Cemetery dispute laid to rest

Cemetery dispute laid to rest

NAILSEA Town Council has been given a �5,000 settlement fee by North Somerset Council after it terminated the town council’s contract for the Garden of Rest.

For 15 years Nailsea Town Council has received �2,000 a year from internments to pay for a caretaker to maintain the cemetery in Stock Way North.

In August last year, North Somerset Council employed Dignity Funerals to take on the role instead, but Nailsea Town Council claims it was not informed about the decision and said the district council’s executive member would not meet with the authority to discuss the situation.

North Somerset has now agreed to give Nailsea Town Council a settlement fee for terminating the contract and Dignity will pay the authority �1,000 a year for the upkeep of the cemetery.

The new contract was agreed by North Somerset Council leader, Councillor Nigel Ashton, and Nailsea town councillor Mary Ponsonby at a meeting last week.

Speaking at Nailsea Town Council meeting on Wednesday, Mrs Ponsonby said: “The council had originally said closed cemeteries were going to get �8,000 after it employed Dignity, but it was a badly worded letter as it meant collectively.

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“I negotiated and managed to get Nailsea �5,000 as a one-off settlement. I then said that we wanted this year’s fees - the money we would be due under contract - so we will now get approximately �2,500.

“We’ve been looking after the Garden of Rest to a very high standard and Dignity was not going to do as many grass cuts as is necessary for us.

“I have been told that Dignity will give us �1,000 a year towards the upkeep of the Garden of Rest, which costs us just under �2,000.

“I said that we could open and close the gates to the cemetery to save Dignity employees the journey, but that we would need to be paid for it.”

Nailsea Town Council has yet to discuss payment for opening closing the gate with Dignity, but the council has said it now considers the matter closed.

Dignity Funerals has been given a 30-year contract by North Somerset Council for the provision of its cemetery and crematorium services.

The new contract also affects closed churchyards in Hutton, Locking, Kewstoke and Burrington which receive an annual payment towards the grounds maintenance costs.