Report of the Bereavement Services Manager and Registrar, Neighbourhood Services.
The Bereavement Services Manager, Graham Harrison asked Members to note the performance figures from January 2015 to March 2015 and the comparison to the same period for 2014, highlighting that there was a net increase of 99 cremations. It was noted there was a total of 683 for the three month period with the January to March 2015 profile breakdown showing 203 from Durham, 33 from Spennymoor and 447 from outside of the area. Councillors were asked to note that the figure for the total number of cremations to 31 March 2015 was 2,287, compared to a prudent budget assumption of 2,200 cremations, representing an over-achievement in cremation fee income of £44,810.
The Bereavement Services Manager noted the performance over the previous four financial years and reminded Members a Crematorium Brochure had been produced to promote the services available at the Crematorium and to help retain market share. It was added that the increase in cremation numbers indicated that the Crematorium had maintained a good reputation and good service provision while improvement works were being undertaken.
Members were asked to note the number of memorials sold in comparison to the same period the previous year, with sales being £4,846 less. It was explained that, as reported previously, a backlog exercise undertaken by Crematorium staff in relation to renewals last year had contributed to an increased amount of memorial sales in 2013/14.
The Joint Committee noted an issue in respect of long term sickness and arrangements put in place for Durham County Council to assist until such time as the employee returned to work.
Councillors noted the usual arrangements had been made for the Bereavement Services Manager and the Chairman of the Joint Committee to attend the Joint Conference of the Federation of Burial and Cremation Authorities and Cremation Society of Great Britain, to be held at Stratford-upon-Avon from Monday 6 to Wednesday 8 July 2015. It was noted on this occasion the Bereavement Services Manager would be accompanied by Councillor M Plews.
The Bereavement Services Manager informed Members that the Recycling of Metals Scheme had generated a sum of £4,487 for Macmillan Cancer Support. The Bereavement Services Manager noted that the cheque was presented to St. Cuthbert’s Hospice by the Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the Joint Committee on 1 April 2015.
The Bereavement Services Manager referred Members to report setting out the update on Crematorium Improvement Works. It was added that the Phase 2 works had commenced on 15 November 2014 and had completed ahead of schedule on 16 March 2015. Members noted that Phase 3 works had commenced the weekend of 11 April 2015 and that the majority of works would be undertaken each weekend for approximately five months. It was explained that the Crematorium would remain closed on Mondays in order to have the facility prepared for services and it was noted there was sufficient capacity to accommodate the approximately 150 services displaced from the Mondays. The Bereavement Services Manager reassured Members that Funeral Directors had been consulted regarding the arrangements and all were happy to work alongside the Crematorium during the period of works.
Councillor D Bell asked if services held on Saturdays were charged at a higher cost to those held during the week. The Bereavement Services Manager noted they were charged at a higher rate, though this had not detracted from the popularity of such services. Councillor K Thompson asked whether the Phase 2 works had been completed on budget. The Bereavement Services Manager confirmed that the Phase 2 works had been completed on budget.
(i) That the current performance of the Crematorium and monitoring against budget be noted.
(ii) That the long term sickness absence be noted.
(iii) That the attendance at the Burial and Cremation Conference be noted.
(iv) That the distribution of recycling income to the respective charity be noted.
(v) That the completion of Phase 2 works be noted.
(vi) That the start date of the Phase 3 works be noted.