The Good Funeral Guide Blog

It’s what they don’t tell you

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Typing-Man

 

Two questions sent by the GFG to Nottinghamshire CC registrars on 30 Jan 2014. The first relates to the marketing of Notts CC civil celebrants. The second relates to the proposed ‘Living Eulogy’ service as outlined here.

Question 1

In your bereavement guide you advertise (pp 25 28) the services of your in-house funeral celebrants. In the text there is no reference to the existence of independent, freelance funeral celebrants. Inasmuch as there exists a free, open and competitive market in funeral celebrant services, I would be grateful if you would explain to me why this should not be construed as anti-competitive behaviour on the part of the Council amounting to a restrictive practice, which I understand to be, according to the Oxford Dictionary: “an arrangement by a group of workers to limit output or restrict the entry of new workers in order to protect their own interests”

Question 2

The proposed ‘Living Eulogy‘ service will invite people to: “allow individuals to work with registrars to make their own choices about their funeral ceremony”. If this project goes ahead, does the Council intend to make it absolutely clear that funeral wishes are not legally binding on the person who undertakes responsibility for the disposal of their dead body; that that person may make such disposal arrangements as they desire and are under no legal obligation to hold a funeral? This being the case, should the project go ahead, I hope the Council will urge clients to negotiate their funeral wishes with their close family, the people with whom they need to reach an understanding. I hope also that the Council will urge clients to take into consideration that any funeral ceremony is for the benefit for the living as well as the dead; that un-negotiated, prescriptive funeral wishes can have the effect of disempowering the living and inhibiting them from creating a funeral which is meaningful and emotionally and/or spiritually valuable for them. I would be grateful to have your reflections on this.

Reply from Robert Fisher, Superintendent Registrar:

Question 1 – regarding our ‘Bereavement’ publication:

The publication makes clear from the outset that it concerns the services offered by Nottinghamshire County Council.  The Council is able to provide these under the provisions of the Local Government Act 2000 and the Localism Act 2011.   Nevertheless, in the interests of providing comprehensive information, we do include a section on ‘Funeral Options’ including  religious and humanist ceremonies, plus ‘Useful Contacts’ section.   Also, we are happy to accommodate advertisements by others who offer related services, and for example, there is a two-page advertisement of A. W. Lymn Funeral Service.   This is the first time we have produced this particular document, and we will be keeping it under review with a view to possible further expansion and improvement of the information in future editions.  Consequently, I am asking our Service Development Manager to be mindful of your message when reviewing the document.

Question 2:

Thank you for your observations and helpful suggestions regarding our proposed ‘Living Eulogy’ Service.  We have only just now received approval for this service , and so we have yet to take our first booking.   However, feedback from users of our other services indicates there is significant public interest in asking registrars to help individuals to record the sentiments they wish to pass on to family and friends after death.  I understand fully your point that any funeral ceremony is for the benefit for the living as well as the dead, and I will ensure that our lead manager has embraced this point in the detailed operating procedures for delivery of the service.  Equally, from my own personal experience, I know there are occasions when the existence of a record of the deceased wishes would  have been very helpful in settling disagreements amongst relatives regarding the format and content of a funeral service.  Consequently, it is my sincere wish that the County Council’s ‘Living Eulogy’ service will make a useful contribution to the range of options available to the public when planning for and experiencing bereavement.

 

 

6 comments on “It’s what they don’t tell you

  1. Sharon Larch

    Thursday 25th September 2014 at 5:32 pm

    I don’t think you guys need worry too much about council competition. I went to a wedding earlier this year up in Notts. which was pretty dull and lacklustre. Neither registrar seemed interested. I thought they were having an off-day but at the reception afterwards I was told that they have to use a standard wording for every wedding they do and that they can’t depart from. It therefore seems that all their ceremonies are likely to be as dire. It was also said, and I don’t know if this is true, but to cut costs they employ Saturday staff who aren’t proper registrars. I can just imagine a standard council eulogy “The deceased was born some while ago at a place around here, went to school then got a job…”

  2. Friday 14th February 2014 at 12:48 pm

    I do find it worrying that the chap from the council didn’t really answer your questions at all.

    Sounded more like a politician than council worker.

  3. Thursday 13th February 2014 at 9:00 pm

    Bravo, I think this no nonsense approach is long overdue and I think a similar tactic might be employed against County Councils – who persist in awarding 5 year zero cost coroner’s removal contracts.

    These seem like restrictive practice to me? I wonder why no-one resorts to legal action? Perhaps I should blaze a trail, take on the mindless bureaucrats? Again.

  4. Lol Owen

    Thursday 13th February 2014 at 8:27 pm

    For what it’s worth I bought an advert in the Derbyshire county council book. Cost me £800 for a matchbox sized advert and I have got eff all calls from it!
    Restrictive practice? is that where I restrict the air intake for the councils celebrants by means of strangling the buggers? Oh, sorry, it’s that sort of rhetoric got me banned from the Fellowship forum 😉
    Also, the statement is flawed, because the fees the council celebrants will bring in will not outweigh the damage done to the existing independents who may have to call it a day. How many of those will have to apply to the council for help with their rent or council tax? Self defeating and just another example of labour’s ideal of central government micro managing every aspect of life. Tools.

  5. Thursday 13th February 2014 at 7:17 pm

    What you on about Lol? Buy a bloody advert. Take a full page, it’ll only cost you a year’s wages.

    The Local Govt Act 2000 clearly and unequivocally states that a local authority may do “anything which it considers likely to achieve the promotion or improvement of the economic, social or environmental well-being of their area.” So your council doesn’t just empty your bins and stuff, it’s a social entrepreneur.

    You note that Mr Fisher does not address the question about restrictive practice.

  6. Lol Owen

    Thursday 13th February 2014 at 6:32 pm

    What is it and councils trying to milk every last drop out of everything? Most of them round Nottinghamshire are Labour controlled yet they don’t give a toss about the working man i.e. celebrants already operating outside their umbrella.
    In Chesterfield (Derbyshire) they even have registrars attending wedding fairs touting their wares for services. I work in Nottinghamshire mainly, and it is already a competitive market for celebrants, all we need now is for the Co-Op to form a strategic alliance with the council and use their celebrants and bang! quite a few peoples livings just went out the window. Bloody sickening.

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