Memorandum by Wickham Market Parish Council
The Parish Council wishes to respond to your
press notice, forwarded to this parish, regarding cemeteries.
The information you require actually bears little resemblance
to what happens on the ground and it would have been more helpful
if greater attention had been given to the roles played by the
various authorities which run burial grounds. It is also understood
that not all parishes running their own burial grounds have been
included in the notification procedure, which will not give as
clear a picture as it should.
Wickham Market cemetery was first brought into
being in 1875, with extensions to the ground purchased in 1917
and 1997. The churchyard attached to the parish church is currently
being processed for official closure. The cemetery is operated
solely by the Parish Council in accordance with the rules and
regulations laid out in Charles Arnold Baker's "Local Government
Administration". A part-time Assistant Clerk deals with day
to day cemetery matters and is paid an honorarium, whilst the
Clerk deals with maintenance issues etc. The Parish Council does
not employ a gravedigger; undertakers deal with this themselves
on behalf of their clients. All fees are charged to the undertaker
and these are reviewed annually. Business rates are charged to
the Parish Council.
The income varies year on year depending on
the number of burials/interment of ashes, which attract different
fees. The Parish Council does not receive any income from other
sources, resulting in a significant deficit to the parish each
year. Families of non-residents are charged double fees to offset
this. As an example, the income/expenditure for 1999/2000 was:
Maintenance of the cemetery (grass cutting/hedgecutting/tree
pruning/rubbish collection) is carried out under contract, currently
by the Contract Services Unit of Suffolk Coastal District Council.
Other works are carried out as and when necessary; an ongoing
expense is that of repair and reinstatement of the access driveway.
The purchase of the extension in 1997 is now resulting in further
expense to bring it into a condition suitable for burials. The
land was purchased for £4,000 plus legal fees of £1,000.
The cemetery lies on the southern edge of the
parish, just outside the built-up area of the village. It enjoys
peaceful seclusion, is well-liked by parishioners and on the whole
is not prone to vandalism. It is in a good condition. Regular
tree and hedge planting is carried out by the parish tree warden,
partly for visual reasons and also to aid wildlife.
Checks have recently been carried out on the
safety of memorial headstones, resulting in a significant number
being repaired by relatives (where possible). The area of headstone
safety and responsibility seems to be very "grey" and
requires clarification. This includes the design of modern headstones.
A section of the cemetery had memorials removed some years ago
to aid maintenance (properly advertised) but most remain from
the 1930's onwards, with a few from the late 19th century.
Mrs C J Caudwell
Clerk to the Council