'Wrong time' to be upping funeral charges in aftermath of pandemic, say councillors

A date has been set for a challenge to proposed price increases for cremations and burials in Scarborough to be heard.

Wednesday, 2nd September 2020, 11:49 am
Updated Wednesday, 2nd September 2020, 11:52 am
Woodlands Crematorium

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

The councillors called in the decision, taken in July, by cabinet member Cllr Tony Randerson to implement the changes and a date has now been set for the challenge to take place.

The council’s Overview and Scrutiny Board will meet on Wednesday next week to hear the call-in.

The board has the power to ask that the decision be looked at again if it agrees with the councillors.

The call-in is being led by Conservative Cllr Roberta Swiers and members two of her 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.

In a report prepared for Cllr Randerson to approve the changes, Scarborough Council said 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 is 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.

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