To consider proposals brought by Councillor Mike Benson that relate to the medium and long-term provision of cemetery places within the borough.
The Committee considered an item brought by Committee Member Councillor Mike Benson that related to the medium and long term provision of cemetery places within the borough. Councillor Benson had produced a briefing note that had been circulated to the Committee before the meeting.
Councillor Benson advised the Committee that it had been three years since the start of the cemetery review, and he felt that sufficient time had passed to better understand the medium and long term provision of burial spaces in Sandbach. The report that recommended provision in Crewe and Macclesfield had not taken into account the land earmarked for extra capacity in Sandbach.
Councillor Benson was of the opinion that a strategic decision had been made that did not take into account all of the facts that related to the land in Sandbach and incorrect assumptions had been drawn. This issue did not just relate to Sandbach but also to neighbouring communities that use the cemetery.
Councillor Benson felt that a review of the cemeteries strategy should be undertaken in a timely manner and also felt that there could be capacity to also incorporate a football pitch on the land earmarked for extra cemetery capacity in Sandbach.
Visiting Member, Councillor Edgar attended the Committee and spoke in his capacity as a Weston and Basford Parish Councillor on behalf of the Parish Council for new cemetery provision for Weston Village.
Councillor Edgar advised the Committee that the Parish Council has considered the proposals and found them to be overly elaborate and not in keeping with the location within the village. Whilst the land is available some of the items preventing the commencement appear to be excessive due to lack of capital provision.
The Parish Council are seeking permission from Cheshire East Council to put its own plans together in keeping with the original budget to enable the project to move forward enabling additional cemetery provision now and into the future.
The old cemetery was now full, being established in the 1800’s and given the expansion of the village had reached 700 additional homes with projections for a further 1300 homes by 2030, the Parish Council was confident it could expedite plans using recognised contractors to fit both the budget and ambition for the village.
RESOLVED: That Councillor Edgar be thanked for his attendance and contribution to the Committee and that he be given a written response to his comments and questions.
Visiting Member Councillor Janet Clowes attended the Committee and spoke on the issue of the Wynbunbury combined Parishes. The two graveyards in the area had been closed this year, through the Parochial Church Council. The current cemetery strategy deals with the closure of graveyards and the role of the Council in absorbing maintenance of these spaces.
The graveyards in Wynbunbury had existed for over 1200 years, they were of historical interest and part of conservation area as documented in the Wynbunbury Combined Parishes Neighbourhood Plan.
The spaces had served for 100s of years the wider estates such as Dodington, Shavington, Weston etc. All the communities would now have to be served by Crewe. Councillor Clowes advised the Committee there were concerns and confusion about the maintenance of Wynbunbury cemetery.
Councillor Clowes felt that the current strategy is vague and gave an overview of the wider, national strategy which did not take into account the impacts on Town and Parish Councils or the residents who make up the Parochial Church Councils. Councillor Clowes felt that a review of the strategy at this time was extremely important and would give confidence to town and parish communities when facing the issue of the closure of graveyards particularly in light of the financial implications for both borough and town and parish councils.
RESOLVED: That Councillor Clowes be thanked for her attendance and contribution to the Committee.
The Chair then opened the debate from Councillor Benson’s address to the Committee. There was some discussion that covered:
· When Cabinet had originally debated the item back in July 2018, there had been a period of consultation that followed
· The football pitch had stopped being hired out and there was an understanding locally that the land was going to be used as cemetery plots;
· That under the old form of Leader and Cabinet form of governance, a Call-In could not be done with just one Member and that procedures were followed according to the procedure rules;
· That the impact of people prebooking cemetery spaces had a significant effect on capacity and with investment current capacity at Sandbach could raise from potentially 8 years to 16-20 years,
· Existing bookings would be honoured but provision of plots should be on the basis of need and not wealth; and
· That after three years there should now be some form of review of the strategy.
That a report be brought back to this committee to review the current cemeteries strategy for the whole of the borough.