Memorandum by Southborough Town Council
Southborough Cemetery was opened at the turn
of the century and has served the local community ever since.
Originally managed by Southborough Urban District Council, the
responsibility for the Cemetery became Southborough Town Council's
in 1974 following Local Government reorganisation.
The Cemetery is situated on the edge of Southborough
Common and is a very attractive, tranquil spot.
At one time the Cemetery boasted up to six full
and part-time attendants managing and looking after the 10 acre
site. Today just one full time attendant is employed and he receives
help on an ad-hoc basis as and when he needs it from the
rest of the Town Council's staff.
The Cemetery consists of the following elements:
One full time Cemetery Attendant.
One chapel used twice a year.
One cemetery cottage for attendant.
Male/female toilet sited at rear
of attendant's cottage.
Various sheds housing necessary equipment.
Various machinery as required. Value
All grave digging is carried out manually by
the Cemetery Attendant.
The cost of maintaining the Cemetery in Southborough
is about £30,000 per annum with an income of between £6,000-£8,000
per annum. This results in a direct cost to the Community Charge
Payer of approximately £22,000 per annum or £5 per D
Band household. The D Band rate for 1999-2000 was £56.08.
A further investment of over £30,000 to
upgrade the cemetery cottage and the chapel in 2000-2001 has been
made and this funding has had to be obtained from the small balances
saved over the past three years by the Town Council.
The cost of managing and maintaining Southborough
Cemetery is a large burden on the Town Council which can ill afford
to meet the costs. However, the Town Council is extremely accessible
and some form of financial support could be considered to help
under-funded burial authorities.
The Town Council is also responsible for a closed
cemetery at St Peter's Church on Southborough Common. In order
to make this cemetery safe for members of the public and accessible
to the disabled an investment of over £5,000 will be required
in the next year or so. Once again, the Town Council is unable
to meet its financial obligation without raising its precept by
a percentage greater than inflation.
The following issues are of concern to Southborough
Southborough Cemetery is considered
to be an important facility available to local residents. However,
in most cases the Funeral Directors will recommend the burial
of bodies or ashes at the main cemetery in Tunbridge Wells which
is run by Tunbridge Wells Borough Council. It would be beneficial
to Town and Parish Councils for Funeral Directors to be directed
to utilise local cemeteries where the deceased may have resided
as a first option.
Southborough Cemetery is one of the
few facilities provided by the Town Council and the most appreciated
especially by the bereaved. However, although there is land available
adjacent to the cemetery that could be used for expansion in the
future there is no funding available to purchase that land now.
A grant system to provide funding to burial authorities to purchase
extra land to extend or provide new cemeteries should be set up.
Due to the high costs and low income
of Southborough Cemetery there is little capital to invest in
the cemetery. Therefore it would be beneficial for a grant system
to be made available to Town and Parish Councils to help fund
essential health and safety work in cemeteries especially in view
of the recent reports that many old tomb and gravestones are unsafe
and potentially lethal.
It is imperative that any funding
especially from the Lottery should be available to all burial
authorities especially Town and Parish Councils and that all funding
should be distributed evenly.
Clear guidelines should be drawn
up for the management and maintenance of cemeteries especially
regarding health and safety issues.
A national long term strategy should
be drawn up to ensure that there will be adequate land in the
future for cemeteries to enable that those who wish to bury their
loved ones will be able to do so.
Further research and investigation
should be carried out into alternative methods of burials such
as green burials, cremations etc. The findings of these investigations
should be made available to all burial authorities.
The responsibilities for closed cemeteries
should be reviewed and placed in the hands of those bodies that
are able to afford to invest, manage and maintain them in the
future ie Borough, District and County Councils.