Changes to crematorium upgrade – but still to close

Picture: Micahel Gillen
Picture: Micahel Gillen

Council chiefs have been forced to rethink their plans for the £3.2 million upgrade of Falkirk Crematorium.

But according to one undertaker, the revised proposals will deliver an improved facility because the local authority has taken on board potential improvements put forward by stakeholders.

In March, The Falkirk Herald revealed details of the renovations which will include extending the chapel area from 120 to 190 seats, improving the heating and lighting, upgrading the waiting area and plans to screen the loggia where relatives currently meet mourners.

Initially, the plan was to close the building to the public from this month until next January. Cremations would still take place but only funeral directors’ staff would have access not families.

There was then planned to be a reduced service from January until May 2017 when the cremators were replaced.

But following consultation with various groups, including funeral directors and faith and non-faith groups, several improvements to the original plans were highlighted.

Work will now begin in January and is expected to take 34 weeks.

During this time there will be no public services in the facility, although cremations will still take place.

Paul Cuthell of Thomas Cuthell Undertakers, which has funeral parlours across the district, including Falkirk and Bo’ness, welcomed the latest improvements.

He said: “It’s going to make a real difference to people using the crematorium. There has been little investment since it opened but now, after taking on board the comments from stakeholders, the job is going to be done properly.

“When you consider that the alternative is carrying on as things are in a building that is no longer fit for purpose it really isn’t an option. However, neither is trying to carry out renovations while services are taking place. It just wouldn’t be dignified.”

Mr Cuthell said families would be able to hold services in funeral parlours, churches or other buildings, pointing out that they already use Bo’ness Town Hall for services when they know there will be too many mourners for their premises.

Undertakers would then take the coffins to the Camelon facility for cremation, while families go on to the funeral tea.

He added: “The alternative is going to crematoriums in Livingston, Edinburgh, Glasgow or Dunfermline to hold services. Sadly, you would find that many people wouldn’t be able to make that journey. What is being offered is the knowledge that the cremation will take place in the building where perhaps other family members have gone before.”

Councillor Craig Martin, spokesperson for environment said: “The feedback from the consultation has been invaluable to allow us to plan for a better service and facility for the public. It will mean a delay to the original timescales but we are sure that the revisions will be welcomed when the work is finally completed.

“Everything is being done to reduce any inconvenience and we will endeavour to keep the public fully informed as we progress the project.”

Falkirk Council revealed the changes to the original plan include additional toilets being installed in the waiting room and in the Logia which will see an extension of the projected timescales.

Work has already started to improve access at the rear of the crematorium and this has been designed to help funeral directors and contractors during the main phase of the work.