Family charged double fees for Rother burial

THE FAMILY of a 92-year-old woman who had lived almost all her life in Bexhill were charged double for burial fees because she had spent her last 14 months living outside the Rother district.

Elaine Chambers spent her last days in a care home but because she had lived outside of the Rother District Council (RDC) area for more than year, her burial fee doubled from £2,040 to £4,080.

Mrs Chambers’s daughter Wendy Burchett decided to have her mother buried in Hastings cemetery which costs £1,226.

RDC has since apologised over its policy which it said was ‘unfair in the circumstances’.

Mrs Chambers lived in a bungalow in Pebsham for many years and then in a nursing home which closed down.

Mrs Burchett, who lives in Radnor Mews, St Leonards said: “Our mother was in the care home in St Leonards for only 14 months.

“But we were told that a person living outside of Bexhill for more than 12 months was no longer classed as a Bexhill resident.

“So the other 91 years did not count and her final wishes could not be met unless we met the financial demands of the council.

“If Bexhill is to be your final resting place after living there all your lives and having paid council tax, or rates, for 90 years, don’t you dare leave Bexhill for more than 12 months like our mother, and have your final wishes denied.”

Rother District Council, parks and leisure services manager, Scott Lavocah said: “We would like to apologise to Elaine Chambers’ family as our policy on burials does seem unfair in this particular set of circumstances.

“The policy to charge extra for people who have lived outside the district for more than a year is done for reasons of fairness. People who pay their council tax in the district should be entitled to a subsidy compared to those who come from outside Rother.

“However, given Mrs Chambers long history in Bexhill and, most importantly, the closure of her care home effectively forcing her to leave the district, it would have been right to make an exception in this case.

“We will learn from this should any similar cases arise in the future while still keeping the charging policy.”