There’s is a “real risk” that York’s crematorium could close for more than three months if upgrade works do not go ahead, according to a council report.
Two cremators are set to be replaced at a cost of £500,000 and a further £250,000 will go towards creating a better crematorium waiting room under City of York Council capital budget plans.
The documents say there could be “catastrophic consequences” if ongoing problems at the facility in Bishopthorpe are not resolved and it leads to the site temporarily closing.
The report, prepared for senior councillors, says:
There have been ongoing issues with the existing cremators which were so serious that at the end of 2017, the crematorium closed for 10 days causing serious issues for all residents and local funeral directors.
Many of the problems remain unresolved despite working with the provider to try and resolve them.
There is a real risk that the facility may be lost for a longer period of time possibly in excess of three months which could have catastrophic consequences for the city.
There are also ongoing health and safety risks for both staff and visitors.
York funeral director Hayley Owen welcomed the news and said the upgrades would be good for mourners and for the people who work at the crematorium.
She said: “A waiting room would be a great help. You can get big funerals with a lot of people and not everybody knows where they are going, I see families panicking about where to go.”
She added that it would be a “nightmare” if the crematorium had to close for as long as three months, saying: “Families want their loved ones to be cremated in York if that is where they have always lived.
“It’s great that the council is putting money into the crematorium, it will ease the pressure for staff and make everything work better.”
The report says a new waiting room would create a “more tranquil” setting for visitors and adds: “The current facilities for visitors are limited with only a small and inadequate waiting area that is not in keeping with the purpose of the facilities.
“The effect of this is that it has little if any use, with guests preferring to gather under the front portico. This is not really appropriate.”
In 2017 some bereaved families had to travel as far away as Hull, Bradford or Middlesbrough for their loved ones’ funerals following “significant maintenance issues” at York Crematorium.
At the time the number of cremations was cut to five a day throughout December and January, less than half the daily average of 10 to 12.
Pauline Stuchfield, assistant director for customer services at the council, said:
This money would be spent on improving facilities for visitors and staff at the crematorium and ensure we can continue to provide the services families want for their loved ones.
“Whilst the initial issues which impacted the crematorium in 2017 have been resolved, we have been closely monitoring the situation and are aware of potential risks which, whilst not affecting services currently, need to be resolved on a permanent basis.