Cemetery Committee Meeting 24 November 2014 – Minutes

24 November 2014
Councillor C Rawlings (Chairman)
Present – Councillors Mrs C Caisley, P Cowey, Mrs C Greenwell and R G Ramsay

1. Apologies for Absence
There were no apologies for absence.

2. Minutes of last meetings
Copies of the minutes of the last meeting held on 12 May had been circulated.

3. Matters Arising
(i) Fees for 2015-16
The Committee was reminded that fees had remained unaltered to remain in step with NCC. Consideration of any increase for the next financial year was required.
A 3% increase was discussed and the Clerk was asked to produce a new schedule of fees with this increase applied for consideration. The figures would be rounded up or down.

RESOLVED – Agree to recommend to Council a 3% increase across the fees for the Cemetery for 2015-16 and the Clerk prepare a list of fees and charges rounded up or down on that basis for consideration.

4. Contracts
Various works were required at the Cemetery and the Committee was asked to consider obtaining contractors to carry out the following work:

(i) Clear the edges of the footpaths
(ii) Surface dressing of footpaths
(iii) Repairs to the Shelter.

RESOLVED – The Committee agree to obtain contractors to carry out the above works. Quotes would be reported back to the Cemetery Committee for approval.

5. Interim report on headstone stability
A preliminary survey of headstone stability highlighted that there were about 50 minor issues out of 250 with regard to stability. The main problem was the headstone being loose on the foundation although they were unlikely to topple.
Strettles had offered to carry out a full survey and advise the Town Council as to what was required at no cost. Further discussions with them were necessary to determine what they will provide. It also needs to be confirmed with them that they won’t necessarily be given any remedial works.
It will then be necessary to determine what works need to be carried out. It was suggested that the plot trustees would be approached to meet the costs of any works although this information may not be available for some of the older plots. It would then be necessary for the Council to meet the costs if a plot trustee could not be found.

RESOLVED – Agree to follow up with Strettles to ascertain what they would provide in terms of headstone testing to ascertain the necessary levels of remedial works as outlined above.

6. Report re work to be carried out by NCC to provide additional plinths

The Clerk reported that NCC had recently provided additional plinths in order to provide additional plots.

This work had to be authorised as a matter of some urgency due to the lack of spaces available for burial plots.

This had been agreed with the Chair and Vice Chair of this Committee.

RESOLVED – The information be noted.

7. Review the current status for Muslim Burials
The Clerk reported that various approaches had been made by the head of the Muslim community in Ponteland to check on progress.

It was reported that following on from the meeting with representatives of the Muslim community last year, additional information was required from them. They had been informed that there was a willingness to provide this service for them from both the Town and County Councils.

RESOLVED – The information be noted.

8. Digital records for burials, trees, seats etc

It was reported that the cemetery records were currently kept on paper without back-up. It was proposed that discussions be held with NCC to establish what their back-up systems were.
It was suggested that an Excel system should be developed with a suitable search facility and there was a possibility of some volunteer assistance to input the records.

RESOLVED – The Committee agree to examine the possibility of an Excel based system in more detail as set out above.
9. Review of budget provisions for the next 3 years and suggestion of an asset replacement fund for the Cemetery
A suggestion was made that an asset replacement fund for the Cemetery was required. The Committee agreed with the principle of this suggestion.
Councillors were reminded that the income and expenditure in respect of the Cemetery was ring fenced. A comment was made that this meant the funds could not be used for any other purpose but this was not the understanding of the Clerk who was asked to check on this detail.

A further suggestion was made to prepare a budget to cover the work of the Cemetery for the next three years. This could be prepared after the Council budget and would include items such as routine annual work and improvements.

RESOLVED – The Committee agree the suggestions for an asset replacement fund in respect of the Cemetery and also to examine the preparation of a three year plan for the budget.

10. Review of income for the first 6 months of the current financial year

The Clerk reported that gross income for the first 6 months of the year was £18,692.
The net income was £15,975 however the SLA payment had to be deducted from this figure.

RESOLVED – The information be received.

11. Consideration of possible amendment to Standing Orders to allow for co-option of two members of the public to this Committee

A suggestion was made that the Committee may wish to consider co-opting two members of the public with an interest in the Cemetery onto this Committee.

There were mixed views from Members and they were asked to give some thought to this with a view to further discussions in the future.

RESOLVED – The suggestion outlined above to give further consideration to this matter at some future point be agreed.

12. Consideration of possible amendment to Standing Orders to ensure holding quarterly meetings of this Committee

Councillors were asked to give consideration to this suggestion.
It was stated that it would assist the smooth running of the facility if quarterly meetings were programmed in.

RESOLVED – Quarterly meetings of the Cemetery Committee be agreed as part of the Council’s timetable of meetings.

. Date of next meeting
The Clerk would circulate a further date for February to ensure the agreed timetable of quarterly meetings was adhered to.