News that cash-strapped East Dunbartonshire Council is increasing burial charges by 50 per cent has been greeted with anger by residents.
The hike in the cost of burying a loved one was agreed at the recent council budget meeting - a move that is expected to raise an extra £89,000 a year to help balance ever-shrinking budgets.
When the increase is introduced in April it will see the cost of a normal burial rise sharply from £1,811 to £2,778.
But SNP councillors, who spoke out against the move, have pointed out that the fee for a burial on a Sunday where the person has died outwith the council area could now be as much as £5,000.
The increase has provoked outcry from readers on Facebook.
Paul McGoldrick said: “They already take close to £800 just to dig up a lair on a Saturday which they probably dig on the Friday anyway.
“Tell me this - how is it that you can travel less than five miles to Cumbernauld and the cost is less than half?
“The single most expensive cost when I buried my dad last January was to East Dunbartonshire Council for digging a hole. It was disgraceful then and is even worse now.
“My dad lived in here all his life and this is how the council repays a citizen when they die.”
Doreen Ryan added: “Is it not expensive enough to live without making it even more expensive to lay loved ones to rest?
“Why don’t the council chiefs take a pay and bonus cut instead of punishing the residents of East Dunbartonshire with these outrageous price hikes.”
And Sean Duff said: “10 per cent or 20 per cent would be bad enough, but how can 50 per cent be justified - it’s an absolute joke.
“Surely there are other ways to save money than to hit grieving families hard. As if it wasn’t expensive enough.”
Now a Herald reader has started a petition against the move at www.change.org which has already attracted nearly 200 signatures.
It states: “Burying a loved one isn’t easy and the cost can cause extreme financial hardship.
“East Dunbartonshire Council have just announced that they will be increasing their burial fees by 50 per cent. What this means is that to open a lair on a Saturday the cost will increase to close on £1500.
“Let’s send the council a message that this is not acceptable. Cut the costs, not increase them.”
A spokesperson for East Dunbartonshire Council said: “The price for the purchase of a lair and one internment is currently £1,811. This will rise to £2778 from April.
“The council had some very difficult decision to make while facing increased budgetary pressures.
“Every effort was made, where possible, to introduce or increase charges for certain services, rather than removing services.
“We realise that burial charges are a sensitive issue but we promise to work with residents who are struggling to pay these charges in difficult times.
“Arrangements can be reached on such things as instalments, where people are given longer terms to pay certain costs.
“We urge anyone with concerns, and wishing to make phased payments for cemetery charges, to get in touch.”