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Agenda item

Quarterly Performance and Operational Report

Report of the Bereavement Services Manager.


The Bereavement Services Manager, Graham Harrison asked Members to note the performance figures from January 2014 to March 2014 and the comparison to the same period for 2013, highlighting that there was a net decrease of 146 cremations.  It was noted there was a total of 584 for the three month period with the January to March profile breakdown showing 190 from Durham, 38 from Spennymoor and 356 from outside of the area.  Councillors were asked to note that the figures for the comparable period 2012/13 were exceptional, noting the long winter and higher mortality rates compared to 2013/14.  Members noted that while the total number of cremations for 2013/14 was 2,227, in comparison to a total of 2,379 for 2012/13, estimates had been made on a prudent basis and the figure was still above the budget number of 2,140 cremations. 


The Committee noted similar reductions in cremations in comparison to last year at Mountsett Crematorium, reports from Funeral Directors as regards fewer numbers, and contacts at IFZW confirming similar reductions of 8-12% in Germany also.  The Bereavement Services Manager referred Members to a graph showing information from the Office of National Statistics (ONS), highlighting the lower mortality rates in Quarter 4, 2013.  It was noted that a survey of Funeral Directors would be undertaken and a brochure be produced promoting the services available.    


Members were asked to note that the number of memorials sold had increased significantly in comparison to the same period the previous year, with sales being £17,473.02 more than the comparable period last year.  It was explained that, as reported previously, a backlog exercise undertaken by Crematorium staff had contributed to the increase.


The Joint Committee noted that usual arrangements as regards attendance at the Joint Conference of the Federation of Burial and Cremation Authorities and the Cremation Society of Great Britain, held 7 to 9 of July 2014, had been made for the Bereavement Services Manager and Councillor J Marr.


The Joint Committee were informed that the crematorium team were now operating with all staff, with a member of the team having gained certification in the Federation of Burial and Cremation Authorities’ training and examination scheme for Crematorium Technicians.  


Councillors noted that the Recycling of Metals Scheme had generated a sum of £4,412 for Macmillan Cancer Support.  The Bereavement Services Manager noted Members could provider further nominations at the Chairman as regards charities that could benefit from the scheme. 



The Bereavement Services Manager referred Members to the amended programme of works and projected costs relating to Crematorium Improvement Works.  It was added that upon speaking to colleagues in the Planning Section, there was no requirement for a planning application, rather the works were allowed under Part 12 of the General Permitted Development Order.


Members asked if Phase III was deferred could there be potential increased disruption to operations at the Crematorium and potential increased costs by having two separate stages of works rather than carrying out the works from Phase I to Phase III contiguously.


The Principal Accountant, Jo McMahon noted that Phases I and II could be funded through various options, including the use of reserves.  It was added that, as noted by several Members, it would be for the Joint Committee to decide upon Phase III at a future meeting.




(i)              That the current performance of the Crematorium be noted.

(ii)             That the plan to produce a brochure and survey in order to promote the                     service be approved.

(iii)           That the current performance with regards to the sale of Memorials be noted.

(iv)           That the attendance of the Chairman, Councillor J Marr and the Bereavement Services Manager at the Federation of Burial and Cremation Authorities and the Cremation Society of Great Britain Conference and Exhibition 2013 be approved.

(v)            That the current tranche of money from the recycling of metals scheme to Macmillan Cancer Support be noted, with Members nominating further charities for future disbursements at a future meeting.

(vi)           That the updated/revised funding requirements for the redevelopment be noted and for Phase I to progress as planned.


Supporting documents:


Democratic Services
Durham County Council
County Hall
County Durham
03000 269 714