New Middleham burial ground in doubt, councillors told

Middleham Market Place.

The development of the new burial site could be in doubt Middleham Town Council was told at its meeting in January.

The clerk and Cllr Simon Wheeler reported that four trial pits had been dug in January under the supervision of a hydrogeologist. Unfortunately, in two of the pits water ingress had occurred above the minimum depth required by the Environment Agency (EA)- that is one metre below a burial casket.

This, it was reported, might necessitate further site investigation and water quality testing over a period of up to one year with the possibility that the whole site would be deemed unsuitable.

The councillors felt that the complexity and cost of site investigations could become excessive for such a small development which would be disappointing as it would be adjacent to an existing graveyard.

The council agreed to set aside up to £400, if required, to obtain a second opinion and, if appropriate, to obtain the assistance of another consultant with greater experience of burial grounds and negotiating with the EA.

Cllr Dominic Slay and Cllr Wheeler will review the hydrogeologist’s report when the council receives it.

Pavilion. – Cllr Wheeler provided an update on the work being carried out by the Middleham Sports and Community Wellbeing Association (MSCWA) at the sports field and pavilion.

He said a fitted kitchen had been obtained for the pavilion at no cost.  Further internal repairs to the pavilion have been undertaken and quotes for new flooring were being sought.

Financial contributions had been received, one by the outfitters to Central Stores and the other by two residents, and residents had donated two benches.

The tennis court surface was breaking up and was beyond repair. Hardcore had been delivered free of charge to level the access road and create a hard-standing area.

Parking areas. – The council reviewed a plan for two potential parking areas near the school. Both areas are owned by the district council and it was doubted whether financial support would be forthcoming for laying a grasscrete surface and lowering kerbs. It was agreed to consult with the district council concerning the proposals.

Road conditions. – Disappointment was expressed that the county council had not undertaken jetting of key roads in the area and that the price of road grit supplied to a racehorse trainer had increased.  The grit was used on public roads.

Cllr Honor Byford will check on the charges being levied by the county council and whether other trainers would contribute towards the cost of the road grit.

Spring clean. – The councillors agreed that it would be beneficial for the town to take part in the Keep Britain Tidy Campaign from March 22 to April 23. Areas that require tidying will be identified.

It was also felt that that the council could encourage the creation of a local volunteer force ‘Ready for Anything’ which is being promoted by the North Yorkshire Local Resilience Forum.

The objective of this will be to provide practical support to people affected suddenly by adverse conditions such as flooding or to help provide an emergency response during any incidents. The clerk was asked to obtain further details.

Methodist chapel. – The council was in favour in principle of the Methodist Chapel being converted into affordable housing now that it had been officially closed. It was agreed to ask Amanda Madden, the district council’s Rural Housing Enabler, to attend a meeting to discuss possible options for the building.

Future events. – Cllr Byford said she would provide details about the Stables Open Day on April 19 for the next Middleham Herald. She will also report on plans for the Richard III Festival this year.

The Tour de Yorkshire will pass through Middleham on Sunday May 5.

New councillor. – The only applicant for co-option as a councillor was Gregory Fortune and he was appointed.

Next meeting. – Is in the Key Centre at 7pm on Wednesday February  27.