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.
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”
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.
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.