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Saturday August 18 2018

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In Full . . .

Church grant query

Posted on July 30 2018 at 12:24:18

Alvechurch parish councillors are in a quandary over whether to give a churchyard maintenance grant to St Laurence Church.

In previous years, the council had voted to give £500 to the church for this purpose, since parishioners are eligible to be buried there whether they are church-goers or not.

However, earlier this year the clerk was told by the National Association of Local Councils (NALC) that parish councils were not supposed to award grants to church property – and that the council could be forced to demand the money back after its annual audit.

NALC also stated that the Government disagrees with this position, so councillors asked for clarification in writing – but have still not received a definitive answer.

Coun John Cypher said, “If our professional body [NALC] says it’s illegal, shouldn’t we go with that?”

Coun Marc Worrall added, “I feel we are trying to find a way to give this grant, with no clear advice on whether we should. If we do, it would have to be a one-off until the matter is clarified.”

Coun Cypher pointed out that there may be another way to give money to the church, by inviting it to apply via the council’s general grants process – but this sparked debate on whether that money would then be earmarked for the churchyard or could be used by the church for something else.

Some councillors also expressed concerns that by giving money to St Laurence, they could be accused of discrimination against other churches or religions.

It was decided to write to the church explaining the situation, and to seek further advice from NALC.

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