Mourners could watch Portchester crematorium services on internet

Candles float on the lake at Portchester crematorium during a service.
Candles float on the lake at Portchester crematorium during a service.
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MOURNERS could watch cremation services on the web under new plans lined up for Portchester Crematorium.

The Portchester Crematorium joint committee, which runs the venue, reckons online videos would boost revenue and reach a wider audience.

It’s also looking to improve cash flow by introducing car parking charges and costs for children’s services.

At the moment cremations for people under 16 are free.

The crematorium, in Upper Cornaway Lane, Portchester, could also open on weekends and bank holidays at an extra cost.

Services may also be extended because there are concerns the current half-hour time slot might be too short.

Talking about plans for the internet, Councillor Hugh Mason, committee vice-chairman, said: ‘As people start moving across the world and families start moving to places like Australia and South Africa we are becoming more of a mobile society.

‘Therefore we feel there may be a call for this level of service.

‘It has been done before, but only in one or two other crematoriums in the country. The current timeframe for services is half-an-hour, but most other crematoriums have a 45-minute timeframe.

‘People have told us that by the time the coffin has been taken in from the car there is only 20 to 25 minutes left.

‘Unless they have a skilled officiator, this can make things a little rushed towards the end, which is unseemly.’

Cllr Mason admitted it would be difficult to make a decision about fees for minors and most members would be reluctant to see it happen.

The money made will eventually go towards refurbishing the crematorium, which holds more than 4,000 cremations each year. Cllr Mason said: ‘The crematorium will need substantial renovation in the not-so-distant future.

‘Our fees are lower than other crematoriums around. We don’t charge minors and we still manage to break even.’

Debi Searson, who works at The Searson Family Funeral Service, in Winter Road, Southsea, said: ‘Online cremation services are a great idea. We do videos of services for families so they can send them to their relatives abroad, but this would be a lot quicker.

‘But parking charges create time issues. People may miss the beginning of a service because they’re busy paying for a ticket.

‘No-one wants to lose a child and then pay to have them cremated.’

The committee, which is made up of members from local councils, is due to discuss the plans at a meeting at Portsmouth Guildhall at 2pm today.

A councillor has voiced her concerns about proposals for online funeral videos.

While believing it would be beneficial for families living away, she said it felt impersonal.

Cllr Donna Jones, deputy leader for Portsmouth’s Conservative group, said: ‘I have concerns because it just seems a bit impersonal.

‘I am strongly against parking charges and charges for children. I would be disappointed to see both of these being implemented.’