Volunteers could be asked to take on elements of maintaining the standard of county cemeteries.
As Flintshire Council looks to reduce costs of grounds maintenance a report has detailed how the local authority may investigate seeking the assistance of local volunteer groups at memorial locations.
The report by Steve Jones, chief officer for Streetscene and transportation, ahead of the environment overview and scrutiny committee meeting on Tuesday, stated how currently the council spends £124,085 per year managing 15 cemeteries and eight closed churchyards across the county.
Mr Jones said the authority’s bereavement service is responsible for 17,500 memorials of varying shapes and sizes, approximately 400m” of shrub and flower beds, 140,000m” of grass to be mowed, 100,000m of strimming around memorials, 4,500m of hedging, 450 trees, 250 memorial benches and 12 buildings of various sizes and uses, including the chapel located in Hawarden No 1 Cemetery.
He added: “When visiting the council’s cemeteries and closed church yards the public rightly expect the grounds to be well presented and when this is not the case we are subject to criticism.
“Grounds maintenance is one of the largest costs incurred by the service and we need to explore ways to manage these costs in the future with increasing pressure on budgets.”
The chief officer said the council could reduce costs by either reducing standards or investigate the possibility of community volunteer groups taking on the maintenance responsibility at particular sites.
“Reducing the standard would not be popular and is not being considered at this stage. However, faced with this approach in future years, local groups may be prepared to take on the responsibility – with our support,” Mr Jones said.
“It is proposed that we look to develop a policy of working more closely with the local communities by establishing local volunteer groups to undertake maintenance works within the cemeteries.”
The authority is also considering the extension of cemeteries in Hope and Hawarden into adjacent agricultural land as they are said to only have enough burial space for four and five more years respectively.
Buckley Cemetery is the third in line with nine years of capacity available.
Mr Jones said: “As land negotiations and purchase can be a lengthy process consideration now needs to be given to look at the possibility of extending the cemeteries in Hope and Hawarden into adjacent agricultural land.
“There is no such option at Buckley as there is no adjacent land to develop so alternative sites would need to be explored in the Buckley area.”
“Clearly the purchase of additional land, creation of infrastructure and the extensive ground investigation works required would involve significant investment from capital funds.
“However the investment would secure future income from burial fees applied, which would be lost should extensions not be provided.”