Furious mail readers have come forward to vent their anger at the potential sale of Bretby Crematorium which has moved a step closer to privatisation.
The Mail revealed that two secret council meetings will be held to discuss ‘disposing’ with the Geary Lane site to a private operator which has led to outrage from the public, many of whom have relatives’ ashes scattered there.
Councillor Julian Mott, leader of the opposition Labour group leader at East Staffordshire Borough Council, branded the move ‘privatising death’ after he noticed that two meetings will be held today and at the crematorium’s joint committee on Wednesday — each with the wording ‘disposal of asset’.
The Mail understands that four companies have now submitted bids to buy the crematorium — jointly owned by East Staffordshire Borough Council and South Derbyshire District Council.
The possible privatisation of the site has led to renewed concerns about future standards and the potential for increased charges for services and cremations if it is taken over by a profit-led private operator.
Terry Jones, from Linton said: “As a local lad I’m absolutely incensed by this. I’ve got relatives’ ashes scattered there. The place is making a profit every year so why do they want to sell it? “They’ve just spent £800,000 on new equipment so why do they want to sell it for £2 million? It just doesn’t make sense.
“It would be nice to know what they intended to do with it but at the moment it’s all being done in the dark. It’s all being done behind closed doors and it stinks. “I think they should bring it out into the open and come clean with exactly what they want to do, then we as taxpayers could have our say.” Midway resident John Cantrill said the crematorium would just be used for profit and privatisation would mean much higher prices.
He said: “I come to the crematorium to lay flowers for my relatives about once or twice a week and a lot of people here are just disgusted by the news. If it was sold it would just be used for profit. I think the beautiful ground would be ruined.
“A lot of the funeral directors use this crematorium because it is the cheapest around. If the prices increase, it will stop people coming to this area.
“I think it is already a done deal.” South Derbyshire District Council leader Robert Wheeler, who is also a member of the joint committee, said members would want to know that any buyer would be a good, solid, responsible organisation’.
Leader of the Tory-run borough council Richard Grosvenor said investigations had been done with potential buyers and the results were set to be discussed in secret due to the sensitive nature of the proposals.
He added that it was impossible to say whether the sale would have a negative impact.
“I share the concerns of fellow residents who have loved ones resting at the crematorium, which is why it saddens me that the Labour group leaders are turning this into a political decision — when it is not.”