'I think it's totally wrong': Council grant man free grave

THE cost of a man's graveyard plot will be covered by the Ipswich City Council following a dispute over whether a payment was made for the site in the 1800s.

In 2004 the man approached the council to make inquiries and a further payment is thought to have been made - but no receipt or proof of purchase was recorded.

He is believed to have again approached the council in 2014 claiming the reservation of the family plot at the Ipswich General Cemetery.

With historical records often sketchy, the council agreed in good faith to take the man's word and grant him the site.

A spokesman for the council said unreliable records meant it was difficult to establish whether money was paid, but noted a transaction involving an unknown sum was made in 2004.

"There was also clear indication that a reservation was applied for and acknowledged," he said.

"The CEO determined, given the legacy nature of this matter dating back to the late 1800s, it was judged the most equitable outcome was to confirm the reservation without requiring further payment."

Alyn Hawkes was the Ipswich Cemeteries superintendent for 15 years before retiring in 2013. He has spoken out about the council's decision with fears it will tarnish the reputation about his former staff at the cemetery.

Mr Hawkes said the council should not have agreed to pay for the plot and said there was "no logic" to the man's claim he never received a receipt for the 2004 transaction.

"I think it's totally wrong," he said.

Mr Hawkes said the decision could lead to similar claims by other people, a claim that the council rejected.

"It is also unlikely that any precedent has been set as the circumstances are not likely to arise again given the historical nature of this particular matter," the spokesman said.

The council mows and maintains the cemetery.