Grieving relatives are facing up to a three-week wait to say farewell to their loved ones due to faulty equipment at a Fylde crematorium.
The Gazette first revealed in December how families hoping to hold funerals at Carleton Crematorium would have to wait at least two weeks for a servicebecause one of the cremators had broken down.
But today it has emerged the fortnight delay has now increased and many relatives in Blackpool and Wyre are still being forced to travel to Lytham’s Park Crematorium instead.
The Carleton facility, on Stocks Lane, is supposed to have three cremators and carry out between 40 to 50 services a week when running at full capacity.
However, the third cremator installed has never been operational since the company which installed it, Crawford Europe, ceased trading in July last year.
Blackpool Council says two cremators are working and has secured a deal with ATI Environment UK Ltd to install a third machine and clear the back log by the autumn.
But the increasing delays have sparked concerns among grieving families.
A member of one family from the Poulton area, today said the problems were causing them extra heartache.
The relative, who declined to be named, said: “My dad died recently ater a long battle with cancer.
“It came as a real shock to us all even though he had been ill for a long while.
“As anyone who has lost a close family member will know, there is so much to sort out and it can be really difficult.
“But we just wanted to get everything over and done with as quickly as possible, including the funeral.
“We wanted the funeral at Carleton as it is handy for all our family and friends, but the funeral director said it could be several weeks atleastbecause of a problem there.
“It is ridiculous thatwe and everyone else has to wait this long at such a diicult time.
“The grieving process is bad enough without having to hang around for weeks because they haven’t got the families, but they don’t wait too long for Lytham and appreciate there is a situation at Carleton.”
Steve Nicholls, funeral director at Box Brothers, on Hawes Side Lane, Blackpool, said: “I realise they are under a lot of pressure, but it’s a situation which needs sorting out.”
“There are certain areas where if we are carrying out a funeral from Cleveleys we have to give a lot more time to get to Lytham.
“I’m looking forward to it coming back into full service because it’s a lot easier and convenient.”
Coun Graham Cain, whose Blackpool Council portfolio covers the crematorium operation, said: “A contractor has now been appointed to carry out the works at the crematorium and this is underway.
“We expect that, as work progresses, we will gradually be able to increase the amount of services we are able to carry out. The project is expected to be completed in the autumn.”
A spokesman for the council added: “Families are looking at a 20 day wait for cremations.
“We are carrying out five or six a day, which would usually be eight or nine, and 40 to 50 a week, so we are three a day below what we would normally do.”
Lytham’s crematorium, on Regent Avenue, can conduct 14 services a day with their two cremators.
Allan Oldield, chief executive of Fylde Council, insists their service in Lytham is not experiencing a back log because of Carleton’s problems.
He said: “We bought top of the range ones (cremators).
“It’s a serious business and you have got to invest in it.
“We know Carleton has had some changes with some of their cremators and we are accommodating this.
“I don’t think it’s a major issue and we are able to accommodate any ones that come our way. At the moment it’s a week wait and not any more than it normally is.”