Cemetery gates to deter school parents parking

The main entrance driveway to Sleaford Cemetery. EMN-170831-174532001
The main entrance driveway to Sleaford Cemetery. EMN-170831-174532001

Sleaford Town Councillors are considering spending nearly £4,000 to repair the drive at the main entrance to the town cemetery and install new gates to stop parents using it for picking up children from school.

Councillors will consider approving the recommended work at their meeting tonight (Wednesday).

Clerk to the Council Kevin Martin explained there are issues with parents parking on the drive around school pick up times, causing the edge of the driveway to get into a poor state of repair.

Mr Martin said: “The council will have to take steps to repair the drive, and take measures to stop parking at certain times when parents tend to park there.”

The plan, if agreed, is for the council to close the internal gates, sited half way up the drive, before 3pm and install a pedestrian access gate suitable for disabled users that would allow continued access on foot for rightful visitors to the cemetery. The gates would cost £495 and the work would cost £3,495.

Mr Martin told the Standard: “Most of the issues are created due to parking around school pick up times and there can be 20 to 30 cars parked consistently, damaging the driveway edges and making it difficult for genuine visitors to access the site.

“It could also become an issue for funerals trying to get in unless we do something to restrict parking.”

The work will also require the council to repair one of the stone gateposts at the main entrance that was damaged in a collision with a vehicle recently, and has had to be taped off for safety reasons.

The council has also resolved to close the pedestrian gate into the cemetery from Millfield Terrace at suitable times overnight.

The council had agreed to keep the gate open all the time since May, following requests at the annual town meeting to allow relatives to visit at earlier or later times, but there have been a series of reports of thefts of items from three graves, vandalism and people drinking and leaving litter overnight, said Mr Martin.

The clerk has put in security patrols which will be reviewed at the end of October and said that while no direct link can be made to the Millfield Terrace gate being open, the council considered alternative access arrangements would help.

The main Eastgate gate will also close at 4pm from October 1 for the winter period.

Mr Martin added: “I am in discussion with Carre’s Grammar School on the issue as well, as it borders parts of the cemetery.

“There have been no more incidents of theft since the security patrols were begun, but the patrols have found people there, from a broad age range, out of hours when the gates were already closed and escorted them off the site.”

A few years ago, the council courted controversy and anger from mourning relatives when it closed the Millfield Terrace gate completely, claiming it was forced to by its insurers as the cemetery was being used inappropriately as a thoroughfare by children going to school, putting them at risk of being crushed if allowed to wander among unsteady gravestones.

This decision was later reversed after a rethink of policy by the council along with receiving new advice.

Mr Martin said the gate opening times will have to, in part, be governed by when he has staff available to lock and unlock it.