FUNERAL directors have criticised an ‘appalling’ decision to introduce a £155 fine if services overrun at Worthing Crematorium.
Services which run over by more than ten minutes will be subject to the fine, introduced by Worthing Borough Council, which operates the crematorium.
Peter Kennard from HD Tribe, which has an office in Brunswick Road, Shoreham, said: “It’s an appalling situation. You can’t legislate for a son talking about his father for 20 minutes. Are we suppose to hurry him up because time is running out?
“One of the vicars is completely daunted by it all as they don’t want families to have to pay because of them – they feel the clock is constantly ticking.”
The council said the charges were introduced after discussions in December, but funeral directors said all they received was an email from the council notifying them of the charges.
Mr Kennard said requests for the fines would not be passed on to mourners.
“If it was through our own incompetence, then we would pay the fine but we are not going to ask those mourning to pay because of situations like this. The crematorium send us a monthly account, so we are not going to ring up a family a couple of weeks later and say sorry, you have to pay.”
Ian Hart, a funeral director based in Worthing, said he would have hoped the council would have taken into account factors out of his control.
He added: “Unfortunately, sometimes funerals will overrun, due to outside speakers speaking for longer than accounted for. I would have hoped that someone at the council would have taken that into account. It does seem grossly unfair to penalise bereaved families.”
Councillor Clive Roberts, whose portfolio as Worthing Borough Council’s cabinet member for environment includes the crematorium, said funeral directors could book double slots if needed.
“The additional charge is levied if the service goes over its allotted time by more than ten minutes. This causes a log-jam for further services, which is both inconvenient and distressing to other mourners.
“Funeral directors know when they have large memorial services and can always book two time slots in advance, as they have in the past. If there is no following service, then the fee will be waived, but a warning given.”