CHURCH: Why should we pay for closed cemeteries?

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If I heard right, as a member of the public attending last month’s Pinchbeck Parish council meeting, may I say: “Well done Pinchbeck Parish Council for good house keeping, regarding the annual budget.”

This is something that I’ve urged for many years, via your letters page, and in person at council meetings. However, I’m never going to be happy with their spending priorities while they ignore my views. Last week, walking up the lower part of Market Way (facing on-coming traffic) to its mid-point pathway leading to Burma Way, I was once again forced into a wet hedgerow by a speeding white van man – the driver’s angry face indicated that pedestrians should get out of the way. Would that I could have!

Right now, parish council spending to make this dangerous area safer is not a priority.However, as figures reveal, maintaining its two ‘closed cemeteries’ is.

Currently, around five per cent of our budget is allocated for maintenance costs in favour of of St Mary’s and St Bart’s. It is worth noting that the Church of England (who’s commissioners’ manage £5.6bn in assets every year) is an institution that enjoys ‘charitable status’, allowing it to reclaim tax paid on public donations of around £25m a year.

Most un-charitably (in my view), not content with this genorosity by tax payers, it grabs £3,500plus year on year from council tax payers here in Pinchbeck.

Recent press reports (The Times, February 5) now reveal the taxman is failing to stop abuse of Gift Aid ‘harming charities’. If true, how does this increase the trust people have in charities?

Also, why are council taxes, for the benefit of a religious minority, applied to non-churchgoers and those of other religions? I have always paid my taxes in full, so on that basis,I’ve had nothing to do with Gift Aid, nor am I likely too after reading the Times article!

In my scheme of things, I want to pay my fair share of tax, unlike an increasing number of rich individuals and institutions in our unfair society.

I’m fully committed to paying my taxes because I strongly believe in things like, education for our children, the NHS, welfare provision, defence, law and order,etc. Not ‘closed cemeteries’.

Finally, here in Pinchbeck,a free copy of church magazine, ‘Pinchbeck Chimes’, is currently sponsored by three Tory councillors. A classic example of the church being the Tory party at prayer,some might say? It must be close to elections, some might also say.

David Turp

Pinchbeck