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Election of Chairperson (from Bridgend County Borough Council members)
RESOLVED: Members agreed by way of a unanimous decision, that Councillor JC Spanswick be elected Chairperson of the Coychurch Crematorium Joint Committee for the ensuing year.
Councillor Spanswick took the Chair.
Election of Vice Chairperson (from Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council members)
RESOLVED: Members agreed by way of a unanimous decision, that Councillor B Stephens be elected Vice-Chairperson of the Coychurch Crematorium Joint Committee for the ensuing year.
Declarations of Interest
To receive declarations of personal and prejudicial interest (if any) from Members/Officers in accordance with the provisions of the Members’ Code of Conduct adopted by Council from 1st September 2009.
To receive for approval the Minutes of 04/03/2022
RESOLVED: That the minutes of a meeting of the Coychurch Crematorium Joint Committee dated 4 March 2022, be approved as a true and accurate record.
The Bereavement Services Manager and Registrar submitted a report and the accompanying Business Plan, that included service objectives and proposed maintenance and improvement projects to enhance and maintain the Crematorium grounds and the buildings for the forthcoming financial year.
She explained that in line with the Memorandum of Agreement, the purpose of the June annual review was to look back at the performance of the Crematorium during the preceding financial year of 2021/22; to review performance against the 2021/22 business plan, and a number of headings have been identified, which could be analysed in more detail, commencing on page 13 of the report.
Firstly, she confirmed that the total number of cremations in 2021/22, was 1681 made up of 1024 from Bridgend, 140from Vale of Glamorgan and 459 from Rhondda Cynon Taff, with 58 from outside of the 3 authorities. While the mid-part of 2021 was still experiencing some impact from the Covid-19 pandemic with higher cremation numbers, this began to drop to more normal levels towards the latter part and into the early part of this year, as the vaccination programme took effect. When she delivered this report last June, she reported 2086 cremations for the financial year 2020/21, an increase of 416 cremations on the previous pre-covid financial year, which was a quarter more deaths than would have been expected. So, a more normal death rate return was being seen, replacing those very sad circumstances.
The second heading on Page 13 of the report, detailed service standards through the results of the Public Satisfaction Questionnaires in 2021/22, which are sent to all cremation applicants. The target is to achieve 100% overall satisfaction levels rated at good or excellent, and the Bereavement Services Manager and Registrar, was pleased to report that these remained constant at 100%, with a target set in the 2022/23 Business Plan for the same result.
The observations and comments provided by the cremation applicants were detailed, so she had added some notes where applicable to assist with clarity.
Due to the pandemic, 2021/22 has remained extremely challenging, and despite the higher numbers of funerals and the restrictions in place to keep mourners and staff safe, feedback is very positive and where necessary she had responded to the cremation applicant in writing. There were some really positive comments regarding the professional sensitive attention received from Crematorium staff and the way that the funeral services are run, and also the high standards of maintenance of the grounds and buildings, including the peaceful atmosphere of the site. The benefits of the Crematorium’s webcast system had been clearly very much appreciated during the pandemic period. Members will note some comments between April and September relating to restrictions in place as a result of the pandemic, but from October onwards these comments cease as restrictions slowly relaxed. The Joint Committee will also note some negative comments regarding the Crematorium’s sound system between April and September, but again from October onwards these comments cease, when both chapels received ... view the full minutes text for item 5.
The Group Manager – Highways and Green Spaces presented a report, that informed the Joint Committee of a recent Internal Audit of Coychurch Crematorium to allow certification of the 2021/22 annual return.
He advised that the objective of the Audit was to provide assurance to the Joint Committee on the adequacy and effectiveness of the internal control, governance and risk management arrangements in respect of Coychurch Crematorium.
Audit testing was undertaken in respect of the financial year 2021/22 and the internal control, governance and risk management arrangements were evaluated against the audit objectives listed in paragraph 3.2 of the report, ie in relation to Governance, Budgetary Control, Income Management and Invoice and Order Management.
The Group Manager – Highways and Green Spaces confirmed that the Audit identified a number of strengths and areas of good practice. There was one recommendation made as a result of the Audit and the action in respect of this, had been implemented.
The Audit opinion concluded that there was substantial assurancethat a sound system of governance, risk management and control exists, with internal controls operating effectively and being consistently applied to support the achievement of objectives in the area audited.
He concluded his submission, by advising that there were no further actions required.
A copy of the Internal Audit Report was attached for the benefit of Members at the Appendix to the report.
A Member advised that he was pleased to note that the Audit feedback and resulting recommendation made by them, had been acted upon so quickly by the Crematorium.
RESOLVED: That the Joint Committee noted the Internal Audit Report.
The Bereavement Services Manager and Registrar submitted a report, the purpose of which, was to advise the Joint Committee on the progress of the construction of an extension to the Flower Court facility at Coychurch Crematorium and to request approval to award the Contract resulting from the tender process as detailed in the report.
The proposed extension was designed to improve the mourners experience and the movement of the congregation by providing a larger covered facility on the currently unused grass area, the design being in keeping with the Crematorium’s Grade 2* listed building status and the design ethos of the extremely eminent original architect, Maxwell Fry.
At the meeting on 14th June 2019 the Joint Committee was introduced to the architect, Jonathan Adams (of Percy Thomas Architects, Capita Real Estate and Infrastructure), a previous president of the Royal Society of Architects in Wales and noted for various prestigious projects including the millennium centre in Cardiff Bay. Members were provided with a detailed presentation of his proposed design for the extension works. The Joint Committee were then shown pictures of the works, expanded upon by the Bereavement Services Manager and Registrar, as follows:
(i) The design is most impressive, effective for the requirements of the bereaved and staff but also compliments the religious ethos of the existing buildings and grounds.
(ii) It maximises the use of space – being a large structure.
(iii) It provides a new door aperture from the rear of the chapel that leads directly into the extended covered Flower Court, greatly improving the speed at which mourners can vacate the chapel to view the floral tributes while additionally improving safety in the case of an emergency evacuation.
(iv) It also provides covered access between the door at the top of the Cloister walkway to the chapel exit doors.
The design takes its dome-like form from historic religious buildings of different faiths, displaying handkerchief vaults built from steel and hardwood frames and featuring stone walling, stone paving and stained glass, all high-end natural materials beautifully crafted, which complement the current architectural style of the building.
The Joint Committee approved the design and authorised that officers proceed to apply for planning permission and invite tenders for the construction works, subject to further approval. The funding for the project was then estimated at £540,000 and would be accommodated from the crematoriums reserve funds.
At the meeting on 4th September 2020 the JC was again updated, that despite the pandemic, work had progressed in some areas, mainly that:
- All statutory approvals had been achieved, including listed building consent from Welsh Government. The Crematorium had worked extremely closely with our conservation planners and CADW on this project, who have very positively endorsed the design.
At the meeting on 5th March last year, Members were advised that the pandemic had impacted upon the timetable and funds were moved to the 2021/22 budget, to enable the architect to continue to actively progress the procurement stage and the preparation of ... view the full minutes text for item 7.
The Finance Manager, Financial Control and Closing presented a report, in order to present the unaudited Annual Accounting Statement for the 2021-22 financial year to the Joint Committee, and to obtain approval to submit the Annual Accounting Statement for Coychurch Crematorium to Audit Wales.
Following the report outlining certain background information, she confirmed that Section 1 of the Annual Accounting Statement (Appendix 1 to the report) showed that in 2021-22 Coychurch Crematorium made a net surplus of £280,724. The surplus had been added to the accumulated reserve for the Crematorium brought forward at 31 March 2021, bringing the total of that reserve to £3,179,607 at 31 March 2022, compared to £2,898,883 in the preceding year.
Table 1 in paragraph 4.1 of the report, showed a summary of the final financial position for the Crematorium for 2021-22 as compared to the budget set at the start of the financial year.
The Finance Manager, Financial Control and Closing stated that explanations for the more significant variances from budget were shown in bullet point format at paragraph 4.2 of the report.
Table 2 in the report, then reflected a breakdown of the Planned Capital Maintenance Budget along with the Outturn and Variances for 2021-22, relating to the Flower Court extension, Site Lighting and the Chapel Sound equipment.
Further to the Annual Accounting Statement, a supplementary Balance Sheet was provided in Table 3 of the report and this supplementary information provided a further breakdown of the figures recorded in the Annual Accounting Statement.
Further information to explain the balances was expanded upon in paragraph 4.4 of the Treasurers report.
RESOLVED: That the Joint Committee approved the Annual Accounting Statement for Coychurch Crematorium for 2021-22 (Appendix 1 to the report referred), and agreed that the Chairperson of the Joint Committee signs the Annual Accounting Statement prior to submission to Audit Wales.
To consider any other item(s) of business in respect of which notice has been given in accordance with Rule 4 of the Council Procedure Rules and which the person presiding at the meeting is of the opinion should by reason of special circumstances be transacted at the meeting as a matter of urgency.