Agenda and minutes

North East Surrey Crematorium Board
Tuesday, 8th December, 2020 10.00 am

Venue: Civic Offices, St Nicholas Way, Sutton, SM1 1EA

Contact: Sharon Major, Clerk to the Board  Tel: 020 8770 4990, Email:  committee.services@sutton.gov.uk

Media

Items
No. Item

15.

Apologies for absence

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillor Jean Crossby from London Borough of Sutton, Councillor Vincent Galligan attended as substitute.

16.

Declarations of Interest

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest.

17.

Minutes of the last meeting pdf icon PDF 102 KB

To approve as a correct record the Minutes of the meeting held on 8 September 2020.

Minutes:

The Minutes of the meeting on 8 September were agreed as a correct record.

18.

Report of the Surveyor pdf icon PDF 51 KB

This report is to provide an update to the board on activities in the quarter to December 2020 relating to the management agreement between North East Surrey Crematorium Board (NESCB) and Wandsworth Council. The day to day management responsibilities are carried out on behalf of the Council by Enable Leisure and Culture.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The report was presented by Clive Andrews, the Surveyor to the Board. He provided an update on activities in the quarter to December 2020 relating to the management agreement between North East Surrey Crematorium Board (NESCB) and Wandsworth Council. The key point was that the estimated number of cremations had increased from1950 to 2300 for the year.

 

10.08 Councillor Terry Walsh joined the meeting.

 

Members expressed their thanks to staff for all the work they had done in recent months during this busy period relating to the pandemic. Following Member questions it was confirmed staff had been recognised financially for the additional workload.  The Board also wished to thank Mr Hume, the crematorium manager, for all his years of service and passed on their best wishes for his retirement. It was confirmed that recruitment for that role started in November, interviews will start next week.

 

The Surveyor provided a further update on the Ashes Lawn project. He confirmed that there was now an established drainage plan and that all associated arboricultural work had been completed. Members raised a number of queries regarding drainage and the officer responded accordingly and confirmed that he would update the Board further as this matter progresses. Members were advised that in respect of the Display Energy Certificate completed in December the Surveyor had challenged results. It was confirmed that the essence of the energy certificate is the amount of energy used rather than how efficiently the crematorium use the energy.  Members were advised that year on year gas costs have declined as the crematorium was using less fossil fuel.

 

In respect of the World War 2 memorial Members asked if the design of the memorial could be improved. The Surveyor commented that it had not been considered as it is recorded as a war memorial in its current design. He confirmed he would speak with conservation officers to understand if this can be improved and will report back in due course.

 

RESOLVED that:

2.1 Grant of prior approval before the works take place to the World War 2 Civilian War Casualties of Battersea Memorial as detailed in paragraph 3.38 be agreed.

 

2.2 The report as an overview of the Surveyors findings for the management of the crematorium for the past three months (October - December 2020) be noted.

 

19.

Report of the Treasurer pdf icon PDF 72 KB

This report is provided to allow the Board to consider proposals on Fees and Charges, the Management Agreement Annual Budget, the Board’s Annual Budget and the Distribution of Surplus Balances and to provide an update on the work of the External Auditors in relation to the Annual Governance and Accountability Return for the Year Ended 31 March 2020.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The report was presented by Mark Davies, Treasurer to the Board. He provided an update to allow the Board to consider proposals on Fees and Charges, the Management Agreement Annual Budget, the Board’s Annual Budget and the Distribution of Surplus Balances and to provide an update on the work of the External Auditors in relation to the Annual Governance and Accountability Return for the Year Ended 31 March 2020. 

 

The Treasurer confirmed that 85% of income is derived from cremation fees and that out of 308 crematorium based on 2020 stats the cremation fees charged by NESCB are the 302nd lowest in the country. In debate Members commented they welcomed the news that fees could be retained at the same level rather than applying an inflationary increase.

 

In respect of Appendix B Members were reminded that the increase in budget was due to the additional costs of decisions taken during the COVID-19 Pandemic and also due to a backlog bill for water charges. Finally Members were advised that the gas budget was reduced due to drop in wholesale gas prices.

 

In respect of Appendix C Members were presented with proposals for the Board’s annual budget. No queries were raised.

 

In respect of Appendix D, the distribution of surplus balances to constituent authorities for 2020/21, due to the increased demand it was highlighted that the Board may distribute an additional £200k this year compared to last as shown in Paragraph 11 of the report.

Councillor Henderson commented that he welcomed the ability to freeze fees at the current level and asked in light of financial outcome if the introduction of a discretionary hardship fund could be considered to help residents cover the cost of cremation fees. The Treasurer responded that a high percentage of cost for residents were in respect of Funeral Directors fees and the crematorium fee was a relatively small part of that and also confirmed there was already a financial hardship government scheme in place to support residents in need. He further commented that NESCB charges are still one of cheapest in the county, and the early morning slot before 9.30am was charged at half the price at £303. He highlighted that the administration costs of any scheme could be costly, and that the Board would need to agree a set of criteria to run a separate discretionary hardship scheme. The Treasurer suggested if each authority wanted to set up a scheme of that nature they could do that individually within each Council and it would be for each Council to look at their priorities and decide if they want to use their distribution in that way in light of other spending pressures. 

Other Members commented that as Local Authorities are struggling to support their own services they would welcome that higher distribution. Members also commented that the function of NESCB as a crematorium was to deal with cremations and this would be a completely different skill set to administer a separate discretionary hardship fund. It was pointed  ...  view the full minutes text for item 19.

20.

Date of next meeting and proposed meeting dates for 2021

At the December meeting each year the dates for the quarterly meetings for the following year which are usually held in March, June September and December are agreed.

 

The following dates are proposed:

Tuesday 9 March 2021,  Tuesday 22 June 2021,  Tuesday 7 September 2021, Tuesday 7 December 2020.

 

Minutes:

The Board were advised that at the December meeting each year the dates for the quarterly meetings for the following year were proposed.

 

  RESOLVED That: The following dates be agreed for the meetings in 2021

  Tuesday 9 March 2021, Tuesday 22 June 2021, Tuesday 7 September      2021, Tuesday 7 December 2020.

 

21.

Any urgent items brought forward at the discretion of the Chair

To consider any items which, in the view of the Chair, should be dealt with as a matter of urgency because of special circumstances in accordance with S100B(4) of the Local Government Act 1972.

Minutes:

Chair recognised the exceptional commitment and resolve shown in the last year and wanted to record her thanks and that of the Board to all staff.