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Churchyard Burials

1st of December 2011

Further to the article in the October edition of Chipperfield News, the survey has now been been completed. All houses in the Ecclesiastical Parish were visited and the results were announced at a public meeting held in the Small Hall on 26 October. This meeting was attended by 73 people including County Councillor, Richard Roberts, and Dacorum Councillors, Gill Chapman and Gbola Edeleke.

The Steering Group announced that 691 questionnaires were completed of which 645 were in favour of an extension to the churchyard, 25 against and 21 of no opinion.
Following the announcement there was a question and answer session. Concern was expressed about the format of the questionnaire in that it gave no indication of the cost that would be incurred and therefore the results might not be an accurate record of those in favour. If residents of the village were required to contribute to the cost of acquisition of land and the wall or fencing required, then the number in favour might be considerably reduced. The Group’s response to this was that they were aware that fund raising was likely to be required but at this stage no firm costing had been made. Their prime concern initially was to determine the general view in the village and the matter would be progressed in stages.

The overall view of the meeting was that the Group should proceed. To this end the Group’s next action will be to discuss the matter with the Borough Planning Department to determine acceptability of the proposal to use part of the Common. This to be followed by a calculation of the costs involved and the means to raise the necessary funds.

Progress will be reported as soon as possible.

 
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J.Whittles / C.Pinney

CHIPPERFIELD BURIALS

The December/January edition of Chipperfield News carried a report of the village meeting held on 26 October. The report gave the results of the village questionnaire in which 93% supported the proposal. The questionnaire was intended to be a preliminary sounding of opinion. It is now being interpreted as a referendum. It is therefore regrettable that the wording of the questionnaire was misleading. It proposed a “churchyard extension”. The Church did not initiate this proposal. Extending the existing churchyard is not currently an option. This would require the permission of the diocese. Permission has neither been sought nor granted. What is effectively being proposed is a new cemetery adjacent to the existing churchyard.

Anyone who attended the village meeting hoping for further information would have been disappointed. No decision had been made on how much land will be required, and no estimate had been made for the costs (if any) of acquiring the land, the costs of clearing the trees and roots, removing the spoil, levelling the land and creating the boundary. It follows that there is no clear idea of how this may be funded. Funding by the Church is extremely unlikely. There was no information about who will own and run the new cemetery. Again, this will not be the Church. No thought had been given to how the maintenance of the new cemetery will be funded in coming years. This is a commitment that is likely to continue well into the next century. Given that the rector has conducted only one or two burials a year in the last six and a half years, and that burial rates are falling year on year, the sale of plots is unlikely to yield sufficient cash flow to meet day to day running cost unless the price per plot is set unaffordably high. It seems likely therefore, that, if the proposal goes ahead, costs will end up being met by council tax payers, the vast majority of whom (probably 80% +) will choose cremation.

It would seem appropriate to re-canvass opinion when these issues have been addressed.

February 9, 2012

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