60-acre showground is set to become a temporary mortuary

A 60-acre showground in Staffordshire is set to become a temporary mortuary during the coronavirus pandemic.

The County Council backed the plans to covert land at the County Showground, on Weston Road in Stafford.

The council say it is part of measures to deal with an 'expected surge in deaths' following the outbreak of Covid-19 and will only go ahead 'if required'.

A 'reserve site' has been identified at Alrewas Hayes Grain Store, near Burton.

The details of the measures emerged in the minutes of a private meeting of the authority's property sub-committee.

As part of the civil contingency response to the coronavirus epidemic currently experienced nationally, the county council was required to identify and secure the use of temporary mortuary facilities. "Staffordshire County Showground has been identified as suitable for use in the immediate future, if required." >

The draft minutes state:

County Council Leader Philip Atkins said local authorities across the country are required to put emergency planning measures into place to deal with any unexpected increase in deaths and Staffordshire is 'no exception'.

Although he hopes the 'these contingency measures' will not be needed and that it is important that 'we are prepared and able to treat the death of any resident with dignity and compassion regardless of these unprecedented circumstances.'

Staffordshire County Showground had been due to host this year's Staffordshire County Show on May 27 and 28.

However, the agricultural event - which attracts tens of thousands of visitors each day and dates back more than 200 years - has been cancelled.

Other axed events include the National Dog Show and the Number One Events Antique Fair.

The county showground site is owned by Staffordshire and Birmingham Agricultural Society - It declined to comment on the mortuary plan.

Across the Midlands, other Councils have been preparing for the potential increase in deaths.

Preparations have begun in Nottinghamshire to make more burial space at a cemetery.

Trees have been felled at Beeston Cemetery to increase the amount of burial space.

The county council say the decision to remove the trees was not taken lightly but was necessary to help them respond to what they described as 'the sad realities of the coronavirus epidemic'.

Work has started on a temporary mortuary at Birmingham Airport, as well as Birmingham’s National Exhibition Centre (NEC), which has been mooted as a location for a temporary field hospital.

Ice rinks could be turned into makeshift mortuaries including the National Ice Centre in Nottingham.

Coronavirus: Everything you need to know