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CLOSED CHURCHYARD MEMORIALS

0 votes
My PC does not have GPC.   We are responsible for a closed churchyard under LGA 72 S215 . This requires things to be kept in decent order.   As far as I am concerned the requirement regarding memorials  is one of ensuring safety.  A leading Councillor is however advising that we have a higher duty (to do whatever they choose)  and is proposing spending significant amounts and effecting repairs to a whole host of memorials  many of which are purely aesthetic repairs which wont require faculties .     What latitude do PCs have when it comes to memorial "repairs"?
by (2.8k points)

2 Answers

0 votes
Memorials remain the responsibility and in the ownership of the family but in reality it can be very difficult to identify the family of a grave which is hundreds of years old.  The responsibility of the council is to maintain the churchyard but that also includes the safety of memorials which should be checked on a regular basis and steps taken to ensure the memorials remain safe.  This might mean, for example, removing vegetation from the memorial (ivy is a real issue as it weakens the stonework) but there is no requirement or authority beyond that.
by (4.2k points)
Funny you should say ivy because that is another issue I have .  We employ an orderly to plant flowers and tidy up but she ignores ivy growing up walls and trees , shrubs etc.  Having said that I agree with your summary but does no requirement/authority constitute acting ultra vires ?
0 votes

Are you certain your PC has responsibility under s215?  Have you actually read the section?

For that to be true there would need to have previously been a request from the PCC to the PC and a resolution by the PC to accept responsibility. 

Now that might have happened.... But, have you (anyone) actually seen the formal record of it having happened?

Now the only reason I ask is because such matters are sadly often victim to hearsay passed along the generations by councillors and clerks that failed to properly read, interpret, understand and apply the regs in the first place. So if the PCC didn’t ask, and the PC didn’t formally accept, it doesn’t give rise to any responsibility upon the PC. I have experienced this very misapplication of a ‘supposed’ regulation where the person(s) seeking to justify expenditure clearly did not have a full and proper understanding of the reference (s215)  they were relying upon (they were also relying upon the habitual lack of interest from anyone to actually check that they were being fed BS and assumed that the insertion of a vaguely credible reference to LGA would suffice)

Might be worth asking if anyone has record / can confirm previous resolutions because if they don’t exist, your PC may be incurring unlawful expenditure. 

It may be that the correct procedure has been followed (and records) all I’m suggesting is, it would be worth checking....  You might be surprised

by (420 points)
I am confident that s215 was correctly applied in the early 1970s . Then later in the 1990s a charity was set up to deal with memorial repairs  presumably because of the safety only provisions .  That charity was run by a couple of senior Councillors (that's another story) but now they have turned round and said sorry we cant afford to do memorials repairs so its down to you PC.    As we don't have GPC I am saying the PC has no powers to pay for aesthetic repairs.    Other senior  Councillors are saying "yes we know that but we have nudge nudge a "higher duty" here  and we have loads of money in reserves.
Understood!

In that case they are wrong.
They know they are wrong.
You know they are wrong.
Only thing you can do if they won’t listen is inform the clerk that you believe it to be wrong.
It is the clerks duty (in the first instance) to be the arbiter of correct procedure.
If that doesn’t work then forward details of the cllrs and the clerks actions to the IA / EA.
Keep an audit trail.
Well the clerks response has come back and reads  This is a grey area, I have always found this matter being dealt with in different ways by Councils. I treat each situation separately.  I know what this will mean
Potentially fraught with issues!

Are the memorials (I’m guessing we’re talking headstones?) all in PC ownership?

I’d guess no....

So the PC is planning to have works undertaken to the property of others with first having notified / received consent to undertake such works....

Not something I’d put my name to.

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