OWNERSHIP OF THE CALDERSTONES CEMETERY
We cannot produce a comprehensive list of all the individuals and companies who have owned the Cemetery since 2000, but have listed an incomplete summary of those companies which we can identify from records. Some of the companies who can no longer be traced, appear to have gone out of business, others may have changed their names. Some transfers appear to be a change of company name with the same directors having control of both the old and new company. This has been seen since 2015/6 where a Mr Neil Vitale, Mr Sundeep Gohil and subsequently, a Mr Nick Gerard managed the cemetery under different company names. The latest transfer in July 2019 appears to see the Cemetery pass into the ownership of Remembrance Parks Construction Ltd whose sole directors are believed to be Mr Nick Gerard and Ms Sharon Gerard. Apart from the arrangements between Mr Tony Walsh and Mr Colin Arkwright, the rest of this transfer information has been obtained from Companies House records.
National Health Service Tony Walsh
Tony Walsh Tony Walsh/ Colin Arkwright
Tony Walsh/ Colin Arkwright Halongate Properties Ltd
Halongate Properties Ltd Bankvale Developments Ltd
Bankvale Developments Ltd Broxburn Mount Ltd
Broxburn Mount Ltd Remembrance Place Ltd
Remembrance Place Ltd Remembrance Place 2000 Ltd
Remembrance Place 2000 Ltd The Shrine Lancashire Ltd
The Shrine Lancashire Ltd Buildings of Remembrance Ltd**
Buildings of Remembrance Ltd Buildings of Remembrance International Ltd**
Buildings of Remembrance International Ltd Remembrance Parks Construction Ltd
** Please note that Buildings of Remembrance Ltd and Buildings of Remembrance International Ltd are two separate companies, though Mr Neil Vitale appears to be the sole director of each, on Companies House records. (October 2020)
Buildings of Remembrance Ltd-
The Administrators report.
Attached are extracts from the Administrators report in the matter of Buildings of Remembrance Ltd- in administration and the Insolvency Acts 1986. Readers may be interested to learn about the Administrators opinion of the transfer of ownership between Buildings of Remembrance Ltd and Buildings of Remembrance International Ltd and the role of the director, Mr Vitale in that transfer. As only 3 pages of the report are attached, readers may choose to see the full report which is readily available via the Companies House web-site.
The Administrator appears to form a critical assessment of Mr Vitale's actions under Transaction at Undervalue, Potential Malfeasance and Failure to cooperate with the Administrator.
As there do not appear to be any other assets of Buildings of Remembrance Ltd, please note that this transfer of the cemetery with planning permission for the crematorium was valued by Mr Vitale at £140000. Any subsequent valuation of the cemetery, would have to consider the subsequent confirmation of its consecrated status, which has existed since 1916 and the consequent implications for any potential purchaser.
Please note the highlighted text.
The Friends contacts with the Owners/Developers
The Friends of Calderstones Cemetery is a small group of relatives, friends, neighbours and former staff which was established in 2006 with the objective of safeguarding and protecting the graves of the 1172 known former patients and staff who are buried in the Cemetery. Its objectives inevitably raise issues for the current and previous developers/owners but it would be reasonable to expect that it was in the interests of all parties to establish meaningful dialogue to address those issues.
In the late summer and autumn of 2017, Mr Mel Diack, OBE from the Friends had a meeting with a Mr David Daniels representing the Developer. Mr Diack, reports that at that meeting, Mr Daniels said the Developer intended making an early start on the construction of the crematorium and implied that he already had the necessary permission from the Ministry of Justice to exhume a number of bodies to facilitate the construction. Apparently, the intention was to rebury the exhumed bodies at a different location within the cemetery and to this end, Mr Diack was asked to, and agreed to contact a local clergyman about the implications and costs of arranging an appropriate religious service of committal for these people, which he did.
On checking with the Ministry of Justice (MOJ), it was quickly confirmed that no such request for exhumation had been made and certainly no permission had been given. The MOJ explained that the Developer would need to submit individual applications for licences and strict conditions applied to the issue of such licences, which would be carefully checked before any approval to exhume might be granted. The rights of relatives of the deceased to be consulted was emphasised and it was suggested that this important issue should be discussed with the Developer.
Before the response from the MOJ could be discussed with Mr Daniels and an explanation of his claimed permission to exhume obtained, he was apparently replaced by Ms Angela Dunn, who assumed responsibility for local management on behalf of the Developer/Owner. Mr Daniels was to re-emerge, again representing the Developer/Owner at a meeting of the Ribble Valley Borough Council (RVBC) Planning Committee in March 2019.
Ms Dunn met with representatives of the Friends in December 2017, where she explained the companies (both Buildings of Remembrance International and All Faiths Remembrance Parks Ltd, were identified) plans and agreed to work with the Friends to establish the names of the individuals buried in the Cemetery, whose relatives might need to be consulted about the proposed development.
Ms Dunn did cooperate and worked with the Friends to establish an initial jointly agreed list of the deceased patients and staff who were buried in the Cemetery. That work proceeded well and Ms Dunn was scheduled to meet the Friends in early January 2018 to finalise and agree the list. However, on the morning of that meeting, which was to be held at Calderstones Hospital, she contacted a representative of the Friends, to say she would not be attending as she had been instructed by her directors to have no further contact with the Friends.
The Director's decision to unilaterally withdraw from any contact with the Friends on January 11th coincided with the Friends discovery and confirmation that the whole of the Cemetery was consecrated ground which had been confirmed by a Kirsty Halstead from the Diocesan solicitors. Ms Dunn was informed of that discovery and the significance of the consecrated status, at a time when the Developer already had heavy construction machinery parked within the Cemetery, and had begun construction. It is very important to note that at this time, Ms Dunn, on behalf of the Owner/Developer implied that they were not aware of the consecrated status of the graveyard- which was never questioned by the Friends until the later discovery of the legal documents, which appear later, in the Sale documents section
Thereafter, the Developer/Owner continued communicating directly with both the Archdeacon of the Blackburn Diocese and the Planning Department of Ribble Valley Borough Council, though they refused to have any contact with the Friends. The Friends were not informed about any changes in the Developer/Owner's plans, but more worryingly, could get no confirmation or explanation of the significant damage or destruction of the urns containing human remains in the Garden of Remembrance, which the Developer/Owner was believed to have caused.
Following the withdrawal of the Archdeacon's first application for de-consecration in the summer of 2018, the Friends approached Ms Dunn to arrange a meeting with her directors and offered to meet them at the Companies (both) shared office in Milton Keynes. This request was apparently rejected by the directors and Ms Dunn suggested that she had been authorized to deal with matters at a local level. Following the unilateral withdrawal of cooperation on the instruction of the directors in January 2018 the Friends were not prepared to accept this suggestion and politely insisted they wanted to see the directors, which was again rejected.
A list of 9 questions was then prepared which the Friends wanted Ms Dunn to answer but she refused to do so. Subsequently, the 9 questions document as it became known, was sent with a covering letter to Mr Nicholas John Gerard and Mr Neil Vitale, the two directors then responsible for Buildings of Remembrance International Ltd, and also their colleague, Mr Sundeep Gohil, the sole director of Armstrong Holdings Ltd, who is believed to be responsible for the excavation of land within the cemetery to facilitate the gravel roadway and the consequent damage/ destruction to the Garden of Remembrance. The Friends expressed their concerns about the possible damage and destruction of urns containing human remains, and asked for simple factual information about the activities which had taken place.
Mr Gerard, Mr Gohil and Mr Vitale have each failed to respond to the personal letters which were sent to them. A copy of that same covering letter and the 9 questions which Mr Gerard, Mr Vitale, Mr Gohil and Ms Dunn have refused to answer is attached.
The Friends look forward to the opportunity of meeting the directors of Remembrance Parks Construction Ltd, who are the current owners of the cemetery. We had hoped to discuss plans for future use as well as maintenance and access arrangements, but attempts to establish contact have once again failed to elicit a response and we must now assume (October 2020) that the directors do not wish to discuss matters with the Friends, at this time.
The further discovery in May 2021 of documents confirming that the Owners should have always been aware of the consecrated status of the Cemetery and their responsibilities to maintain access and the right of way from Mitton Road to the QMMH section of the Cemetery, as established in documents now referred to as the 1916 Conveyance, has led to further and so far unsuccessful attempts attempts to have direct contact the Owners- see later
Letter to Mr N Gerard
And the 9 questions document
Letter to Mr N Vitale
And the 9 questions document
The letter to Mr S Gohil
The Friends 9 questions document
This document was also sent to the Archdeacon of the Blackburn Diocese and the Planning Department of the Ribble Valley Borough Council, at a time when both organisations were in regular communication with the Owner/Developer about his request for an application for partial de-consecration, and proposals for revising the existing planning permission.
It is not known if either organisation discussed the document with the Developer/Owner, but they were fully aware of its content and significance.
In May 2021, following the discovery of the right of way and access arrangements included in what is now known as the 1916 Conveyance, - see Sale Documents- the Friends again wrote to Mr Gerard and Ms Gerard asking if they would share their plans for the future access to, and maintenance of the Cemetery. We have since been contacted by a Mr Ron Dunn acting on behalf of the Owners and hope to discuss access and maintenance issues with him. However, we still await the Owners response to our letter of November 2018 but remain consistent in our wish to arrange a direct meeting with either or both the owner/directors, to resolve outstanding issues and discuss the future.