Officials at Dudley Council in the Midlands have revealed that there has been a rise in families going into the memorial gardens at Gornal Wood and Stourbridge Crematoriums and scattering the ashes of their loved one’s without permission.
There are questions being raised as to why this is happening: well cost is being cited as the main reason, families are being asked to pay £51 to ‘witness’ the ashes of their loved one being scattered or interred. And clearly, they don’t like it. I would think the family are seeing the fee as another “money for old rope” scheme from the council and they are thinking well, I’ll take the ashes and do it myself.
As the councillor points out correctly this is sad as the families won’t have the scattering recorded: which may seem trivial now but wont be in the future.
The councillors are also saying it is illegal, granted the families doing this don’t have permission, but I am wondering in what respect is it illegal? If it is illegally then theoretically they could be prosecuted or sued – but how and under what law?
There is an issue over this witness fee – the councillor recognises this as too high and the opposition (UKIP) councillor think £51 is extortionate. It is not extortionate, but neither is it right. I do not see why there is an additional charge on top of the cremation fee, surely people should have this fee included within main cost. People pay on average £700-£750to be cremated this is a massive fee compared to what they get, wouldn’t it be reasonable to let the families witness the scattering and have it covered within this price. I know councils have to be creative to make up budgetary shortfalls, but they must be super sensitive not to target bereaved thinking it is easy money.
Here is what the officials say:
“We are also seeing an increase in illegal scattering of cremated remains in our gardens of remembrance which is potentially due to people not wishing to pay the witness fee and so they scatter the remains themselves. Further increases could see more instances of this occurring and so a freeze on this fee is recommended.”
Councillor Khurshid Ahmed, cabinet member for planning and economic development at the council, said: “We always strongly recommend people do not scatter their ashes there.
“It is only a small amount of people that do it but it is something that has happened.
“We have facilities that we provide – there is a charge – but unfortunately some people do not choose to use these facilities.”
Councillor Paul Brothwood, who is leader of the opposition UKIP group, said families were being asked to pay too much.
He said: “It’s an extortionate fee. That’s the problem when you set fees, people end up doing something. It encourages bad behaviour. It would be far better if they reduced the price. Then more people would pay and it would increase income. When people are suffering at a difficult time it is the last thing they want.”