Prestonpans cemetery nears end of life

Council officials are concerned that a shortage of burial space in East Lothian is generating a black market in funeral plots.

Community councillors in Prestonpans have been told that urgent measures are now needed to extend the "life" of the town's cemetery.

East Lothian Council is consulting the community on plans to extend the burial ground into a nearby play park.

Speaking at a recent meeting of Prestonpans Community Council, principal amenity officer Stuart Pryde asked members for a "clear steer" on how to proceed.

He said consultants preparing the council's burial ground strategy had already identified that people across East Lothian wanted cemeteries to be in their own communities, wherever possible.


With regard to Prestonpans, he told the meeting: "The difficulty is that we don't have any adjacent land nearby, other than what is conveniently known as Cemetery Park, and as long as I've been employed by council it has always been the intention to extend into that site."

Mr Pryde said an extension into part of the park could add around 40 years to the life of the cemetery, without the need to remove any of the play equipment or disturb the main drains beneath the site.

Members heard that the existing cemetery had, at best, around four years life — but only if the council stopped advance sales of ground and restricted sales to people with immediate need for a lair.


Mr Pryde warned there was also a risk of panic buying if people became concerned that space was running out.

In some parts of the county, particularly smaller villages, he suspected this had already led to a "black market" with people being involved in the illegal sale of plots.

In some cases, Mr Pryde said he had even seen lairs advertised in newspapers.

"We need to be looking in the not too distant future to be providing burial space in the Prestonpans area. I really feel that our only option is to consider an extension to the existing site," added.

The community council agreed to discuss the proposal and submit its view to the council.

Back to the top of the page