Update On Projects To Maintain Burial Ground Capacity And Crematorium Services For The Highlands
3rd September 2023
A report was presented to members of the Communities and Place Committee yesterday (Thursday, 31 August) outlining a number of Bereavement Services projects currently being progressed to maintain burial ground capacity and crematorium services within the Highlands.
The update focused on matters around the progress of burial ground extensions and also on work which has been commissioned to review the options for a cremator replacement at Inverness Crematorium.
Detailed analysis and projections are used by the Bereavement Services Project Board - which also provides governance and oversight – to inform priority areas within the region, either for sourcing areas of land for the development of new burial grounds, or extending existing grounds to provide additional lairs to meet the future projected need of localities.
The provision of suitable burial grounds is generally delivered through the Council's capital programme, however, members were encouraged to hear that works are progressing well with £300,000 worth of funding secured through the Health and Prosperity Strategy having delivered the completion of an extension to the burial ground at Daviot, Inverness and contracts successfully awarded for upcoming works in Skye.
Furthermore, £100,000 of the Health and Prosperity Strategy funding has been identified specifically to support ongoing improvements at the Crematorium in Inverness.
Councillor Graham MacKenzie, Chair of the Communities and Place Committee, acknowledged some of the challenges relayed to members in yesterday's update and said: "The Council operates a vast estate of 245 burial grounds and we remain aware of the challenges presented in some areas of Highland in terms of securing suitable land for new developments. The team are reviewing burial ground extensions where current capacity is less than 10 years based on past trends and will look to provide additional lairs at existing grounds where it is possible to do so."
He continued: “In doing so, we hope to be able to continue to meet the expectations and preferences of communities and the newly-completed extensions at Chapellhill, Easter Ross and Proncynain, Dornoch are testament to this commitment.”
There are recognised challenges in some areas with burial ground provision with it becoming increasingly difficult to identify available land for development of extensions or for new burial grounds.
Cllr MacKenzie concluded by recognising the progress being made in investigating improvements for the Crematorium in Inverness: “Work is already underway on a project to review the options for the replacement of the current cremators to comply with national legislative changes being brought forward by the UK Government from 2027. Additionally, a number of changes are currently under consideration to improve the overall experience of families and visitors to the crematorium along with an enhanced range of memorial and remembrance options.”
Highland councillors will meet on 29th February 2024 to agree the proposals set out in the papers published today. There has been a long period of public consultation on the proposals and although there are unpalatable suggestions they will balance the books.
Over £100m investment programme proposed as part of 3-year budget Highland council are about to use significant amounts of reserves to cover shortfalls in the budget for 24/25 and possibly 25/26. Despite pushing out big figures it disguises the cuts about to fall on Highland services.
A collaborative network of Head Teachers and Education Officers are working closely together with the goal of improving attainment and achievement in Highland primary schools. Cllr John Finlayson, Education Chair said: "It is essential that we have strong, consultation and communication strategies in place and there is effective and ongoing collaboration between our schools and our central education service.
The Highland Council is currently unable to confirm whether funding will be available to support the Wick-Aberdeen Public Service Obligation (PSO) after 31st March 2024. The funding for the PSO is currently provided on the basis of £1.3m annually, with £1m committed by the Scottish Government and £0.3m committed by The Highland Council.
The Chair of The Highland Council's Economy and Infrastructure Committee has announced that a 3-week trial of a thermal process for pothole repairs will be taking place. An external contractor, Thermal Road Repairs, has been appointed to undertake the trial before the end of the 2023/24 financial year.
Caithness Committee Members today (Monday 29 January 2024) considered and assessed applications submitted to the area's Community Regeneration Fund. Community Regeneration Funding is an umbrella term for a number of funds that are available for communities/organisations to access in Highland.
The Council at the Caithness Area Committee agree the roads budget for 2024/25 with exactly the same amount as for 2023/24. Clearly with rapidly increasing costs this will come nowhere near to maintaining the roads to even the poor condition they are now in.
A briefing has been provided to all members of the Council on an accounting flexibility introduced by Scottish Government and available to Councils to utilise in 2022/23 or 2023/24. A number of reports to Council in recent months have covered this topic, and a number of other Councils have utilised the flexibility in 2022/23 or are considering doing so in 2023/24.
The information provided is a summary of reports from operational staff and is intended to give a general indication of typical conditions in each area at a point in time. It is not intended to imply that any individual route is entirely snow and ice free and drivers must be aware that conditions can change rapidly and make their own assessment of conditions for travelling.
Weather is still hitting school transport services around the county. Wick Unfortunately we have made the decision to close the school tomorrow, Friday 19th January, due to the ongoing snowfall and hazardous road conditions.