Crematorium goes private in £3m deal

PUBLISHED: 12:24 10 November 2009 | UPDATED: 11:17 25 May 2010

WESTON crematorium is in line for a £3million investment, after a deal was struck to move the facility into the private sector.

WESTON crematorium is in line for a £3million investment, after a deal was struck to move the facility into the private sector.

North Somerset Council has been seeking a private firm to take over the running of the Ebdon Road site for the past 12 months.

A link-up has now been agreed with Dignity Funeral Services Ltd, which is expected to be formally ratified by the unitary authority on Tuesday.

As part of the agreement, Dignity will upgrade the cremators, increase capacity at the chapel, create a new memorial garden, extend the whole site by five acres, and increase opening hours.

The deal will also see Dignity will also take on management of cemeteries in Clevedon and Portishead, a garden of rest in Nailsea, and 21 closed churchyards across North Somerset.

Council staff employed at the crematorium will see their positions transferred to the new firm.

Cllr Carl Francis-Pester, executive member for the service, said the deal will allow the ageing crematorium to be modernised - something the council would not have been able to afford if it had kept the facility in-house.

He said: "This is a positive outcome all round and residents can be assured that Dignity will be able to offer the best service possible for people at such a difficult time in their lives.

"The council doesn't have the money to update let alone invest in the future of the service.

"Dignity will bring around £3million of investment to modernise, improve and ensure that this is a service that meets the needs of our community.

"We in turn will receive a management fee from Dignity and will be able to release nearly £1million which had been set aside to carry out essential works to ensure the cremators meet new environmental standards.

"We are confident that Dignity will transform this service and provide the investment needed to complete this."

Dignity - which already runs 30 crematoria around the country - was selected as the preferred contractor after an extensive tendering process.

The Ebdon Road site currently carries out around 1,600 cremations a year, plus 120 burials, and is expected to transfer to Dignity from April 1.

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