Comment: The complications of the crematorium debate

First published in Opinion The Westmorland Gazette: Photograph of the Author by

THE suggestion that South Lakeland needs a crematorium is on the face of it a worthy one. However, any firm proposal is bound to meet with difficulty.

Previous planning applications for such a facility were opposed by locals and rejected by South Lakeland District Council.

Which makes it ironic that the person now championing the crematorium cause is the authority’s current leader.

Peter Thornton says that transporting deceased South Lakelanders to Barrow or Lancaster for cremation can sometimes be an ‘undignified dash’.

Unsurprisingly, local funeral directors agree with him, saying that in the tourist season it can take up to two hours to reach the crematoria, adding to bereaved family stress.

But while making the case for a new crematorium is easy and will probably garner lots of local support, dealing with the practical complications could be complex and controversial.

No neighbourhood would willingly want a crematorium built on its doorstep, not least because of the likely increase in traffic, so a key to making progress with the idea is to find the most suitable site.

A location close to Parkside Cemetery in Kendal, which already has daily cortege processions, might be suitable - but suitability does not guarantee compatability.

Edge or out of town areas allocated for light commercial development in SLDC’s Land Allocation Document, might be more appropriate.

In any event, if the location problem can be solved, a big issue to overcome would be who should foot the bill for the crematorium. Perhaps in these times of public spending constraints, such a facility might only be possible with private capital.

Subject to solving the above problems, the idea of a district crematorium certainly makes sense.

Like the campaign to bring radiotherapy closer to the South Lakeland patients who need it, the call for a crematorium would certainly be consistent with the Government’s localisation agenda.

And while we are on the subject, the localism agenda should be used to ensure South Lakeland criminal cases don’t end up being heard by Barrow magistrates, as some local soliticitors fear will happen.

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