Briefing Note for councillors: An update on the Burial Service and maintenance of the cemeteries
Issued to: Burial Committee 1st July 2020
Purpose of Report
To share an operational update on the burial service, grounds maintenance carried out over the period affected by CV-19
Contingency plans across Somerset have been developed and I am currently working very closely with Sedgemoor District Council and providing them with a weekly update. All paperwork is being processed electronically including the green death certificate. CV-19 Risk Assessments and an infection control action plan was disseminated to all grounds maintenance staff.
Local Funeral Directors have all been contacted, informing them of how we as a burial authority by adopting all government guidelines will be facilitating interments.
The three cemeteries have remained open as per government wishes and they are receiving visitors other than those attending a funeral. Funerals are exempt from the restriction on social gatherings of only two people, guidance has been issued that says that immediate family only may attend, whether this is a burial or a cremation. The staff at the cemeteries are well informed of these guidelines.
The staff are now working in the cemeteries full time and catching up on the jobs they were unable to do earlier in the year.
For several months a rough sleeper had been in Highbridge Cemetery displaying anti-social behaviour. Reports from many of the neighbours and visitors to the cemetery were passed onto the 101 service. The behaviour from this rough sleeper became untenable, he was defecating all over the cemetery, pulling flowers from graves, leaving all his rubbish lying around, shouting & swearing at visitors – many became too frightened to visit their loved ones. He was banging the front gates, and the only option was to lock them at night and reopen them in the morning. A neighbour to the cemetery – Mr Keen kindly offered to do this for us. Signs were put up with the opening times and a short explanation as to why. Chris Tuck and myself provided a statement to the police along with one or two neighbours.
I am pleased to say that a two-year Civil Injunction has been issued against this man not to set foot in Highbridge or Burnham. If he does enter the cemetery the police have said to ring 999, and he would be arrested.
Team work has been wonderful throughout these strange times. Whatever has been asked of the cemetery staff they have carried out willingly, from the removal of reported pole and directional sign on the beach to delivering letters to a 1,000 households in the town and providing a marshalling during the pedestrianisation.
Two of the Cemetery Caretakers have been booked to attend a course run by TQ Excel in Rooksbridge, this will provide them with a Chapter 8 license. This will allow them to continue their relief work with the pedestrianisation of the High St. to allow Phil New a day off in the week. The law is that to open & close a road even moving a barrier the person permitting it to happen must have a Chapter 8 license. The payment for this training will come out of the Speed Indicator Budget. When this council purchases the SID’s they will be able to operate them immediately using these two members of staff
Highbridge Cemetery had a rather large water bill, so after investigation in the cemetery by Bristol Water they have concluded that the underground leak is on our side of the ‘T’ towards the toilet building. A Waste Water Notice will be issued; this is a legal document to get the leak fixed. A plumber to fix this will be contacted this week.
The tree work has finally started with Brent Road Cemetery being completed and Highbridge tree work is being done this week.
Report author: Lorna Williams – Deputy Town Clerk
Report Date: 24th June 2020