MAINTENANCE of the churchyard at St George’s, Mossley, is to be formally taken over by Tameside Council, even though they have done it for most of the last 40 years.
It comes after Mossley Town Council ruled it does not have the finances in its modest £32,000 budget to take over responsibility.The decision came about after solicitors acting on behalf of the parochial church council wrote to both councils in May advising it proposed to transfer responsibility for the maintenance to the local council give the parish burial ground is formally closed.
The letter gave informal notice that the PCC will give the formal three months statutory notice upon expiry of the 12-month informal notice.
The Rev David Warner, vicar of St George’s, explained to town councillors the tangled history of the churchyard.
He said the PCC thought the matter had been dealt with in the 1970s and in about 2000 a formal notice was served on Tameside Council.
“For the last 40 years Tameside Council has maintained the churchyard until June this year when it discovered it had no record of a notice and stopped maintaining it,” he said.
The Rev Warner added the cost of maintaining the churchyard is beyond the means of the PCC which is why it has served notices on the town and borough councils.
Town council clerk Mike Iveson, officers from Tameside Council and the Rev Warner met at the churchyard.Council offers believed the grassed area can be maintained at a reasonable cost but expressed concern about the condition of the retaining walls which are in need of attention.
A report to its recent meeting said: “The town council does not have the resources, equipment or expertise to assume responsibility for the maintenance of the churchyard, even if brought up to a satisfactory condition prior to transfer.
“Any existing or future works required to the retaining walls surrounding the churchyard will undoubtedly be very costly and in the interests of public safety would need to be carried out urgently when manifesting themselves.
“On that basis alone, it would appear that at the present level of precept, the town council simply does not have the finances available to undertake maintenance of the grassed area, never mind the retaining walls.
“It is understood that Tameside MBC already assumes responsibility for the maintenance of a number of other churchyards within the borough and there is therefore a precedent for the borough council to assume such responsibility.”
Town councillors ruled that for them to take over the upkeep of the churchyard would require the precept on the community charge to rise sharply.
Councillor Frank Travis, Mossley Town Council chair, said: “Normally this would be taken on by the town council but we cannot afford to do it.
“We are adventurous in trying to bring in money from other sources but this would be a step back and we cannot support it.”