Report of the Bereavement Services Manager
The Joint Committee considered a report of the Bereavement Services Manager which provided an update relating to performance and other operational matters (for copy see file of Minutes).
The Bereavement Services Manager reported that 314 cremations had been undertaken during the quarter compared to 350 in the comparable period last year, a decrease of 36 year on year. The reduction in June could be attributed to the servicing of the two new cremators and the reduction in available cremation slots.
Regarding the sale of memorials it was noted that there had been a reduction in the number of memorials sold however this was as a result of a tender exercise being undertaken with regards to the plaque supplier and now the appointment had been made, applications were again being processed.
Moving on, the Bereavement Services Manager provided updates in respect of the green flag application and the Crematorium’s success in retaining its Green Flag Award for the seventh year running. He further provided updates in respect of staffing, wi-fi connectivity and the website development. In addition, it was reported that a cheque for £5000 had been received from the recycling of metals scheme and a cheque for this sum had been presented to the Marie Curie charity by the Chair and Vice-Chair.
Further information was reported by the Bereavement Services Manager with regard to Audit recommendations and action taken relating to the Book of Remembrance Supplier and Document Retention.
Members also noted an update in respect of the replacement of cremators and Installation of Mercury abatement equipment and that further testing on the emissions would be undertaken next month to ensure compliance with legislation.
In conclusion the Bereavement Services Manager provided an update on the Service Asset Management Plan (SAMP) and the updates which had been made to provide further direction and highlight investment requirements for the Joint Committee.
Councillor K Dodds asked whether the issue of document retention and supplier or provider of scanning would be subject of a procurement exercise or whether there may be capacity within either Gateshead or Durham councils to undertaken the work. The Bereavement Services Manager advised that the existing County Council supplier ‘Box-It’ may be able to assist however further information would be reported at a future meeting.
Councillor Charlton added that she had recently been at a crematorium out of the county and had noticed that they had a very useful screen installed along the walkway to the entrance of the crematorium to shield those attending from bad weather. She therefore queried whether this could be looked at for Mountsett. The Bereavement Services Manager advised that this could be looked into and information would be reported back to the next meeting.
Moving on, Councillor Batey asked whether some clarification could be given as to the recycling of metals scheme and donations made as she had received a query as to why the money was not donated to the Chairman’s Charity. Councillor Temple advised that the Crematorium was not a wholly owned DCC site as it was jointly owned by Gateshead Council and with such had an independent existence. In addition monies generated through the recycling of metals scheme had to be donated to bereavement related charities.
K Coulson-Patel, Solicitor advised that should the residents group who had enquired about the scheme require it, written confirmation could be provided.
Councillor Temple at this point added that he would like it to be placed on record the thanks and congratulation to the Staff at the Crematorium in achieving a Green Flag Award for the 7th year running, noting that the team did a fabulous jobs of maintaining the grounds to a very high standard.
That the the Mountsett Joint Committee:
· Note the current performance of the crematorium.
· Note the continued success with regards to the Green Flag Award.
· Note the appointment of the Business Administration Apprentice.
· Note the updated position with regards to the recycling of metals scheme.
· Note the updated position with regards to Wi-Fi connectivity.
· Note the progress with regards to the website development.
· Note the updated position with regards to the procurement of a supplier for entries in the Book of Remembrance.
· Note the updated position with regards to the procurement exercise relating to document retention.
· Note the current position with regards to the cremator replacement.
· Note and approve the content of the Service Asset Management Plan attached at Appendix 3, which would be factored into budget planning in 2019/20 and beyond.