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Crematorium sale unlikely before local elections

Published by in English ·

The sale of Bretby Crematorium could take place after the local elections in May.

The news came after it was revealed that no date had yet been set to make a decision over the controversial sale, and elections are little over a month away.

South Derbyshire District Council approved the £8 million sale at its finance and management meeting on March 17, while delegated powers have been handed to Tory councillor Richard Grosvenor, leader of East Staffordshire Borough Council.

Conservatives at the district council unanimously voted to sell off the asset, while Labour councillors voted against.

Midlands Co-op is currently in negotiations with the borough council — as the controlling group — to buy the Geary Lane site for £8 million.

That led to fury from local residents concerned that the Co-op could change the memorial grounds and hike up funeral prices — concerns which Councillor Grosvenor has said would be eliminated by a contract drawn up between the two parties.

More than 4,000 signatures were added to a petition in Swadlincote and a protest designed to question members of the crematorium’s joint committee was staged at the site.

In consultation, funeral directors from across Burton and South Derbyshire had been asked for their opinions on the sale, although at least nine of those businesses had ‘ownership interests’ with Midlands Co-op.

Independent directors John Hylton and Murray’s said it would leave the Co-op with a chance to ‘monopolise’, while independent councillor Frank Bather, who represents Stretton on the borough council, added that the sale would eliminate all competition.

Swadlincote resident Margaret Thornton (pictured with porotestors and councillors) said she would welcome any delay on the proposed sale, saying it would be a nightmare if the crematorium were to become privatised.

The 74-year-old said: “It would be like selling the crown jewels, I think the conservatives would be cutting their own throats if they were to make a decision before the elections.”

The district council has said the final decision is now in the hands of its borough council counterparts, after its callin procedure, which requires three members and at least one from the controlling group to request more scrutiny, has now passed.

A spokesman for the borough council said: “No date for the decision has yet been set.

As Councillor Grosvenor has been given delegated authority, he is still having consultations with members over the sale.

“A date will be announced.”




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