Grieving relatives are facing long delays to hold funerals for their loved ones after equipment failed at Blackpool’s crematorium.
Families trying to book a funeral will have to wait until at least December 18 – a wait of two weeks – after one of the cremators at Carleton Crematorium broke down.
The backlog, five days longer than normal for this time of year, has seen funeral directors increasingly turn to Park Crematorium, in Lytham.
The Regent Avenue venue is now conducting 13 services a day – eight more than before the problems at Carleton started two weeks ago.
Crematorium bosses are hoping the broken cremator will be fixed by next week.
One relative, who asked not to be named, said she would have to wait until three weeks after the death of her mother if she wanted her cremated at Carleton.
She said: “We were told by our funeral director that because of a huge backlog, if we wanted Carleton Crematorium, it would be December 3 or 4 before mum could be cremated, making this nearly three weeks after her death.
“We were given the option of holding the service at Lytham on November 28, which was still quite a long time, but this is due to everyone going to Lytham as a result of the long wait at Carleton.
“The funeral director I spoke to says they and all of the others have complained, but to no avail.”
The facility, on Stocks Lane, should have three working cremators but the third cremator installed has never been operational since the company which installed them, Crawford Europe, ceased trading in July.
It has run on two cremators at a capacity of around eight services a day but has had to reduce to around five a day since the second cremator broke down.
Steve Nicholls, funeral director at Box Brothers, on Hawes Side Lane, Marton, said: “They had a refurbishment a few years ago and the cremators installed weren’t suitable for the job and now the company has gone bust.
“They are now working with one cremator instead of three and the repairs of the other two are in doubt because they have to find other contractors to complete the work.
“People want the nearest crematorium and there’s a high percentage of people who have associations with Carleton having to take cremations out of the area. If a time isn’t available at Carleton they do what they can.”
A spokesman for The Co-operative Funeralcare, which has offices across the Fylde coast, said: “We are aware of the current challenges at Carleton Crematorium due to ongoing works to improve the facilities.
“At present the number of services available each day are fewer than usual which is causing bereaved families to choose between facing a delay in the date of the funeral if they prefer it to be held at Carleton, or having the funeral for their loved one at an alternative crematorium, such as Park Crematorium, Lytham.
“We are working closely with our families and the staff at Carleton and are doing everything possible to ensure the needs of our clients are met.”
Coun Graham Cain, Blackpool Council’s cabinet member with responsibility for cremation, said: “Unfortunately during the summer the company installing three new cremators at Carleton ceased trading.
“Normally all three cremators would be in use but this left us in a situation where only two were operational. To ensure this didn’t disrupt the service we provide, our staff worked longer hours.
“Mid-November we discovered a fault with one of the cremators which prevents it from being used until is fixed. This has made it impossible to carry out as many ceremonies as normal.
“I apologise for any inconvenience that this has caused, every effort is being made to rectify the situation as soon as possible.
“A tender process is currently under way to appoint a new contractor to finish installing the cremators.”
A spokesman for Fylde Council, which is responsible for operations at Park Crematorium, added: “We are aware of problems and are pleased to help families from Blackpool as well as Fylde.”