Anger over ‘con­veyor belt’ Perth cer­e­monies

Coun­cil hits back at sur­vey high­light­ing 30 min­utes or less ser­vices in Fair City

The Courier & Advertiser (Perth and Perthshire Edition) - - NEWS - PETER JOHN MEIKLEM pmeik­lem@the­courier.co.uk

Perth Cre­ma­to­rium of­fers the short­est ser­vices in Scot­land, which leave mourn­ers feel­ing as “if they were on a con­veyor belt”, a new study claims.

The re­port, which pri­vate fu­neral com­pany Dig­nity says is “the most rig­or­ous study of cre­ma­tions ever un­der­taken in the UK”, claims Perth is the only cre­ma­to­rium north of the bor­der to “of­fer cer­e­monies of 30 min­utes or less”.

A spokesper­son for the cre­ma­to­rium hit back say­ing they had writ­ten to Dig­nity to com­plain about the “in­ac­cu­rate” re­port.

Si­mon Cox, Dig­nity’s head of in­sight, said mourn­ers had told their re­searchers they did not feel they had enough time to prop­erly say good­bye to loved ones.

He said: “The fu­neral ser­vice is a crit­i­cal time for peo­ple who have lost a loved one. Whether it is a solemn oc­ca­sion or a cel­e­bra­tion it is es­sen­tial we have enough time to say good­bye. The fact so many mourn­ers felt rushed at the cre­ma­to­rium should give pause to ev­ery­one in the fu­neral in­dus­try.”

Re­spond­ing to Perth and Kin­ross Coun­cil’s state­ment, he added: “Our re­search shows that 15% of cre­ma­to­ria across the UK have time slots that are 30 min­utes or less, in­clud­ing Perth Cre­ma­to­rium. While many may of­fer the choice to buy dou­ble time slots, only 8% of those that or­gan­ised a fu­neral told us that they were aware they could ex­tend the ser­vice.”

Four in 10 peo­ple in Scot­land, or 42%, who had or­gan­ised a cre­ma­tion fu­neral felt the ex­pe­ri­ence was like be­ing on a con­veyor belt, the sur­vey said.

A fur­ther four in 10, or 39%, of mourn­ers also felt they were not given enough time to prop­erly say good­bye to their loved one at the cre­ma­to­rium.

Jane Bech­tel, a Hu­man­ist cel­e­brant who has been con­duct­ing fu­ner­als at Perth Cre­ma­to­rium for 13 years, said the time given to ser­vices could be an is­sue, and that com­pli­ca­tions with park­ing at the Perth site of­ten com­pounded the feel­ing of be­ing rushed.

“Yes it is a prob­lem for cel­e­brants and it is a prob­lem for fam­i­lies. That is a no-brainer. But the phys­i­cal con­straints of the ac­tual site are huge. If there was more park­ing and bet­ter ac­cess this would not be so much of an is­sue. One other is­sue is the mo­tor­way that went through the Gar­den of Remembrance. The fact the coun­cil was happy to move ev­ery­thing for a road, but not to make park­ing eas­ier, has of­ten come up.”

A coun­cil spokesper­son said: “We have writ­ten to Dig­nity Fu­ner­als to ex­press our con­cern at the in­ac­cu­racy and ask for this mis­in­for­ma­tion to be cor­rected.

“We look to pro­vide a ser­vice which is re­spon­sive to the re­quire­ments of in­di­vid­ual fam­i­lies and of­fer one hour be­tween ser­vice times, to al­low time for peo­ple to ar­rive in ad­vance, dur­ing which fam­i­lies can oc­cupy the des­ig­nated fam­ily room un­til their re­quested ser­vice time in the chapel.

“If it is a par­tic­u­larly large fu­neral, a two-hour slot can be booked with a ser­vice time of 40 min­utes, the cost of which is sig­nif­i­cantly lower than a sin­gle slot of­fered by Dig­nity Fu­ner­als.

“The coun­cil’s ap­proach en­sures that be­reaved fam­i­lies and mourn­ers can mark the pass­ing of their loved ones in an ap­pro­pri­ate way.”

The fact so many mourn­ers felt rushed at the crem should give pause to ev­ery­one in the fu­neral in­dus­try

Pic­ture: Steve Mac­Dougall.

Perth and Kin­ross Coun­cil has com­plained about the re­port, which it claims is “in­ac­cu­rate”.

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