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Gloucestershire Business News

Operational problems force a halt to cremations at council facility

Health and safety issues have forced the suspension of cremations at Cheltenham Borough Council's crematorium this week.

Engineers are on site and will be undertaking a full review of the equipment and begin making repairs as soon as reasonably possible.

The council's bereavement services team will be working with all funeral directors to try and minimise the impact on bereaved families.

The council says it will honour existing bookings for services and will not charge for chapel services, but unfortunately it will be necessary for cremations to take place elsewhere. The bereavement services team will be working with the Westerleigh Group, an experienced private funeral services provider with a number of crematoriums in the area.

It is likely that at least in the short term most cremations will take place at Langstone Vale Crematorium, which is located in countryside just outside Newport.

Councillor Chris Coleman, cabinet member for clean and green said: "Unfortunately, both our cremators have experienced issues (including the emission of smoke into the crematory area) and in light of the risks to staff and the public, we have taken the difficult decision to suspend the cremation service.

"We are doing everything we can to ensure that the equipment is reviewed and repaired as quickly as possible and we are fully briefing funeral directors of the situation. We apologise unreservedly to bereaved families and would ask that they discuss the options available to them with their chosen funeral director."

Mike Redman, Cheltenham Borough Council's director of environment said: "We very much appreciate the co-operation that we're receiving from funeral directors in managing this difficult situation and we'd like to assure bereaved families that following their service in our chapel, we will ensure that the onward journey to the place of cremation is carried out in a dignified and respectful manner.

"The construction of the council's new £8.5m crematorium at Cheltenham is well underway and is on track for completion next Spring, 2019."

Pictures: Artist's impressions of how the new crematorium will look. Picture credit: Cheltenham Borough Council.

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