UP and down the country as austerity measures bite local authorities are introducing massive cutbacks – not in Studley though, where they are to spend over £1,000 on a village-wide survey on whether solar lights can be placed on graves at the local cemetery.
The questionnaire has been forced on the village by a cabal of councillors who arrived on the parish council earlier this year after a well organised campaign and a petition with a contested number of signatures on it.
The councillors, Jill Beard, Brian Dixon and Karen Somner-Brown are also fighting for permission for items like scarves, flags, windmills and wind chimes – as well as solar lights – to be permitted on graves.
The issue has caused deep divisions on the council.
Deputy chairman Coun Jim Bacon said: “I put six solar lights in my garden and my wife said it looked like Birmingham Airport and I think once you say people can have these things more will want them.
“In five or six years time you might find there are things going on that you do not like because you were not brave enough to stop it now.”
Coun Adrian Smith was concerned that other mourners might be offended if flags, scarves and lights were placed on other graves.
However Coun Somner-Brown said: “Provided they were kept in good condition and were not left to create a danger nothing should really be a problem.”
Council chairman Coun Paul Beaman concluded that the only way to resolve the issue was to put it out to village residents even though the exercise was likely to cost in excess of £1,000.
A further bid by Coun Dixon to have the questionnaire extended to people living outside the village but with loved ones buried in the cemetery was rejected.
The plan now is to send out the questionaire, with the parish’s 57 grave rules and regulations, to every household in the village