Clive Andrews introduced the report.
Business level activity was up 3% on the average for the past 5 years, which he believed was due to funeral directors choosing this crematorium as a result of the good facilities offered.
Councillor Michael Ryder asked if cremation had become a preferred and accepted choice for a funeral and Clive Andrews responded to confirm that 72% of people in the UK are cremated the choice could be due to religious reasons or the higher cost of burial. Councillor Philip Jones asked what the cost of a funeral paid for by the Council would be and Clive Andrews responded to confirm that it would be relative to the individual as there would be a review of the person’s assets however would likely cover the cost of the cremation. It was confirmed that a service arranged through social services would cost £267.
Clive Andrews referred the Board to the exempt performance report and noted that the crematorium had met all of its legal and operational requirements. The Merton Environmental Health Officer had also visited in the past quarter and was satisfied with the information received from the crematorium and the procedures in place. He went on to inform the Board that funeral directors will work around the required days for the relaying of the new driveway in August and that they hoped to install the new heating system simultaneously for minimal disruption. The new heating system would allow for waste heated water from the filtration system to be circulated around the heating system, providing both environmental and financial savings.
With regards to financial matters, Clive Andrews reported that following ongoing problems with the CCTV system where the crematorium had paid out lots of money for repairs over the years, it was still not functioning and with the agreement of the Chair it was decided to replace the entire system. Enable had researched prices for a new system and believed that the local company, DS Security, provided the best value for money and so an order would be placed with the intention of working to install that in the coming weeks.
With regards to quality control, Clive Andrews reported that there had been two complaints, one about the retention of ashes and the other about the misspelling of a name. He said that both complainants had a received a letter explaining the circumstances and that no other correspondence had been received. The Chair asked if there was a checking procedure in place for names. Barbara Ward said there was although regrettably on this occasion it was not noticed.
The Board congratulated Barbara Ward, Bereavement Services Manager, who had received a distinction for Cemetery and Crematorium law as part of the Institute of Cemetery and Crematorium Management diploma.
Clive Andrews went on to report that the Wesley music system had been installed, and that a new lectern would be installed which would contain a control board. He added that they could add-on visual equipment to allow customers to display memories as well as music. Barbara Ward confirmed that people do request photographic tributes, videos, and also that there is already a live streaming service via a webcam to share the service with friends and family across the world.
Following a question from Councillor Latif, Simon Ingyon confirmed that should a customer require music that the system doesn’t offer then they would be able to get it uploaded, including culturally diverse requests.
With reference to Appendix C, Item 1, Clive Andrews brought attention to the options that would be available to the crematorium to develop income from their Tradable Mercury Abated Cremations. Following the establishment of a burden sharing agreement with Putney Vale Crematorium, there was a potential to partner with any council in the UK to develop income from their remaining Tradable Mercury Abated Cremations. The burden requires that, between two crematoriums, they can show that they are abating 50% of their emissions. Following a question from Councillor Wingfield, Clive Andrews confirmed that North East Surrey Crematorium was 100% abated.
Barbara Ward informed the Board that she was arranging visits to local funeral directors in late June, The Chair asked Clive Andrews if he would be attending the meetings. He said that although he hadn’t at present been asked he would attend if required. He went on to say that he considered the meetings to be important as the Funeral Directors were the main stakeholders.
Councillor Latif asked for a tour to demonstrate how the heat exchanger works once it is installed and it was agreed that there would be an opportunity for the Board to visit the crematorium after the next Board meeting in September / October.