A Whitton mum who has been paying for nearly 20 years to reserve a burial plot next to her family fears she cannot afford to continue the reservation, after prices rose dramatically.

Christine Paul, of Woodland Crescent, had last paid to continue the reservation at Teddington Cemetery in 2014 at a cost of £237, which covered a period of five years.

But the 62-year-old was left “very stressed, hurt, and upset” this year, when she went to renew the plot and was told she would now have to pay £640 to reserve a plot until 2024.

She said: “The council are playing on people’s emotions.

“20 years ago, I lost my mum, then my father and sister's husband – they are all buried there.

“I feel ripped off as it’s the principle too - they hardly have watering cans at the graveyard, I have to bring my own.”

Mrs Paul said she was then told that she could reserve the plot for one year at the cost of £170, which she paid because she felt pressured.

She added: “I am angry the price went up, but I still made the payment and then called my son to tell him that the Council had given me a year to work out what I wanted to do.

“I don’t know who warranted this but whoever took this decision can’t have a heart.”

Richmond Council responded to say that increasing the service charge was a part of its annual budget setting and that its service charges and fees were reviewed on an annual basis.

Since 2015, the £237 five-year reservation option was removed, and a new annual charge was set at £100 per year to ensure that the charging structure would be in accordance with the fees of neighbouring Boroughs and to also reflect proportionate costs.

A council spokeswoman explained: “This decision did not impact Ms Paul at the time, as she had a five-year contract until 2019.

“There have been increases each year and in April 2019, it was agreed that the annual charge would be £170 a year.

“It was also agreed that a new five-year fee of £640 would be reintroduced and would be chargeable once every five years, reducing the equivalent yearly fee to £128."

The spokeswoman further explained that it had plenty of burial spaces and that reserving a graveyard plot was not a requirement.

The spokeswoman added: “The reservation fee reflects a contribution of the operational costs associated with the service, including maintenance of the ground that has been reserved and reflects that, once reserved for a client’s sole use, a plot is unsaleable to anyone else.”