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Decision details

Approval for the temporary closure of council chapels

Decision Maker: Parvis Khansari (Director - Highways and Environment)

Decision status: Recommendations Approved

Is Key decision?: No

Is subject to call in?: No

Decision:

To approve the temporary closure of council owned chapels at Bradford on Avon, Trowbridge and Westbury Chapels.

Reasons for the decision:

This decision would in other circumstances be taken by the relevant Cabinet Member. However, in circumstances where the Cabinet Member is unable to meet to expedite its functions in a timely manner during the COVID-19 pandemic, this decision is being taken in accordance with the power referred to under background below. This decision will be reported to the next meeting of Cabinet.

Wiltshire Council owns and manages seven cemeteries in the former West Wiltshire District Council Area. The cemeteries at Bradford on Avon, Trowbridge and Westbury have chapels within their boundaries which under normal circumstances can be booked by mourners to conduct funeral services. The chapels are not regularly booked and at the time this decision was made, no future chapel bookings had been made.

In light of measures brought in by Central Government, the council was required to consider how to facilitate funerals at its cemeteries whilst ensuring that social distancing could be observed. It is considered that the chapels are not large enough to allow even a very small number of mourners to be at least 2m apart from each other. The council also has no running water at the chapels to allow mourners to wash their hands before and after the chapel is used.

Government guidance has also been issued advising that places of worship should be temporarily closed.

Mourners can conduct graveside services and no further chapel booking requests have been received. The council has received no complaints from Funeral Directors or families regarding this decision.

I confirm that in making this decision I have considered the following in line with Wiltshire Council’s Constitution:

Key decision requirements: yes

Views of relevant cabinet member(s), committee chairman, area board(s): yes


Consideration of the area boards and delegated decision checklist for officers on the issue of when and how to involve local councillors and area boards in decisions about local services: yes

Implication of any council policy, initiative, strategy or procedure: yes

Consultation in accordance with requirements and expectations of consultation with the public:
yes

Range of options available:
yes

Staffing, financial and legal implications: yes

Risk assessment: yes

Involvement of statutory officers and/or directors: yes

Regional or national guidance from other bodies:
yes

The council’s constitution:
yes

This contract is suitable for execution under the e-signature process: NA

Alternative options considered:

Continue to allow chapels to be used. This was rejected as no running water to allow mourners to wash their hands, and the chapels are not large enough to allow social distancing to be observed.

Conflict of Interest: Not applicable

Background: Pursuant to paragraph 4 of Part 3 Section D, the Directors of Wiltshire Council are empowered to take all necessary decisions in cases of emergency. This decision is being taken by Parvis Khansari using these powers in circumstances where the Director concerned believes that there is a risk of damage to property, a threat to the health or wellbeing of an individual and/or that the interests of the Council may be compromised if this decision is not otherwise taken.

Contact: Parvis Khansari, Director - Highways and Environment Email: parvis.khansari@wiltshire.gov.uk Tel: 01225 713340.

Publication date: 02/06/2020

Date of decision: 24/04/2020

Accompanying Documents:

 

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