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Crematorium improvements proposed by council

February 25, 2020 11:35 AM
In Southend Echo

Major work to improve facilities at the Southend Crematorium is being proposed by the council.

Costing up to £2.7million, the proposed work would include rebuilding the chimney, replacing the three cremators, the creation of a viewing area that accommodates a range of faiths, and the replacement of other ageing equipment which will be more environmentally friendly.

It comes after the council carried out an in-depth assessment into the condition of the building and identified a range of structural problems including roofing which is over 20 years old and lacking insulation, damaged flooring and deteriorating pipework.

Councillor Carole Mulroney, who oversees the environment and planning said: "These works would ensure we can continue to provide a high quality service to the people of Southend-on-Sea to help them through a very difficult time in their lives.

"Although the chapels are in good order, the equipment we use is in urgent need of replacement and we are very keen to explore more environmentally friendly options.

"If we weren't to replace it or carry out works on the chimney and structure of the building, we would be putting the future of the crematorium service at risk which is clearly not an option.

"Our population has grown enormously since the crematorium was constructed in the 1950s.

"The upgrade of our facilities will give our staff the behind-the-scenes space and layout they need, and it will give the public a better and more inclusive service, fitting for 2020 and beyond."

The council has proposed adding the refurbishment work into the proposed 2020/21 budget that is expected to be approved when it is discussed by the council on Thursday night but its inclusion will depend on a vote by councillors.

A report notes that if the refurbishment work is not approved, alternatives could include closing it down which "is likely to cause distress to residents during a difficult time" and "impact on the council's ability to respond to some civil emergencies".

Another option would be for the council to spend £8.5million on building an entirely new facility.

The existing crematorium was constructed in 1953, with some of the major equipment last replaced in 2000, and some in 2010.