Agenda item

Review of Rushcliffe Oaks Crematorium

Report of the Director – Development and Economic Growth


The Rushcliffe Oaks Manager delivered a presentation that provided the Group with a brief background of the Rushcliffe Oaks Crematorium project and information on its current position, future plans and areas for development.


The Group were advised the crematorium opened for business on 3 April 2023, which was later than had been expected due to delays around Covid and supply chain issues.


The Rushcliffe Oaks Manager advised the Group that there are 4 members of staff, Manager, Senior Attendant and two Attendants who were recruited into post over the past two years, allowing time for training and setting up all required processes, procedures and risk assessments. It was also noted that a member of the Streetwise Team is based at the crematorium full time to take care of the ground’s maintenance.


Since opening the doors of the Crematorium it was reported that there has been a steady rise in take up of cremation services and as with any new facility, the first few months have focused on building an excellent reputation and good relationships with partners. Feedback from funeral directors has been positive, with some travelling some distance and returning to use Rushcliffe Oaks over crematoriums nearer to them. The Rushcliffe Oaks Manager expressed that by far the most rewarding feedback has come from families who have got in touch to say thank you. The Rushcliffe Oaks Manager explained that it is difficult to quantify customer feedback due to the sensitive nature of the business.


The Rushcliffe Oaks Manager provided information in respect of communication and engagement with site visits for industry colleagues, local businesses, Councillors and officers prior to opening and an open day scheduled for all on Saturday 22 July 2023. Adverts had been placed in local brochures and where appropriate the team will look to get involved in local events and have aspirations to set up a ‘Friends of Group’. Social Media pages were set up to give updates during the build phase and since opening regular posts are created to give out relevant information.


The Rushcliffe Oaks Manager advised the Group of some of the memorialisation options that the Crematorium currently offer including a memorial tree sculpture, engraved slats on a curved bench and curb stones to name a few, all sourced locally using local materials. The Group were asked to consider other ideas to offer in the future.


Members asked specific questions relating to the memorialisation and how quickly are the items on offer likely to fill up and what were the plans to future proof these facilities. The Rushcliffe Oaks Manager explained that statistics for take up of memorialisation’s is around 4% and Most are offered as a lease whereby it can be renewed or collected by the family. In addition, the team were looking at other options for example turning ashes to glass in the way of a keepsake.


Members commented on waiting times for funeral services and how distressing this can be for families and where current users were coming from, suggesting the facility is advertised more widely across the borough and beyond to help increase its usage. It was noted that there are no crematoria facilities at Grantham, Newark or Melton Mowbray who’s local Authorities boarder the Borough. The Rushcliffe Oaks Manager explained that it is the funeral directors who have direct contact with the crematorium services on offer and that it is them who liaise with family members to arrange a funeral service and therefore obtaining addresses for data capturing has proved difficult, in the instances where family have been prepared to travel the distance to use Rushcliffe Oaks, the deceased has had some connection with the area. It was noted that there are also many independent funeral directors who are not as easy to locate as the larger national ones and Members felt more could be done to locate and approach these smaller funeral businesses to make them aware of the unique services Rushcliffe Oaks can provide.


One Member of the Group commented on the number of services currently being conducted against the target highlighted in the report and questioned what was in place to increase business with the aim of fulfilling the target aspirations and provide value for money. The Service Manager – Economic Growth and Property explained that 3 services per day had always been the initial starting point for the new business, with the intention of increasing numbers with time. The Rushcliffe Oaks Manager added that the facility is limited to a maximum of 6 services per day when fully operational.


Members expressed that reputation and care are good business foundations and were appreciative of officers for their considerations and design in developing a sensitive and quality facility with families at the forefront, providing choices in how they would like services to be conducted and the provision for memorialisation options.


Members asked specific questions in relation to other crematorium facilities nearby and in particular the viability of services at Wilford Hill, and whether Rushcliffe Oaks costs for services were competitive with other crematoriums in the area. The Rushcliffe Oaks Manager advised that Wilford Hill were looking to expand its facility with the provision of an electric cremator. Wilford Hill services were more traditional and are currently cheaper than those offered at Rushcliffe Oaks and Gedling. The Group were also advised that Rushcliffe Oaks had already established good relationships with other crematorium staff in the area, including a networking group where experiences and support is shared.


The Chair praised the work of officers and the Rushcliffe Oaks Team for their enthusiasm and commitment in establishing the new crematorium facility, adding the importance of the value of time given to families to ensure Rushcliffe Oaks continues to meet its user’s expectations.


The Rushcliffe Oaks Manager informed the Group that the work undertaken so far has been very rewarding which is reflected by the Team and relationships with other service providers. The Group were invited to visit the facility so they can see first hand what and excellent provision and business opportunity this is for the Council.


It was RESOLVED that the Growth and Development Scrutiny Group:


a)    Provided comment on the operation of the crematorium to date and proposed that Rushcliffe Oaks is brought back to Growth and Development Scrutiny Group at a later date for further comment and feedback


b)    Shared their aspirations for the future development and Growth of the crematorium







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