Plans to build a crematorium in Wellingborough took another step forward on Monday night, as members of the council's Overview and Scrutiny Committee agreed that a potential site should be found and public demand assessed.
A group of councillors had been meeting regularly since October last year, looking into the many issues surrounding the building and running of a crematorium. With the help of expert advice, they had discussed issues such as how much it would cost, what facilities would be needed, where it could be situated, and how many employees it would need, as well as strategies to accommodate long-term maintenance and potential changes in law.
Members of the committee reviewed the work of the group and then agreed that the next steps in the process should be taken, with studies being done as soon as possible to find a suitable site. They also recommended that work be carried out with funeral directors to help understand what demand there is for a crematorium in Wellingborough.
Councillor Thomas Pursglove, Chairman of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee said: "Building a crematorium could cost in the region of £2m, which we would fund from our capital reserves -money we have in the bank for large projects but which can't by law be used for day to day running of council services. We keep capital reserves for just this kind of thing, for projects that will bring long-term benefits to the borough. From the research we've done we're certain there is a need for a crematorium and we've already spoken to some undertakers and their response has been very positive. The income from a crematorium would cover the running costs, but this isn't just about money. We're keen to provide a local service that people have told us they want. Figures from a couple of years ago show that 73% of deaths resulted in cremation in the UK.
"We've had a very experienced consultant advising us and he's taken us through the major issues such as the logistics of finding a site and how to sustain stable running of the service, through to things like the importance of offering flexible provision of music, photographs and films, and how to make the surroundings pleasant and with good parking.
"This isn't an easy area to look at, both the subject and the sheer breadth of information we need to consider makes it difficult, but we're pleased we're moving forward with it now. We've still got a long way to go, and the next steps are to visit a newly-opened crematorium in the West Midlands and to carry out a feasibility study, both of which will help everyone involved understand exactly what's needed and what we need to do now."