It’s the sort of council topic which sometimes has councillors shifting awkwardly in their seats: when business in the cemetery “dies off” – so to speak – and fewer funerals make their way through the gates – there’s a consequential fall in income from interments for Penarth Council.
Conversely – when the grim reaper does get busy and the number of burials rises – it’s not exactly the sort of thing the council wants to been seen celebrating.
Truth to tell, the council had been going through a something of a fallow period for funerals and had seen cemetery income dwindle from £44,664 in 2013/14 to £30,797 in 2014/15 – a fall of over 31% .
Some of this has been attributed to the good folk of Penarth staying healthier, living longer and successfully fending-off the attentions of the grim reaper – but councillors have also pointed out that the local cemetery faces competition from Barry’s busy crematorium which is attracting – if that’s the word – an increasing amount of custom.
However Penarth Town Councillors have now been told there’s been a turnaround in activity at Penarth Cemetery – although at this month’s meeting of the Leisure and Amenities Committee, no one wanted it to appear to be seen as ‘good’ news.
The highly respected Town Clerk of Penarth Shan Bowden, picked her way carefully through the verbal minefield. She told councillors “Unfortunately there’s been a very brisk trade last month and it’s picked up all through this month as well, sadly. It’s been good for the income, but we are inundated at the moment with interments”
The Mayor Cllr Rosemary Cook (in the chair) invited comments from councillors. There were none.
In fact the busiest time for the cemetery in 2015/16 was in June when there was an income of £7,021 in just that one month. July income was almost double what it had been 12 months earlier.
In November the cemetery – always peaceful – was, in business terms, very ‘quiet’ – but then a busy December and in January there was a 50% rise in income on the previous January to £4,912.