No plastic to spoil our cemetery, says Wensleydale parish council

Sunset over Askrigg’s cemetery. No plastic, please.

By Betsy Everett

The council-owned cemetery in Askrigg is to become a plastics-free zone, the parish council has decided.

There will be no plastic flowers, plants or wreaths allowed on graves, and plastic water bottles used to refresh the real flowers must be removed said chairman, Councillor Bruce Fawcett.

A  sign would be placed on the gate telling people of the new rules.

Councillor Kirkbride said people had been using the water butt as a waste bin, filling it with plastic bottles.  “It’s been a real problem,” he said.

In a space near the gate at the entrance there is a build-up of rubbish including bottles, plastic bags, cardboard boxes and imitation flowers.

Plastic and other rubbish behind the wall.

Other business at the meeting followed the discussion, including noting that parish councilS would have a bigger say in local decision-making under proposals for a new unitary authority.

Carl Les, leader of North Yorkshire County Council, said in a letter that 250 parish and town councillors had taken part recently in a live, online seminar, to discuss the proposals.

He said it would give parish and town councils “a strengthened say” in local decision making. Comments on how relationships with parish councils might be improved can be sent to

A recording of the seminar can be seen at The districts’ separate proposals can be seen at

Energy – Sue Stokes of  Askrigg Community Energy which had successfully bid for £30,000 for a green energy project said consultants had now started work. They would analyse fuel usage by the seven community groups involved, and if it was viable household and commercial properties might also benefit.

“There’s another pot of money for the second stage so we stand a chance of going forward with that. We’ll find facts and figures and technical calculations have to be made. Electric vehicle charging points in the village will also be considered. There could be charging points where we have parking. It could encourage people to come and stay in the village while they charge up their cars,” Mrs Stokes told the meeting.

Council chairman Bruce Fawcett said Askrigg was the first village to generate its own electricity, using a water turbine driven from the dam across Mill Gill where there were still pipes. This might be part of the way forward, he said.

Highways – The highways department of the county council was “a total disaster” which did nothing, said Cllr Fawcett. In response, Cllr Peacock said they relied on parishes to give them information.

“If you send something to me I can help but their online portal is actually pretty good. If there is something specific they will act. Sometimes they’ll look at it and say it’s not their responsibility. Water on the road, for example, might be the landowners’ problem if it’s coming from their fields, but highways do chase it up. Email them and copy me in. Not everything will be done, but it will be looked at and you will get an answer.”

Memorial bench – Members agreed to a memorial bench being placed on the grass verge on Low Straights Lane next to Black Hill field which is owned by the Middleton family. Ruth Barnard wrote on behalf of her mother Anne Middleton of Askrigg, and brothers Alan and Miles of Skelgill, Low Abbotside, to say it would commemorate  their father, Richard Middleton, grandfather David Middleton, and great aunt Marjorie Middleton, all of whom farmed in the area “and were very fond of the views from there.”

Flowers – Councillor Kirkbride said the village flower tubs from Braithwaite’s had been a success, despite one having been stolen from storage. The council would consider more next year as “it all helps the look of the village.”  He thanked Andrew Craske who had organised them and set them up. “He does a great job which should be recognised,” he said.

Leaflet – Kate Empsall proposed creating an updated (from 2010) leaflet for newcomers to the parish giving names of councillors, church contact points, shops, businesses, pubs, medical care, tradespeople and social activities. Cllr Kirkbride thought it a good idea, and suggested it might be placed in the village shop. Clerk to the council Karen Lynch said she would liaise with Mrs Empsall to update it and bring it to the next meeting in October.