Controversial plans for cemetery burials in High Wycombe on Sundays and Bank Holidays have been dismissed by councillors, despite calls for the rules to be more accommodating to the Muslim community.

A top Conservative councillor used a casting vote to end the talks after deeming the cost implications to be too expensive.

Wycombe District Council’s High Wycombe Town Committee met on Tuesday evening to discuss the plans, with Labour politicians saying the move would ensure Muslim families met their “religious obligation”.

However, their hopes were dashed after Cllr Tony Green, the committee chairman, used his deciding vote to sway the council’s decision 10-9 in favour of “maintaining the status quo”.

Cllr Marten Clarke, who made the proposal, said: “With a very low demand there does not seem to be a big increase in burials. And, we are going to incur additional expense on the council which we won’t be able to quantify until some years down the line.

“I think we should be looking very seriously at maintaining the status quo.”

He added: “We have custom in this country that we do not bury people on a Saturday, we do not bury people on a Bank Holiday and a Sunday. So, looking at how many times the service has been called upon, I’m not sure it is needed.”

Council officers revealed the cost of a Sunday or Bank Holiday interment would be around £1,400 for an adult, whilst the cost of paying someone to be on standby for a burial on one of these days would exceed £10,500 in one year.

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Wycombe District Council offices.

The case was also argued that there had not been enough Saturday burials for them to ask for additional days.

Cllr Rafiq Raja, Wycombe Labour leader, said: “The reason Muslims want to have a Saturday, Sunday and Bank Holiday service is not because they want to bury their people on that day, but simply because when somebody dies there is a religious obligation of the family of the people to secure a quick interment.”

Councillors have now said they could readdress the need for a Sunday or Bank Holiday burial near 2019, when cemetery contracts will be renewed and potential standby costs could drop.

Cllr Green said: “The way the costs will be reduced is to leave it to 2019 - when the contract comes up for renewal - and that can be built into the contract.

“To my mind it seems like the best option. Until then there are costs - there’s nothing we can do about that.”