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If we keep crematorium it will mean higher prices, warn council
5:49pm Wednesday 12th September 2012 in News
PRICES at Worcester Crematorium are likely to go up, council chiefs have warned. The city council’s Conservative cabinet has agreed to keep ownership of the site, but has warned charges will need to be increased in return for improved facilities. For the last six months independent consultants have been examining a range of options for the Astwood crematorium’s future, which included selling it to a private operator. Now the authority has decided to keep it in-house, but has warned that major investment is needed over the next five to eight years to keep it up to scratch. As your Worcester News first reported last month, the independent report suggests up to £2 million is needed to modernise the site. At the moment, cremations cost £530 and there are a range of other charges for extra services, including £50 for inscribing the book of remembrance and £40 for a CD recording. Councillor Roger Knight, cabinet member for cleaner and greener, said increased charges were “likely” but that he would keep them to “acceptable levels”. “It’s an important and well established, sensitive service,” he said. Councillor Simon Geraghty, city council leader, added: “It’s important to say that this consultancy work was a useful exercise. “The crematorium is a non-statutory service and there’s no requirement for us to provide what we do. “In keeping it in-house we need to be clear that it does require investment, that investment will need to be paid for, and it’s something we will have to look at.” He said the crematorium would be kept under long-term review and that the future investment would need to backed up by a “robust business case”. The report suggested up to £6 million could be raised in a sale of the Astwood Road facility - but that had to balanced against the loss of £600,000 of revenue every year. The recommendation from the consultants urged the cabinet to retain the site, and make the extra investment needed in the coming years.