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Perth crematorium under fire for ‘conveyor belt’ ceremonies

Perth Crematorium entrance.
Perth Crematorium entrance.

Perth crematorium offers the shortest services in Scotland which leave mourners feeling as “if they were on a conveyor belt,” a new study claims.

The report – which private funeral company Dignity says is “the most rigorous study of cremations ever undertaken in the UK” – claims Perth is the only crematorium north of the border to “offer ceremonies of 30 minutes or less.”

But a spokesperson for the crematorium hit back saying they had written to Dignity to complain about its “inaccurate” report.

Simon Cox, Dignity’s head of insight, said mourners had told their researchers – who looked at all the UK’s 244 crematoriums – they did not feel they had enough time to say goodbye to their loved ones properly

He said: “The funeral service is a critical time for people who have lost a loved one. Whether it is a solemn occasion or a celebration it is essential that we have enough time to say goodbye.”

“The fact that so many mourners felt rushed at the crematorium should give pause to everyone in the funeral industry.”

Responding to Perth and Kinross Council’s statement, he added: “Our research shows that 15% of crematoria across the UK have time slots that are 30 minutes or less, including Perth Crematorium. While many may offer the choice to buy double time slots, only 8% of those that organised a funeral told us that they were aware they could extend the service.”

Four in ten people in Scotland,  or 42%, who had organised a cremation funeral felt the experience was like being on a conveyor belt, the survey said.

A further four in ten, or 39%, of mourners also felt that they were not given enough time to properly say goodbye to their loved one at the crematorium.

Jane Bechtel, a Humanist celebrant who has been conducting funerals at Perth crematorium for 13 years, said the time given to services could be an issue, and that complications with parking at the Perth site often compounded the feeling of being rushed.

“Yes it is a problem for celebrants and it is a problem for families. That is a no-brainer. But the physical constraints of the actual site are huge. If there was more parking and better access this would not be so much of an issue.

“One other issue is the motorway that went through the Garden of Remembrance. The fact the council was happy to move everything for a road, but not to make parking easier, has often come up.”

A spokesperson for Perth and Kinross council, who operate the crematorium, said: “We have written to Dignity Funerals to express our concern at the inaccuracy and ask for this misinformation to be corrected.”

“We look to provide a service which is responsive to the requirements of individual families and offer one hour between service times, to allow time for people to arrive in advance, during which families can occupy the designated family room until their requested service time in “the chapel.

“If it is a particularly large funeral, a two hour slot can be booked with a service time of 40 minutes, the cost of which is significantly lower than a single slot offered by Dignity Funerals.

“The Council’s approach ensures that bereaved families and mourners can mark the passing of their loved ones in an appropriate way.”


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