Venue: Virtual meeting via Zoom
Apologies for Absence
There were no Apologies.
(a) Matters Arising
i. that the minutes of the meeting held on 6th November 2020 (previously circulated) be approved as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.
ii. (ii) Matters Arising – There were no matters arising
The Chairman and Committee expressed thanks to the Crematorium Manager and staff for their continued work during the current difficult times.
Declarations of Interest.
There were no declarations of interest declared.
Report by the Crematorium Manager (attached)
The Joint Committee considered a report by the Crematorium Manager (previously circulated).
i) Covid Crisis Update
It was noted:
That the number of mourners permitted remained at 30, unchanged by the lockdown. Post-funeral events were now limited to 6 people (from 15).
The crematorium although extremely busy has continued to operate without the need for any measures to provide additional service times. Since the end of November there had been 29 deaths that had listed Covid as the primary cause of death.
ii) Competition & Markets Authority (CMA) Funerals Market Investigation.
It was noted that the CMA had produced their final report regarding both funeral directors and crematoria. The report stated that local authority crematoria fees were higher than should be expected (£80-£170) due to an average 6% increase over the last 10 years. Privately run crematoria fees were higher still.
The annual review of surrounding crematoria’s pricing demonstrated that, despite significant upgrading of facilities, North Devon’s fees were about £285 lower than nearby privately run crematoria and over £100 lower than the nearest local authority Crematorium (no organist).
The report encouraged Local Authorities to enter into a tendering process with local funeral providers to offer a fixed (reduced) cost funeral service.
The Crematorium Manager stated that he would investigate the tendering process and whether it could be undertaken on a Crematorium basis only on behalf of both authorities or whether each authority would have to undertake its own tendering process.
That the Car park had been re-covered in new stone and the bulk materials area cleared.
iv) Metals Recycling Charity Award
That Clarity had been awarded £10,000 (paid direct December 2020). The ‘formal cheque presentation’ had not yet taken place.
The Calvert Trust (Exmoor) had been proposed for the next award (due June 2021).
Subsequent nomination list:
Over and Above (Cancer & Wellbeing Centre)
Families in Grief
North Devon Children’s Holiday Foundation
North Devon Hospice
Children’s Hospice SW
Over and Above (North Devon Hospital – Maternity Unit Bereavement Suite)
No further additions to be considered prior to February 2022.
v) Crematorium Figures
The Cremation figures were noted.
vi) Garden Improvements 2020/21
It was noted:
That the Path work’s, half the hedge had been removed and fencing had been completed.
That the following had been ordered: ground preparation & metal supports for the ‘sail’ weather protection outside Rowan Chapel.
That the following had not yet been ordered: Remainder hedge works, sails, new hedges. It is anticipated these will be ordered shortly.
That the Lead Gardener has had some serious personal issues, which had put pressure on the gardening team and therefore a limited programme of
improvements (linking resin paths, bulk material area fence and hedge replacement work’s) was proposed for 2021/22.
It was agreed that a card be sent to the Lead Gardener on behalf of the joint committee expressing the Committee’s thoughts at this very difficult time.
vii) Larkbear Development – Traffic Management
It was noted that the Traffic order was being drafted to ... view the full minutes text for item 34.
Report by Treasurer (attached)
The Joint Committee considered and noted a report by the Treasurer (previously circulated) regarding the performance for Quarter 3 April to December 2020/2021.
Report by Treasurer (attached)
Councillor Pennington expressed concern at the proposed Cremation fee increase especially in view of the CMA report which stated that that fees were higher than expected, as a result of an average 6% increase over the last 10 years. Last year the Cremation fee was increased from £680 to £715 and a further increase this year to £730 represented a 7% increase.
The Crematorium Manager stated that last year’s increase included the charge for a casket that had previously been charged separately. The actual Cremation Fee increase was in line with inflation. The CMA report suggested that the increase was 6% each year.
The Chairman stated that the Cremation fee was significantly lower than any other Crematoria in the region.
Councillor Christie stated that whilst figures were compared with other areas Torridge had the lowest wages In England and North Devon had two areas of deprivation. North Devon and Torridge were not rich areas, and he was unsure that we should just look to compare charges with other areas and any increase, could have an effect, on people. He would like to re-look at the Cremation fee in the future.
RESOLVED that on consideration of a report by the Treasurer (previously circulated) regarding the budget, and charges 2021/2022.
(i) That the basic Cremation charge for 2021/22 of £730 be approved as detailed in paragraph 6.1 of the report
(ii) That the 2021/22 budget as set out in paragraph 3 of the report be approved.
(iii)That the fees and charges for 2021/22 as detailed in paragraph 6.2 and appendix 2 be approved.
(iv)That the distribution of surpluses for 2020/21 of £347,680 to the constituent authorities: £208,608 to North Devon Council and £139,072 to Torridge District Council be approve.
(v) That the transfer of £95,480 to the Equipment Replacement Reserve be approved
To note that the next virtual Crematorium Joint Committee meeting will be on Friday 11th June 2021 @ 2.30 p.m.
It was noted that the next meeting would be on Friday 11th June 2021 @ 2.30 p.m.