The more I find out about this story the more astonished I become.
The Swinton Unitarian Church Burial ground was handed over to Salford City Council with a covenant in place protecting development of the land.
With good reason too. As stated in previous blogs 313 Swintonians are resting here, including a World War 1 soldier and victims of the Clifton Pit Disaster of 1885.
So why on earth would a Council then sell this burial ground to a private company with a covenant in place ? Where they trying to offload responsibility to a private company to maintain it to save the Council a pittance to keep it tidy ? Did they know that in future years the law permits exhumation ? And they know in the event of development there would be uproar from local people if a local council applied for exhumation of such an important and historical site with so many resting in peace ?
The burial ground ends up in private hands. Its ok though because there is a covenant in place. Those resting in the family burial plots can continue to lay in peace. Until Asda come along !
I knew all along the covenant was the most important document as this would even overide the Disused Burials Grounds Act Amendment 1981. As a former Trustee of land I am fully aware of the importance of covenants.
A few weeks ago, I get told that the covenant has been released and that a sum changed hands between the church and the developer. Am thinking how could they do this ? They told me that they believed they could not prevent development because of The Disused Burials Grounds Act and made no mention of accepting a fee.
Am thinking to myself, its a honorouble church, the sum must be small in the circumstances as theres no way the church would betray those they had residual care for in the burial ground ?
And then what do we find out ? To my total astonishment the Manchester District Association of the Unitarian Church who had residual ownership of the covenant, even though they no longer own the land and that this covenant protected those resting in peace, SOLD the release of the covenant for a STAGGERING £125,000 ! ONE HUNDRED & TWENTY_FIVE THOUSAND POUNDS !
This means there is very little that can be done to prevent exhumation of those resting in peace.
Words that come to mind are - Abhorrent, disgraceful, disgusting, betrayal & shameful.
I am utterly appalled.
RIP all those resting at the former Swinton Unitarian Burial Ground.