A group of seven Wellingborough councillors has been assigned the task of looking at the possibility of building a crematorium in the town.
The group will meet for the first time within the next month to begin a feasibility study looking at everything from where a crematorium could be built to how it could be run.
The council first began talking about the project in September last year and has done a considerable amount of research on the subject since then. Members of the authority's resources committee recently made a trip to Sandwell Valley Crematorium in the West Midlands to find out more about what's involved. Sandwell Valley is a newly-opened council-owned site and gave the councillors a chance to understand more about the opportunities and risks involved in providing a similar service in Wellingborough.
As well as discussing the building, services and location of a possible crematorium, the councillors' feasibility study would look in detail at the finances, including running costs and local demand for the facility. At the moment most people in the borough are buried, but across the country around 73% of deaths result in cremation. The study would aim to find out if there is a similar demand in Wellingborough if cremation was offered.
The project could cost in the region of £3 million, which would be funded out of the council's capital reserves. This is money saved in the bank for large projects, but it's money that can't by law be used for day to day running of council services and is used instead for large community projects that can bring long-term benefits to local people. It is hoped the study would take no more than a few months and a report of the councillors' findings would be presented to the development committee later in the summer.
Cllr Paul Bell, leader of the council said: "This is a huge project and not something we can jump into without a lot of research. The trip to Sandwell Valley was very useful and gave us some good ideas about how to build a well designed and equipped facility. Now we need to look at whether or not these ideas could work in Wellingborough. We have a lot to consider, as not only do we have to find a site, we also have to look at the equipment and technology, how it would be staffed and managed, what the governance arrangements would be, and we also have to come up with long term financial plans, including looking at nearby competition, estimated death rates and so on. We also have to consider the project management and the actual construction. This all takes time and we want to get it right. From our initial research we believe there is a need for a crematorium in the borough and local funeral directors support the view that it could be a valuable community facility. The feasibility study is the next step in this project and I look forward to the findings."