GRIEVING families and hard-pressed funeral directors in North Kirklees face yet more weeks – possibly months – of disruption and distress after the re-opening of Dewsbury Moor Crematorium was pushed back even further.
The refurbishments at the troubled facility were originally due to be finished around the end of May. In June, Kirklees Council announced that problems replacing incinerators meant that it was likely to be “late July” before funerals could be held there again.
But on Monday morning – July 1 – the online booking system used by funeral directors showed that the crematorium was not open for business before the end of August.
A Kirklees spokesman said they were unable to give an exact completion date but in a statement said: “The contractor has discovered additional structural issues whilst on site which must be addressed.
“This has delayed progress and means that cremations cannot be offered at Dewsbury Crematorium for the time being.”
In the meantime, families are having to go as far as Elland, Huddersfield, Leeds and Bradford in order to say a timely farewell to their loved ones. The extra distance and travel times are putting extra costs and pressure on both local people and funeral directors.
Judith Brooke, of Dewsbury-based firm George Brooke Ltd, said: “Yet again I feel hugely disappointed, shocked and let down. This project has become farcical.
“The public of Dewsbury, Batley, Mirfield and the surrounding districts are not receiving the information they are entitled to regarding an essential public service.
“The families in this area have a great emotional and sentimental attachment to the crematorium itself and of course the gardens in which it stands.
“A Kirklees representative took pleasure in telling me just how much money the council are spending on this ‘upgrade and refurbishment’. My reply is that this money is money from the local people, therefore the community have a right to be informed of how it is being spent and have a right to a progress report.
“I feel that I am continually having to fight for information.”
The £3million scheme to refurbish Dewsbury and Huddersfield crematoriums includes the replacement of outdated cremator equipment and upgrading the chapels, to offer improved services for bereaved families.
Works at Huddersfield Crematorium will not begin until Dewsbury’s are complete.
Coun Rob Walker, cabinet member for culture and environment, said: “This is a significant and important investment. It’s crucial that services like these are delivered to the very best standard.
“If we didn’t make these improvements, the equipment would be at risk of failing, which would have caused significant disruption and distress to affected families already going through a difficult time.
“Unfortunately, the contractor working on the improvements at Dewsbury Crematorium discovered unforeseeable issues and this has affected progress. This is disappointing and frustrating but not unusual in a project of this size and scope. We are working with the contractor to manage the 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 arrangements we have made with Huddersfield Crematorium and neighbouring councils so we can still offer cremations while Dewsbury is temporarily closed.
“We will continue to keep local funeral directors informed, so inconvenience and distress for bereaved families is kept to a minimum.”