Cemetery Minutes 6 December 2016

PONTELAND TOWN COUNCIL
CEMETERY COMMITTEE
6 December 2016
Councillor C Rawlings (Chairman)
Present – Councillors Mrs C Caisley, P Cowey, Mrs C Greenwell and R Ramsay

1. Apologies for Absence
An apology for absence was received from Councillor A Shanley.

2. Minutes of last meeting
Copies of the minutes of the last meeting held on 15 September 2016 had been circulated and were approved.

3. Matters Arising
(i) Records meeting/presentation of digital records
A digital copy of the NCC records had been received.

The presentation of a digital record keeping product was still to be organised.

(ii) Review of urgent works
(a) Additional plinths
The Clerk reported that the person who used to install the concrete plinths at the Cemetery had retired and two quotes had been sought for the work, details of which were reported.

RESOLVED – The quote from RHD in the sum of £6268.75 plus VAT be accepted.

(b) Request for information from NCC re Muslim Burials
Councillor Mrs Greenwell raised a point in relation to the above.
This was discussed and it was agreed that NCC be asked again for information on this matter following which this would be discussed in detail at a future meeting.

4. Review of the sustainability and fees of Prestwick Cemetery
A report had been produced by Councillor Ramsay in relation to the above.
Councillor Ramsay was thanked for the amount of work he had put into the production of this document.

The report included various attachments the first of which related to usage based on actual figures for the years 2013 to 2015. The numbers of grave plots purchased per annum was 14 together with 5 cremation plots. The number of actual burials was 15 per annum together with 4.33 cremation ashes internments.

The report included reference to social attitudes in relation to burials/cremations and how these were changing over the years. An example was the increase in cremation over the years from 1960 when it was 34% to 74% in 2012.
This meant that there would probably be a decrease in the demand for burials in coming years and an increase in informal disposal. It was stated that the Town Council would need to examine this each year to ensure they had a viable source of income.

In relation to capacity at the Cemetery, the Chairman reported that a meeting had been held with the land owner and his agents on 5 December to discuss the sale of 1.09 acres of land. It seemed unlikely that the sale would proceed as the landowner was keen to find a more creative use for the land on a lease basis.

If the land was not available then it may be that the Council would have to consider establishing a second cemetery elsewhere in the civil parish area.
It was felt that this was a major consideration in both financial and resource terms which the Town Council would have to consider carefully before embarking on this course of action.

As well as the columbaria proposal it was mentioned that there were other ways of burying cremated remains that took up little space and these could be explored.

Sections 3.4 and 3.5 of the report dealt with the annual running costs and revenue from the Cemetery which was also covered in attachment 4 of the report.
It was noted that the capital expenditure for landscaping etc could be financed by using reserves or by taking a loan with the Public Works Loan Board (PWLB).
Once the quotes had been received for the landscaping contract this would be considered further.

In relation to fees, details of the current fees were set out in attachment 5 of the report. Increases had been based solely on inflation in the past and an alternative approach was suggested that took in the following five principles although it was recognised that it may not always be possible to comply with all of them:
1. Ensure that the relevant fee structure maximises current revenue.
2. Ensure that they are reasonable in the context of overall funeral costs.
3. Ensure that they compare reasonably with Newcastle Cemetery fees.
4. Ensure that they are reasonably priced in accordance with inflation rates.
5. Ensure that they are in reasonable accord with a logical hierarchy.

It was noted that there appeared to be some obsolete items listed in the fees and these should be deleted from the fee structure. An example of this was the fee for ‘adult grave triple depth’. Due to ground conditions at Prestwick, this was not possible.

It would be necessary to look at new fees for certain items such as the Columbaria, plaques, scattering of ashes and book of remembrance. These items would be discussed when the fees for 2017-18 were considered.
From the information provided in the report it appeared that subject to maintaining revenues at their current level and the acquisition of additional land the Cemetery would appear to be sustainable. It appeared likely that land for a second cemetery would be required which would be discussed at a later date.

RESOLVED –

(i) The Committee notes the information contained within the report which would
be used as a basis for future decisions.
(ii) Note that the report on the landscaping scheme contract would be considered
at a subsequent meeting including proposals on financing.
(iii) The Committee authorise further investigative work on loans to identify time scale for obtaining such loans.
(iv) The Committee authorise the preparation of a detailed fee revision schedule
for 2017-18 to be considered at a subsequent meeting for approval and to
be brought into use as from 1.4.17. This was to be based
on the proposals contained within the report.

5. Review of proposed action to be taken in respect of a tree on a grave
A report was presented in relation to the above. The report dealt with the proposed removal of a tree from a specific plot where the last internment was in 1986. It was proposed to re-locate the tree to the back of the headstone.
Information had been sought regarding the holders of the deeds for this plot and no information could be found. Photographs were included within the report.

It was therefore suggested that the tree be removed and re-located behind the headstone.

RESOLVED – The Committee authorise the removal of the tree in its current location and transplanting it to the back of the headstone.

6 Any other business
A list of possible duties to be carried out in respect of the Cemetery had been produced by Councillor Peter Cowey.
It was suggested that this should be kept on file and used at the appropriate time.

7 Date of next meeting

The next formal meeting was scheduled for 7 March.

It was noted that it would be necessary to have an additional meeting or meetings to discuss the landscaping quotations and to set the fee structure.