Cemetery moves disappoint

May 10, 2018

Shepparton Cemetery Trust chairman David Gawne with secretary Joanne Crowe.

Moves by Greater Shepparton Council to place Kialla and Pine Lodge Cemeteries under the jurisdiction of a Bendigo-based trust have been questioned.

Chairman of the Shepparton Cemetery Trust David Gawne took issue with the plans, claiming the consultation period was too short.

Mr Gawne also queried how a trust based more than 100km away could adequately service the two cemeteries.

‘‘I can’t see the sense in Bendigo administering Shepparton,’’ he said.

A meeting of the Shepparton Cemetery Trust on Tuesday night saw members voicing their concerns and disappointment about the plan, according to Mr Gawne.

The most prominent criticism was that no locals were given the opportunity to form a trust to take carriage of the two established cemeteries.

‘‘The (Shepparton Cemetery) Trust is disappointed that (Greater Shepparton Council) hasn’t made it known to the public sooner, haven’t even called for expressions of interest,’’ he said.

Last week Greater Shepparton Council gave notification that it would be holding information sessions regarding the change.

The sessions will be held on Tuesday, May 15, and Wednesday, May 16, with written feedback accepted until Friday, May 25.

Greater Shepparton City Council community director Kaye Thomson claimed the move would ‘‘create efficiencies and ensure high standards’’.

‘‘Council believes there will be efficiencies in another organisation managing operations and governance where cemeteries are their core business,’’ Ms Thomson said.

‘‘There will be a seamless transition of the Trusts to Remembrance Parks Central Victoria (RPCV) with current reservations and a high standard of management maintained.

‘‘Council will assist RPCV by providing office space and some support for an agreed period of time to ensure community access is similar.’’

When The News asked the council whether it believed enough time had been given to consult with the public regarding the move, it said in a statement:

‘‘Pine Lodge and Kialla West Cemetery Trusts and RPCV have been investigating a possible transfer for over 12 months. Much work has been undertaken to date to determine if a transfer is viable and whether it would result in better outcomes for users and the broader Greater Shepparton community’’.

The council was also asked whether it believed a group based well out of Shepparton could adequately care for the cemeteries in question.

‘‘RPCV who are a Class A Cemetery Trust, will provide an experienced and professional service as they provide a range of services not currently available,’’ the council said in a statement.

‘‘RPCV will have a Customer Service staff member available in Shepparton to assist with all cemeteries’ operations at Pine Lodge and Kialla West including bookings, reservations and general inquiries.’’

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