Agenda item

Bereavement Services business plan phase one update report and options appraisal for the future Poole Crematorium facility

To provide a progress update on the delivery of Bereavement Services Business Plan 2020 - 2026.

This paper sets out an options appraisal, data and evidence for the future Poole Crematorium facility which is a non statutory service provision requirement for Local Authorities

The current provision contributes towards the Council’s income  supporting the Medium Term Financial Plan within the context of an increasingly competitive and changing market environment.


The Portfolio Holder for Environment and Place presented a report, a copy of which had been circulated to each Member and a copy of which appears as Appendix 'D' to these Minutes in the Minute Book. The report sought to ensure the future need for crematoria facilities in Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole was met and provide a progress update on the delivery of Bereavement Services Business Plan 2020 – 2026. The paper set out an options appraisal, data and evidence for the future Poole Crematorium facility. It was noted that the current provision contributed towards the Council’s income supporting the Medium-Term Financial Plan. In response to a comment the Committee was informed that the deceased were transferred sensitively via a private ambulance. In the following discussion a number of points were raised and responded to by the Portfolio Holder and Officers, including:


·       How the current situation was arrived at and what action had been taken previously to try to address this. Prior to local government reorganisation the cremators required new parts and parts from other cremators were used for this purpose. At the point of entering the pandemic the decision was taken to close temporarily and use the cremators in Bournemouth. There was built in maintenance schedules for other cremators.

·       Whether there had there been any consultation with residents regarding the lack of cremation facilities. There were strong public feelings around the issue, and it didn’t appear much weight had been given to the community impact. Whilst there had not been any public consultation, there had been consultation with funeral directors.

·       How and why all three cremators became unserviceable and what options had been explored for reusing or copying parts. It was noted that the equipment was serviced and maintained whilst operational. However, it was no longer possible to bring them back into use. The last major upgrade was 17 years ago, and the normal lifespan of a cremator was 12 years.

·       There was ambition to reinstate the cremators in Poole but the changing technology around this would need to be investigated. Installing an electric cremator would require demolishing part of the building and installing a gas cremator would not meet the Council’s carbon reduction aims. There was a desire to invest in a crematorium which would meet all the needs of the community. It was suggested that there should be a technical report in place to confirm that it was not feasible to bring the equipment back into service. It was noted that the technical report had already been produced and would be shared with members.

·       Concerns were raised regarding the implications of delaying instillation of new cremators to investigate emerging technologies and the timescale involved. The knowledge around the new technology was not yet good enough and the Portfolio Holder advised that they wanted to wait for better data on this before deciding on the most appropriate course of action to ensure best use of capital expenditure.

·       The impact that direct cremations or unattended cremations were having on the provision of this service. It was noted that only 20 percent of cremations at Bournemouth were direct cremations.

·       That there should be a timeframe in place for restating the operation of cremators at the Poole crematorium.

·       There was interest in using the facilities at Poole, even though people were aware that no cremations take place on the site. The Council considered the needs of the bereaved and understood that people would want their loved one cremated where the committal took place. The Portfolio Holder offered to arrange a viewing of the hall at Poole for any members interested.


RESOLVED: The Committee recommend to Cabinet that, subject to no further information coming forward from the technical report on the existing cremating equipment, that Cabinet aim for a reopening of cremators at the Poole Crematorium facility by 2025/26.


Voting: Nem. Con.


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