BEREAVED local families face almost two months of extra distress and disruption after refurbishment work at Dewsbury Moor Crematorium ran into significant problems.
The facility was limited to three funerals a day once work originally started in December and closed completely at the beginning of April for what was only supposed to be two months.
But now it seems the earliest date contractors can give Kirklees officers for a finishing date is late July – leaving both families and funeral directors in limbo.
One prominent funeral director has blasted the local authority for their entire handling of the project.
Judith Brooke, a director of George Brooke Funeral Directors in Dewsbury, said the lack of communication with the North Kirklees public had been “diabolical” and showed a complete lack of respect for both bereaved families and companies like theirs, which were working under severe pressure.
Currently, all crematorium funeral services are having to be diverted to Huddersfield, Elland, Wakefield or Leeds. Miss Brooke said: “This is causing terrible distress to bereaved families at the worst time possible.
“They worry about friends and family being able to get to these locations; they worry about where they can gather after the service to mourn their loved ones properly.”
Some funerals have taken 3-4 weeks to arrange and funeral directors are incurring significant extra costs because of the time and distances involved in putting services on – approximately 10 man hours per funeral, as a bare minimum.
Miss Brooke, whose company has refused to pass the extra costs incurred on to grieving families, wrote to Kirklees saying: “Whilst I appreciate this work must be completed and I am sure we will be pleased with the results, the way the whole situation has been handled has shown little regard for the people it is directly affecting.
“I can only speak for George Brooke Ltd, but I am sure other Funeral Directors are feeling the same. Kirklees have shown a complete lack of concern and regard for the families and companies who have used your facility and supported them for decades.”
This latest disruption comes after funerals were thrown into chaos previously. Two of Dewsbury’s cremators failed within 24 hours of each other in 2017, reducing the service capacity from 9/10 a day to just three.
Coun Rob Walker, Cabinet Member for Culture and Environment, said: “Unforeseen delays to our programme are disappointing and frustrating, but they are not unusual in a project of this size and scope, given the extensive work being undertaken.”
He added: “As works have progressed, our contractors have discovered additional issues which must be addressed before the new cremators can be installed, and this has had an impact on the original build schedule we had agreed with them.
“We are working with the contractor to manage the inevitable period of extended down-time this has caused.
“We’re also working with local funeral directors, to whom we offer our sincere thanks for sharing information with families about the collaborative arrangements we have made with Huddersfield Crematorium and neighbouring councils, to continue to offer cremations while Dewsbury is temporarily closed.
“Our contractor’s most recent advice is that works in Dewsbury will be near completion towards the end of July.
“We are closely monitoring their progress, and will continue to keep local funeral directors informed, so that inconvenience and distress for bereaved families is kept to a minimum.”