A COUNCIL with a soaring population has done a U-turn and withdrawn a three year ultimatum to a neighbouring parish council telling them to start looking for their own cemetery.

Northallerton and the neighbouring community of Romanby has shared the cemetery for over 150 years, although in the 70’s ownership was transferred to Northallerton town council as part of a government shake up and a joint burial committee was set up.

After being told the population of Northallerton is set to increase to 20,000 through new housing developments at the north end and disagreements over how the cemetery and the Joint Burial Committee was being run the Town Council gave Romanby notice that they planned to dissolve the burial committee, giving them three years to set up their own cemetery.

This week however at the first meeting of the council following recent elections members agreed to rescind the move to disband the committee

Deputy Mayor Councillor Claire Palmer said there had been previous confusion over advice given to councillors who were also members of the burial committee and that had been updated which meant they could now vote on the issue. She said many of the new houses in Northallerton were actually in the neighbouring Brompton Parish and would not be included in numbers of burials needed for Northallerton.

"There is a historical connection between Northallerton and Romanby going back over 160 years with an expectation that future needs would be met," she said.

Councillor Paul Atkin protested that the move to rescind the previous decision would open everything to abuse if councillors didn’t agree with what the council decides in the future. He said while the majority of people preferred cremation, that still meant up to 6,000 people from Northallerton would expect to be buried in their cemetery and there would not be room. He warned current rules allowed anyone to be buried there. He added: "It was recommended 40 years ago that Romanby should build its own cemetery."