Space at the main town cemetery at Victoria Road, which dates back to the reign of Queen Victoria, has been diminishing for years with concerns over provision being highlighted since the early 1980s. Mid and East Antrim Borough Council, which owns the cemetery, agreed to advertise for a potential new location five years ago. The council’s Policy and Resources Committee has now recommended that the local authority commences discussions and negotiation with the landowner to agree a purchase price for 104 acres of land out of town at Trooperslane Road. The new site is likely to be bordered by park land when landscaping is complete. However, TUV councillors Matthew Armstrong and Christopher Jamieson and Ulster Unionist representatives Robin Cherry and William McNeilly, all from Ballymena, have objected to the committee’s decision. Cllr Armstrong suggested the purchase of a smaller portion of land. Knockagh DUP Councillor Peter Johnston proposed that council investigates the potential of developing surplus land as park land. Philip Thompson, the council’s director of operations, confirmed that at present, burial plots cannot be purchased in advance, as a matter of council policy, although this could be reviewed in future. The officer advised that if the location was agreed, he would bring back more detailed figures to committee regarding costings and size of land purchase. The committee also agreed to council officers commencing further discussions with Antrim and Newtownabbey and Belfast Councils to determine their “buy-in” to the development of such a project. A spokesperson for Mid and East Antrim Borough Council said: “There is currently good capacity for approximately eight years remaining at Victoria Cemetery in Carrickfergus. In respect of the proposed new cemetery, a parcel of land of up to 100 acres on Trooperslane Road is being considered by council.”
By Michelle Weir, Local Democracy Reporter.