South Derbyshire residents will benefit from £3 million from the sale of Bretby Crematorium, it has been revealed.
Conservatives on South Derbyshire District Council have said they welcome the news that Bretby Crematorium has been sold and are pleased that the facts surrounding the £7.6 million sale can now be made public.
It means people in East Staffordshire, as the larger district, will get £4.6 million from the sale — part of which will be used to build a new leisure centre in Uttoxeter.
Bob Wheeler, leader of South Derbyshire District Council, which jointly owns the Geary Lane site with East Staffordshire Borough Council, said: “The sale will result in a capital receipt of more than £3 million for South Derbyshire — money which can and will be invested in new facilities for the benefit of all of our communities.
“Since the proposal by the borough council, South Derbyshire’s Conservative councillors have made it clear that they could only support a sale if legally-binding safeguards were secured on the future of the crematorium, including public access, investment in facilities, pricing and staff job security. These have been secured.”
He added that the crematorium would remain a crematorium and the grounds and woodland would be preserved, maintained and enhanced.
Its existing staff would continue working for the new owners — Midlands Cooperative — with proper protection of their pay and conditions.
Public access will be at least as good in the future, meaning that relatives of the deceased will be able to visit Bretby, as they do now, to remember their loved ones. The Co-op has also guaranteed a £250,000 investment in the crematorium, which Councillor Wheeler claims the councils could not have afforded.
He said: “While the crematorium has generated a profit in recent years, it has never generated the cash needed to invest in facilities to meet modern requirements. Investment has been paid for by borrowing. This could not continue in today’s climate and substantial price rises would have been inevitable if Bretby had remained in public ownership. The councils have secured a cap on price increases of five per cent for the next four years — far better than if East Staffordshire and South Derbyshire retained control.”
Woodville resident Margaret Thornton, who protested against the sale, said she wasn’t surprised at the amount South Derbyshire would get, saying: “We can only have what our share is. I know it is signed, sealed and delivered now but the way the councils have behaved during this, with no consultation with residents and the fact there will be a blatant monopoly, is unbelievable.”