Historic cemetery headstone repairs could be put on hold

There have been complaints about the lack of maintenance and repairs to historic headstones at...
There have been complaints about the lack of maintenance and repairs to historic headstones at Bromley Cemetery. Photo: Geoff Sloan
Repairs to historic Christchurch cemetery headstones could go on hold as a result of the Covid-19 crisis.

Christchurch City Council is proposing to stop all repairs to some cemetery headstones over the coming financial year as it looks to cut back services to save money and ease the burden of the pandemic on the organisation.

Covid-19 resulted in the council incurring a $99 million revenue shortfall.

Stopping all historic headstone repairs for 12 months is expected to save $156,000.

City council head of parks Andrew Rutledge said there were about 5000 damaged cemetery headstones known to the council in need of repair, with 80 per cent of them being classed as historic.

In spite of this, only 10 historic headstones were scheduled for repairs in the coming financial year before the city council considered scrapping repairs altogether.

Repairs to five historic headstones have been completed in the current financial year.

The council acknowledged this would likely result in a “negative response from a small sector of the community.”

Rutledge said all headstones put in place before 1950 were classed as historic.

“Council considers all pre-1950 headstones to be historic, as the period to 1950 includes significant events in our history such as the flu epidemic of 1918 and both world wars,” he said.

The move to cease all repairs to historic cemetery headstones is being proposed under the city council’s draft Annual Plan.

If approved, the city council will then reconsider restarting the services again in next year’s Annual Plan.

This year’s plan is open for public feedback until June 29. It will then have to be adopted by the city council on July 30.

Other proposed cuts to services include a reduced frequency in emptying central city bins from daily to four times a week and a decreased level of maintenance to community, recreational and sports facilities as well as heritage buildings.

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