New mortuary to be built behind court

PUBLISHED: 10:11 13 March 2006 | UPDATED: 08:58 24 May 2010

A BID to build an urgently needed mortuary for the Weston area has taken a big step forward after North Somerset councillors gave their approval to the scheme. Members of the authority's central area committee approved the project to build a public and fo

A BID to build an urgently needed mortuary for the Weston area has taken a big step forward after North Somerset councillors gave their approval to the scheme.Members of the authority's central area committee approved the project to build a public and forensic mortuary behind Flax Bourton Magistrates Court. The facility, which will cost over £1million, will cover the whole of the former Avon area, including Weston.The council's policy and resources committee will make the final decision on the scheme on March 15. If it gives the green light, it is hoped work on the new mortuary will begin by the end of the year.Council officers had asked councillors to reject the proposals on the grounds that it would be damaging to the green belt. But this advice was ignored after Avon's top coroner, Paul Forrest, convinced councillors 'exceptional circumstances' outweighed the officers' concerns.Three mortuaries in Bristol are due to close in the summer which will leave just the 28-space facility in Weston and a further one in Bath to cope with up to 5,000 deaths a year.Mr Forrest warned it was 'vital' for the mortuary to be approved by April 6 in order to stand a chance of bagging a £1million Government grant for the project. He said council officers had refused to meet him at the site where two derelict buildings would be demolished and replaced by the mortuary. "Sadly, there appears to have been more than an obstructive element throughout this application by refusals to meet and properly discuss the matters involved," said Mr Forrest."Uppermost in my mind is not only to provide a public service, but at the same time, protect the council taxpayer from unnecessary expense."Mr Forrest said that as a representative of the Crown he did not need to apply for planning permission but had done so because 'the interests and concerns of the immediate community are paramount'.Speaking after the meeting, he said: "I would like to thank the members of the committee for their help so we can now create a centre of excellence and first class coroners' service for the area.

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