£30,000 to look into new crematorium plan

Wilbury Hills Cemetery

Wilbury Hills Cemetery - Credit: Daniel Wilson

THOUSANDS of pounds have been earmarked to carry out a business plan for a crematorium in North Herts.

Next week, cabinet members from North Herts District Council will discuss plans to authorise the undertaking of a business plan, costing £30,000, on the feasibility of having a crematorium at Wilbury Hills in Letchworth GC.

A report prepared by district council officers ahead of the meeting says: “The business case will consider and include the detailed financial implications, which would be wholly dependant upon the chosen options for delivering the project and future management of the facility.”

The report says that to build a new crematorium would cost approximately £2.8 million. The annual gross income from the cremations for such a facility is estimated to be £450,000.

Alan Hinchliffe, chairman of the nearby Hillcrest Residents’ Association in Letchworth GC, said: “Considering the state of the economy, why waste money on the dead?

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“We have one at Luton and one in Stevenage, it’s not like we don’t have crematoriums in the surrounding areas. Why can’t they spend that kind of money in prioritising to sort the roads in our areas? Where has the common sense gone?”

The 73-year-old said it seemed ridiculous the council thinks it is appropriate to spend £30,000 just to investigate if it is feasible to have a crematorium at the Stotfold Road cemetery.

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“Also, I can’t imagine that people near to the cemetery would be too happy with the pollution that it could cause too,” Mr Hinchliffe added.

Cllr Michael Muir, county councillor for Letchworth East and Baldock, said: “We have two options; the first is to either outsource the build to someone else and lease the ground to them, or we (NHDC) build it ourselves and manage it ourselves.”

Speaking about what it would mean to have a crematorium in North Herts, Cllr Muir said: “Currently people have to go to Stopsley or Stevenage, which is further away, and can be a half-hour journey behind the herse. There is also a waiting time of up to three weeks at both places. By having a crematorium in North Herts we would also welcome people from Central Bedfordshire. It is also easily accessible.”

Speaking about the cost of the business plan, Cllr Muir said: “If you need to progress you need to spend the money. We don’t have the expertise in the council to carry out the business plan so we have to outsource, but it won’t be an open cheque book to someone. Finances will be looked at and a decision on it will be made as long as all the boxes are ticked for the people of North Herts.”

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