Cross Keys Swing Bridge, Sutton Bridge, Lincolnshire


Proposed New Cemetery in Sutton Bridge

May 19 2014

Proposed New Burial Ground For Sutton Bridge
May 2014 Update

There was no agreement on any of the proposed sites, for a new burial ground.  Local residents were very much against any part of the Memorial Park being siphoned off; opinion was that the drainage system under the Speechleys Allotment ground might have proved a large problem; the landlords of the land in Wrights Lane were unwilling to sell and a compulsory purchase order was at that time out of the question.

Early in 2011, after a meeting with the Parochial Parish Council and the Archdeacon of Lincoln, the Parish Council approached Scotts Miracle-Gro about the land bordering the Memorial Park and their premises.  Negotiations commenced but progress was very slow with so many other factors cropping up, for instance where access to the site should be. If an access was to be made from the Memorial Park, then there was a small parcel of land belonging to another company which would involve more negotiations.

Correspondence began with the SHDC Portfolio Holder to seek agreement in principle to earmark £100,000 towards the extension of the graveyard.  It had been confirmed verbally that projects such as the burial ground would meet the criteria for S106 funding application.

Things gathered momentum early in 2012 when it was resolved to accept a quotation for the excavation of four trial pits on the proposed site, subject to a series of conditions.  A lot of work had gone into the preparation of meeting the conditions, however in October 2012 it was learned that Scott Miracle-Gro were not willing to sell the land, so it was back to the drawing board.

In April 2013 the provision of burial facilities had become an urgent matter. At the Annual Parish Meeting in May 2013, when it was queried what was being done about a new burial ground, Cllr. Dewsberry advised there were approximately 20 places left and the matter was in hand. 

From January 2013 all Parish Council discussions relating to the burial ground were made during Closed Sessions. The agents of Henry Smiths Charities had been approached regarding the possible purchase of a parcel of land within the parish and the suggestion of a three acre site off Bridge Road, at the west end of the village was decided upon, subject to all the criteria being met. Cllrs. M & S. Booth both declared an interest. Cllr. M. Booth had land east of the proposed site and Cllr. S. Booth lived adjacent to the proposed site. At the September meeting, Cllr. Mrs. Hills advised the PC that in matters relating to Highways, Archaeology, Planning and Drainage etc. no problems had been discovered and once confirmation was received that the PC had secured the site, trial pits would be carried out.

At the October meeting it was resolved to co-opt Mr. Dennis Bell and the Rev. David Oxtoby to the Burial ground Committee.

In the November Parish Council meeting it was advised that the trial pit testing had proved successful. Then it was resolved to contact the Council’s solicitor in order to commence purchase of the proposed site. During Closed Session of this meeting the Parish Council were to consider compensation payments that might arise due to works associated with the Burial ground project. It was resolved that Cllrs. Mrs. Hill and S. Booth to discuss and agree a reasonable rate for any compensation that might need to be paid in relation to works associated with the project.

In November at a meeting of the Burial Ground Committee, Cllr. Mrs. Hill appointed as chairman. It was resolved that the S106 Facilitator (Dennis Bell) should prioritise his work to secure S106 funding by consulting with Nigel Birch/Mark Stanton as required, to produce a business plan for approval by full Council and to undertake further review of “terms of reference” for the Burial ground Committee subject to approval of full Council.

Letters had been sent to the residents of the nearby properties advising of Sutton Bridge Parish Council’s intention to create a new burial ground at Fields Farm North. Cllr. Mrs. Hills and the Rev. D. Oxtoby were to work together to invite representations from the Diocese, funeral directors, stonemasons, gravediggers and maintenance contractors to discuss any practical aspects/pitfalls that might be encountered. Cllr. Mrs. Hills advised the committee that the Environment Agency, Internal Drainage Board, Highways Authority all supported the project in principle.  With regard to Archaeological issues, any remains were likely to be buried too deep to be affected.  Trial pits and soil analysis were to be carried out and Cllr. Mrs. Hills confirmed a method statement and risk assessment had been requested from the contractors.

Compensation would need to be considered for work associated with the excavation of the trial pits although disruption would be kept to a minimum in order to reduce any liability for loss of crop and of inconvenience.

SHDC requires application for change of use of land, but normal cost would be reduced by 50% for the Parish Council.  SHDC confirmed it supported this in principle. The Burial Ground Committee were to produce a development plan for the approval of the full council and a list of areas requiring consideration were noted. It was decided which committee members would lead on specific areas in order to avoid confusion.

The creating of a new cemetery was featured in an article in the Lincs Free Press on 3rd December 2013, wherein it was reported that Sutton Bridge would have a new cemetery within two years and that the Parish Council was about to purchase a field off Bridge Road on the outskirts of the village. 

It was announced at the February Parish Council meeting that the Council’s application to the Woodland Trust’s free tree scheme had been successful and 420 tree saplings were to be delivered early March. It was agreed that the saplings would be temporarily ‘trenched in’ prior to their planting on the new burial ground site.

At the meeting of the Burial Ground Committee in March 2014, the committee discussed the draft development plan. Some of the points discussed are listed below:

During a discussion at the 1st April meeting of the Burial Ground Committee they were advised that Cllr. M. Booth had requested that planting of shrubs on land running adjacent to the site should be considered in order to protect the burial ground from contamination when spraying took place.

At the Annual Parish Meeting on 15th April, A4 sized copies of the proposed burial ground site were distributed. The original plan is available to view at the Parish Council offices in the Curlew centre.

New Burial Ground - Concept Development Planting Plan

It is anticipated that the new Burial Ground may be ready as early as Spring 2015.

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Sept 22 2010

Sutton Bridge Parish Meeting 21st September 2010


  1. Apologies for absence received from Cllr Brewis...
  2. To approve the Notes of the Annual parish meeting 2010 during which there was reference to the proposed ‘recycling plant’. It was pointed out that PREL’s proposed development is emphatically not a recycling plant but an incinerator, or gasifier, which is their own term for the process involved in burning biomass material.
  3. To resolve if parishioners require the Parish Council to provide a cemetery in Sutton Bridge.

After much discussion between the 50 or so residents who turned up at such short notice, the resolution put to the meeting for a vote, became, either by sleight of hand or by sheer ineptitude: ‘Do we want a cemetery?’ A loaded question which got an understandably emotional affirmative response.

But this was not the question on the Agenda. Residents expected to be asked to vote on whether they required the Parish Council to provide a cemetery.

This motion has yet to be voted on. Do we require the Parish Council to provide a cemetery?

The Parish Council still does not have an obligation to provide a cemetery.

A parishioner made a presentation in which she highlighted the options that were available to the Parishioners. These would not have been presented to the public if the original Agenda had been strictly adhered to. It is a pointless exercise to vote on something when you don’t know what the consequences of your vote might be.

She said the options were:-

This resulted in a lot of heated exchange, particularly over keeping the Memorial Park as a recreation area.

It's worth noting that the full name of this area is ‘War Memorial Park’; it was to be used as a pleasure park, garden or recreation ground for the benefit of the villagers. To take part of this area would amount to the desecration of a War Memorial.

The front of the churchyard has been ruled out by the Parochial Church Council, of which Councillor Dewsberry is a member, without any discussion. Of the two allotment sites, Speechleys belongs to the Parish but is worked by the son of one of the councillors. Wrights Lane belongs to Henry Smith’s Charities, landlords of another councillor, who do not wish to sell anyway. It would be costly to compulsorily purchase this land.

In the event it emerged that none of the sites was adequate to provide the future burial needs of a growing parish. For a projected 70 years and a population growing to over 3000 two and half acres would be the planning requirement. Sutton Bridge already exceeds 3000. None of the proposed sites would be adequate.

No resolution was possible because of the poor presentation by the Vice-Chairman who attempted to give the Park’s committee’s evaluation of comparative costs.

A parishioner pointed out that the figures were inadequate and inaccurate—it was not possible to compare figures because they were more akin to guesses than true estimates; any attempt at comparing such airy-fairy figures was a waste of time.

At this point, a parishioner said that nobody could read the figures which had been projected ineptly and illegibly on the wall without a screen. They had not been drawn up and presented by an independent evaluator. He said that there was no point in continuing the meeting. He proposed that the meeting be adjourned until such time as proper figures had been obtained and drawn up by an independent person. Another meeting should be called with an independent and competent presenter who would facilitate a proper discussion of what is a very important issue for the people of Sutton Bridge.

It was further suggested that funding from S106 money should be sought for the purpose of hiring an independent evaluator.

These proposals were accepted unaminously and the meeting was abandoned in some disarray.

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Sept 16 2010

A Parish Meeting will be held at the Constitutional Club, Sutton Bridge, at 7pm on Tuesday, 21st September.

At this meeting the Parish Council will only ask if the residents want the Parish Council to provide a cemetery. They will not discuss the three options that are open to them.

The Parish council is not legally obliged to provide a cemetery. However, they have been considering three options that could be used to provide a new cemetery within the parish. These are the three options:

  1. To use the front of the churchyard
  2. To use allotment land at Wrights Lane or Speechleys Allotment
  3. To hive off part of the Memorial Park.

For their own reasons, some members of the Parish Council favour Option three — to take part of the Memorial Park, which was given to the parish as a recreational space. It has covenants attached to it.

If part of the Memorial Park was used, the Parish Council would have to manage it and this would have financial implications for the Parish Council. If the land was given to the Parochial Church Council, it would have to manage the graveyard.

The Parochial Church Council do not want the front of the churchyard used. We do not know why.

If you do not attend your voice will not be heard.

Do go along to the Parish meeting and make your views known. It will be too late to change things once a decision has been taken.

Jul 31 2010

At the recent Parish Council Meeting (July 27th) a resident asked when the Council was going to hold its promised public meeting concerning the problem of dwindling number of burial places in the churchyard. She added that if the Council did not call a public meeting, then she would do so herself.

It emerged that the Parish Council had recently received a negative response from the Parochial Church Council to their request seeking to conduct a survey of the front of the churchyard, where a possible extension might have been possible. This was one of several options open to the Parish Council. The other options (discussed below) are to use an allotment site, to extend the existing cemetery into the Memorial Park, or to do nothing. The Parish Council does not have to provide a burial site within the parish.

Council members were unhappy with the tone of the letter they had received from the Parochial Church Council and felt that as contributors to the upkeep of the Cemetery, the Parish Council should have at least been granted a meeting with the PCC to discuss the matter.

The Council eventually agreed to seek professional expert advice. When this had been obtained, then the Parish Council would hold a public meeting to find out views of the residents.

Apr 12 2010

At the recent Sutton Bridge Parish Council Meeting on March 30th 2010, it was suggested that a survey be carried out in the front of the churchyard at St Matthew’s Church, to find out how many burials have actually taken place in this area. The Parish Council recently met with the Archdeacon of Lincoln who said there were no official records to show exact numbers. Cllr John Grimwood said he hoped the Parochial Church Council would share the cost of this survey. He also said that it was important to find out what the current ratio of burials to cremation is in order to determine actual need.

The Parish Council has no obligation to provide a new cemetery. It is the responsibility of the relatives of the deceased person to find a burial plot even if it means going outside the Parish.

This situation is common in many parishes where churchyards are now closed to further burials.

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Proposed new cemetery in Sutton Bridge – is it really wanted?

It has been known for some time that the St Matthew’s Churchyard burial site is nearly full and a new burial place will soon be needed. The Parish Council have been discussing this issue since December 2003 when they decided that Wright’s Lane Allotments would be an ‘ideal site for the new cemetery’ (PC Minutes, December 03) and shortly afterwards three councillors visited the site with Mr Raikes , the Henry Smith Charity representative in our area, to assess its possibilities. The Council indicated that it would ‘look to purchasing the land at the then current agricultural rate, with a covenant attached relating to any future development.’ The Council stated that if problems arose then it would consider asking SHDC to compulsory purchase the land. Smith’s Charity owns Wright’s Lane Allotment and other holdings within the Parish.

St Matthew’s Churchyard
St Matthew’s Churchyard

The previous vicar of St Matthew’s Church, the Reverend David Woods, said he favoured the Wright’s Lane site, possibly because it is more central to the Church, close to a residential area (and therefore less likely to suffer from vandalism) and because it has vehicular access.

Currently, there are three options:

  1. To take part of Memorial Park
  2. Allotments: Speechley’s Allotment & Wright’s Lane Allotment
  3. The front of the churchyard

Part of the front of the Churchyard
Part of the front of the Churchyard

There are still problems associated with all three.

The Parochial Church Council is opposed to the front of the churchyard being used on the grounds of ‘an existing water course and surface water’. (PC Minutes May 25th.) Some further details on this position are needed.

At the July 28th 2009 meeting, the Clerk reminded the Council that SHDC had already refused permission for allotment land to be used and were not in favour of leisure land being used, which effectively rules out options one and two above, even though the Drainage Board and the Environment Agency have since said that they had no problems with the three sites. (PC Minutes September 29th)

Speechley’s Allotment is ‘under-drained’ and therefore apparently unsuitable - but opinion is divided. An enquiry to the South Holland Internal Drainage Board on Aug 19th 2009 confirmed that the Board ‘does not hold records of private land drainage on individual fields’. The Board does not have any drains in the vicinity of Granville Terrace and that includes Speechley’s Allotment.

If the site were proved to be underdrained, this would not necessarily cause a problem. The SHIDB says that ‘drains were traditionally installed at intervals of one chain (approx 20m or 22 yds), although this could vary according to the conditions in the field in which they were installed.’ Spacing of that distance could accommodate plots, leaving the underdrained stretches for paths between plots.

Other issues attached to the three sites are:

Memorial Park proposed cemetery extension
Memorial Park. The figure stands approximately 15 m from the existing cemetery hedge boundary, marking the proposed extension.

There are several questions concerning this:

  1. The proposed sites give varying lengths of extension to the existing burial arrangements, ranging from 20-70 years. In the case of the Memorial Park, the question must be: will more land be taken from the park in twenty years time?
  2. What would the cost to the Parish be?
  3. If Sutton Bridge was no longer the Burial Authority and this passed to SHDC, would that create a charge on the Parish?
  4. How do the costs compare?
  5. As cremation seems to be the preferred option for most people these days and cremation urns take up less space, does this fact figure in the calculations?
  6. How many people in Sutton Bridge actually want to be buried in the village and not to have ‘to go outside of the village to be buried’ as one councillor said at a recent meeting.

It could be that there are so few people who want this option that perhaps a new burial site may not be needed after all.

The Clerk again reminded the council at the July 28th Meeting (see Minutes) that, at a meeting between Mr Enderby the Lincolnshire Association of Local Councils at the Extraordinary Meeting of the Parish Council held in October 2008, he advised the Council to cost all sites and to consult with the public first, adding that Sutton Bridge Parish Council does not have a statutory duty to provide for a new cemetery. Apparently he suggested that the public be asked if they wanted a new cemetery. For full details of Mr Enderby’s recommendations, see the PC Minutes, July 28th, 2008.

This advice was given on the basis that all three proposed sites met with opposition in one form or another.

So an important question Bridge Watch would like to ask the Parish Council is:

Why have they not heeded the advice given them by LALC and asked the parishioners if they really want a new cemetery?

At the PC Meeting July 28th 2009 the Council agreed to meet the Clerk to collate all the information for all three sites giving reasons for/against all three, together with supporting evidence and costings. To date this information has not been made public.

Bridge Watch feels that a Public Meeting should be called when this information is ready, before any planning permission is sought. At the same time the Council should follow the advice of LALC and ask people if they really do want a new cemetery.

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