Written by Buffalo Viking
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Topics: Government, Cemetery

Thursday, 1 November 2007

image for Council's dying to get into the cemeteries
Graveyards: playgrounds of the future

Cemeteries are set for a make-over as part of new government plans to make the most of urban open spaces.

In the rush to be seen as winning the battle against obesity and ill health the dead are being brushed aside to make room for the living.

"It's the perfect solution to our lack of inner-city parks," said Cllr Geoffrey De'ath, cabinet member for leisure of one London Borough which is undertaking a feasibility study into the conversion of grave space into play space.

"We'd like to see these rarely-visited, overgrown, spooky sites transformed into open places, meeting places, sports places," he said.

"Imagine how our young footballers' skills will improve as they take on obstacles such as gravestones as well as the opposition. "Jumpers for goalposts will be a thing of the past," he quipped, "there are hundreds of potential goalposts in a cemetery!"

The plans centre around a break with the tradition of burial plots being arranged in strict rows, to allow for more creative legacy use of a person's final resting place.

"We believe that with a little imagination, we can create adventure playgrounds, skateparks, and seating areas, using existing and new gravestones," said De'ath. "The kids can play while their parents rest in peace."

The community will also be encouraged to get involved, with roadshows held to show the old and the ill how they could make a difference after their death by allowing their burial plot to fit in with the initiative. "We call it 'thinking outside the box'," said De'ath.

The Gravestonemason's Association of Great Britain is fully behind the scheme. The organisation's president, Richard Headstone, said: "Many of our members are already offering new styles of gravestone; grieving families can select from a range including benches, picnic tables, dustbins and even parts of a half-pipe.

"The half-pipe headstone is quite expensive," he admitted however, "so we're marketing it in pieces, it'd be ideal for victims of multiple-death accidents whose families might want to club together and leave a lasting memory to their loved ones."

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