Agenda item



A meeting of the above Committee will be held at the Crematorium, Barnstaple on FRIDAY 22nd JUNE 2018 AT 2.30 p.m.


Members:         Representing North Devon Council


Councillors Mrs Barker, Edgell, Jones, Lane, Luggar, Moores and Yabsley (Chairman).


                        Representing Torridge District Council


Councillors Dezart, A. Inch, S Inch, Langmead (Vice Chairman) and Pennington.





1.         Appointment of Chairman 2018/19 (North Devon Council Member)


2.         Apologies for Absence.


3.         Appointment of Vice Chairman 2018/19 (Torridge DC Member)


4.                     To approve as a correct record the minutes of the meeting held on 9th February 2018           (attached).


            (a)        Matters Arising


5.         Items brought forward which, in the opinion of the Chairman, should be considered by the meeting as a matter of urgency.


6.         Declarations of Interest.


7.         To agree the agenda between Part ‘A’ and Part ‘B’ (Confidential Restricted Information).




8.         Crematorium Matters. Report by the Crematorium Manager (attached)


9.         Outturn 2017/18. Report by Treasurer (attached)



PART ‘B’ (Confidential/Restricted Information)





NOTE:  Local Government (Access to Information) Act 1985


In addition to any document specifically mentioned, reports included in this Agenda will have been prepared with reference to any or all of the following:


1.         All relevant statutory provisions.

2.         All relevant Government circulars and ministerial advice.

3.         All relevant adopted policies of the Council.

4.         Capital Works Programme.

5.         Current Estimates.

6.         Standing Orders

7.         Consultants’ opinion and advice.

8.         Published works relevant to the subject of the report.













Minutes of a meeting of the NORTH DEVON CREMATORIUM JOINT COMMITTEE held at the Crematorium, Barnstaple on Friday 22nd June 2018 at 2.30 p.m.


Present:         Representing North Devon District Council


Councillors Edgell, Jones, Lane and Yabsley (Chairman)


                        Representing Torridge District Council


Councillors Dezart, S.Inch, Langmead (Vice Chairman) and Pennington.




Head of Operational Services, Crematorium Manager, Secretary and Accountant




RESOLVED, that Councillor Yabsley be appointed Chairman of the Joint Committee until re-appointments are made in the next municipal year.


The Chairman welcomed Ricky McCormack, Head of Operational Services to his first meeting of the Joint Committee.


The Joint Committee recorded its thanks to Martin Williams, who had recently retired, for his support to the Joint Committee over a number of years and wished him well for the future.


It was agreed that a letter of thanks be sent to Mr Williams


(b)       APOLOGIES


Apologies were received from Councillors T. Inch and Moores and S.Hearse (Treasurer)




RESOLVED, that Councillor Langmead be appointed Vice Chairman of the Joint Committee until re-appointments are made in the next municipal year.


(d)       MINUTES


(i)         RESOLVED that the minutes of the meeting held on 9th February 2018      (previously circulated) be approved as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.


(ii)        Matters Arising

            (A)       Aspen Chapel

            Councillor Edgell asked why there had been an increase in the costs        for the refurbishment of the Aspen Chapel.

            The Accountant stated that the majority of the increase was for VAT            together with building control fees that had not been included in the costings and an increase in the contingencies.




There were no declarations of interest announced.




The Joint Committee considered a report by the Crematorium Manager (previously circulated).


i)          Achievements


It was noted:


A)        That the covered walkway at the rear of the crematory was very industrial and      dark and that new lighting and roof treatment/wall panelling had been    installed to improve its appearance.


B)        Flower room – that new floral tribute stands (galvanized steel) had been     installed replacing the original stands which were over 40 years old.


C)        That Phase 1 of a new bench/sanctum area in Authors & Royals had been            installed, it was currently unused but was visually more appealing.


D)        That Signs had been ordered to improve the garden access as requested   at         the previous joint committee meeting. The areas & beds would be colour        coded and linked to new, larger and an increased number of signs.


E)        That following requests from Funeral Director to improve the visibility of     approaching hearses and maintenance issues, the hedge between the two       car-parks was being replaced with a slatted fence.


F)         That the snagging from the Rowan Chapel works had been completed,      including the damaged car-park ramp area.


ii)         Crematorium Figures


The Cremation figures were noted.





iii)        Metals Charity Recycling Award


It was noted:


That the Chairman had presented a cheque for £5,000 to Families in Grief and that North Devon Children’s Holiday Foundation had been nominated for the next award.


iv)        Grounds Improvement Update


It was noted:


A) That the Summerhouse had been installed (part of 2017/2018 garden improvement works).


B) That the Poets (circle) paths had been laid (part of 2017/2018 garden improvement works) and a clear disabled access route through to the summerhouse had been created. Early indications were that even extremely heavy rainfall does not flood the new paths.


The Joint Committee were impressed with the excellent look of the gardens and recorded its thanks to the staff.


v)         Larkbear


It was noted that the developer had been asked to liaise with the crematorium manager regarding the bus gate implementation/options. A change in staff at the developer had delayed the commencement of discussions.


The Crematorium Manager was requested to report feedback from the meeting to NDC Planners and DCC Highways


vi)        Medical Examiner Scheme


It was noted that the authorities planning for the new scheme had been advised to cease any expenditure as the scope and implementation date of the project were now in doubt.


vii)       Refurbishment of Aspen Chapel


It was noted that the specification was being finalised prior to the procurement process. Early indications suggested a start date early in September with an 8-10 week programme.


In response to a question regarding demand at that time of the year the Crematorium Manager stated that he would have a contingency plan in place if required.




viii)      Over-Run Penalty


It was noted that the over-run penalty charge had attracted some press attention recently following a recent service where the charge was applied.


The penalty was introduced in May 2013 with the agreement of the Committee, to address the frequent over-runs/delayed service.

The charge was a Funeral Director fee, not a charge to a family. Most Funeral Directors absorbed the fee, recognising their responsibility for the conduct of the service, whilst some passed it on.

When the charge was implemented a time buffer was also introduced of 10-minutes between services, so services were 40-minutes apart rather than 30-minutes as previously. The 10- minutes allowed for staff to clear flowers, remove and check the coffin, clean the chapel, re-arrange chairs, remove/place service sheets, prepare specific requests, discuss updates and possibly move to a different chapel. Even where there was no following service many of these tasks needed completing and staff may have had other duties/appointments or refreshment breaks.

The service in question had nearly 250 mourners, a lengthy video tribute and other material. A double service time was available and could have been taken, even at the last minute. Staff accommodated a 4-minute early start but the service still ran over by 7 minutes (11 minutes additional time in total). The decision not to book a double-service seemed at odds with the availability and content/mourner numbers.

Hundreds of services run over the thirty minutes every year without consideration of any penalty. Staff work very hard to ‘turn-round’ the chapels and these incidents do not affect the following service. Hundreds of services are also facilitated to start early.

The penalty had been extremely successful in addressing the number of significant over-runs. In the last year only 16 services over-ran by more than 5-minutes (the trigger for consideration of the penalty charge). In these cases personal contact is always made with the funeral director seeking any representations to waive the fee. As a result, 9 resulted in the charge being waived.


The Joint Committee agreed the action taken by the Crematorium Manager


ix)        Competition & Markets Authority Investigation – Cost of Cremation


It was noted that the Government had recently launched an investigation into the cost of funerals and in particular the cost of a cremation in view of wide national and local variances. A recent Cremation Society of Great Britain publication (using Jan 2018 data) showed that of the 291 crematoria listed nationally 254 had higher fees than North Devon. A comparison of all Devon

Crematoria revealed that our fees were between £235 - £359 lower. It was also noted that the Rowan Chapel was the largest in England by a significant margin, demonstrating the quality of facilities and value of our service.




x)         Additional Cremation Service Options


The Crematorium Manager reported that North Devon Crematorium currently offers two levels of cremation service:


· A ‘Full-Service’ at £660. This provides a half-hour service (or 70mins if double-service option booked at an additional £160) with no limits on mourner attendance or content.

· An 8.30am ‘Walk-through Service’ at £560 (a £100 reduction). This provides a 10-minute service where small number of mourners can attend and a piece of music can be played or short eulogies delivered.


He stated that a number of local Funeral Directors had very recently started to offer very low-cost cremations based services (£1200-£1400). Typically these did not allow for any mourner attendance, no service content or burial of ashes at the crematorium. Costs were kept low by use of emailing of documents (allowed since 6th April 2018) and using a single vehicle/driver to transport the deceased.

Indications were that there was a need to keep costs low would result in services being taken to adjacent crematoria who offered a ‘No Mourner’ service at £499. This would result in local families having to travel to visit the burial location of their loved one’s ashes and a loss of services from North Devon.

He further stated that this raised the issue of whether North Devon Crematorium should offer a ‘third option’ where there was no mourner input. It was envisaged that such a service would be conducted at 8.15am at a cost of £499. The coffin would always be accepted only through the Chapel regardless of the option chosen.


It was agreed that consideration of the matter be deferred to the next Joint Committee meeting and that the Crematorium Manager in the interim seek further information regarding demand and intended migration to Exeter.



(g)       OUTTURN  2017/18


The Joint Committee considered a report by the Treasurer (previously circulated) regarding the outturn 2017/18.




(A)       That that the Outturn Report 2017/18 be noted.


(B)       That the reserves and balances outlined in paragraph 3.4 be approved





The meeting ended at 3.30 p.m.