Cemetery Committee meeting July 1st 2013 – Minutes

PONTELAND TOWN COUNCIL

CEMETERY COMMITTEE

1 July 2013

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

1.         Election of Chairman 2013-14

RESOLVED – Councillor P Cowey be elected Chairman for 2013-14.

2.         Election of Vice Chairman 2013-14

RESOLVED – Councillor R G Ramsay be elected Vice Chairman for 2013-14.

3.         Apologies for Absence

Apologies were received from Councillors C Rawlings and R Punton.

4.         Landscaping Proposals

A report was presented which made some suggestions to improve the landscaping of the Cemetery.  Proposals included the creation of a semi formal garden at the front taking over the scrubland which formed part of the Cemetery and a plan for the landscaping of the woodland area.

It was suggested that these ideas be drawn up into a finished scheme following which there would be a discussion by the Council and then employ a landscaping consultant to produce a finished scheme which will then be available to the whole community for comments.  Then once the finished scheme has been modified and agreed it will be formally adopted by the Council and commissioned over the next few years.

Costs would need to be quantified quite early in this process.

It was felt that some initial works were required which could be carried out relatively quickly and at a cost that fell within the delegated powers of this Committee.

These were agreed as follows:

(i)         Transfer the rubbish bins to the rear of the shelter and request an additional

wheelie bin from NCC and that a small sign be affixed at the front of the

shelter to indicate where the bins were located.

(ii)        Defer consideration of item 2 within the report which was to remove the

signs from the front and reposition them on the shelter.

It was agreed to fix a small sign above the existing ones regardless of

their location and this should read “As from April 2013 this cemetery

has become the property of Ponteland Town Council but is managed

by Northumberland County Council on behalf of PTC”.

(iii)       A new temporary sign to be fixed to the side facing the entrance showing

PRESTWICK CEMETERY.

(iv)       A half barrel flower display to be positioned at the front of the sign.

(v)        The sign on the gate to be changed to “PRESTWICK” from “PONTELAND”.

(vi)       The roadside fence from the entrance towards Prestwick Road Ends be

removed and replaced with a new post and wire fence.

(vii)      Agree that the scrubland area be cut, cuttings removed, fencing behind

graves removed and disposed of off site and all litter collected and removed

subject to checking with NCC that there is no reason for leaving this area

in it’s current condition.

(viii)     The hedge beside the car park and graves in the North West corner of

the car park be removed so that the graves in that location can be

re-joined to the other graves subject to checking with NCC that there

were nor reason the graves were in this location.

(ix)       The barge board to the shelter be repaired as necessary and covered

with PVC.  The inside of the shelter be repainted with a more restful

colour (a light blue or grey for example) and the seat be re-stained.

(x)        Two flower tubs be placed outside the entrance of the cemetery.

(xi)       Examine the costs of installing brown signs on the A696 to show where

Prestwick Cemetery is situated.

RESOLVED –

(a)       That items (i) to (xi) be carried out.

(b)       That the proposals submitted for landscaping of the Cemetery be

drawn up into a finished scheme following which there would be discussion

by the Council and then drawn up by a landscaping consultant for

discussion with the community.

5.         Tree Report

A report was presented in relation to the above.  It had previously been agreed as part of the Service Level Agreement (SLA) that the Town Council would look after the trees and hedges in the Cemetery.

The report showed the donor trees and the register information received from the County Council.  There were other trees and hedges for which there was no

information.  It was suggested that the Council request their specialist tree consultant to carry out a survey to confirm species, condition and a maintenance regime.

The Committee agreed that there should be a policy in relation to donations of trees

and a copy of the policy to be adopted for Ponteland Park was also submitted.

The question of how the trees were to be marked and records to be kept also required consideration.  It was felt that the method adopted by the County Council appeared to be adequate.

A list of suggested trees was also submitted.

There was some discussion relating to charges for memorial trees and whether this should be different for residents and non residents.

The issue of charges was to be deferred to the next meeting.

RESOLVED –

(i)         Appoint the Tree Specialist used by the Council to provide a survey

of existing trees in accordance with the above.

(ii)        Agree to the general principles related to the tree types as outlined

within the report.

(iii)       Confirm that the method of marking trees and keeping records as

adopted by the County Council be agreed.

(iv)       Defer consideration of charges for memorial trees to the next meeting.

6.         Seat Report

A comprehensive report was circulated in relation to the above.  It had also been agreed as part of the SLA negotiations with the County Council that the Town Council would be responsible for the seats within the Cemetery.

An examination of the seats had been carried out and it was suggested that two required replacement, nine to be refurbished and two to be cleaned.

Various policy items required consideration and discussions with the County Council were also necessary.

RESOLVED – Consideration of this report be deferred to the next meeting.

7.         Housekeeping report

Various items of ‘housekeeping’ required discussion.

(i)         Litter and Grave, Seats decoration

It was considered that a more formal weekly litter collection was required.  Negotiations would need to take place with the County Council to ascertain who would be best to provide that service.  Decorations on graves and some seats appeared to remain in place for some time and it was recognised that this needed to be discussed and handled with sensitivity.

(ii)        Flower beds on Grave spaces

It was pointed out that there were some graves where full displays or gravel had been placed in contravention of the conditions although it was recognised in most cases this would have occurred some time ago.  This increased the amount of time spent on grass cutting and should be discouraged.

It was agreed that this required discussion with the County Council followed by face to face meetings with those involved to gain a compromise.

(iii)       Regular Inspections

It was suggested that regular inspections should be held by the Town Council and this should involve two Councillors, the Clerk and a representative from NCC.  It was agreed that these inspections should be held quarterly with a written report provided for review at the next appropriate meeting of this Committee.

(iv)      Grass

The edges to paths had not been trimmed and this required discussion with the County Council.

(v)       Shelter Cleaning

This had been dealt with under item 4 (ix) above.

(vi)      Rubbish Bins

This had been dealt with under item 4(i) above.

(vii)     Tilted Gravestones

There were some instances of tilted gravestones which detracted from the overall appearance of the Cemetery.  These did not constitute a safety issue but they should be corrected.  This required discussion with NCC.

(viii)    Paths

A programme of resurfacing works was required.

It was agreed this should be prepared and the Town Council arrange for a contract to be awarded to be phased if necessary.

(ix)      Various

Grass cuttings had been tipped in certain areas.

Arrangements to provide some sort of screening should be considered.

Plans of the drainage were required as there were a number of potholes.

RESOLVED – The relevant items be discussed with the County Council.

8.         Policy

There were various policy matters which required some consideration.

(i)         Friends of Prestwick Cemetery

This was a suggestion that required some further information.

It was proposed that enquiries be made of other authorities who had implemented such a scheme and that informal approaches be made to interested parties with a view to coming forward with a defined scheme.

(ii)        Scattering of Ashes

It had been suggested that scattering of ashes be allowed.  Crematoriums usually had gardens of remembrance for such a purpose.

This required discussion at some future point as consideration would need to be given to what sort of contribution would be required for this service etc.

(iii)       Wall plaque

A suggestion had also been made that in relation to woodland burials a wall should be provided for plaques in lieu of the tombstone that normal burials provided.  This also required further discussion.

(iv)      Pet Cemetery

The provision of a pet cemetery had been proposed.

It was agreed that this would be deferred for the time being to allow for further discussions.

It was suggested that Councillors be asked to gauge the views of the general public on this issue.

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.

9,         Extension to the Cemetery

A confidential report on the above item had been circulated.

RESOLVED – The report be noted at this stage.

10.       Date of next meeting

RESOLVED – That dates for a meeting with the County Council be sought and circulated to the Committee.