given by the Ministry of Justice. There are exhumation guidelines available.

Applications

Section 46 Public Health Burial numbers

Exemption at s31(1)(a) applies. Disclosure of additional information pertaining to the deceased, would be likely to prejudice the prevention of crime by enabling or encouraging the commission of offences.

This exemption applies because where a person dies intestate with no known kin the assets of an estate are at risk until they have been properly located and secured e.g. freezing bank accounts and locating title deeds. Placing details of the potential assets of the estate into the public domain before this has been done would provide opportunities for criminal acts of theft or fraud. Further, there is a strong likelihood that any property or properties may be unoccupied and may contain removable property and documents which would be at risk of theft or damage if the locations were made public before appropriate steps could be taken to secure these.

We consider that the public interest in withholding the information outweighs the public interest in disclosing it.

The reasons why the public interest favours withholding the information are:

● There is a strong public interest in the prevention of crime

● There is a strong public interest in maintaining the integrity of properties which are empty particularly where no person responsible for the security of the premises can be identified

● There is a strong public interest in allowing the Treasury Solicitor to carry out appropriate investigations into estates which are referred to it. These investigations may be impeded if information relating to the estates is placed into the public domain at too early a point in time

In reaching the decision we identified the following factors why disclosure might be in the public interest but considered that they were outweighed by the reasons set out above against disclosure:

● There is a public interest in ensuring that relatives of the deceased are located wherever possible to ensure fair and lawful distribution of an estate. However in our view this public interest is best served by the efforts of the Treasury Solicitor and we note that details of substantial estates (in excess of £5000) are published by the Treasury Solicitor once their initial enquiries are complete and they are satisfied as to security of assets

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