CREMATION fees in Pembrokeshire are to rise by £91.

The move to bring Pembrokeshire cremation charges in line with the Welsh local authority average were approved by Pembrokeshire County Council’s cabinet on Monday.

The plan will see the cost of an average funeral at Parc Gwyn Crematorium, Narberth, rise from £595 to £686 with higher charges again on a Saturday or after 4pm.

The plan had originally been to increase charges to the Welsh average for all crematoria of £753 but was reduced to the Welsh council run crematorium average.

Cllr Cris Tomos, cabinet member for the environment, said at Monday’s meeting (October 7) the service does create a “surplus”, currently around £145,000, with further profit to be invested in improving the crematorium.

The second recommendation approved was to “carry out scoping work” on the feasibility of future development.

At the policy and pre-decision overview and scrutiny committee last month concerns were raised about the impact on the poorest in society while member of the public John Hudson, who addressed the committee, questioned the legality of the increases.

Council leader Cllr David Simpson said he was “happy to increase the fees as long as we are making the the facilities better than they are at the moment.”

He asked for assurance that the legality of the increase had been examined.

Head of public protection Richard Brown said that independent legal advice confirmed prices could be increased above cost recovery as long as they were “reasonable” but profit would not be allowed to be used to support other services.

“Any surplus that is generated could be used to support wider burial authority services and then, after maintenance and other investment / improvement in the facilities go back into the general fund,” a report to cabinet states.

Cllr Tomos added that support and guidance for those struggling to pay funeral costs will be reviewed.

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