LABOUR have hit back at claims that they ‘did nothing’ for six years over finding a new cemetery for Redditch.
And they have photographic evidence to prove it.
The claim was made by Council Leader Councillor Matt Dormer (Con, West) after the ruling Conservative group yesterday slammed the brakes on controversial plans to build a new cemetery on Ipsley Meadow off Ipsley Church Lane.
With local elections looming in May and Coun Dormer contesting in the Arrow Valley East district at county level, the authority says it will instead ‘explore all the options’ in relation to the land.
Coun Dormer said: “I am aware of concerns from local residents in regards to Ipsley Meadow and I share their concerns.
“The area of land was previously ruled out when this issue was last looked at in 2010.
“Since then, under six years of Labour control, nothing was done and we were left with no other option apart from this one.”
However the leader of the Labour group, Coun Bill Hartnett (Lab, Church Hill) said this was simply not correct.
“Far from doing nothing there was a report, with picture featuring a Conservative councillor, in the Redditch Standard on October 21, 2016 detailing test drilling for a possible cemetery at Ipsley Meadows,” he said.
“We emphasised at the time that this was purely a test and no decision had been made.
“If there was a report produced we were no longer in power so we did not see the result of the tests.
“So how is that us doing nothing?”
Coun Dormer said he wants to avoid a scenario where residents are having to bury their loved ones outside of the town.
“As leader, and as a party, we do not find that an acceptable position,” he said.
“The people of Redditch want the option to be buried in Redditch and I support their wishes.
“However, I think it is best for the council to take a full look at all other viable options alongside this one, and for it to make a fully informed and transparent decision.
“One that can be fully supported by our residents who we will work with to solve this problem.”
Despite the U-turn, the planning application will remain live due to it being an ‘important part of assessing the viability of any site’.
Coun Dormer added: “Now is the time for the public to come forward with sensible alternative sites they would like to be examined.
“We will ensure the examination process is fully transparent so the public can understand the problems the council is facing on this issue.
“We will also ensure we work with the public on any final option to ensure we mitigate concerns and provide the best possible burial site.”