THE CREMATORIUM earmarked by East Riding of Yorkshire Council (ERYC) for Lelley Road, Preston continues to generate controversy. The Liberal Democrat group on the council say that its members will be challenging the business case for the crematorium as “full of holes” at the full ERYC council meeting tomorrow (24 Feb 2021).
The crematorium and bereavement services project secured an agreement from the council’s Cabinet on 2 February to be formally added to the council’s capital programme with an allocated budget of £8.5m. This is subject to planning permission being approved by the Planning Committee on 25 February. The crematorium is to be named ‘Lelley Fields’.
Councillor David Nolan, the leader of the nine-member Liberal Democrat Group on ERYC has called for a full and proper business case analysis to be presented before the council signs off on the project. He said “The matter will come before East Riding’s Full Council meeting this Wednesday when Opposition Lib Dem Councillors will be challenging the business case as ‘full of holes’. “
“The Cabinet met on 2 February and signed off the business case, without the press or public knowing what it said as it took place behind closed doors” claimed Councillor Nolan. “The Council has made the business case exempt from public scrutiny, so we are put in a difficult position. We can’t tell you what is in the business case as it is a secret. We think the pay-back period is based on dubious costings and assumptions and is longer than expected, but we can’t tell you what it is.
What I can tell you, is what is missing. Our Group have three major issues of concern:
- Nobody in the Council Cabinet or Senior Officers has any experience of building and running a crematorium. It is telling, that the Councillors are not giving the Officers delegated powers and want to see the Contracts before they are signed. That shows a lack of confidence and experience.
- There is no SWOT analysis showing the Strengths and Weaknesses and Threats to the Crematorium venture. The report paints a rosy picture of what a marvellous opportunity this is, but fails to do the proper diligence.
- There is no Competitive analysis. We know that Hull City Council who run the nearest crematorium at Chanterlands Avenue, are very alarmed and are questioning whether the market can sustain both crematoria. Furthermore, the two existing crematoria in East Riding at Haltemprice and Octon are owned by Dignity and they also own several of the major funeral undertakers in our area. It doesn’t take a genius to work out that they will respond competitively on price. That will blow a hole through the financial assumptions.”
“Ideally the Council should be deciding on this matter as a whole and in Public. But the Cabinet have already taken the decision behind closed doors to sign off on it. Most of the Councillors, including many of the Conservatives, have no say on a major capital project paid for by our Council tax-payers.”
Councillor Denis Healy, the Liberal Democrats Deputy Leader, commented on the locally contentious traffic issues: “The concerns being raised about the traffic in Preston and Hedon caused by slow-moving corteges are being brushed under the carpet. The site is in Preston Parish but the Council are going to rename it Lelley Fields. Calling it Lelley is an attempt to pretend the traffic won’t affect Preston. The Council are calling it a ‘Bereavement Services project’ to make it sound warm and friendly but it is a Crematorium.”
Councillor Nolan confirmed his group’s position: “We are not opposed to a Crematorium in South Holderness, we just think the business case is full of holes.”
The full ERYC council meeting takes place tomorrow Wednesday 24 February at 2 pm. The Planning Committee meeting takes place the next day on Thursday 25 February. Both are remote meetings conducted via video conferencing technology and will be streamed live on the East Riding Council Committee Meetings channel on YouTube.
Find out more about the crematorium planning application at the East Riding Public Access website and search for reference: 20/03564/STPLF.
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