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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 2018 to 31 December 2018 and the comparison to the same period for 2017, highlighting that there was a net increase of 22 cremations year on year.  It was noted there was a total of 756 for the three month period with the September to December profile breakdown showing 252 from Durham, 34 from Spennymoor and 470 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, however, revenue was slightly increased, £558 greater than the comparable period last year.


The Bereavement Services Manager noted that Members may have been aware of the sad passing of one of the Crematorium Attendants, Mr John Willis on 10 December 2018.  Members noted Mr Willis had been employed by the Council since 1978 and had worked at the Crematorium since 1998.  Members noted their respect for Mr Willis.  The Bereavement Services Manager explained that an advertisement in respect of the vacancy would be placed internally within Durham County Council and Spennymoor Town Council initially.


The Bereavement Services Manager asked Members to recall that the Joint Committee agreed at its meeting in January 2018 to provide wifi connectivity at the Crematorium following several requests from members of the public, funeral directors and clergy.  It was explained that it had been determined that there was a requirement for several access points in order to provide connectivity and while it had been envisaged that the works would have been completed prior to Christmas, due to the availability of contractors this had not been possible.  It was added that the works were now taking place and would completed by the end of the week.


Councillors were asked to recall that at the September meeting it had been 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 that an application would be submitted for the 2019 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 Solan Connor Fawcett Cancer Trust.  It was added that arrangements had been made for the Chairman and Vice-Chairman to present the cheque and a photograph of the presentation was included in the report at Appendix 3.  It was explained that nationally the recycling of metals scheme had again produced a surplus and it was explained that the Great North Air Ambulance had been selected for the next available distribution of surplus and that this nomination had been submitted, the Bereavement Services Manager having recently received a cheque for £7,000. 


Councillors noted the outcome from an Internal Audit report earlier in the year that had noted that entries in the Book of Remembrance had been completed by a single supplier, due to the specialist nature of the work.  Members noted that, following internal Audit recommendations, a tender document had been drawn up by the Council’s Procurement Team which would soon be advertised via the Procurement Portal.


The Bereavement Services Manager explained that another issue highlighted by Internal Audit was document retention.  It was noted Internal Audit had acknowledged the existing paper records and the requirement to retain these for 15 years, however, Internal Audit had recommended to scan copies and only retain hard copies for one year.  Members noted that an exercise was undertaken to look at how the scans could be linked to the BACAS system used by the Crematorium in order to retain the records electronically.  It was noted that from the exercise, and looking at historic records, four options had been developed.  It was explained that option one looked to scan all records, with the necessary retention of paper copies and disposal where appropriate.  Members noted other options were: option two, scanning with a different provider; option three, secure storage with supplier one; and option four, secure storage as per option three, though with all records from 2018/19 being scanned annually at the end of each financial year.  Members were given information on each option, including estimated costs and noted the recommendation from Officers was for option four.


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.




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

(ii)             That the advertising of the vacant Crematorium Attendant post be noted.

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

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

(v)            That the updated position with regards to the Book of Remembrance tender                     be noted.

(vi)           That the Joint Committee agree to Option Four in respect of document           retention moving forward.

(vii)         That the provision of a Christmas tree by St. Cuthbert’s Hospice in 2019 be      approved.


Supporting documents:


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