Report of the Bereavement Services Manager and Registrar.
The Joint Committee considered a report of the Bereavement Services Manager and Registrar which provided Members with an update relating to performance and other operational matters (for copy see file of minutes).
The Bereavement Services Manager and Registrar reported that there were 596 cremations undertaken during the period 1 June 2022 to 31 August 2022, compared to 512 in the comparable period last year, an increase of 84 cremations for the period. It was noted that 177 families were from Durham, 26 from Spennymoor and 393 families were from other areas. The number and value of memorial plaques sold were 76 / £21,284 compared to 94 / £24,999 in the comparable period last year, a decrease of 18 memorials and £3,715 in income.
It was confirmed that the staff restructure process had been completed and appointments had been made, however, a Crematorium Attendant position had recently become vacant and was in the process of being advertised.
Referring to the Recycling of Metals Scheme, it was reported that extra funds from collections in 2021 had resulted in a second round of nominations being made available. The Chair presented Daft as A Brush Cancer Patient Care with a cheque for £12,000 on 23 August 2022.
It was noted that Durham Crematorium was successful in obtaining the Green Flag Award for the eleventh year running, which was a great achievement and testimony to the dedication of the staff, as well as the award of Gold Star Status in the Institute of Cemetery and Crematorium Management Accreditation.
The Heritage Open Weekend that was held from 15 to 18 September 2022 had been very successful and positive feedback had been received. It was confirmed that the new crematorium gates had now been fitted and Members were invited to call in and have a look around.
Referring to electricity generation, installation quotations from specialist contractors indicated an expected cost of between £400,000 to £500,000 for Durham Crematorium. The estimated payback period would be in excess of 40 years, therefore, the Construction Consultancy services section would not recommend this type of system. Further consultation would be ongoing with regards to options. It was noted that recommendations had been made to install fans and heat recovery systems to some areas around the building to help reduce internal air temperatures and provide adequate mechanical ventilation at a cost of £83,874, which would be incorporated within the 2023/24 capital budget.
The Service Asset Management Plan was split into four priorities of maintenance needs and included all the completed and planned
crematorium improvement works. Priority 1 essential works, had been estimated at £93,049 which would be considered as part of the budget setting process for 2023/24. Priority 2 works, would feature in 2024/25 budget plans had been estimated at £1,614,730. Priority 3 works, would fall beyond the next two years had been estimated at £96,000, with longer term works costed at £544,000.
The Chair attended the Institute of Cemetery and Crematorium Management (ICCM) Conference and noted that the Recycling of Metals Scheme had contributed over £15 million to charities. The Bereavement Services Manager and Registrar added that the ICCM were looking at the request to review the value of money awarded to allow more charities to benefit from the scheme. Councillor S Quinn praised the scheme which makes an amazing difference to charitable organisations in the community.
Responding to a query from Councillor D Brown regarding the Heritage Weekend, the Crematorium Site Manager advised that the turnout was not as good as previous years, however the feedback received was excellent and the tours were well received by the community.
(i) That the report be noted;
(ii) That the current position with regards to electric generation be noted and funding for ventilation works be agreed;
(iii) That the content of the Service Asset Management Plan attached at Appendix 5 be agreed and factored into budget planning for 2023/24 and beyond.