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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 2018 to 31 August 2018 and the comparison to the same period for 2017, highlighting that there was a net increase of 28 cremations year on year.  It was noted there was a total of 542 for the 3 month period with the June to August profile breakdown showing 159 from Durham, 17 from Spennymoor and 366 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, with sales being £15,535 less than the comparable period last year.  It was noted that this in part was due to a reduction of memorial plaques after the initial 10 period.


Councillors noted that for the seventh year running the Crematorium, in a joint bid with the South Road Cemetery, had achieved the Green Flag Award.  It was added this was testimony to the dedication of the staff working at the Crematorium and South Road Cemetery and was in addition to the award of Gold Star Status by the Institute of Cemetery and Crematorium Management. 


Members were reminded of the advertising of a Business Administration Apprentice position and noted that 8 applicants were shortlisted, 2 attended interview and the successful candidate had commenced their apprenticeship on 10 September 2018 and was settling in well.


Councillors were asked to recall the agreement at the January meeting to provide wi-fi connectivity to the Crematorium, with the Bereavement Services Manager noting that it had been established that several access points would be required to cover the facility.  He added that he was awaiting an installation date and that works would be carried out on a weekend.


The Bereavement Services Manager explained as regards the Durham “Heritage Open Days” programme and reminded Members of the Crematorium’s involvement over the last few years.  He added that the between 13-18 September the Crematorium was open to the public for a behind the scenes look at the work undertaken and 60 visitors had attended over period with good feedback received from the public.


In respect of the Recycling of Metals Scheme, Councillors noted that a cheque in the sum of £5,000 had been presented by the Chairman and Vice-Chairman to Cruse Bereavement Care. 


It was added that in 2017/18 the scheme nationally had produced a surplus and a nomination for Solan Connor Fawcett Family Cancer Trust had been put forward and a cheque in the sum of £5,000 had been received from the Institute of Cemetery and Crematorium Management.  It was noted that arrangements would be made with the Chairman and Vice-Chairman for a presentation to the charity.


The Bereavement Services Manager referred Members to previous audit recommendations in terms of the Book of Remembrance; document retention and the donation box.  It was noted that a specification for a tender in respect of the Book of Remembrance had been produced, and the possibility of being able to scan documents into the Crematorium’s BACAS system would be explored.  Members noted that in terms of the donation box, following the recommendation from Audit, Members were asked if they would wish for: the donation box to remain, and the funds to be for the maintenance of the memorial garden; the donation box to remain, and the funds paid to a nominated charity; or the donation box be removed to avoid any confusion on the part of members of the public.


The Bereavement Services Manager referred Members to the Service Asset Management Plan (SAMP) appended to the report which set out a number of proposed works, set out by priority: priority 1; priority 2; priority 3; and longer term works.  Members noted some of the works included relining of the hearths and cremators, improvements to the roadway layout and re-decoration works.


The Chairman thanked the Bereavement Services Manager and asked for the Joint Committee’s comments on the issue of the donation box.


The Vice-Chairman noted that the box did have signage stating it was for the purpose of the memorial garden and if changed there could be some confusion or lack of continuity for those that have donated.  The Bereavement Services Manager noted that there was a separate donation box for any charity nominated by a family for a service.  Town Councillor A Lamb asked if the issue had come to light through complaints or simply from an Audit recommendation.  It was noted that it was not from a complaint, the issue having been raised by Internal Audit.  The Audit and Fraud Manager, Resources, Stephen Carter explained that it had been raised as an issue prior to signage that clarified the purpose of the donation box.  The Head of Finance and Transactional Services noted that in financial terms any decision would not have a significant impact upon the Crematorium budget.


The Chairman noted the Joint Committee wished for the first option, and Members unanimously agreed.  


Councillor D Brown asked in relation to a service that had been cancelled, the Bereavement Services Manager noted it had not been an issue in terms of Durham Crematorium and the Crematorium had only been advised of the cancellation 30 minutes beforehand.





The Vice-Chairman asked if the increased number of cremations had an impact in terms of the pace of maintenance for the cremators themselves.  The Head of Finance and Transactional Services noted that this was not an issue for the SAMP as such, and the Bereavement Services Manager noted that as the cremators were serviced twice annually and issues would be identified through that process.




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

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

(iii)           That the appointment of the new Apprentice be noted.

(iv)           That the updated position in respect of the wi-fi connectivity be noted.

(v)            That the involvement of Durham Crematorium in the Durham Heritage Open Days programme be noted.

(vi)           That updated position with regards the Recycling of Metals Scheme be           noted.

(vii)         That the updated position in relation to procurement for entries in the Book of                   Remembrance be noted.

(viii)        That the updated position in relation to the procurement exercise relating to       document retention be noted.

(ix)           That Option 1 be agreed in relation to the donation box, with the donation                 box to be retained and monies to be paid into the Crematorium’s accounts to          support the maintenance of the Gardens or Remembrance.

(x)            That the Service Asset Management Plan be approved and factored into           budget planning in 2019/20 and beyond.


Supporting documents:


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