WATFORD Council is to consider bringing in burial fees of up to £600 for children from outside the borough.

Last year the borough council took the step of axing charges for the burial of any child in its cemeteries – regardless of where they are from.

But they have found the free service is becoming increasingly popular with families living in those neighbouring authorities that continue to charge fees.

As well as increasing the costs for the council, there are concerns this is taking up much-needed space in the borough’s cemeteries, North Watford Cemetery and Vicarage Road Cemetery.

So now officers at Watford Borough Council have drawn-up proposals to charge fees for the burial of children from outside the borough, as part of the council’s budget-setting process.

According to council proposals, the fee for a child to be buried in their own grave in a Watford cemetery would be £600 – reduced to £300 for children under five.

And for those in a shared grave the fee would be £170, reduced to £50 for those under five or stillborn.

However there would continue to be no charge for the burial of children living in Watford.

Commenting on the proposal, elected Mayor of Watford Peter Taylor said: “I cannot begin to imagine how upsetting and difficult it must be to arrange the funeral and burial of a child.

“Last year we made a commitment to provide a free child burial service to people in our town who have suffered the tragedy of losing a child.

“At the moment, we are looking at how we can continue to provide the space for this service for Watford residents, whilst at the same time helping people who want to use this service but do not live in Watford and are not offered a free service in their own borough.

“We will continue to provide a free child burial service for Watford residents.”

The proposed fees are included in a package of fees and charges designed to bridge the council’s anticipated funding gap.

According to a report to the council’s finance scrutiny committee, the council is facing a cumulative funding gap of £3.4million over the next three years.

But if the proposed increases in fees and charges – in conjunction with changes such as those planned waste collection – get the green light, this will be decreased to around £1million.

The package of proposed fees and charges were discussed by members of the council’s finance scrutiny committee on Tuesday (January 14).

And – unless the proposed burial fees were to be withdrawn by a meeting of the cabinet next week – they will be determined by the full council next month.