I am delighted to confirm that the Government has finally done a U-turn and forced Cemeteries, including the one closed in Market Weighton, to keep open or re-open.
On Tuesday 7 April, I first publically raised the distasteful issue of Market Weighton Town Council (MWTC) closing its cemetery and requested that it revisit their decision.
Despite full email communication with MWTC’s Mayor Councillor Peter Hemmerman and East Yorkshire MP Greg Knight, the cemetery (and countless others across the country) remained closed for Good Friday and Easter Sunday.
A simple search of “covid 19 closing cemeteries” will reveal the extent to which various councils closed cemeteries. In essence, the standard strapline appears to have been:
“Cemeteries are temporarily closing to the public as a result of the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic. The cemeteries will remain closed until further notice to help limit the risk of exposure.”
Over the following 12 days, I exchanged emails with MWTC’s Mayor Peter Hemmerman and Greg Knight MP in an attempt for common sense to prevail and the law to be respected.
As can be seen from the email communication published below, both MWTC and Greg shameful employed the “hiding behind” tactic.
MWTC stated: “We act on the guidance of the Government via NALC and ERNLLCA and are currently following their advice.”
The Government is Greg.
“This is a decision that Market Weighton Town Council has made”
“The decision is one for the council concerned”
“I suggest you contact the council direct.”
That is, go back to MWTC – and so the circle is completed.
From MWTC, I requested: “I am unaware of any such “guidance” of the Government to close open spaces. Could you please forward me copy?” – I have received nothing.
Greg was asked on three separate occasions:
- “I am unaware of any legal authorisation that permits Parish/Town Councils to close cemeteries, even as a decision of Full Council. Of course, I could be wrong. If there is legislation, could you please advise with reference to it?”– I received no reference.
- “Are you able to refer me please to the legislation that supports your statement?”– I received no reference.
- “Lets cut to the chase. Is there or is there not legislation authorising councils to prohibit the public from entering cemeteries and burial grounds at this moment to undertake their daily exercise and/or tending graves? If so please provide the link to the precise legislation.”– I received no reference.
Greg Knight MP
Incompetence, Insanity or Nastiness?
- Is this incompetence? MWTC failed to take legal advice or consider the effect of their actions as Local Government Secretary Robert Jenrick did yesterday. Greg Knight qualified as a Solicitor in 1973 and has been an MP for East Yorkshire for 19 years but was unaware of the legislation. This sounds like incompetence to me.
- Is the action insane? The Government informs the public to take one hour exercise while adhering to two metres of social distancing. MWTC close the cemetery the best public place in that area of Market Weighton for social distancing. That sounds insane to me.
- Is this action nasty? Be it by action or inaction, both MWTC and Greg prevented residents visiting their loved ones’ graves on Good Friday and Easter Sunday and removed the main public space for safe social distancing. That sounds nasty to me.
Unreserved Public Apology
The actions of Greg are a clear demonstration of Common Purpose policy – never apologise and never admit failure.
Both Greg Knight and Councillor Peter Hemmerman must issue an unreserved apology for their distasteful actions/inactions for which they failed to take responsibility, in breach of the Nolan Principles.
If they fail to issue an apology, they have no honour left and must resign.
I offer both Greg and Peter a full right to reply, with or without an apology. Hopefully, it will be with.
My motivation throughout has been to ensure that the cemetery remains open to permit the visiting of loved one’s graves and to take safe exercise.
I had no intention of publishing my communication with Greg but sadly in the public interest and as a last resort, I am forced to do this. Hopefully next time this will not be required.
I publish my full email communication for the Court of Public Opinion. Please click on the following: