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Agenda item

Performance and Operational Report

Report of the Bereavement Services Manager and Registrar.


The Bereavement Services Manager and Registrar, Graham Harrison asked Members to note the performance figures from 1 September 2020 to 31 December 2020 and the comparison to the same period for 2019, highlighting that there was a net decrease of 62 cremations year on year.  It was noted there was a total of 735 for the three-month period with the September to December profile breakdown showing 201 from Durham, 29 from Spennymoor and 505 from outside of the area.


The Joint Committee were informed that, in respect of the new lower cost direct cremation option for the period 1 April 2020 and 31 December 2020, the Crematorium had carried out 28 unattended direct cremations and there had been no attended direct cremations.


Members were asked to note that the number of memorials sold had increased slightly in comparison to the same period the previous year, with sales being £6,039 more than the comparable period last year.


The Bereavement Services Manager and Registrar asked Members to note his thanks to all the Crematorium staff for their work during the COVID-19 pandemic, continuing to provide a high level of service to the bereaved and their loved ones.  He added the staff were very experienced and had received specific training relating to the work of the crematoria, both Durham and Mountsett.  He noted that an expression of interest for early retirement / voluntary redundancy had been made and therefore, to ensure that the service had robust contingency and resilience for the future, options for consideration would be presented to the next meeting of the Joint Committee.


Councillors were reminded that it had been noted at the September meeting that for the ninth year running the Crematorium had achieved the Green Flag Award and that an application for the 2021 award had been submitted and progress would be reported back to a future meeting.  It was added that the management plan to maintain the required standards would be updated and any required works would be covered by existing budgets.


In respect of the Recycling of Metals Scheme, it was noted there had been two rounds of surplus nationally in 2020 and a cheque in the sum of £10,000 had been received from the Institute of Cemetery and Crematorium Management for St. Cuthbert’s Hospice. 


It was added that, due to COVID-19, arrangements had been made for the cheque to be passed to St. Cuthbert’s Hospice, without the usual presentation by the Chair and Vice-Chair. 

It was noted a copy of a letter of thanks from St. Cuthbert’s Hospice was included in the report at Appendix 3.  Members were informed that second round of nominations had now been made available and Antenatal Results and Choices had been nominated.


The Bereavement Services Manager and Registrar reminded Members that cleaning at the crematorium was provided by Durham County Council’s Facilities Management team who provided the service by way of a Service Level Agreement (SLA).  It was explained that the two year SLA had expired expired on 31 March 2020, however, due to the cancelled meetings in 2020 as a result of COVID-19 a revised SLA was not reported to the Joint Committee.  He added that a high quality service had continued to be provided and Members were asked to consider and approve a revised SLA, as set out at Appendix 4 of the report, for the period April 2020 to March 2022.


The Joint Committee were informed of a new mandatory inspection scheme operated by the Federation of Burial and Crematorium Authorities (FBCA) to ensure standards of quality were maintained by crematoria.  It was explained there was no additional cost for the inspection, it was included within the annual subscription fee.  The Bereavement Services Manager and Registrar added that an inspection took place on 28 October 2020 and involved scrutinising six separate key areas of service delivery.  He noted the Inspector found the crematorium complied with the key areas of compliance, that there was an excellent level of service provision, and did not feel it necessary to make any recommendations.  It was noted the crematorium achieved a score of 321 out of 325, 99 percent, with a copy of the Inspector’s report attached to the agenda papers at Appendix 5.


The Bereavement Services Manager and Registrar noted that unfortunately, due to COVID-19, St. Cuthbert’s Hospice had been unable to provide a Christmas tree, as it had in previous years, to allow visitors to write a personal message and place it on the Christmas tree with a bauble.  He added that St. Cuthbert’s Hospice had requested that they be allowed to continue to provide a Christmas tree again in 2021, with the Hospice suppling the          tree and decorations at no cost to the Central Durham Crematorium Joint Committee.  It was noted no other requests from other organisations had been received.


The Chair thanked the Bereavement Services Manager and Registrar and asked for comments and questions.


Town Councillor D Ranyard asked if there had been any further progress in respect of the widening of the entrance to the crematorium site. 

The Bereavement Services Manager and Registrar noted revised drawings were being prepared by the Council’s Design Team and it was hoped works would commence in April 2021.


Councillor J Blakey asked as regards deep cleaning and the ongoing situation in respect of the electricity generator.  The Bereavement Services Manager and Registrar noted the issue of deep cleaning, including some carried out by himself, and added the feasibility study regarding the placement of a backup generator had not been progressed as yet due to current COVID-19 situation, however, he would progress as soon as things eased.




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

(ii)        That the current situation with regards to the staffing of the

            Crematorium be noted.

(iii)     That the continued success with regards to the Green Flag

Award be noted.

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

(iv)       That the Service Level Agreement with regards to the cleaning of the crematorium be approved.

(v)        That the compliance scheme report from the Federation of Burial and Crematorium Authorities, following their inspection of the Crematorium, be noted.

(vi)       That St Cuthbert’s Hospice providing a Christmas tree again in 2021 be agreed.


Supporting documents:


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