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The burial ground remains, after the chapel was sold and demolished, in the hands of trustees responsible for the maintenence.  The trust is short of funds due to the low interest rates at present and the area is not being kept to a reasonable standard.  Can the Parish Council offer to include it in their grass cutting contracts, which will need an increase in the precept or might it be better to pursue acquisition as an open space?  The burial ground is of heritage value with graves dated frim 1850 to 1990.
by (120 points)

1 Answer

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A tricky one!

If you add it to your contract there could be an expectation of sustained future assistance - and the associated cost to tax payers.

You 'could' (if approved) make a one off (or subsequent years) donation to support via s137 - if it qualifies as being of material value to a sufficient proportion of your electorate and the 'books' of the trust demonstrate a financial shortcoming.

If it's 'closed' I'm guessing it has some existing money which returns a dividend and relies upon the future expectation of legacies?

In reality, unless those trustees set about changing the financial security of their trust, you'd be likely to assume an enduring commitment.  That may or may not be deemed as a reasonable ask for your PC.
by (6.4k points)
Thank you for that its very usful to get another view.  The associated chapel was actually sold, demolished, and replaced with a chapel shaped house.  Capital from the sale is invested and cannot be touched, maintenence is funded by interest of which there is little currently.  I don' t  know s137 so I need to look there,  i am also warned there is a potential VAT problem if the trustees pay us to add the work to our contracts.  Like many PC matters you need to keep your wits about you.
So, really, it’s not a problem your PC ‘has’ to get involved in then. Really, it’s a problem that the trustees need to address. If there are funds, but due to admin restrictions, they are not able to access them and maintain their liabilities, then that really is a situation the trustees should seek to resolve internally. Just because they can’t manage their asset does not make it a CT precept payer problem.
I’d ask - what have the trustees actually done by way of forecasting and managing their financial liability?  What have they done to address shortfalls?  What have they done to raise their own funds?  What have those families with deceased in the cemetery done to maintain their facility?

From a PC perspective - what proportion of current CT precept payers have deceased relatives in the cemetery?  Is it even fair / appropriate to assume a voluntary financial burden on the CT precept payers?  Would match funding be a better approach if ‘support’ is considered appropriate?

Just because a group of trustees are unable to manage their own assets and financial liabilities, it should not automatically fall to PC to bail them out - they need to demonstrate a quantifiable ‘effort’ through internal fund raising before reverting to what might be perceived as the easiest route of seeking tax payers money.
I’d want to see the full details of the trust financial situation before springing any tax payers money to bail them out.

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