Crematorium charges could rise by half

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CHARGES at Blyth Crematorium could rise by as much as 50 per cent to safeguard its future.

Northumberland County Council says the increase would bring fees in line with the other local authorities in the north east, as well as allowing for rising fuel costs and other expenses.

The proposals would see most charges go up, and a standard cremation, currently priced at £389, would cost £580 next year.

Conservative councillors have criticised the decision, saying the Lib Dem administration should use money left over from February’s budget to save Blyth Crematorium.

Tory group leader Peter Jackson, of Ponteland, said: “Unfortunately, the Lib Dems have chosen to view this as a money-making opportunity.

He added: “There has been no proper consultation with undertakers or with the general public.

“There has been no consideration of what will happen when people struggling on low incomes simply cannot afford to give their loved ones a dignified send-off.”

But the Lib Dem leader of the county council, Jeff Reid, said the Tories had been involved throughout the decision making process and expressed disappointment that the Conservatives were using the issue for what he called “political posturing”.

He said: “We are looking at the costs across the 12 local authorities in the north east. We are least expensive by a long way.”

“The Tories were consulted and they never raised any of these concerns with me. Expenses like fuel has gone up by quite a lot, the service is not profitteering in any way.”

A spokesperson for Northumberland County Council said: “Like other local authorities across the country, we are currently reviewing charges to ensure that this service continues to be sustainable whilst providing value for money.

“Our charges have compared favourably with neighbouring authorities and this review will bring Northumberland in line with charges across the region.”