Select Committee on Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Memoranda

Memorandum by Chepping Wycombe Parish Council (CEM 31)

  This Council owns three cemeteries: one adjoining a closed churchyard in Tylers Green which has only a few spaces left for cremated remains, a recently opened one close to our offices in Cock Lane, Tylers Green, and a third at Loudwater.

  The Council is fortunate in having had far-sighted councillors in the past who purchased land so that we now have large enough cemeteries to last many years. They are open to residents and non-residents of the Parish and have taken over from the churches at Loudwater and Tylers Green whose graveyards are closed. The Parish Council is responsible for the care and maintenance of these graveyards as well as the cemeteries.

  The Council has three groundsmen who maintain the cemeteries as part of their work. The site at Cock Lane has been open for about 10 years. It adjoins woodland owned by the Parish and used extensively by local residents. An area has been prepared for burials, but the rest of the site is maintained as a nature reserve, in keeping with its surroundings.

  The cemetery at Altona Road, Loudwater was opened in 1927. There are over 1,700 grave spaces and about 700 are still vacant. The adjoining land is kept as allotments and for grazing. The site has some landscaping.

  The Council does not put any restriction on the type or style of memorials, which is much appreciated by the bereaved. We are often contacted by people tracing their family histories or who have lost touch.

  The main problem experienced by the Council is the ongoing care and maintenance of the memorials. The plots are purchased in perpetuity so, in theory, the owner is responsible for making sure the headstone is secure, and the capping on the grave is sealed. However, we can rarely trace the family and so the cost has to be borne by the Council.

  We realise that we have a duty of care under the Health & Safety legislation to ensure that visitors to our cemeteries are not put in danger, but it is clearly going to be expensive. The fees we charge for burials do not include an amount for continuing maintenance and this may have to be reflected in our future charges.

B C Day

Clerk of the Council

December 2000

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