Churchyard Mangement Group

Coddenham Churchyard Management Group (CMG)

Meeting

7:30pm Monday 7th March 2016

The Pink House, Coddenham

Meeting Notes and Actions

 

Present:

David McDonnell (DM) (Chair), Colin Hardy (CH), John Allen (JA),  Madge Pelling (MP), Ian Galbraith (IG), John Peecock (JP), David Hudson (DH), Brenda Hudson (BH)

Apologies:

Neil Baillie (NB)

Notes of Previous Meeting 19/10/15

These were agreed.

Matters Arising/Action Updates

Shed: Not yet sorted out. C/Fwd. Action: DM to circulate dates to clear shed

God’s Acre/Cherishing Churchyards: DM had explored. Whilst worth considering in future years, SWT would be having a stall at Open Gardens on Sun 12/6/16, either at Village Hall or in Churchyard, and a further ‘churchyard event’ was unnecessary this year.

Responsibility for Maintenance: CH and IG had found that transfer of responsibility from PCC to the PC dated back to at least 1940s and possibly as far as closure of the ‘old’ churchyard to burials in early 1900s. Had occurred under the provisions of the Burial Act 1895. The actual documentation not yet traced, and CH confirmed that the Parish Clerk had been tasked with finding it.

Other matters arising were subject of substantive Agenda items.

Grass Cutting

The grass cutting management plan agreed at the last meeting was again endorsed and IG confirmed the PCC was happy with it. Can be summarised by: wider mown paths, defined ‘wildlife areas, more frequent cutting/trimming of area around Memorial Garden and Church House boundary.

JP again asked whether the PC could pass the responsibility for churchyard maintenance to MSDC or, alternatively, whether the PCC could request this.

Action: JP to research

CH said there was provision in PC’s maintenance contract with EFMS to fund more paid work, up to £500 worth. This could help achieve what could not be done with available volunteer labour. CH had raised with Parish Clerk and awaited reply.

Meeting discussed best use of this funding. Priorities to explore agreed as (i) area by Church House boundary and (ii) lower path from church porch to West Gate.

Action: CH to ask Clerk to arrange site meeting with contractors and re-emphasise need for a named point of contact and prior notification of cuts.

JP and JA said they were willing to cut the Memorial Garden and surrounding area weekly, and to level the memorial slabs where necessary, but needed easier access to the PCC’s equipment, stored at DM’s for security. Agreed to move this to JP’s for storage.

Action: DM to move equipment to JP’s.

SWT Churchyard Info Sheet

CH confirmed SWT had produced and funded these, and laminated copies now in church porch, Info Kiosk etc. He had PDF file of the document, so additional copies easily produced if necessary.

Repairs to South Wall of CY

Faculty now granted and work would begin in April (update from NB). MP identified that grants might be available towards this work and that on West Wall, eg from Historic Churches Trust, Historic England etc

Action: DM to raise at forthcoming multi-agency site meeting re churchyard walls on 18/3/16.

Repairs to West Wall

Parts of this, bounding the B1078, appeared to be in danger of collapse and remedial work essential. Estimates to date were between £50,000 and £70,000. This was huge sum for PC to bear and would affect parish precept, which was already high. Vital to get ‘best value’, and PC arranging for several quotes. JP believed it was possible main problem was with outer ‘skin’ of wall parting from core, which could be less expensive to rectify. Conversely, experience on old structures often showed problems to be worse than first thought, and the cost of rectifying them even greater. Structural Engineer’s advice was required, but this should be proportionate and not a ‘counsel of perfection’. The CMG endorsed this view.

DM highlighted the site meeting due on 18/3/16 (see previous item above), which he was attending. Situation should be clearer after this.

Health and Safety

DH had provided copy of Risk Assessment used for Broom Hill workdays. Meeting agreed that, slightly adapted, this was appropriate for work in the churchyard and would be used in future.

 Parochial Church Council Update

IG said the complex drains along the outside of the North Aisle and old boiler house were not functioning properly, leading to damp problems inside the church. PCC wished to demolish the boiler house and reinstate adequate drainage and initial consultation with Diocesan Architect had taken place. PCC had drawn up prioritised programme of works to be implemented subject to relevant permissions and funding.

JP pointed out that church clock still not working properly, sometimes striking 13!

 Parish Council Update

Covered above under grass cutting, wall repairs etc

 Future Developments

DM said that, due to a possible house move away from the village and increasing family commitments, he felt it necessary to step down from the chairmanship of the CMG with effect from the next meeting, although he hoped to remain a member if practicable. Anyone wishing to take over as chair, or suggest another candidate, should let him know in the next few weeks.

Action: All to consider

 Any Other Business

JA said the hollies next to his fence by the compost heaps were getting large and could obstruct access to it for maintenance. Could they be moved? DM said they had only been planted in 2014 with agreement of CMG, but it might be possible to move a couple before they grew too large.

JA said he had had to use this area of the churchyard for a dumper to access his garden at very short notice recently and had not had time to seek prior permission. He apologised for this and would make good any damage. One of the hollies in question had been slightly dislodged.

NB had asked in his written report to the meeting for people to be reminded that ‘Oasis’ should not be placed in the compost bins.

Action: Notice to be placed on bins.

NB also queried whether flowers etc were permitted in Memorial Garden. Group felt that, although placing of flowers might technically be against Churchyard Regulations, banning them altogether would upset people unnecessarily and small, tasteful bunches could be tolerated.

 Provisional Date of Next Meeting

7:30 pm, Monday June 6th 2016, at The Pink House, Coddenham.

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Meeting

7:30pm Monday 19th October 2015

The Pink House, Coddenham

Meeting Notes and Actions

Present:

David McDonnell (DM) (Chair), Colin Hardy (CH), John Allen (JA),  Madge Pelling (MP), Ian Galbraith (IG), Margaret Baker (MB), John Peecock (JP), David Hudson (DH), Brenda Hudson (BH)

 Apologies:

Neil Baillie (NB)

 Notes of Previous Meeting 29/6/15

These were agreed.

 Matters Arising/Action Updates

Shed: Not yet sorted out. C/Fwd. Action: DM, NB, CH, JP to deal

Suffolk Wildlife Trust Churchyard Info Sheet: CH, MP and BH had met Leonie Washington from SWT and CH circulated a draft of the sheet. SWT would fund production. JP asked what Rev Payne’s view was and DM said the clergy had no objection. Action: All to consider sheet and feed back any comments to CH asap.

Item in Six Village News: CH had placed info item in May edition. Further update desirable now summer over. Action: CH.

Nature Trail Leaflets:   DM said 700 of the revised edition had been produced by Gipping Press and funded by Gardemau Trust. Copies were available in the church porch and the new Info Box at the old telephone kiosk.

God’s Acre/Cherishing Churchyards  Action: DM to explore, when date for Open Gardens June 2016 set.

History Trail Leaflets: Had been produced by John Pelling and History Club in similar format to Nature Trail ones and funded by Gardemau Trust. Available in same places as Nature Trail leaflets.

State of Main Path:  Surplus chippings from re-surfacing of Village Hall car park had been used, to save money. Laid by DM, CH, NB and John Pelling.

 Other matters arising were subject of substantive Agenda items.

Grass Cutting

JP and JA said a lot of villagers thought the churchyard was untidy and a mess.

The area along the Church House boundary was particularly bad.

DH, BH and CH said the churchyard was a County Wildlife Site and a rare and diminishing resource, which had been managed similarly for decades. The most recent management plan had been agreed only in 2011. (A copy was available at the meeting).

A lively discussion ensued. DM said there had to be a compromise between the needs of wildlife and of access to graves/memorials, parking etc. No solution would keep everybody happy and, without knowing the identity of those who objected, it was difficult to know how strong this feeling was. It had not been raised with him and he had spoken to Rev Payne and Rev Norris, who had confirmed that they had received no negative comments. The most recent surveys had suggested the majority of villagers were broadly happy with the status quo.

CH said the PC had congratulated the CMG on its work. PC meetings were open to the public and no-one attending had raised this issue.

DM said this did not mean things could not be improved and asked MB and IG what the PCC view was. They replied that there was no official stance, although tidiness around the Memorial Garden plaques was important. JP said there should be a PCC view, as the PC was legally bound to do what the PCC wanted. Some other members disagreed with this interpretation of the legal position.

DM said this lack of clarity had been problematic in the past, eg over car parking policy.

Action: MB and IG to place on next PCC Agenda for discussion.

Action: IG and CH to try to find copy of original ‘handover’ agreement from PCC to PC.

JP asked whether the PC could pass the responsibility for churchyard maintenance to MSDC or, alternatively, whether the PCC could request this. DM confirmed he had contacted MSDC, who had said they were not interested and that this was a PC responsibility. Although MSDC had greater resources than CPC, it also had greater responsibilities and Coddenham Churchyard was unlikely to be as high a priority for MSDC as it was for CPC.

There was further discussion on ‘quick win’ improvements which could be agreed:

(a)  Area by Church House Boundary to be cut more regularly. Advice from SWT was that even applications of weedkiller would give only temporary improvement. Planting with ground cover plants (eg ivy) could lead to unwanted spread of these and planting native shrubs would obstruct the cutting of the area.

(b)  Memorial Garden to be cut regularly and grass around plaques and bench strimmed. Area behind bench and along Church House fence to compost bins to be kept tidier.

(c)  Access paths to Memorial Garden to be wider – 1 metre/two mower widths rather than one.

(d)  Access paths around West and South sides of church to also be 1 metre/two mower widths.

(e)  Car parking area to right of main path to be widened by approx. 1 metre

 

CH said PC had asked that a 1 metre strip along the wall bounding the B1078 also be cut, to improve visibility for drivers using the road and avoid accidents. DM said that, whereas he had no objection in principle, he felt decisions involving additional labour/expense should be evidence-based. As far as he was aware, there had been no Road Traffic Collisions on this stretch of road resulting from the growth in the churchyard, for at least 20 years. He therefore questioned the need.

This led to a wider discussion over what was achievable with volunteer labour and a limited budget. CH said the PC appeared to have allocated more funding to the churchyard than had actually been spent and that there could thus be some room for manoeuvre. Action: CH to raise with PC.

It was pointed out that the PCC has a good mower and strimmer/brushcutter and the PC has a new, wheeled brushcutter. Hedge trimmers etc are also available. The necessary equipment is thus in place; what is needed is more volunteer labour and/or funding for paid work.

Meeting with SWT

CH, JP, and JA had met Leonie Washington of SWT at the churchyard on 24th July. (DM had had to miss this due to a family illness). It was felt that the meeting had been constructive. CH had circulated notes. Most of the matters discussed are covered in the above item.

Repairs to South Wall of CY

(See update sheet from NB, circulated at meeting). IG confirmed that a Faculty was needed and had been applied for, but had not yet been granted. The Diocesan Advisory Committee had considered the application on 22nd September but wanted a structural engineer’s opinion after a site visit, which had not yet taken place. The CMG was concerned over the delay and hoped that this would not result in further deterioration of the walls as winter set in, necessitating more repair work and thus expense (and, in which case, raising the question of who should pay for any increase in cost).

JP asked whether Listed Building Consent had been applied for/obtained. IG said the Faculty covered this requirement.

Action: IG to pursue with Diocese.

Lower Path

JP asked if this could be restored to its original width, as weeds had encroached. DH and BH said it was still perfectly usable and was used for parking at most church services. DM said it drained well, being on a slope, but that the encroaching weeds could be sprayed if necessary. However, this would need to be done repeatedly. Regular cutting kept them short and no physical hazard, but did not remove them. The priority was to keep the lower (West) gates clear of vegetation and soil build-up, so they could be used when needed. Action: DH and BH to consider spraying.

Parish Council Update (CH)

See above re grass cutting, re-surfacing of path etc

Health and Safety Audit

JP asked if the obligatory annual H&S risk assessment had been done. CH and MB confirmed that it had, using a standard format. It would be submitted to the PC and copied to DM. No major issues had been noted. JP asked whether there should be a Risk Assessment for those working in the churchyard. It was agreed that, in such litigious times, this was good practice. DH said the PC used one for the maintenance of Broom Hill, which would be a good start point.

Action: DH/BH to obtain copy of Broom Hill RA.

Parochial Church Council Update

IG and MB said main issue was increase in theft of lead from church roofs in district. Diocese had advised installation of alarms and, without these, insurance cover likely to be limited and/or premiums unaffordable. PCC considering system. Details were outlined to the group, but are omitted here for security reasons. A quotation is being considered for a fast-track Faculty. Suffolk Constabulary would prioritise response to any alarm activation at a church. 

Parish Council Update

CH said the Info Box at the old phone box in School Road was up and running. It housed leaflets (see above), notices, a book exchange and other local information. JP expressed concerns over the cost of restoring the box, but accepted it was now a fait accompli.

Any Other Business

JA said the hollies next to his fence by the compost heaps were getting large and could obstruct access to it for maintenance. Could they be moved? DM said they had only been planted in 2014 with agreement of CMG. Action: Discuss at next meeting.

Provisional Date of Next Meeting

7:30 pm, Monday March 7th 2016, at The Pink House, Coddenham.

 

Minutes 2nd March 2015

Coddenham Churchyard Management Group (CMG) Meeting

7:30pm Thursday 6th February 2014 - The Pink House, Coddenham

 Meeting Notes and Actions

Present:

David McDonnell (DM) (Chair), Margaret Baker (MB), Colin Hardy (CH), John Allen (JA), David Hudson (DH), Brenda Hudson (BH), Neil Baillie (NB)

 Apologies:

Donald Burton (DB), Ann Gudgin (AG), Judy Hailes (JH)

 Notes of Previous Meeting 1/12/12

These were agreed. All matters arising were subject of substantive Agenda items.

 Mole Hills (JA)

Large number on east side of churchyard (CY). JA queried policy on these. BH and DH said they need raking flat to prevent them becoming permanent hummocks.

Action: DH, DM, JA, CH will rake as necessary.

 Beech Hedge between CY and Church House (JA)

JA said some of young beeches planted in last year or so looked unhealthy, losing leaves and buds, although stems still green. Came from Botanica at Campsea Ash.

Action: JA to monitor. DH will give JA copy of Botanica invoice.

 Hollies in this area may also have died.

Action: CMG to monitor in Spring and see whether they grow.

 Grass and Weed Control (JA)

County Council contractors did unsatisfactory job last year when cutting grass in area adjacent to Church House boundary. Some recently-planted shrubs appeared to have been cut down in error. Group agreed that, when contractors next due, SCC should be contacted to specify time and date of cut, so CMG rep could attend to ensure it is done properly. A named point of contact in SCC was desirable.

Action: CH to liaise with DB re process for this. Parish Clerk could possibly arrange.

Confirmed main grass cut should be late summer after wild flowers had seeded.

Area by beech tree needs cutting more often.

Action: DM and JA to strim occasionally.

Update report (NB)

NB had strimmed grass along his boundary with (south) wall of CY, and cut back bushes in this area and by compost bins. He will also cut back ivy growing on this wall and, if possible, replace and repoint loose bricks and flints in it. There is also a yew by the south wall which needs pruning. CMG will assist if necessary. DH noted that the PC has a chainsaw if needed.

NB will empty right hand compost bin and dispose of brash on his bonfire.

New notices required for compost bins.

Action: DH will produce these.

NB suggested planting hollies behind compost bins. DM had a 1m tall young holly which could be used here

Action: CH to request funding from Parish Council.

CY shed needs sorting out. DM confirmed that valuable equipment had been removed for safe keeping, and that mower was in working order. Generator had been serviced (paid for by Gardemau Church Charity) and was also working again.

NB said there was an amount of rubbish to be removed from shed, including several old rotten chairs.

Action: NB and Roy Gudgin would do this.

NB suggested two or three road signs be produced for use during open-air services, such as Easter and Remembrance Sunday, inviting passing motorists to join in the service or, if not, to pass quietly and respectfully. The CMG agreed to pursue the proposal.

Action: DM to request funding from Gardemau Church Charity.

Parking in Churchyard (DB/CH)

This had caused some local disagreement in recent months. CMG view is that parking in CY should only be for those attending services, tending graves or working in the church/yard. However, those who can walk to church should be encouraged to do so rather than drive. The CY was a beautiful place and a valuable County Wildlife Site and should not be used for casual parking.

The protracted wet weather had made the grassed areas vulnerable to erosion and compaction by vehicles and it was noted that the coning-off of the grass next to the main path to the church door had enabled it to begin to recover. Unfortunately, parking next to the path to the south gate was now damaging that area. This was exacerbated by cars turning in wide circles rather than reversing in or out of parking spaces. The CMG does not favour fencing off any grass areas, but recommends small signs (no more than approx. 1’/30cm high) be placed at the limits of the acceptable parking areas, with words ‘Please do not drive beyond this point’ or similar.

Action: DM to discuss with DB and JH.

Any Other Business

BH suggested placing Wildflower List and other relevant info on village website

Action: DM and CH to deal.

CH suggested asking SCC to co-ordinate grass cutting in the CY, Broom Hill and Mill Hill, possibly doing all on the same day(s). This might save money and make the quality of the work easier to monitor.

Action: CH to speak to DB

It was suggested contact be made with the Suffolk Wildlife Trust’s Churchyards specialist, Susan Stone, for an update review.

Action: DM to contact Susan Stone.

Membership had changed over the last 12 months, with the sad death of Alan Smith, a change in Parish Clerk, and the PC Chairman nominating CH to be the PC rep. It was time to consider who else could/should be a member. Those with properties adjoining or very close to the CY should be approached. The suggestion of an item in the Six Village News, inviting contact from anyone with an interest in the CY and/or willing to help in its management was supported.

Action: DM to deal.

Date of Next Meeting

DM will arrange for mid September if possible.