Crematorium services return to one-hour following cost row

Inverclyde Council chiefs came under fire after cutting Greenock Crematorium services to 30 minutes while charging the same fee.

Crematorium services return to one-hour following cost row Pixabay

Full one-hour services at Greenock Crematorium are to resume from Monday.

Inverclyde Council chiefs came under fire from residents on social media after cutting cremation services to 30 minutes last month while charging the same £722.20 fee.

However, Municipal Buildings bosses have now said they are in a position to return services to their normal length due to a reduction in demand for emergency service provision.

Councillor Graeme Brooks said he was relieved to hear grieving families and staff running the services would now have more space to pay fitting tributes to loved ones lost.

“While we are still keeping services to a limited number of mourners, this extension of service length will allow families more time to grieve and conduct a formal departure,” said councillor Brooks, who sits on the council’s policy and resources executive sub-committee.

“I also think it’s important to relieve the pressure for the people who are working at these services.

“The undertaker industry, for example, is a service we often take for granted. For those staff to manage a 30-minute service is a lot of pressure and I’d like to pay my respects to them.”

The decision to resume one-hour services was revealed in papers presented to the sub-committee, which is due to meet and discuss the latest on the council’s Covid-19 response on Tuesday.

The council previously defended its decision to cut services by half, explaining it was necessary due to “increased demand”.

Bosses also said part of the reason services were usually an hour long was to allow plenty of time for changeovers, but since the Scottish Government was advising numbers of mourners should be kept to a minimum, less time was required for this.

However, grieving families have been given permission to record and share funeral services from the crematorium.

A council spokesman said: “Council staff have done a terrific job maintaining vital frontline services during extremely challenging times.

“Some services have had to be altered in light of the ongoing public health emergency, particularly due to severe staff shortages, which has been experienced by local authorities across the country.

“In Inverclyde, the absence rate peaked at almost 20% – a fifth of the council workforce – since lockdown for a variety of reasons such as having to self-isolate, shield, illness or having caring responsibilities. 

“Departments such as waste management and facilities, in particular, have been badly affected with around a quarter of staff forced to stay off work.

“This has resulted in services having to be prioritised and staff redeployed elsewhere to continue delivering vital frontline services to support our communities.

“Staff are working tirelessly towards returning all other services to full capacity as quickly as possible in accordance with Government safety advice, including social-distancing, to protect the health and wellbeing of the public and employees.”

By Local Democracy Reporter Stephanie Brawn

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