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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 2017 to March 2017 and the comparison to the same period for 2016, highlighting that there was a net increase of 11 cremations.  It was explained that Funeral Directors had noted similar increases, with the death rate having been higher despite the mild winter period.  It was noted there was a total of 676 for the three month period with the January to March 2017 profile breakdown showing 246 from Durham, 27 from Spennymoor and 403 from outside of the area.  Councillors were asked to note that the figure for the total number of cremations to 31 March 2017 was 2,324, compared to a prudent budget assumption of 2,200 cremations, representing an over-achievement in cremation fee income of £66,740. 


The Bereavement Services Manager noted the performance over the previous seven financial years and asked Members to note the number of memorials sold in comparison to the same period the previous year, a decrease of £2,663 in value terms.


The Joint Committee noted that a Trainee Crematorium Operative had been in post since June 2016, and Members’ recalled at the time the Crematorium had been unable to fill the vacant position for Cremator Operative.  It was explained that it was now felt to be an appropriate time to re-advertise the post which would also be available for the Trainee Crematorium Operative to apply for.


Members noted that on 26 May 2017, Mr Stephen Tinkler, Cremator Technician, would have worked at the Crematorium for 30 years.  It was added that on 5 May 2017, the Bereavement Services Manager would also have worked in the bereavement services industry for 30 years.  Members were asked if they wished to mark the occasion in some manner at the next meeting of the Joint Committee.


The Bereavement Services Manager explained that a number of problems had been encountered at the Crematorium in terms of drains collapsing due to multiple fractures and root mass build up.  It was noted that ongoing repairs had resulted in a revenue overspend of £9,148 in the current financial year and was set out within the Financial Monitoring report.  It was added that investigation had revealed that the drains required repairs estimated at £25,945 and as these were not included within the 2017/18 budget, Members were asked to approve the essential repairs from the Major Capital Works reserve in 2017/18.


Councillors noted the usual arrangements had been made for representation at 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 3 to Wednesday 5 July 2017.


The Bereavement Services Manager informed Members that the Recycling of Metals Scheme had generated a sum of £5,000 for Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Charity (SANDS) and that arrangements were being made in respect of the cheque being presented to the charity. 


The Chairman thanked the Bereavement Services Manager and asked him to leave while they discussed the issues in terms of the 30 years of service.


Members noted several possibilities, with the Facilities Manager, Spennymoor Town Council, Colin Ranson adding that as employees of Durham County Council any suggestion must be in line with their policies and procedures.  It was noted by Members who had served on the former City of Durham Council that long service awards such as engraved medals had been produced, however, since the new unitary Durham County Council from 2009, such awards had not been made.  It was suggested that as there was no policy in place that the next meeting of the Joint Committee be held at the Crematorium and the Officers be invited to attend to be thanked in person for their service. 




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

(ii)          To re-advertise the Cremator Operative post.

(iii)         To hold the next meeting of the Joint Committee at Durham Crematorium, South Road at 5.30pm and invite the Officers who had reached 30 years of service to attend.

(iv)         That the Major Capital Works Reserve be utilised to fund the forecast additional costs of the essential drainage repairs as outlined.

(v)          That the attendance at the Burial and Cremation Conference be noted.

(vi)         That the distribution of recycling income to the respective charity be noted.


Supporting documents:


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