TOWN hall chiefs are being urged to review the the way they deal with Jewish and Muslim burials.

A motion due to go before full council last night says there is “a lack of knowledge and sensitivity” about how the communities observe deaths and burials.

And it adds that time restrictions on notifying the council often cause delays in the burial process, causing “immense frustration and animosity about a “rigid system” which is perceived as “insensitive”.

Cllr Oliver Kersh, who proposed the motion, also says the responsibility of dealing with the burial process is placed with the deceased’s family — at a time when they are in the early stages of grieving.

And while it acknowledges that policy documents dealing with religiously sensitive burials exist, “tremendous problems still continue to persist”.

Cllr David Silbiger, who backs the motion, says the problem is mainly one of lack of knowledge.

He said: “It’s quite usual for funerals to take place after the deaths, but Jewish and Muslim law requires the deceased to be laid to rest as soon as possible after death — on the same day if possible. 

“That’s not uncommon at all, it’s all part of the spiritual thing of laying the physical body to rest and the soul rises to heaven.”

But Cllr Silbiger stresses that he wants awareness to be raised rather than apportioning blame or criticising anyone.

He added: “I’m hoping it should be a completely non-political motion, I’m hoping it will be a cross-party agreement to raise awareness of the requirements of the Jewish and Muslim faiths to expedite burials.”

The councillors want the creation of a multi-agency advisory panel and a review of the existing Bury Council policies on Jewish and Muslim burials.

They also suggest that council staff should receive training and development on the religious sensitivities surround deaths and burials; a round-the-clock point of contact for families and an “urgent independent review” of Bury Council’s burial costs compared to other Greater Manchester authorities.

Cllr Sibiger added: “This motion is really a very straight forward one. If you look at the motion it’s not in any way saying we have all the solutions, it’s calling on the council to create a forum where religious leaders, medical professionals, civil servants all to get around the table.”