Memorandum by St Mary Redcliffe (CEM 33)
My attention was drawn to the fact that the
Environment Sub-committee of the House of Commons Select Committee
on the Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs is undertaking
an inquiry into cemeteries. I am writing on behalf of the incumbent
of St Mary Redcliffe Church, the Revd Tony Whatmough, and the
Secretary of our PCC, Miss Pauline Gillard but we are not sure
whether this enquiry covers Local Authority cemeteries or whether
it includes churchyards, open or closed, owned by the Church of
England which happen to be called cemeteries.
The St Mary Redcliffe cemetery in Bath Road,
Bristol was closed for burials by Order of the Privy Council on
8 February 2000. The maintenance of the cemetery has now been
taken over by the Bristol City Council but there is a chapel in
the cemetery which remains the responsibility of the Church. The
chapel is not in good repair and has recently been vandalised;
the gravestones too are damaged. Bristol City Council have made
enquiries whether they could repair the chapel and use it as an
office. If that was to proceed, a faculty would need to be obtained.
Terms of the use of the chapel would then be governed by a licence
pursuant to the faculty. The cost of repair and restoration of
the chapel, the gravestones and the boundary walls are going to
be substantial and consideration must be given to the source of
funding for such work.
Under Section 215 of the Local Government Act
1972, the maintenance and repair of the churchyard is taken over
by the local authority but the functions and liabilities remain
under the control of the incumbent with the concurrence of the
PCC. The legislation on redundant churchyards does appear to be
rather confused. Clarification as to who is responsible for the
funding of repairs and for insurance, particularly in view of
the possibility of personal injury arising from the damaged condition
of these items is not readily obtained.
After consultation with the incumbent, the PCC
Secretary, the Diocesan Registrar and the Local Authority, it
was considered appropriate to draw your attention to this confused
area of legal responsibility.