City of London’s grave-digging kit wears out after COVID deaths

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covid deaths

The City’s grave digging equipment has worn out after a huge number of COVID pandemic deaths.

The Corporation has bought a new kit for the City of London Cemetery after the number of burials soared in the last two years.

Burials at the cemetery and crematorium rose by 25 percent during the COVID pandemic, which has caused equipment to wear out faster than usual.

The City of London Corporation, which runs the cemetery, has agreed to buy two new diggers and a tractor after increased wear-and-tear.

The cemetery saw a huge boost in income during the same period, raking in almost £1.7million in 2020/21 and approximately £750k in 2021/22. A report by the cemetery’s superintendent Gary Burks said it usually carries out 800 burials a year but this rose to an average of 1,000 over the past two years, putting digging equipment “under huge strain”.

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It added: “Whilst we have done our best to maintain the equipment and operate it carefully, the added workload due to the significant increase in burials has reduced the working life of several of these items.”

Labour Councillor Helen Fentimen said: “I note that the over achievement of income which was of course for terrible circumstances. I hope that that’s not going to be repeated in the same way in future years.

The report later added: “The last two years of excess burials has placed the equipment used for the excavation and backfilling of graves under significant pressure. This substantial use has shortened the life of the operational fleet to the point where three items now need to be replaced.”

The City Corporation agreed to increase burial and cremation fees at the cemetery earlier this year to balance its books, with prices rising by between £19 and £105.

The City of London agreed to invest £150k from the cemetery’s reserve fund in new equipment during a meeting on Tuesday, May 24. The old equipment will be sold with any profits going back into reserves.

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