Rutland County Council has committed £50,000 to make improvements to Oakham Cemetery before responsibility for the grounds and their upkeep can be transferred to Oakham Town Council.
Rutland County Council is the current maintaining authority for the cemetery but has been in discussion with the town council about a transfer of responsibility for the site. This is subject to a number of conditions, including the requirement for a series of repairs and improvements to be completed in advance of the handover.
These include extensive repairs to the chapel and headstones – many of which are currently fenced off for safety reasons – and were approved by Rutland County Council at a cabinet meeting on Tuesday, March 15. The works are expected to be complete by the end of May.
Portfolio holder for the environment at Rutland County Council Tony Mathias, said: “We appreciate that cemetery maintenance is a sensitive issue and fully accept that work needs to be done to bring Oakham Cemetery back up to standard.
“This is something I identified as a priority soon after becoming a portfolio holder and we have been working towards a solution for much of the past year.
“During this time we have been taking steps towards transferring care of Oakham Cemetery to the town council, with some repair work having already taken place. Before the transfer is complete we will be carrying out further repairs to headstones and the cemetery chapel, along with a programme of general works and tree surgery.
“We hope to complete these works over the next two months with the aim of handing over a much improved cemetery to the town council.”
In a letter sent to this newspaper prior to his resignation, town council chairman Alf Dewis said: “Once (work is) complete, the town council will then decide whether the cemetery comes up to the required standard and if it does, will then be starting the legal process for the transfer of the site.”
He said it was the intention of the town council to maintain the cemetery to a “higher standard”.
To read the full report that was presented to cabinet (Report No: 64/2016), visit: www.rutland.gov.uk