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Sefton Council shares Southport Crematorium update

Sefton Council’s Green Sefton Service has now undertaken extensive maintenance to the grounds of Southport Crematorium, after its regular upkeep was hampered by the effects of COVID-19.

Green Sefton worker at Southport Crem
Green Sefton worker undertaking mowing at Southport Crematorium

The update comes the day after Sefton Council’s Leader, Cllr Ian Maher, outlined that the local authority is still feeling the effects of the virus.

A combination of staff shortages due to redeployment, general staff turnover and shielding or self-isolation during the pandemic has resulted in a backlog of maintenance work across Sefton’s outdoor spaces.

The recent spells of good weather have resulted in rapid natural growth of grassed and planted areas. And, the extension of the football season has also contributed to a delayed schedule of planned works, with additional grass cutting and pitch marking required later in the sports season than usual. 

Cllr Ian Moncur, Sefton Council’s Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, said: “The maintenance of Southport Crematorium’s grounds had fallen below our normally high standards for a site which is so important to our communities as a place for quiet remembrance and reflection.

“It’s been an unprecedented time of demand and challenge for our Green Sefton service, alongside all other Council departments, over the past year and a half. Many officers have been redeployed throughout the pandemic, supporting our Public Health teams to protect the most vulnerable in our communities.

Freshly weeded area at Southport Crematorium
Freshly weeded area at Southport Crematorium

“We’ve also had to respond to the increased public use of all Green Sefton sites during the various stages of lockdown. This has included clearing litter at the coast and emptying bins in our parks, despite our relentless pleas for visitors to take responsibility for their rubbish when enjoying our outdoor spaces. We’ve had to prioritise hotspot areas all while protecting our own staff, for instance when they have needed to self-isolate.

“This has inevitably caused a delay and a backlog to our normal maintenance schedules. I am very pleased to report that over the past week we’ve had Green Sefton officers at the crematorium catching up with grass cutting and weeding, and we have allocated some additional temporary funding to increase staffing provision across Green Sefton until the end of September. This will include having two members of staff undertaking the regular upkeep of the crematorium.  

Mowed area at Southport Crematorium
Mowed area at Southport Crematorium

“We’re also working closely with local volunteers who have come forward to support our maintence of this important space moving forward. We will be looking for funding opportunities that could support longer-term improvements and projects to enhance the site further and ensure it remains a fitting place to remember loved ones.”

Similarly, the Council’s Burial and Cremation Service has been under a great deal of pressure over the past year and a half, responding to increased service demand and added restrictions as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Peter Moore, Head of Highways and Public Protection, said: “In order to comply with legislation, guidance, health and safety requirements or simply to ensure that burials and cremations were prioritised, some services such as ashes interment, scattering and memorialisation were suspended for significant periods of time. This has sadly resulted in people waiting much longer than normal to access these services.

“We recognise that these services are important aspects of the bereavement process and remembering loved ones, and that long delays are distressing for people. We are prioritising trying to catch-up with these services, but this is going to take some time.

“We are continuing to work hard on this and to try to get to a position where we are able to give everyone a firm date as soon as possible.”