Select Committee on Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Memoranda

Memorandum by Horden Parish Council (CEM 52)


  Horden Parish Council's Thorpe Road Cemetery was opened in 1952, so is relatively new in comparison we currently have just under 5000 interments. The Cemetery was purpose built on the outskirts of the village and for many years also served the New Town of Peterlee. The original cemetery contains a Chapel of Rest, which predominantly is now used for services as local undertakers provide a rest facility at their own premises. The Cemetery is funded via precept on Council Tax ( £42,656 in 2000/01).


  Within the village we have substantial community support for the hard work and effort which goes into the maintenance of facilities. We receive regular feedback both verbal and written comments and a regular agenda item at Council meetings covers suggestions and complaints, which ensures continuous improvement of service provision.

  Many families who have now left the village request burial at our cemetery, especially those who have relatives already buried. We have particular links with Peterlee as we served the area prior to the establishment of their own cemetery a few years ago.


  Thorpe Road Cemetery was recently awarded the title of "Cemetery of the Year 2000" for cemeteries under 10 acres, an award from the National Association of Memorial Masons. On judging the judges commented "Thorpe Road Cemetery was excellent in all areas and particularly user-friendly. All areas of the site were easily accessible, a comprehensive sign with all manner of information greets visitors at the gate and several leaflets were available for members of the public. The cemetery provides a great variety of features for its size and gives a good choice to the local community."

  The Parish Council have maintained and improved facilities year on year to provide an excellent facility to the public, within financial constraints, and the Council will continue to strive to meet this objective.


  Increasingly cemeteries are falling into disrepair (and often dangerous conditions) owing to lack of finance, particularly older rural burial grounds. Maintenance is costly and without the income from burials, which often only covers the cost of burial, there is insufficient funds for long-term upkeep.

  Although at the current time, the above does not apply to our cemetery, we are aware that other burial authorities are experiencing financial difficulties. We are not aware of any particular involvement by any government agencies other than legislation and regulations which cover the conduct of interment of human remains.

  As members of the Confederation of Burial Authorities and the Institute of Burial and Cremation Administration, we subscribe to Journals and Good Practice Guides which we incorporate into our own policies. We would welcome a National Code of Conduct or Policy Guidelines as a way of ensuring best practice amongst all burial agencies.


  Currently Horden Parish Council has approx 10-15 years of burial space remaining in the existing cemetery as an expansion programme was undertaken in the early 1990s which involved the compulsory purchase of adjacent farmland, a process which will soon require repeating. Long term, as we are bordered on two sides by farmland, the purchase of this farmland whether by agreement or compulsory purchase, would ensure burial ground for the long-term future.


  As previously stated, Horden Parish Council have a proven good record on service provision in the cemetery sector and would therefore propose continued provision at a local council level.


  Horden Parish Council receives funding for the provision of cemetery services from burials income, precept and a contribution from a neighbouring authority (in recognition of service provision), increasing cemetery fees to a level which covered expenditure would not be a possibility. Funding of burials is straightforward, the additional cost comes from long-term maintenance of facilities without any additional regular income.

  Funding from any additional source would enable the Council to enhance service provision and/or reduce the cost of provision to the Council Tax payer locally.

Samantha J Shippen ACIS

Clerk to the Council

December 2000

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