UNDERTAKERS have told the borough council the site it has in mind for a new cemetery is wrong.
A group of seven firms has written to Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council saying that the preferred site in North Waltham is too far out of town and may drive up costs.
In September, a borough committee voted for a cemetery on the 16.4-acre site next to Basingstoke Crematorium, off the A30 at North Waltham. They were asked to find somewhere to replace the council-owned Worting Road cemetery when it is full up in about 2022.
But Elizabeth Harris, director of Basingstoke-based funeral firm Spencer and Peyton, said the site should be closer to the town.
Mrs Harris wrote to the borough council on behalf of seven Hampshire firms asking for a meeting to discuss the plans. This is set to take place on November 21.
She said: “Our major concern is how are the general public meant to get there? Some people go the cemetery every day. If you are looking at a 16-mile round trip, then it will not be possible for some people.”
Mrs Harris added that proposals for a joint working arrangement with the neighbouring privately-run crematorium could drive up prices for services such as hiring out the chapel.
Her stance was backed by Steve Vanhinsbergh, director of Wootton St Lawrence-based headstone firm B&V Masonry.
He said: “The majority of people visiting are pensioners, some of whom are unable to drive, and need friends or public transport.”
The funeral directors say they would prefer to use land north of the junction of Kingsclere Road and Rooksdown Lane, near to the current NHS children’s cemetery.
Cllr Robert Donnell, the borough’s Cabinet chief responsible for the final decision, stressed that “no final decision has been made”. A council report admitted that the North Waltham site’s main drawback was “the relative distance from the town, with lack of public transport”.
Cllr Donnell said: “I believe that the council needs to carry out further feasibility studies and further consultation with all affected parties before we can move forward.”