Scarborough Council's increase in cremations and burial fees 'is poorly timed during coronavirus pandemic'

A price increase for cremations and burials in Scarborough is being challenged by a group of borough councillors.

By Carl Gavaghan, Local Democracy Reporting Service
Friday, 7th August 2020, 1:10 pm
Updated Friday, 7th August 2020, 1:12 pm

A mixture of Conservatives and non-affiliated independents on Scarborough Council have called the proposals “poorly timed” as families struggle with the coronavirus pandemic.

The councillors have now called in the decision, taken last month, by cabinet member Cllr Tony Randerson to implement the changes.

The call-in is being led by Conservative Group leader Cllr Derek Bastiman and two members of his party alongside Cluster of Independent Members leader Cllr Bill Chatt and former UKIP Cllr Neil Heritage who now lists himself as having no political affiliation.

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Woodlands crematorium

In a report prepared for Cllr Randerson to approve the changes, Scarborough Council says the new prices will bring in an extra £100,000 to the authority each year.

However, the five councillors say it is the wrong time to be upping prices.

The call-in states: “The proposed price increases are poorly timed, it is completely the wrong time to be increasing costs to local families when we are in the aftermath of a global pandemic.

“Alternative facilities for cremation are available at Octon, their prices have not increased and are more competitive. If prices are increased any further we risk more business heading south to Octon and north to Teesside.”

The Octon facility in Driffield is run by private firm Dignity Funerals.

The call-in also questions some of the individual changes such as why the leases for trees are being shortened from 25 years to 10 years but the price is remaining the same.

Among the price changes is an increase in the cost of a 60-minute cremation service for an adult from £830 to £915.

Purchasing an adult burial site has gone up by £110 to £1,000 for Scarborough residents, while the cost to a non-resident now stands at £1,300, a rise of £80.

The cost of funerals and graves for babies and children has now been reduced to zero where the cost can be claimed back through the Government’s Children’s Funeral Fund, which applies to be those up to 18 years old.

The cost of using media services such as webcasting and getting a copy of the service has also increased slightly.

An environmental charge levied has gone up by £10 to £60 and the cost of using the service chapel, other than during an existing booking, now stands at £200, up £125 on 12 months ago.

A medical referral fee, which had not been changed since 2012, has now increased from £18.50 to £40.

Other prices remain unchanged from 12 months ago.

No date has been set for the call-in to be heard by the authority’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee.

Scarborough Council has been approached for comment.

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