Church denied grant because of poor maintenance of churchyard

jpco-19-2-14 St Bartholomew Church graveyard (Pic by Jon Rigby) SUS-140218-122047001
jpco-19-2-14 St Bartholomew Church graveyard (Pic by Jon Rigby) SUS-140218-122047001

A church has been refused a grant for churchyard maintenance after being told it had failed to ensure the area was kept to an “acceptable” standard.

St Bartholomew’s church applied to Horley Town Council for a £7,000 grant to assist with the cost of maintaining the churchyard but the application was deferred.

Last year, residents complained about the state of the area, in Church Road, after the grass was allowed to grow to waist height, obscuring some of the grave stones.

It was eventually cleared by volunteers.

At a meeting of the full council in Albert Road, Horley, on June 24, councillors called on the church to provide more details, including a business plan, about how grant money would be spent.

Following the meeting, the town council issued a statement criticising the Parochial Church Council (PCC) at St Bartholomew’s for failing to take on board advice it had offered previously regarding cost effective ways to keep the churchyard maintained.

The statement said members were “unwilling to recommend significant sums of council taxpayer’s money for churchyard maintenance unsupported by an effectively costed plan”.

Acknowledging the council had given grants to the church in the past, the statement added: “The town council strenuously advises the church to take up the offer of its further advice regarding the maintenance the churchyards.”

Among the action required by the council was evidence the church was looking into self-help methods such as using volunteer groups and Community Payback to keep the grass under control.

A spokesman for St Bartholomew’s, said the church had sought other avenues of funding and added: “During 2013, following the cut in financial assistance from the council, community cutting days were organised to try to ensure the churchyard was kept at an acceptable standard. Unfortunately, it did not prove possible to maintain the churchyard as well as it had been with less financial resource even with the help of the community.”