Wigan Council offer extra cremation slots amid high demand
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Wigan Council has made the move to support residents in the borough at a time when cremation services are facing an increased demand.
The council has made some additional booking slots at Wigan crematorium outside of its normal operational hours.
There are two extra cremation service times on Monday to Friday, a 6pm slot and 7pm slot which will provide an additional weekly capacity of 10 cremation service slots.
While there will be four extra services on Saturday mornings at 9am, 10am, 11am and noon. Normally the crematorium is closed on bank holidays but to meet the expected demand it is opening on Friday (May 8) between 9am to 5pm on the hour services slots, with an option to add 6pm and 7pm to the times.
It comes as one reader told the Wigan Observer how one of her friends had died and had been told the council couldn’t find room for the funeral until the end of the month.
The Observer has learnt that there had been such a backlog that nobody can now get a funeral booked before the end of May whether they died from coronavirus or not.
While this is believed to be partly due to there being more deaths than usual, it is also because churches are all shut, meaning every full service goes to the crematorium at Ince and Howe Bridge.
And there will also likely be bigger time gaps between cremation services so that mourners from one don’t mingle with those from the previous one.
When asked by the Observer, the council denied there being any backlogs and said it had slots available as early as Thursday, while the next available slot for burials is on May 11.
A spokesman said: “To support residents in the borough during the ongoing Covid-19 pressures and the ongoing demand for increased cremation services at Wigan Crematorium we have initiated some additional booking slots outside of our normal operational hours.
“There is two extra cremation service slots Monday to Friday, a 6pm slot and 7pm slot providing an additional weekly capacity of 10 cremation service slots. Together with four extra slots on Saturday mornings 9am, 10am, 11am and 12 noon.
“Normally the crematorium is closed on bank holidays but to meet the expected demand we are opening Bank Holiday Friday (May 8) 9am to 5pm on the hour services slots with an option to add 6pm and 7pm if the demand is needed.”
It comes as a group of Tory MPs has urged the Church of England to allow funerals to be held in churches again on a small scale.
Former cabinet ministers Liam Fox and Theresa Villiers are among the 36 Tories who have written to bishops to make the case.
Social distancing rules mean most funerals are now limited to close family.