Council is changing its cemetery operation policy, and some people are not happy.
The revised policy of Lithgow's cemetery operations will be placed on public exhibition for a period of 28 days before it is returned to council for consideration for final adoption subject to consideration of any submissions received.
Councillor Cass Coleman said she urges residents to take a close look at the changes and submit any issues they have with it.
"I will be encouraging the public to put in their submissions and then when it comes back to council we can review it, alter it or change it if need be," she said.
Changes to the current cemetery operations policy include:
- Inclusion of a complete list of council cemeteries, acknowledging which ones are open for new burials and interments, as well as which assets are subject to ongoing maintenance
- Inclusion of policy objectives
- Defining that all graves are to be dug to double interment depth (1800mm) except where prevented by site or ground conditions. This is to reduce the recurrence of single interment graves being dug, where many years down the track it is requested for a second interment.
- Defining the minimum depth of cover allowable, which then in turn defines which sites are considered unsuitable, due to insufficient allowable depth
- Minor conditions placed defining both the kind and placement of ornaments, to minimise potential safety implications as well as to preserve the amenity of the cemetery
- Inclusion of the condition that all plaques must be consistent with the existing amenity of the cemetery. All cemetery plaques are consistent in size and style. Some residents have requested variation which does not suit the ongoing theme
- Details surrounding the extent to which Council is responsible for the maintenance of the cemetery grounds and public infrastructure
- Detail that the allotment owner (or holder of the burial licence) is responsible for the ongoing repair and maintenance of the headstone and monument in the event of damage, vandalism or disrepair
- Detail that notes Council reserves the right to remove or dispose of unauthorised or non compliant infrastructure or ornaments placed within the cemetery for the purposes of preserving amenity and public safety.
Councillor Maree Statham wanted to amend dot points six and nine of the proposed policy, stating they were 'quite distressing'.
"I am disappointed, because there are lots of people who out there who have loved ones in graves...and in our local government area we are a small community who takes pride in their cemetery," she said.
Ms Statham said that the new changes didn't do a good enough job of establishing the amount or type of ornaments residents could put on graves.
"Many people are very sentimental and should be shown some respect in terms of saying 'you can put two ornaments there' or 'you can't have ten'," she said.
"To take an ornament away from a grave that someone has spent time on and is sentimental about, it won't be good for council."
No one wanted to second the amendment that Cr Statham was putting forward.
Councillor Darryl Goodwin said his main concerns were that of vandalism on the graves and how they were to deal with it.
"I was also informed that some people were putting ornaments on the grave that were up to two metres high which had to be removed," he said.
Councillor Steve Ring said he believed it was now the public's time to read the new policy and give their feedback.
But one particular worry that councillor Stephen Lesslie had was that of a grave in disrepair at Lithgow cemetery along the Great Western Highway.
"This particular grave is in disrepair and it does give a bad image to council," he said.
Lithgow City Council's director of infrastructure services Jonathon Edgecombe said that he would have to look into whether the repairs were minor or not.
"There are fundamental issues with the foundations of that grave site, and I'm not sure whether repairing it would be an easy task," he said.
Due to that side of the cemetery being heritage listed that would add extra complications.
"Any modifications would need to be thoroughly considered and applications made and heritage specialists would need to make an assessment," he said.
What do you think?
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