Memorandum by Keynsham Town Council (CEM
Keynsham Cemetery has been owned and managed
by Keynsham Town Council since 1996. The Cemetery was transferred
from the former Wansdyke District Council that was abolished during
the reorganisation of Avon in that year.
The Cemetery itself is located on the edge of
town on the site of a large Roman Villa, reputed to be the second
largest discovered in the United Kingdom. Various archaeological
studies have been made of the site along with nationally important
discoveries. The Victorian Chapel is built directly on the villa
which provides the foundations.
The Cemetery itself has been in constant use
since the late Victorian era as a municipal burial site.
At the time of the transfer, the Victorian Chapel
was in a very poor state and in danger of collapse, while the
site itself was 95 per cent full, with only two to three years
of burials. The Town Council made a substantial investment into
the Chapel, both on exterior repairs and internal refurbishment.
This was successfully completed and the Chapel was considered
worthy of listing in the current list of buildings of historic
interest. A new extension was also opened following an archaeological
survey and planning permission, to provide an additional 500 grave
spaces, estimated to list up to 25 years at the current rate of
burials in new graves. The full cost of this was borne by the
In the longer term, adjacent sites are within
the flood plain and would not be suitable for burials. Therefore,
the Council will have to consider either:
(ii) Reusing the parts of the existing site.
The Council has not yet taken a view on how
best to proceed. The existing Cemetery is available for people
of all faiths and of no faith, primarily for local people, though
people from outside the Community are also able to purchase plots
at a premium of 100 per cent of the residents rate. This policy
will be kept under review and may be amended should other nearby
graveyards become full, increasing demands on Keynsham.
The Cemetery is kept in good order and memorials
are regularly tested for safety by use of a Topple Tester. The
Town Council accepts full liability for all costs associated with
the management and maintenance of the site. The Cemetery is funded
partly by income and partly by use of the precept. The proportion
of funding, excluding capital costs, is approximately 40 per cent
: 60 per cent respectively. It is noted that a principal authority
running a similar service qualifies for government assistance
via the RSG, while the precept is a 100 per cent tax on local
residents. A particular problem is the ongoing maintenance costs
for the older parts of the cemetery. Tasks include, tree surgery,
hedge trimming, footpaths maintenance, grass cutting and strimming.
The geography of the site does not allow for it to be "closed".
No new income can be generated from these sites under existing
rules but the costs to the local taxpayer continues.
The Council is committed to the long term provision
of a local Cemetery. However, should further capital works be
required, further sources of income would be appreciated, rather
than a reliance on the precept or a loan, the cost of which falls
on local people. It is the view of the Council that the National
Lottery would not be an appropriate source of funding for an essential
council service. The DETR should consider other funding sources,
including direct grants to local councils on the submission of
approved plans for development.