Concerns over Seahouses cemetery costs after more heavy losses

Fresh concerns have been raised about cemetery costs in Seahouses after figures indicated more heavy losses.

Sunday, 18th October 2020, 9:42 am

North Sunderland Parish Council has already introduced new maintenance arrangements to try and cut costs after incurring losses of £14,000 over a three-year period.

In March, councillors asked for their contactor to do fortnightly grass-cutting instead of weekly, with a cemetery tidy once a month.

However, Cllr Sylvia Hillan raised concerns after cemetery costs of £1,400 were incurred in September.

Seahouses cemetery.

"That means the cemetery made a loss of about £900,” she said. “If you take that over 12 months you’re talking about £11,000.

"We can’t afford to haemorrhage £900 a month when we’re only getting £450 in. We have to look at it now.

"I am not expecting it to make a profit but we can’t afford to lose £11,000 a year on that cemetery. We only have a precept of £16,000.”

Members agreed that grass-cutting should be scaled back, especially now it is close to the end of the growing season.

It was suggested that new income streams could be investigated. Cllr Ailsa Shiel suggested a memory wall while Cllr David Fordy wondered about a pet cemetery.

"We can’t just keep cutting back on basics,” said Cllr Shiel. “We’ve got to be a bit more progressive and look at what other councils do.”

Councillors voted to support a planning application for The Dunes on St Aidan’s despite concerns raised by some members about changes to the frontage of the building. It will go to Northumberland County Council for a final decision.

Plans for a hardstanding area at Springhill Farm were also supported on condition that it is used for farm machinery rather than caravans.

Preliminary plans have been made for a remembrance service on Sunday, November 8 but further guidance on potential coronavirus restrictions is still awaited.

Members heard there is also likely to be a limited Christmas lights display and no official switch-on ceremony but there will be a tree.

Meanwhile, a minute’s silence was held in memory of former councillor Terence Wainwright who served between 2000 and 2004 and recently passed away.

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