Parish Council is adding its weight to the growing protest against plans to sell Bretby Crematorium.
Parish councillors discussed the controversial scheme at their monthly parish council meeting on Tuesday night.
Parish councillor Brian Buxton said he was ‘appalled and shocked’ at how badly the scheme had been handled.
He said during the meeting: “I know the decision hasn’t yet been finalised but I think the way the whole thing has been handled is shocking.
“It’s been so badly treated with meetings behind closed doors, lots of secrecy and no proper public debate. It’s a people’s asset; therefore, I think it should be the people’s choice. In my opinion I think there should be a referendum.”
However, Tory councillor Len Milner who represents Stretton on East Staffordshire Borough Council, replied: “You all think you’re getting a loss from the sale but you’re not.
“You’ll be getting an improved crematorium and I don’t see what this has to do with Stretton.
“A consultation has taken place with the relevant people including clergy, councillors and residents — so it’s nonsense that it hasn’t been made public.
“Profit made from the sale cannot be used to regenerate town or council schemes — it will be ploughed back into the crematorium.”
Councillor Buxton responded saying: “Death will come knocking on everyone’s door at some time and cremations are becoming more popular so why sell and privatise a very profitable asset?
“We all know the Co-op is the preferred buyer but we don’t know who else has bid. No-one knows anything. I propose that we vote against the sale of the crematorium.”
Reverend Kim Thomas, of St Mary’s Church in Stretton, said she had not been consulted over the crematorium — only told that it was up sale.
She added: “There has been no consultation with clergy. The length of time currently at Bretby is 25 minutes and that often isn’t long enough. We’ve been speaking with other clergy from around the country where their crematoriums have been privatised and the services have been cut even shorter so we cannot let this happen here.”
Frank Bather, who stood down as a borough councillor on Monday, said: “The preferred buyer is the Co-op and the company has a very aggressive business strategy and it’s only interested in monopolising.
“Co-op is taking over all businesses and one has to ask the question of where does it leave our private Burton funeral directors? I can tell you the Co-op will eventually swallow them up. Once they buy the crematorium and it’s in their hands they can do what they want. As soon as the Co-op is in there are ways and means around anything.”
Parish councillors voted to oppose the sale.
South Derbyshire District Council’s finance and management committee approved the sale plans in March and has said it has been left in the hands of the borough council — the controlling group.
Borough council leader Richard Grosvenor is now consulting with authority members over deciding the fate of the asset after it was voted that he use his delegated powers to make the final decision.