Cemetery Committee

Let there be no light

• Solar lights such as these will no longer be allowed in the Condobolin Lawn Cemetery. During last week’s council meeting Lachlan Shire Councillors voted unanimously in favour of not allowing these devices.

By Melissa Blewitt

Solar lights are no longer allowed in the Condobolin Lawn Cemetery.

Residents will have two months to remove solar lights before Lachlan Shire Council staff enforce the new Policy.

Lachlan Shire Council voted unanimously to support a motion put forward by Councillor Graham Scott at last Wednesday’s monthly meeting.

The resolution states “That Council adopt the draft cemetery policy for Condobolin cemetery as presented to the last meeting of the Condobolin Cemetery Advisory Committee with the following amendments: a) Burials can only be undertaken at the Condobolin Cemetery under the control of a registered Funeral Director and; b) The clause in relation to allowing the solar lights in the lawn cemetery be deleted and replaced with “no solar lights or any other forms of lighting be permitted in the lawn section of the Condobolin Cemetery.” This motion was moved by Councillor Graham Scott and seconded by Councillor Les Saunders.

Councillors Scott, Dennis Brady, Les Saunders, Mark Hall, Paul Phillips, Max Frankel and John Ridley all voted in favour of the motion. Councillors Des Manwaring and Brian Nelson did not attend the meeting. Mayor John Medcalf did not vote.

Three of the four councillors (Graham Scott, Dennis Brady and Les Sanders) are on the Cemetery Advisory Committee, and had previously agreed to allow two solar lights up to 30 centimetres in height to be permitted. But at last week’s meeting back-flipped on their decision and went essentially against themselves, to vote in favour of the new motion.

The Condobolin Cemetery Advisory Committee recommended two solar lights measuring 30 centimetres or less be allowed, but that was rejected in favour of no solar lights at all.

In the Environmental Services and Development Officer’s report to Council it stated “Council staff believe a compromise has already been reached with the use of solar lights by limiting their height to 300mm. It was noted that some people have children buried there and their children were scared of the dark, so they want to keep a light on for them at all times in order for them to rest in peace. It is considered, therefore, that the use of solar lighting (as outlined within the draft Policy) should remain.”

Councillors chose to ignore the recommendation from Council staff and proceeded with the motion provided at the meeting.

The Condobolin Cemetery Draft Policy was placed on exhibition for a period of 28 days and four submissions were received. Two submissions were totally against solar lights in the Lawn Cemetery, with the authors describing solar lights as “absolutely terrible” and “disgusting”.

In the report it said “The third submission congratulates the Shire for putting effort into trying to clean up the Condobolin Cemetery, especially in the lawn cemetery section; however, they object to the use of solar lights in the lawn portion saying they look “absolutely terrible”.

In relation to the fourth submission, the report said “The fourth and last submission states: “It is disgusting that the shire intends to allow solar lights in the lawn portion of our cemetery…..”

Of the two other submissions received, one was in relation to headstones in the Lawn Cemetery and the other called into question the legality of some of the wording in the Policy.

One of the submissions took the issue of plaques one step further, asking why reasonably sized headstones could not be used.

The report said “The submission listed six reasons why headstones should be permissible: (1) it is hard to read the plaques when they are flat; (2) after a while the letters get difficult to read; (3) a headstone is easier to read; (4) a headstone is a lot more personal to the family; (5) over a period of time it is a lot easier to find a relative when someone visits the town; and, (6) there is a lot of people who would like a headstone that matches the headstone of a family member who is buried in another town.” The author of the submission also provided a photograph of the new Dubbo Cemetery, where headstones have been allowed.

Councillors rejected this submission.

Another submission called into question the legality of some wording of the Policy, saying funeral directors in NSW are not licensed and may set up business without any specific training or qualifications.

“This draft policy item is certainly a denial of natural family rights to conduct appropriate, lawful funerals of our loved ones”, says the submission maker in reference to the Policy stating: “Burials can only be undertaken at the Condobolin cemetery under the control of a licenced funeral director.” The submission maker would much prefer it to be worded: “In NSW, executors of deceased persons will have the legal authority to organise their funeral, burial or cremation as long as they comply with government and health regulations,” the report to Council said.

“Extensive researching of legislation and searching on the internet cannot find anything to refute what is stated by the second submission maker.”

The report recommended changing the wording in the Policy to “Any person, with the legal authority to organise a deceased person’s funeral, burial or cremation is to do so in compliance with the Local Government Act 1993, the Cemeteries and Crematoria Act 2013 and the Public Health Regulation 2012. To ensure this is done, Council must be consulted prior to making funeral arrangements.” This was rejected.

A total of 14 recommendations were made to Councillors in the report, one of which was to put the Draft Condobolin Cemetery Policy back to the Cemetery Committee with the recommended changes for reconsideration. Councillors chose not to implement any of them, instead voting in favour of Cr Scott’s motion.

 

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