Board­move on dis­used ceme­ter­ies

The Jewish Chronicle - - Community Life - BY LEON SY­MONS

THE BOARD of Deputies has be­gun an au­dit of all the ceme­ter­ies it looks af­ter in Bri­tain to find out who owns them and who is re­spon­si­ble for their up­keep. It has also launched an ap­peal to raise the funds needed to main­tain the ceme­ter­ies, hop­ing to gen­er­ate around £50,000.

So­lic­i­tor David Mar­cus, the deputy for Muswell Hill, has be­gun re­search­ing Land Reg­istry and other records to try to find out who owns the ceme­ter­ies, some of which are cen­turies old.

“The Board has ac­cepted re­spon­si­bil­ity for ceme­ter­ies around the coun­try, vir­tu­ally all of which are now out of use,” Mr Mar­cus ex­plained. Some have ti­tle deeds in the name of Board honorary of­fi­cers who have died, while oth­ers are in the name of the lo­cal com­mu­nity, or with the lo­cal au­thor­ity.

“We want to start a new com­pany and place in it all the ceme­ter­ies and any oth­ers that be­come its re­spon­si­bil­ity, so they are out­side the Board. For ex­am­ple, a num­ber are men­tioned on the Jewish Her­itage web­site, some of which are at risk, that we know noth­ing about and are not part of the Board’s group. The prob­lem is: Who will look af­ter them?”

Mr Mar­cus said it was dif­fi­cult to raise money for the up­keep of ceme­ter­ies. “Peo­ple tell us they want to spend money on the liv­ing rather than the dead. We would like to es­tab­lish a fund which would have enough money to look af­ter the ceme­ter­ies the Board cur­rently main­tains.”

Af­ter join­ing the Board’s her­itage group, he vol­un­teered to take on the job of tracking down who owned the ti­tle to each ceme­tery.

“Some of t hem are bet­ter off than oth­ers. Can­ter­bury, for in­stance, has an agree­ment with the lo­cal au­thor­ity; Pen­zance has a sim­i­lar ar­range­ment.

“The ti­tle deed for Bath, which goes back to 1820, names the lo­cal com­mu­nity. There is a ceme­tery at Sheer­ness but no com­mu­nity. Who is go­ing to main­tain that?”

Board chief ex­ec­u­tive Jon Ben­jamin said: “We are not looking for a huge amount of money, nor are we looking to in­stall CCTV or high fences. But as the years go by, the costs of main­tain­ing the ceme­ter­ies will in­crease and we want to be able to keep them prop­erly.”

Smashed graves at the Ban­croft Road ceme­tery in Mile End, East Lon­don

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