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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 September 2016 to 31 December 2016 and the comparison to the same period for 2015, highlighting that there was a net increase of 4 cremations year on year.  It was noted there was a total of 728 for the three month period with the September to December profile breakdown showing 247 from Durham, 42 from Spennymoor and 339 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, and sales had generated £1,092 less than the comparable period last year.


Councillors were informed that a local Funeral Director had approached the Crematorium as regards a design he had drawn up for a memorial safe product, made from stainless steel and granite in which ashes could be interred.  Members were asked for their views on whether to deviate from the current tender or remain with the current supplier.


The Joint Committee noted the recent appointment of a Technical Assistant, a former apprentice, and that she had indicated that she would be willing to enrol on the Institute of Cemetery and Crematorium Management (ICCM) Diploma Course.  Members noted that the associated costs had been factored into the 2017/18 budget.


The Bereavement Services Manager explained that the use of the Crematorium chapel had started to increase with regards to Funeral Directors wanting to use the chapel to hold services only before moving to another location for burial.  It was explained that this had an impact upon the number of cremations that could be accommodated on certain days and that the charge for a chapel only service was £100, compared to £650 for a cremation.  It was proposed that a two-tier pricing structure was put in place, with the most requested slots between 10.00am and 2.30pm having the fee increased to £600 and the fee outside of those times to increase to £200, in recognition of the lost income associated with holding those services.


The Bereavement Services Manager noted the Crematorium had received the Green Flag Award in 2016, awarded five years in a row and a submission would be made for the 2017 award accordingly.


Councillors were updated in respected of the recycling of metals scheme and noted the presentation by the Chairman and Vice-Chairman to Diabetes UK of a cheque in the sum of £4,336.


The Joint Committee noted that for the sixth year running it had been agreed for St. Cuthbert’s Hospice to be allowed to place a Christmas tree at the Crematorium in 2016 to allow people to write a personal message and place it on the tree with a bauble, leaving a charity donation.  It was noted that St. Cuthbert’s Hospice had raised £164.92 and had also asked permission to have a similar tree placed at the Crematorium in 2017, with no other organisations having approached the Crematorium in this regard.



The Chairman thanked the Bereavement Services Manager and added that Durham had been shortlisted for Most Improved Performer in the Cemetery and Crematorium category at the Association of Public Service Excellence (APSE) Awards 2016.  The Bereavement Services Manager noted that while Durham had not won the award, the shortlisting was good praise for the hard work of the Bereavement Services staff. 


Councillor N Foster noted the documentation circulated with the designs of the memorial safe product and asked what differences there was in comparison to the existing memorials.  The Bereavement Services Manager noted the current unit have stone front covers that can be removed allowing ashes to be interred, and noted the costs and length of lease.  It was added that the proposed product would have the marble insert silicone sealed to the stainless steel and this would present an issue should there need to be gain access to ashes.  It was added there would be also works associated with any additional plinth, as set out within the design documentation.  Members all agreed that the Crematorium should remain with the existing memorials.




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

(ii)         That the Crematorium continue to use the existing memorial supplier and    not to change over to the new memorial safe product.

(iii)       That the enrolment of a member of staff on the ICCM Diploma course be         agreed.

(iv)       That the application for the Green Flag Award 2017 be noted.

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

(vi)       That the provision of a Christmas tree in 2017 by St. Cuthbert’s Hospice      be agreed.



Supporting documents:


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