Report of the Bereavement Services Manager.
The Bereavement Services Manager, Graham Harrison asked Members to note the performance figures from 1 September 2017 to 31 December 2017 and the comparison to the same period for 2016, highlighting that there was a net decrease of 25 cremations year on year. It was noted there was a total of 734 for the 3 month period with the September to December profile breakdown showing 209 from Durham, 29 from Spennymoor and 496 from outside of the area. It was added that while the overall number of cremations was lower for the period, it was forecast that the budgeted number of 2,200 for the whole financial year would be exceeded.
Members were asked to note that the number of memorials sold had increased in comparison to the same period the previous year, however, revenue was £1,266 less than the comparable period last year.
The Bereavement Services Manager explained that currently there was no wifi connectivity at the Crematorium and explained that there had been several requests from members of the public and funeral directors and clergy to have this facility. It was added that installing wifi would also bring the Crematorium in line with other Council buildings. Members noted the cost would be approximately £2,750 and were asked if they wished for wifi to be installed, to be accommodated from within existing budget provision.
The Joint Committee noted that cleaning at the Crematorium was provided by Durham County Council’s facilities management team via a Service Level Agreement (SLA) and was due to expire on 31 March 2018. Members were referred to a revised SLA for April 2018 to March 2020, noting a 10.3% increase on the recharges levied in 2017/18. The Bereavement Services Manager noted that a high quality service had been provided and that the costs included all labour and materials required to carry out the cleaning activities.
Councillors were asked to recall that at the September meeting it had been noted that for the sixth year running the Crematorium, in a joint bid with the South Road Cemetery, had achieved the Green Flag Award. It was added that an application would be submitted for the 2018 Award and progress would be reported back to the Joint Committee.
In respect of the Recycling of Metals Scheme, Councillors noted a cheque in the sum of £5,000 had been received from the Institute of Cemetery and Crematorium Management for the North East of England Children’s Cancer Research Fund. It was added that arrangements had been made for the Chairman to present the cheque and a photograph of the presentation was included in the report at Appendix 4.
The Bereavement Services Manager noted that for the seventh year running it had been agreed for St. Cuthbert’s Hospice to provide a Christmas tree and baubles at the Crematorium, a facility to allow visitors to leave a personal message and place in on to the tree. It was noted that this had proved to be very popular again, with a substantial amount raised for the charity.
Councillor K Thompson noted that as regards wifi provision he felt that the Crematorium should not fall behind and for the relative small cost it should be installed. He asked as regards the 10.3% increase in relation to the cleaning SLA noting it seemed a large increase. The Principal Accountant stated that the recent pay award had increased the staffing budget by around 7.5-8% for low paid staff and that the 10.3% increase covered two years from the commencement of the current SLA.
The Chairman noted the information relating to the Green Flag Award and that this was very good promotion for the Crematorium, with costs being covered within existing budgets. The Chairman added that the charities that received cheques from the recycling of metals scheme had been very grateful for the support and noted that she felt the Christmas tree placed by St. Cuthbert’s Hospice could be promoted more. The Chairman concluded by noting that looking at the breakdown of cremations by area that 15% came from outside of the area and that this was encouraging.
(i) That the current performance of the Crematorium be noted.
(ii) That wifi connectivity be installed at the Crematorium.
(iii) That the Service Level Agreement with regards to cleaning be approved.
(iv) That the application for the Green Flag Award for 2018 be noted.
(v) That the distribution of recycling income received to the respective charity be
(vi) That the provision of a Christmas tree by St. Cuthbert’s Hospice in 2018 be approved and publicised.