A crematorium which sparked delays to funerals because its machines were out of order for more than a year is finally fully operational again.
Two of the three furnaces at Carleton Crematorium were broken last year, despite repeated council pledges to fix them, causing delays of up to four weeks for services to be held and leaving grieving families furious.
Funeral directors told of growing anger as the problem dragged on at the Blackpool Council run facility, off Stocks Road in Carleton, and said it has caused frustration and upset for families wanting to hold services for loved ones.
But now it has finally re-opened fully, with all furnaces operational.
Coun Graham Cain, cabinet member with responsibility for the crematorium, said: “All three cremators have now been refurbished and are operational daily.
“As people will be aware this has taken a long time due to the problems we had with the company who went into liquidation and we are now pleased to have all three cremators working.”
And the councillor said the crematorium is now able to offer an enhanced service.
He added: “From April, families will now be able to book an extended 45-minute service as well as the standard 30-minute service and the crematorium will also operate on Saturdays, having previously been open from Monday to Friday. We hope this greater range of choice, which comes in response to feedback from families, will prove helpful to people.”
The Gazette revealed in December 2013 how families were having to wait two weeks for services at the facility.
And by March last year this had doubled, to four weeks.
The crematorium has space for three cremators and capacity to carry out between 40 and 50 services each week.
But the installation of the new third cremator was halted in summer 2013 when the company fitting it, Crawford Europe, ceased trading.
Two cremators continued to operate, and Blackpool Council secured a deal with ATI Environment UK Ltd to finish the third cremator.
But then the second cremator at the facility broke down.
Blackpool Council moved to reassure families the work was being carried out promptly, saying in April last year they expected it to be complete by August.
However, the crematorium was beset with another problem, when engineers had to carry out additional work to comply with legislation on mercury emissions
In December another pledge was made to carry out the work as soon as possible – but it has only now been completed. Funeral directors have welcomed the news.
Mark Rae, of Mark Rae Funeral Directors in Lytham, said: “I’m glad it’s up and running again, it’s good news for families, it’s been needed for a long time.”