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Worcester crematorium not for sale

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Worcester crematorium


Worcester City Council is, laudably, not inclined to sell its crematorium to one of those predatory sharks we all know and love so well. The council needs to spend up to £2 million to upgrade it. But read on and see what the jostling sharks are prepared to buy it for. 

Moral: when you’ve done with effing up trying to run a halfway profitable funeral chain, buy crems. The GFG is meeting with venture capitalists tomorrow. Our ceo was last seen browsing a Lear jet catalogue. All aboard the gravy train!

This from the Worcester Standard: 

COUNCIL chiefs have backed proposals to retain ownership of the city’s crematorium but warned prices could increase to fund vital improvement works.

At a meeting on Tuesday (September 11), members of the city council’s cabinet supported an independent report which urged the authority to ignore a potential cash windfall from selling the Astwood Road site.

Three companies had expressed an interest in taking over the crematorium and councillors were told any sale could have raised around £6million.

Full story here

10 comments on “Worcester crematorium not for sale

  1. nigel price

    Sunday 11th November 2012 at 9:46 pm

    I work in a crematorium and can honestly say that eveything we do is with the greatest of integrity and respect for the deceased and indeed their families. If my local authority were to sell out to a corporate concern i would leave as the emphasis would no longer be one of service, but one of profit.
    Typical tory thinking ,the cost of everything,,the value of nothing.

  2. andrew plume

    Tuesday 18th September 2012 at 12:40 pm

    ………and also with ‘Direct Cremation’ figuring fairly often in this blog, surely a not for profit Crem as part of all of this makes, real sense?

    one possibly for Nick Gandon to comment on?



  3. andrew plume

    Tuesday 18th September 2012 at 12:37 pm

    ……what’s needed imo are ‘not for profit Crem’s’ around the Country

    Crem charges are currently (and again imo) way way too high

    all that’s needed is a small facility, with the surplus profits being ploughed back into the business and not used to fund future Corporate acquisitions or to underpin a shortfall in a Local Authority’s finances

    after all, a significant element of the UK population regard Crem’s per se as a faceless repeat industrial kind of process. We should (and I’ve felt this way for many years) move towards more services at a Funeral Home or a Church and then simply waive good bye to the hearse, knowing that the actual Crem costs are much reduced compared to the current levels. I appreciate that only a small percentage of UK F/D’s have their own Service Chapels but it’s the way to go as far as I’m concerned



  4. andrew plume

    Tuesday 18th September 2012 at 12:27 pm

    ah yes indeed, the Corporates using their Crem’s as ‘cash cows’

    by chance, I happened to be reading this heart warming tale earlier today:-

    which features our good friends, Dignity Plc and their over zealous ‘quick out of the blocks attitude’ to flog more of their wares to a family and so very promptly after the service (sic). Not unusual from Dignity who have been very smartish in doing this sort of thing for many years



  5. Sunday 16th September 2012 at 8:50 pm

    Very radical Charles. The idea of a 24hr – 7 day cremation facility is an excellent one.

    This very day, an acquaintance – who works in the waste disposal and recycling business was asking me about building a new local crematorium. Our meeting took place in a very busy M&S car park. This being a Sunday. He thought the always working/24hr model was the way to go for economical and environmental reasons.

    With most crematoria now routinely ‘holding over’ bodies for cremation another day (or two) maybe they are themselves paving the way for a greener – lower cost method of actually disposing of the remains. Time will tell.

  6. Saturday 15th September 2012 at 6:50 pm

    I agree, QG, that some bereavement services are very poor, their crems run by extremely indifferent staff. Some, though, are excellent, and I think we should take heart from them. We can all name at least one that’s brilliantly run. I nominate Redditch and Bramcote. The Worcester staff are lovely, too. When the public service ethos is alive and well it really does take some beating. As you say, accountability is the key. Active user groups are vital. As is proper use of revenue, all of which should be ploughed back. Jonathan, there definitely IS evidence of passion.

    Selling a crem to a conglomerate is to relegate it to the status of cash cow. That’s no way to go.

    Councils used to attach great prestige to owning their own crem, which is why there has never been any rationalisation of incineration arrangements. It’s very inefficient to let your incinerator go cold every night; it makes much better sense to have one incineration plant servicing several crems, active for 24 hrs a day. It has been proposed, but has run foul of local patriotism.

    Even the most brilliantly run crem is inefficient in its use of fuel and abatement equipment. And in terms of user experience, it’s almost impossible to get away from the production line feel, nor the sense that this is a place where grief is quarantined.

    I feel that it’s not who owns them that matters most. Churches don’t have incinerators attached. We need other venues, multi-use community spaces in the midst of the living in which to farewell our dead.

    I advised a person last week whose local church would not host her father’s funeral on the grounds that he was an atheist. I’m not sure that the Established Church, the only one which exists also for its non-members, should behave like that.

  7. Saturday 15th September 2012 at 5:16 pm

    As a regular user of both public and private – I have to say Dignity seem to manage them better than SOME local authority controlled crems.

    The new problem is that the council’s seem to be increasing the charge beyond reason – to make up their shortfall in other areas. In the past, the ‘bereavement services’ department of most councils used the crematorium surplus to maintain cemeteries. Now they seem to want the crem to contribute to social services!

    The value of this one astonishes me. I suspect no local authority will ever again build one and many will eye-up the capital receipt likely if they sell.

  8. Vale

    Saturday 15th September 2012 at 12:51 pm

    One of the best things about local government is that if you are interested, you can usually find out why a decision has been made. If you go the Worcester City Council site you can see the APSE report and the basis for the recommendation:
    Bet Dignity wouldn’t let you. I agree though, that Council’s are probably not best left to themselves in the running of crems – why not a committee of users to act as an advisory group?

  9. Quokkagirl

    Saturday 15th September 2012 at 7:34 am

    I was working there just yesterday and hadn’t heard about the sales bids.

    I do hope the council retain its interest in controlling bereavement services purely for the reason that they are accountable. Of course, we all know that councils are often incompetent and bereavement services are rarely getting it right all over the country – but we as members of the public – as users – have greater power to change things if they are ultimately managed by those we vote for. Once it’s in private hands, who knows what priorities and accountability there will be, if any.

    Am I alone in believing that disposal of our dead should always be managed by publicly funded organisations? Mind you, I used to feel that about water, electricity and other natural resources too……still do now I think of it.

    • Jonathan

      Saturday 15th September 2012 at 8:37 am

      I don’t think it should be always, Quokkagirl; there needs to be an accountable service, but I’m not sure city councillors are reliably going to have the passion you need to oversee the running of a good woodland burial site, for instance.

      Bad bit of reporting on the matter, though – I’d have thought that giving a better reason to retain ownership than ‘backing recommendations from’ (someone-or-other) were fundamental to our understanding. Why was it recommended? is the first question I’d want to answer. Perhaps I should be a journalist?

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