Wednesday, 12 February 2014
Both the churchyard at St Nicolas', Great Coates and this Blog are beginning to wake up after a winter sleep.
St Nicolas' struggles to balance its budget with routine expenditure demands (within an annual turnover of about £15000 and with balances reduced to £12000), but nevertheless dug deep to spend £5000 on emergency tree work not that long ago. Meanwhile, external funding bodies are under increasing pressure and, quite correctly, focus only on significant demands. So who finances work in a churchyard like this, other than the most basic maintenance the church and a few volunteers continue to do?
We developed plans to enhance people's enjoyment of the mini nature reserve which is the churchyard - to take out one unimportant tree so as to open up the view from the road (originally a suggestion from the Village Council), to print a simple guide, to re-erect two notable gravestones (not our legal responsibility at all, but they would both be referred to in the guide), to place some discreet wooden information signs, to resurface paths which are breaking up (without which disabled access is not possible) and to do further tree work (recommended by those who did the emergency work).
This would all cost some £8000. The rub is that this is way outside the church's own budget, but the first two sets of funders we have approached quite understandably say the bid 'contains too much routine maintenance work'. It feels a bit like a cleft stick. A local community fund (able to make grants of up to £2500) does offer to look at the more immediately developmental parts of the project, and we are gratefully about to follow this up, but it seems a bit tough on the regular attenders to think they are the ones then left to dig deeper to fund work on the paths and trees in the churchyard in which their church happens to be set.