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Muslim families in Reading 'upset' over plans to grass over graves

image copyrightAndrew Smith
image captionReading Borough Council has been operating the Henley Road Cemetery since 1927

Plans to grass over Muslim graves at a cemetery have been paused after some families objected.

Reading Borough Council (RBC) wanted to make the graves in Henley Road Cemetery fit in with others in the lawned area.

But members of the Muslim community were unhappy when they discovered they would not be able to plant flowers at their loved ones' final resting place.

RBC said it understood why families who had not been made aware of the plans prior to burial had been left upset.

In 2018, the council announced it was "rapidly running out" of burial space at the Caversham cemetery, with the "biggest pressure" for plots coming from an increase in Muslim burials, and the only available new location was an area where graves are "laid to lawn".

According to the Local Democracy Reporting Service this was agreed by the Imam at the time, but when notice was given of the plans to cover the graves with grass, families informed the council they had been unaware this would happen.

A spokesman for the council said burial notices specifying the type of grave were completed when a burial is being arranged.

"Unfortunately, as the vast majority of burial notice forms in the Muslim community are completed by either the funeral director or more often by the mosque on behalf of the family, it is possible the families have not explicitly been made aware of the grave type," he said.

When the recent signs were displayed on site giving notice of planned seeding work in the area, he acknowledged this was the first time some families were made aware.

"We fully understand why they would be upset on discovering it, particularly where a community has strong beliefs regarding burial sites," the spokesman said.

The work has been paused while discussions between the council, families and representatives of the Muslim community take place.

Related Topics

  • Reading Borough Council
  • Muslims
  • Caversham
  • Reading

More on this story

  • Reading 'rapidly running out' of grave plots

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