Get involved! Send your photos, video, news & views by texting WN NEWS to 80360 or e-mail us
Worcester Crematorium is set to stay in council hands
SELLING Worcester Crematorium to a private operator could raise £6million – but city council chiefs are expected to keep the service in-house.
Bosses are set to confirm they will retain it, despite an independent consultants’ report suggesting that about £2million of taxpayers’ cash needs to be spent on the crematorium over the next five to eight years.
The plans do not include the burial land surrounding the site.
The city’s crematorium brings in about £600,000 a year in revenue and for the last few months consultants have been investigating what to do with it in the future.
Eight options will be put to the decision-making Tory cabinet on September 11.
These include selling it completely, leasing the site, a range of part-sale arrangements or keeping it.
During a meeting of Worcester City Council ’s scrutiny committee, councillors were told that the report, which has yet to be published publicly, backs the ‘keep it’ option.
David Sutton, the cleaner and greener service manager, said: “There is a high demand for services at the crematorium. We have about 2,000 cremations a year – a figure which is fairly consistent.
“There were three organisations that we’ve spoken with which have expressed interest in the site, but the financial assessment by the consultants indicates retention and investment into the crematorium is the favoured option.”
He also said the consultants suggest that between £1.7 and £2.2million will need to be invested in the site by 2020 to keep it up-to-date.
“The consultants suggest that around £6million is the most we would get for an outright sale, but the revenue is £600,000 per annum so after 10 years the figure would balance out against a sale and you’d be left without any revenue,” said Mr Sutton.
During the meeting, Councillor David Tibbutt , a former city mayor, said: “It’s rather undignified when we have larger funerals and people end up packed down the side of the chapel – has there been any discussions on the size of it?”
Mr Sutton responded by saying that any extension of the chapel would have to be a sensible business case before it got the go- ahead.
The scrutiny committee agreed to note the report, paving the way for the cabinet to agree to the retention option next month.
Deputy leader Councillor Marc Bayliss said: “The cabinet will make a principled decision and as with any large project such as this it is always about affordability.”