Cemetery Minutes 1st June 2015

PONTELAND TOWN COUNCIL

CEMETERY COMMITTEE

1 June 2015

Councillor C Rawlings (Chairman)

Present – Councillors Mrs C Caisley, P Cowey, Mrs C Greenwell and R G Ramsay

Also in attendance – Mr D Hunt NCC Neighbourhood Services

 

  1. Apologies for Absence

There were no apologies for absence.

 

  1. Minutes of last meeting

Copies of the minutes of the last meeting held on 30 March 2015 had been circulated.

 

  1. Matters Arising

Item 6(i) – Double charging – The Committee agreed that a letter be sent to NCC thanking them for the payment received in respect of double charging.

 

Item 6(ii) – The Clerk was asked to chase the matter of the utilities search up with the Council’s Solicitor.

 

  1. Decoration on Graves

The Committee was reminded that a report had been circulated to the February meeting.  A further copy had been provided.

The February meeting had agreed that the Clerk should write to funeral directors asking them to reinforce the regulations relating to decoration on graves.  This had been done.  Committee members had been asked to visit the Cemetery and make notes on the report that had been circulated.

 

There was considerable debate on this item regarding whether this should be allowed to continue or whether the Council needed to take appropriate action.  It was noted that this would have to be carried out on a phased basis and suggestions included allowing people to have a small area at the top of the graves to place items on.  It was also suggested that this should be dealt with on a case by case basis.  For example some of the decorations to graves were well tended whilst others looked neglected.

The Clerk suggested that discussions should be held with NCC and neighbouring parish and town councils to see how they dealt with such issues and a report would be submitted to a future meeting.

 

RESOLVED – That consideration of this matter be deferred pending further discussions being held with NCC and neighbouring parish and town councils. A report would be submitted to a future meeting of this Committee.

 

  1. Muslim Burials procedure

The County Council had produced a procedure for burials for the Muslim faith.

Mr Hunt  explained the background to this situation and stated that NCC would be writing to funeral directors regarding this provision.

NCC would be unable to provide a weekend or bank holiday service.  It was suggested that reference to Saturday services should be deleted from the fees and charges in respect of Prestwick Cemetery due to the difficulties of providing manpower at those times.

 

A query was raised about whether shrouds would be allowed.  This would be examined further.

 

In response to a query it was confirmed that this was currently the only area within the County that offered this service.

 

The Committee were largely in favour of the procedure but asked that the words “or such other sum as may be determined from time to time” be added at the end of item 2 of the procedure.

 

RESOLVED –

(i)         The procedure be agreed subject to the addition of the words “or other such sum as may be determined from time to time” after item 2.

(ii)        That any reference to Saturday or weekend/bank holiday services at the Cemetery be removed from the fees and charges schedule in respect of all services.

(iii)       The Clerk examines further the query regarding the use of shrouds and report back to a future meeting.

 

  1. Memorial Trees

The Clerk had produced a report in relation to the above.  This required consideration of several issues relating to memorial trees.

 

It was suggested that the timing for planting of Memorial trees should be specified in the fees and charges.  The right time to plant was between October and March however requests were being received all year round and this was leading to several instances of trees dying as they were planted out of season.

 

The issue of Saturday planting was also raised although this had been dealt with under item 5 above.

 

It was usual practice to include a memorial stone post as part of the memorial tree package and the Clerk stated that stocks were low and minimum orders of 20 had to be placed.  This would cost £1002.15 and this expenditure was agreed.

 

A query was raised as to why these posts were being used in the woodland area.  The Clerk stated that this was an error and they should not have been placed there.  It was suggested that if the graves needed to be marked then markers should be at  ground level.  This would be examined in more detail before the next meeting.

 

Finally the existing plan layout for trees and seats had been circulated.  This had been produced by NCC and whilst useful, it was not to scale.

It was suggested that a plan showing all the trees, seats and plots should be produced from the survey of the Cemetery that had already been carried out.  There would be a cost involved in this but it was felt to be necessary and should make matters easier for all those involved.

 

RESOLVED –

(i)         Agree the change to the fees and charges to state that memorial tree planting would only be allowed between October and March although sites could be booked in advance. 

 

(ii)        The Committee agreed with the proposal not to provide any services at the Cemetery on weekends or bank holidays.

 

(iii)       The Committee agreed the purchase of 20 stone posts to hold in stock at a cost of £1002.15 plus VAT.

 

(iv)      The survey map be updated to include details of plots, seats and trees which could be updated when necessary.  It was noted that there would be a cost involved with this.

See attached list of revised fees and charges which reflect decisions above, which require Council approval.

 

  1. Letter from resident regarding various issues with the Cemetery

A letter had been received from a resident of Ponteland regarding various issues and concerns relating to the Cemetery.

The resident had referred to the improvements that had been made to the facility but also mentioned the adornment of graves, a dead tree and the lack of inward facing seats as issues that required attention.

 

A letter would be sent to the resident setting out the Committee response to the letter much of which had been dealt with at this meeting.

 

RESOLVED – An appropriate response be sent to the resident.

 

 

 

IT WAS RESOLVED THAT UNDER THE PUBLIC BODIES (ADMISSION TO MEETINGS) ACT 1960 THAT THE PRESS AND PUBLIC BE EXCLUDED FOR THE FOLLOWING ITEM ON THE GROUNDS OF THE CONFIDENTIAL NATURE OF THE BUSINESS TO BE TRANSACTED.

 

  1. Cemetery extension

A copy of a letter received from the Land Agent had been circulated and was discussed.

 

RESOLVED – The actions as outlined within the report be carried out.

 

  1. Any other business

(i)         Additional plinth

Councillor Ramsay stated that PTC had paid for some additional plinths but he could not find them.  He thought that it had been agreed they would be sited in the cremated remains section.  This would be investigated and Members informed.

(ii)        Grass cutting

Councillor Ramsay had produced photographs showing dead grass being left after the Cemetery had been cut.  He suggested that the period between grass cuts was too long.  Mr Hunt agreed to look into this and the Clerk was asked to inform him about the frequency of cutting.

 

(iii)       Meeting with maintenance team

Mr Hunt agreed that a meeting could be held with the maintenance team at the Cemetery with the Council’s landscape architect.

 

  1. Date of next meeting

To be agreed.