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Fight to keep funding for village church

PUBLISHED: 11:37 23 September 2020 | UPDATED: 11:37 23 September 2020

St Remigius Church in Hethersett. Picture: Peter Steward

St Remigius Church in Hethersett. Picture: Peter Steward

Archant

A Norfolk parish council is to revisit its decision to withdraw funding for the upkeep of its local churchyard - but not until the New Year.

St Remigius Church in Hethersett. Picture: Peter StewardSt Remigius Church in Hethersett. Picture: Peter Steward

Since 1967, Hethersett Parish Council has met the cost of grass cutting in St Remigius Church.

But at its July meeting, councillors decided to withdraw funding when the present contract expires next April.

At Monday’s meeting a number of parishioners voiced concern but councillors voted not to discuss the matter again next month but to put it on the agenda for January - six months after the original decision.

A number of parishioners spoke against the cuts.

Hethersett rector the Rev Derek McClean said the village was currently experiencing 10 burials a year.

He added: “In less than a decade the churchyard will be full and legally then we will have to hand the burial ground over to the parish council to maintain.”

In an email to the council, former chair Jackie Sutton said she felt the council had “a public duty to maintain parish burial grounds”.

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She added: “The original decision was a highly contentious one that will be upsetting for many residents who have loved ones interred in the burial ground and that includes many village stalwarts including previous parish councillors.

“The support from public funds for church burial grounds is a perfectly legitimate use of resources.”

The Rev Christopher Mallett said local people had expressed dismay that the council had increased the parish precept but was withdrawing funding from the churchyard.

He spoke of it being disrespectful to the memory of those who died in the two world wars and were commemorated on the war memorial in the grounds.

Resident David Hall spoke of what he referred to as a “moral situation”.

“Many people who are buried in the churchyard have made large contributions to the village and it is disrespectful if we cannot find a small amount of money for the upkeep,” he said.

At the July meeting, councillor Paul Mallett proposed the withdrawal of funds referring to it as “a significant amount of money”.

Of the eight council members present at that meeting six voted to stop funding.


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