Agenda and minutes

Greater Gwent Cremation Joint Committee - Wednesday, 29th September, 2021 10.00 am

Contact: Meryl James, Governance Officer 

No. Item


Apologies for Absence


Councillor M. Moore, Councillor J. Hughes, Councillor Pratt, Councillor Meredith, Joanne Gossage, and Steve Tom.


Declarations of Interest




Minutes of the Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 426 KB


The minutes of the meeting held on the 27 January 2021 were accepted and approved as a true and accurate record.



Gwent Crematorium Solar PV Lease Agreement pdf icon PDF 803 KB

Additional documents:


Carbon Reduction Assistant Manager – Mathew Preece


The Carbon Reduction Assistant Manager (MP) provided a presentation to the Committee in relation to the Welsh Community Energy Group (Egni Co-op) proposing to install solar panels on both flat and pitched  roofs at the Gwent Crematorium.


There is a requirement for the whole of the Welsh public sector to be de-carbonised by 2030. The installation of renewables such as solar panels is one of the best solutions to truly decarbonise any electricity that the site consumes.


Even though Gwent Crematorium is managed by the Joint Committee, Newport City Council are responsible for the carbon emissions from the building. Therefore, Newport City Council needs to come up with a strategy to decarbonise that site if the Council is to hit their target of becoming carbon neutral by 2030.


MP informed the Committee that Egni Co-op energy group approached Newport City Council back in 2018 with their proposal to install roof mounted solar panels on a number of their buildings. A business appraisal was carried out and this particular community ownership method was considered to be more effective than the Council doing it themselves internally.


Over the past 18 months, 27 sites have had roof mounted solar panel systems, increasing the energy generating capacity of Newport City Council, rising from 35kW to 2300kW. The Officer explained to give an idea of this scale; this would be 390 individual panels to 7000 panels. This was only possible by using this community energy model due to the lack of the Council’s internal resource to be able to manage that scale of work in such a short space of time.


The Arrangement

The Officer ran through the arrangement of the Community Energy Ownership Model and how it works.  Torfaen County Borough Council were the legal owners of the Crematorium and they would be required to grant a 21 year Lease for roof space to the energy community group. However, there would be a back-to-back agreement between Torfaen and Newport City Council, as the managers of the building, to comply with the landlord’s obligations in the lease and to indemnify Torfaen accordingly. A long-term Power Purchase Agreement would be put in place to sell power from the panels to Joint Committee at a favourable rate, which was guaranteed to be less that the current energy tariffs. Egni Co-op will undertake all maintenance for the 21-year period and cover the costs of all of the necessary insurances. If for some reason, the panels need to be removed for works during the 20-year period, Egni Co-op will pay for them to be taken down and re-instated during the term of the Lease. Once the 21-year Lease has finished, Egni Co-op can either transfer ownership of the installation to the Joint Committee or remove the installation at their cost. 


In doing so, the Joint Committee would receive the full benefit from the solar panels from that point.


There is an option to buy out the whole system during the Lease,  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.


Budget Monitoring Report 2021/22 pdf icon PDF 275 KB


The Finance Business Partner (JH) presented the budget monitoring position to the Committee as at the end of August.


The officer explained that they are projected to be down on income by £254,000.00. Expenditure will be overspent by £142,000 giving an overall deficit of £396,000 before any distribution.


The agreed budget distribution for this year is currently at £950,000.  If the position stays at this projection, with a £396,000 deficit and maintain the current distribution of £950,000, the Joint Committee would be looking at a draw from balances of £874,000.


JH noted with the balances, they currently sit at £1.4 million, taking that £950,000 from it would leave a balance of £562,000. This is the position at end of August so they are hoping this position will improve.


JH advised the projected variances on the premises; the overspend could be largely attributed to some repair work that the council have had to do and on the replacement of a heat exchanger unit and fan for the mercury abatement equipment.


This was necessary as expenditure, without it, two of the cremators would have been inoperable.


There is an increase in the premises costs over the last four years, premises related costs have increased by 44%. The officer stated that this is largely due to the age and nature of the equipment needing replacing and repairing.


The services currently show an underspend of £8000, that tends to be more of independent supplies and services budget. Part of that has been taken off by the fact that the Committee has replaced the visual tributes and the audio upgrade; so they have replaced the audio equipment to give them access for visual tributes. That has been taken out of the supplies and services budget.


The revenue budget is meeting the costs for the full audio upgrade as previously agreed by the Committee to come out of reserves.


The income at the end of August is showing a forecast of £254,000. The officer presented a table to the Committee which showed this is due to a decreasing number of cremations compared to the last period. The officer warned that it is too soon to predict if it will increase.


The risk that the officer reported to the Committee is that there is a projected shortfall of £874,000. In order to ensure the £950,000 distribution is still met, they will have to make a substantial draw on the reserves to maintain that position.


The increase in building costs is because they have replaced the boiler and fan to ensure the operation of the two cremators; this will hopefully reduce the ongoing maintenance costs.


JH reminded the Committee to note the budget monitoring place at the end of August and be mindful of the impact this will have on the reserves held by the Committee when considering the works mentioned in the report.

Comments were welcomed by the Committee.


The Committee asked the following/made the following comments:

·        Councillor Jeavons reminded the Committee to take these points into  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.


Visual Tribute Prices pdf icon PDF 324 KB


Councillor Jeavons raised this item in order for the committee to look at pricing structure for the visual tributes.


Councillor Jeavons mentioned when the Committee looked at the projected shortfall of a quarter of a million pounds, the visual tributes might help that, as other crematoriums also offer this facility.


It was suggested to the Committee that they should look into this as Councillor Jeavons agreed with the idea of installing the tributes, as it is what visitors want.


The Chair noted that the Gwent Crematorium is slightly cheaper than the other rivals on each of the elements.


This suggestion was noted by the Committee for consideration.


Funeral Director's Report

To consider any issues raised by local Funeral Directors


Funeral Director sent his apologies therefore nothing to discuss for the current meeting.



Manager's Report pdf icon PDF 243 KB


The Team Manager (PD) noted that memorial sales are always changing but the cremation numbers have become more buoyant. The Gwent Crematorium is currently benefiting from the visual tributes which has proven popular. This option has brought in additional revenue via services. The feedback has been very positive on the visuals that the visitors see.


It also brings in more cremations as there were situations where people would go to other funerals as other places had this facility when the Gwent Crematorium did not.


Numbers for funerals now are very buoyant and the Gwent Crematorium are full almost every day which is good for revenue.



Website is very popular due to the reduced face to face interaction from the impact of the pandemic.


Installation of Audio Equipment

Everything went to plan with the installation of the audio equipment. The team had a couple of days of down time so had it done at the same time. Therefore the crematorium did not lose more use of the building than they needed to.

The improvement is very popular and has made a huge difference in the chapel.


Screen Suggestion by Media Company

A further improvement has been suggested to the Team Manager by the Media Company.


They mentioned that the crematorium could replace the 50 inch screen in their cloister area, with additional wiring work and electric equipment. To be in a position that when visual tributes displayed on the tv screen; rather than seeing just the camera image within the chapel, the cloister screen would show the visual tributes so the full screen would fill up with images of the what pictures the family have suggested.


It was noted that this is certainly something the crematorium’s rivals offer.


PD was quoted for £2885 including all of the cabling and installation. No need to do this but if the committee approve it, then the manager could arrange for that to be done.


Pricing Structure – discretionary items

The committee already approved the cost for visual tributes but subsequent to that manager has been made aware of other things the crematorium could do but did not know when the installation would be made.

PD noted an important idea for the price list, for the facility to charge £75 for orders placed after the cut off for ordering visual tribute requests (the immediate cut off period is after immediate 72 hours). There is no profit in this, but is a fee the company levy as it causes difficulty of late sending such images. So it would be a case of sending the fee back to the families.


PD suggested to delete the current fees for the recordings of CD’s, USB’s and DVD’s, CDs have never been popular and the media company struggle to make these as most of the staff work from home now.

Suggested to rename these items, retain the £92 fees and offer downloadable files; the same thing but including the visual tributes of family photographs to the downloaded file. No  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.


Exempt or Confidential Items


Part 2:  Not for publication as consideration of the report involves the likely disclosure of     exempt information as defined in schedule 12 A of the Local Government Act 1972 (as amended) and the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosure.


Additional documents:


The Committee resolved to exclude the press and public during the consideration of the following items as it contained exempt information under Schedule 12A of the local government act 1972 due to confidential financial details.