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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 1 June 2015 to 31 August 2015 and the comparison to the same period for 2014, highlighting that there was a net decrease of 7 cremations year on year.  It was noted there was a total of 505 for the three month period with the June to August profile breakdown showing 158 from Durham, 21 from Spennymoor and 326 from outside of the area.


Members were asked to note that the number of memorials sold had decreased in comparison to the same period the previous year, however sales generated £869 more than the comparable period last year.


The Joint Committee noted the continuing issue in respect of a long-term sickness and was reminded of the arrangements put in place for Durham County Council to provide assistance until such time as the employee returned to work.


The Bereavement Services Manager noted the Crematorium had received the Green Flag Award, awarded now for four years in a row and the Crematorium was awarded Gold Star Status by the Institute of Cemetery and Crematorium Management.  In addition, it was explained that the South Road Cemetery and Durham Crematorium had received a Silver Award from Northumbria in Bloom 2015 in the “Religious Establishments” category.


Councillors were reminded that there had been a list of charities selected for nomination by the Joint Committee in respect of the recycling of metals and each of these would be put forward year-on-year.  Members noted the next nominee was Antenatal Results and Choices and whether they would be successful recipients would be reported back in due course.


The Joint Committee noted that Phase 3 works had commenced the weekend of 11 April 2015 and the majority of the works had now been completed, subject to some minor snagging issues. 

Members noted works had been completed with minimal disruption to operations and the improvements had been received well by Funeral Directors and visitors to the Crematorium.


It was explained that the provisional outturn for the Phase 3 works was £416,000, which included all works except the replacement of the canopies around the building.  Members were referred to proposed canopy designs that were obtained from specialist crematoria canopy companies and it was explained that Officers from Durham County Council’s Planning Section and English Heritage did not feel the designs were in keeping with the aesthetics and heritage of the building or surrounding area.  Accordingly, it was explained that the Council’s in-house Design Team had produced a canopy design and this was shown to Members, in comparison to those received from canopy manufacturers.  The Bereavement Services Manager noted the in-house design was more in keeping with the building and it was proposed, subject to approval of the Joint Committee, that the works be completed as per the in-house designs, noting an additional cost of around £51,000 to the original total budget, taking into account the underspend in Phase 1 and 2, and the contingency sums available from Phase 3.


The Bereavement Services Manager concluded by noting the update to the Service Asset Management Plan (SAMP), setting out the 4 priorities of works: urgent essential for 2015/16; Priority 2 for 2016/17; Priority 3; and longer term works.  Members noted a breakdown of the SAMP was attached to the report at Appendix 3.


Councillor K Thompson noted that he agreed that the designs received from canopy manufacturers were not acceptable and the in-house design was more in keeping with the design of the Crematorium, however, he asked for clarification as regards the estimated total cost for the in-house canopy design.


The Senior Projects Manager, Neighbourhood Services, Richard Fenwick explained that effectively the contingency from Phase 3 would carry forward to what could be considered as “Phase 4”, and that works to produce the in-house design would be carried out off-site and then canopies transported to, and installed at, the Crematorium.  It was added that as designed, to replace all existing canopies and to install 1 additional canopy would be around £254,000, with it being prudent to incorporate some contingency as regards out-of-hours working to complete the works over a number of weekends to minimise disruption to the public. 


Councillor P Conway added that he also agreed the in-house design was better than those provided by canopy manufacturers, however, added that he was disappointed that Members were not being given a clear indication of expected costs in relation to the in-house design prior to having to make a decision whether to approve the works or otherwise.


The Head of Finance – Financial Services explained that incorporating the cost of the design, and taking into account underspends and contingencies carried forward, the overall figure was around £280,000, however, a more detailed breakdown could be provided to Members as a postscript to the minutes.  






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

(ii)                                                     That the continued long term sickness absence and arrangements put in place be       noted.

(iii)                                                    That the continued success with regards the Green Flag Award be noted.

(iv)                                                   That the updated position with regards to the recycling of metals scheme be noted.

(v)                                                    That the progress of Phase 3 improvement works be noted and the implementation of the bespoke design for the canopy replacement works be approved.

(vi)                                                   That the use of the Major Capital Works Reserve to finance the forecast additional   costs of the bespoke design for canopy works be approved.

(vii)                                                  That the content of the Service Asset Management Plan, which will be factored into budget planning in 2016/17 and beyond, be approved.


The Head of Finance – Financial Services provided the following information subsequent to the meeting:


The Report of the Bereavement Services Manager identified the need to increase the capital budget for Phase 3 works by £51,343 to cover the additional costs from the revised design for the canopies.  Members were supportive of this, but there was some confusion over how much of the contingencies / provisional sums were unallocated and would be available to this aspect of the work, the details are set out below:


Original Contract sum for Canopies:                 199,263

Revised Costings for Bespoke Design:             250,606

Additional Budget Requested:                            51,343


Based on the provisional final account for the completed works under Phases 1 – 3, and excluding the sums included in these budgets for the original canopy design, there is a forecast £29,284 underspend against the original budget provision for contingencies.  The revised total budget to complete the works, assuming the provisional final account remains as currently anticipated, is as follows:


Revised Budget for Replacement Canopies (Bespoke Design):                  250,606

Carry Over of Unallocated / Unspent Contingencies from Phase 1-3:           29,284

Total Budget to Complete the works:                                                        279,890


The contingency sum to mitigate against risks on the remaining works (canopies) equates to approximately 10% of the direct works costs.  If these costs are not required then this would be released back to the Major Works Reserve at project completion.


Supporting documents:


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