Westmoreland ‘exports’ its dead to St Bess - Councillor wants public cemetery to be built in Whitehouse
The absence of burial space in Westmoreland is forcing some residents to export their dead to St Elizabeth, much to the chagrin of Valdence Gifford, the councillor for the Whitehouse division in the Westmoreland Municipal Corporation.
Speaking at the recent monthly meeting of the Council, Gifford outlined the concerns of residents in his division, who have to be turning to St Elizabeth to bury their dead.
"The Whitehouse division presently has over 20,000 residents, a lot of them, especially in Whitehouse proper, are being buried in St Elizabeth. There are very few places in Whitehouse that home burial can take place, so we are exporting our dead to Black River," said Gifford.
"We have been advocating for a public cemetery to be established in Whitehouse for more than 20 years now. I have been making the request for 11 of those years," said Gifford. "My unanswered requests are preceded by two previous before me, and we are nowhere close to getting one."
According to Gifford, a piece of land was identified some years ago, but in 2009 the government built the Belmont Academy on a section of that space and the remaining portion has been deemed unfit for a cemetery because a section of it is covered with morass.
Gifford claims that the struggle to reach a deal for suitable land for a cemetery is being held up by the Urban Development Corporation (UDC), which had promised to swap the 20 acres of prime real estate land beside the Belmont Academy for a similar portion in a remote section of the community.