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Crematorium upgrade to cost £1m extra
Wednesday 7th November 2018 @ 10:06 by Lauren Entwistle
Dukinfield Tameside

Town hall chiefs are to upgrade Tameside’s crematorium and cemetery walls despite costs soaring by £1.06m more than predicted.

By Charlotte Green, local democracy reporter.

Plans to replace the three cremators at Dukinfield Crematorium have been signed off by the borough’s executive cabinet.

The work had initially been priced at £1.5m, but now this figure has risen to an indicative cost of £2.5m, which could increase again during the process of tendering for a contractor.

A council report reveals that the cremators – which are 20 years old – are at the end of their life expectancy, susceptible to ‘mechanical breakdown’ and maintenance costs are increasing ‘all the time’.

This impacts on families as it can cause ‘inevitable delays’ when trying to make appointments for funerals, and increase costs to the authority, officers say.

Dukinfield is the third busiest crematorium in Greater Manchester and currently bereavement services bring in income of around £1.2m for the town hall.

But charges could rise for families in the future, as bosses are proposing to introduce an ‘environmental levy’ on each cremation which would create a financial reserve used to maintain the cremators.

They estimate this would be around £100,000 a year, which based on their usual annual figure of more than 2,000 cremations annually would increase charges for grieving families by an extra £50.

A ‘heat recovery’ system would also be fitted which would be used to capture the energy from the excess heat in order to heat the crematorium.

Ian Saxon, director of operations and neighbourhoods said: “The cremators were last replaced in 1998 with a 15 year life, so it is well overdue, but there is clearly an income stream that will payback that service.

“The other element of that report is that we create a sinking fund, or whatever you want to call it, from the income generated so long term it is building a pot to replace these in the future rather than be a one-off call on the capital programme.”

He added: “Obviously it’s a sensitive area but the replacement of the cremators is significant for ensuring that the cremation process is as environmentally sensitive as it can be.

“And that will be a significant step forward, as well as the heat recovery in there so that there is little or no wasted heat.”

The town hall has also agreed to restore and repair cemetery walls across the borough, at a cost of £260,000 – which is £60,000 more than had been originally earmarked.

The bill has risen following an inspection of Tameside’s eight cemeteries by structural engineers.

Mr Saxon told cabinet members that they had identified a number of retaining walls that are in ‘poor condition’ and need to be repaired and maintained.

“The risk of not carrying out the repairs and restoration could result in jeopardising the safety of residents and aesthetics of the cemetery.

“In addition it would lead to on-going revenue costs,” states a report presented to cabinet.

Workers will now repair and make safe the boundary walls highlighted at ‘high and medium risk’ at Ashton, Dukinfield, Mossley, and Mottram cemeteries.

They will also carry out limited masonry work on defects on boundaries – such as metal railings and fencing – at Audenshaw, Denton and Droylsden cemeteries.

The oldest cemetery managed by the council is Mottram Cemetery, which opened in 1861 and is still being used for interments in new graves, as are all the other sites.