Bodies will be stockpiled for cremation under new rules to cut costs and
Rather than being cremated straight after a funeral, corpses will be stored for days in coffins or body bags in local authority buildings so they can be incinerated in one go.
Council bosses claim the decision to use cremators during one period rather than after every service will cut down on energy bills and reduce their carbon footprint.
But critics described the scheme as ‘obscene’ and ‘undignified’.
Although each body will still be cremated separately, they said it must be possible to find other more sensitive ways to cut costs and save energy.
The policy will leave families having to return up to a week later to the crematorium to collect the ashes, causing unnecessary additional stress.
Crematoriums in Warwickshire are already operating the system and Redditch Council in Worcestershire is piloting the scheme before deciding whether to make it permanent.
Conservative MP Philip Davies said: ‘This is absolutely ludicrous.
‘There should be some dignity for these people being cremated and their family.
‘This will have no effect whatsoever on climate change and is just another way for local authorities to save money.
‘Councils have lost sight of what they were set up to do in the first place – serve the people and not obsess about climate change.’
Under the new code of practice, the Federation of Burial and Cremation Authorities that regulates the handling of funerals states that local authorities can cremate bodies ‘as soon as practicable’.
But it also allows councils to delay a cremation in ‘circumstances deemed necessary by the Cremation Authority, including impacts on the environment.’
Council bosses say it costs a lot to heat up the cremator to 1,000c and hundreds of pounds will be saved rather than turning it on for one coffin after every funeral.
Derek Case, managing director of Morton’s Funeral Directors in Northfield, Birmingham, said his customers were upset when they learnt of the plans by Redditch Council.
He added: ‘Most families will find this totally unacceptable. The people I have spoken to both inside and outside of the industry are horrified and find it obscene.
‘The reason they’re doing this is simply to reduce their overheads and their carbon footprint.
‘We’re not against the principles of that, but surely there’s a better way to do it.
‘I always think that it could be my mother in there stored overnight and if you go by that a lot of people will be distraught.’
It is not the first time that councils have been accused of trying to profit from funeral services.
Southwark Council, in South London, increased the cost of funerals twice in a year – to coincide with the month when the death rate is the highest.
The authority’s leaders urged a rise in cremation and burial fees at the start of January last year to ‘maximise the peak demand period’.
A spokesman for Redditch Council said: ‘Redditch Borough Council proposes to carry out a pilot scheme at the crematorium prior to the proposed replacement of equipment, which seeks to enhance new technologies and reduce the impact cremations have on the environment.
‘This follows the arrangements of many other authorities in the country which have been operating this way.’
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