COUNCILLORS at Ringwood have backed plans to carry out maintenance at the town's cemetery.

Members of Ringwood Town Council's recreation, leisure and open spaces committee gave their support to setting out a series of works to improve the Hightown Road burial ground.

Town Clerk Chris Wilkins asked councillors to outline their preference on three options put before them in a report.

Cllr Jeremy Heron said he was delighted to see the item on the agenda as the council had maintained responsibility for the site as the burial authority.

"Over the past three or four years I think that the quality of the maintenance of the cemetery has gone down, while ground staff, who only have a finite resource, have been diverted to other interests," Cllr Heron said.

"I'm really pleased to think we're going to now come back and return it to a level where by we can take a great deal of pride in it again."

The committee supported the proposal with the highest initial cost.

The preferred option set out building a double sided columbarium to replace the existing internal wall which runs from north to south.

It also includes creating a permanent high-quality wall or fence with the rugby ground and carrying out pro-active repairs to all other walls and all paths.

Cllr Philip Day added: "The budget for the cemetery is always difficult and I know the last couple years there has been good news and bad news,"

"The bad news is that the number of people who are ending up there has been more than anticipate, but it has exceeded budget in terms of income."

The report identifies full analysis of the impacts, regulatory requirements and financial risks of members' preferred approach should be undertaken as the next stage of planning.

The decision made by the committee will be used by council officers to the guide the future management and maintenance of the cemetery.