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Kirklees Council burial charge ‘backtrack’ after feedback

Protest: Mark Eastwood and Sajid Hussain with residents outside the  Hope Street Mosque, Dewsbury
Protest: Mark Eastwood and Sajid Hussain with residents outside the Hope Street Mosque, Dewsbury

Kirklees Council has backtracked from controversial proposals to increase burial charges - and has attracted flak for the anger and upset caused.

Dewsbury County Conservative Assiociation chairman Mark Eastwood, who took up the case on behalf of residents, said the climbdown was embarrassing for the council and Labour councillors who had been involved in drawing up the initial proposals.

These would have seen increases to standard burial and cremation costs but a big increase in out-of-hours burial mcosts and a smaller increase in our-of-hours cremation costs.

In the case of the out-of-hours burial option, for which there is currently no charge, a fee of £477 was proposed.

Mr Eastwood, who is monitoring the situation, said: “When Kirklees Council first brought out these proposals I was inundated with complaints from Dewsbury residents incensed at the unfair plans to increase burial charges, particularly the surcharge for Friday afternoons, which I queried with Secretary Of State For Communities and Local Government, Sajid Javid, to see if the charge was discriminatory.”

Resident Sajid Hussain felt let down by the proposals, but was pleased Kirklees Council had performed a U-turn.

“We really appreciate the help and support Mark gave in our fight against Kirklees,” he said.

“The fact they have now shelved their plans is a victory for common sense and for all communities who came together to oppose them, although it was a disgrace that Councillors thought the increases would be a good idea in the first place”

Kirklees Council’s strategic director for economy and infrastructure, Naz Parkar, thanked all who had taken part in the engagement exercise which had run from September to December 8 and confirmed that following early feedback the Cabinet had moved away from the full cost recovery proposal.

Officers had been asked to revise proposals which will be considered carefully for next year and in the meantime, with the aim of agreeing a longer term strategy, conversations would be taking place with interested individuals and groups.

Comparison with other nearby councils shows each having policies and charging scales of their own. For example, Barnsley Council do not offer an out-of-hours policy at all, and charging for various aspects of the service in varies in amount from council to council.