Memorandum by the Northallerton and Romanby
Joint Burial Committee (CEM 58)
1. THE ENVIRONMENT,
The cemetery is a library of the town's past
which the local community revere and learn from, and, in some
cases points the way to the future using past experiences. The
cemetery during the summer months is also used as a park, a place
where people spend a peaceful break very often with sandwiches
during lunch breaks and we encourage as many local people as possible
to visit the cemetery and thus gain support for its well being.
2. THE CONDITION
Northallerton cemetery is like most rural cemeteries
which have suffered from a lack of funding over the years therefore
there is a backlog of works to both property and grounds, the
total cost of which cannot be inflicted by immediate precept upon
the people. It's a choice of not what you do but when you do it?
For example new burial ground is required for which the JBC must
cater, and to make this self financing the charges have been deflected
upon burial plots ie from £240 to £600, a significant
3. THE ROLES
The existing roles and responsibilities as expressed
in Powers relating to the Dead and subsequent additions and various
statutes are in our view quite sufficient to carry out management
of and protection of cemeteries.
4. LONG TERM
You will see from 2 above that we are planning
the development of new burial space. We were under the impression
as many people were that burial space over 100 years old could
be re-used. However, after contacting the Home Office in January
of this year we were informed that for this to happen it would
be necessary to have primary and full legislation. The HO made
the point that they believed that additional burial space would
not be a problem in a rural area like Northallerton, however,
people in Northallerton and Romanby express the wish that they
be buried near the town centre because to have a burial area outside
the town boundary could not be served by the present rural transport
arrangement and the distance from the local parish church. So
clearly it would assist if either burial plots could be dug deeper
or totally re-used because, as you will no doubt be aware virtually
nothing exists of the remains after 100 years.
5. THE MANAGEMENT
The local people are very satisfied and complimentary
about the management of and provision of the present cemetery
The management of the present cemetery is carried
out by the JBC consisting of Northallerton Town and Romanby Parish
Council. Councillors are drawn in equal numbers from both councils
onto the JBC which meets at least once a quarter to act as overall
management of the cemetery and its services with a part-time paid
The cemetery is serviced by a Caretaker who
lives on site and carries out grave digging, grass cutting and
observation of all sub contractors (eg Stonemasons) assisted by
two part-time employees during the grass cutting season.
6. FUNDING OF
The JBC are fully aware that the Cemetery, its
management and services is a Commercial business like any other
and funding principally comes from the precept on Northallerton
and Romanby Parish Council and income from burials and any borrowing
requirement from the PWLB. It is not possible under these circumstances
to fully fund the cemetery and one must always bear in mind the
heavy precept to do so. Therefore we have a backlog of works which
is generated from the past which could not be funded.
You will be aware that PCs are not grant aided
at all so with the constraints upon us it is not possible to build
up a war chest. Therefore, it is a question of deciding on a risk
assessment basis what works should be carried out. We believe
firmly that the JBC should be grant aided directly through both
PCs in order to maintain the services required by Northallerton
and Romanby residents.
7. OTHER MATTERS
The JBC have in the course of looking at developing
further burial space learned things which we previously had not
Whilst our cemetery is mainly composed of Anglican
and Catholic burials one can never say the split of numbers each
year and if this is over quite a number of years we find ourselves
in the position where we had sufficient burial spaces for the
Anglican residents for two to three years but find ourselves with
under one year's availability for Catholic burials. Therefore
the development of new works was made necessary at an earlier
date by the Catholic burial requirement.
Obviously to cremate everyone is the final answer.
However, this would require legislation which we are only too
well aware will not occur in the short term.
We as a JBC welcome this enquiry into cemeteries
and we sincerely hope that our experiences which are referred
to above will be of assistance.
It is obvious that local councils must do what
the people require. In Northallerton and Romanby the people are
of a rural disposition and they prefer to be buried in the local
cemetery. Our problem is clear, we must try to meet the aspirations
of the public, but by doing so, find ourselves in the financial
position which requires more than we can precept and support from
grant aided funding is very, very necessary.