Crematorium upgrade would cost one million

By Rob George 15/06 Updated: 15/06 09:09

COUNCIL chiefs could face a £1million bill to improve Worcester’s crematorium because of new Government guidelines, according to a review of the service.

At a meeting of the city council’s scrutiny committee on Tuesday (June 12), councillors also heard the cost of cremations could rise by as much as £50 later this year due to the tax on mercury emissions produced by crematoriums.

The material was previously used in tooth fillings and joint replacements and Worcester’s crematorium could be hit hard by the tax because the Astwood Road site has not installed mercury filters.

Fitting such equipment would lead to the seven-figure bill but is worth considering according to David Martin, the city council’s service manager for Cleaner and Greener City.

He told councillors that was one of the options being taken forward as part of the review, while other options include small improvements such as building a café or potentially selling the crematorium to a private company.

Mr Martin said a private firm who specialised in running crematoriums had expressed interest in buying the site, but added no decisions had been taken on the way forward.

The city has the busiest crematorium in a 50-mile radius according to figures released by Mr Martin with 2,021 services in 2010, well ahead of the next popular site in Cheltenham, 42 miles away.

Councillors were told there was potential for yearly cremations at the venue to rise beyond 2,200 and 67 per cent of cremations come from outside the city.

Many of its 86,000 annual visitors rated the service as ‘good’ or ‘very good’ and said there had been a ‘real improvement’ in the service over the past 18 months.

Coun Liz Smith (Lib Dem, Claines), said: “It does seem to me that for us to make a decision on whether to spend money on improvements we need to have some realistic estimates of what the impact of the new facilities would be.

“If we did make an investment, we would need to know how much cremations would increase or how much they would go potentially go down.”

A further report will be prepared and discussed by members of the council’s cabinet later this year.

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