EMERGENCY repairs to a churchyard wall are to be reported to the
Exeter Consistory Court amid claims that the civic parish council
ignored the conditions on a faculty when it carried out the
Responsibility for maintaining the churchyard of St Mary the
Virgin, Willand, in Devon, passed to Willand Parish Council after
it closed to burials in 1968.
In recent years, the retaining wall around the churchyard
(right) began to lean. An emergency faculty was granted last year
for urgent work to rebuild a section of the wall, after large
cracks began to appear. It has been said that the council failed to
send an archaeological report and a photograph showing a sample
panel of stone facing to the Diocesan Advisory Committee (DAC) for
approval before the wall was pointed.
"These conditions were included in the faculty that was sent to
the parish council and . . . the secretary of the DAC reminded the
parish council of them when the council started the work," a
spokesperson for the diocese of Exeter said.
"This matter is currently being looked into and will be reported
to the Consistory Court. Clearly it is important that everyone,
including the parish council, complies with the law and, in the
same way that local planning authorities ensure compliance with
conditions attached to planning consents and listed-building
consents, the Church needs to investigate where it is alleged this
has not happened."
The parish council has hit back at the claims. The Mid Devon
Gazette has quoted a letter from the parish clerk, Tracy Leamon, to
the diocese, which says: "The council feels it has acted correctly
and does not deserve this unwarranted and unjustified
correspondence. . . These concerns, coupled with the style of your
letter which is designed to intimidate . . . has resulted in a
request from the parish councillors that we discuss our
relationship between the church and diocese with respect to the
maintenance of the church graveyard, which costs all members of the
parish whatever their religion or belief."
The diocesan spokesperson said: "The DAC has been in
conversation with the parish council for several years over this. .
. we will continue to try to resolve this amicably." Work to the
wall is reported to have cost £30,000 - more than double the
original estimate of £12,000.