Crematorium building site ‘disrupting funerals’

Renovation work continues at Mortonhall as hearses try to access the site. Picture: Joey Kelly

Renovation work continues at Mortonhall as hearses try to access the site. Picture: Joey Kelly

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RENOVATION work being carried out at Mortonhall ­Crematorium has been blamed for blocking funeral corteges and disrupting services.

City funeral directors raised concerns that the council-run facility has been left a “building site” which has created “dreadful” situations for some mourners.

Workmen were accused of holding up hearses to allow JCB diggers to pass by while a minute’s silence during a ­service was allegedly ­interrupted by a chainsaw.

Council chiefs said they were taking the allegations “extremely seriously” and pledged to investigate further. Last December, the Evening News revealed that the cremated ashes of new and stillborn babies had been buried without parents’ knowledge at Mortonhall Crematorium for more than four decades.

Renovation work began in September to upgrade the main chapel and improve disabled access, and it is expected to be complete in the next few weeks.

One funeral director, who asked not to be named, said: “I lead funeral corteges and, on two occasions, a workman in a hard hat stepped in front of us as we approached the chapel and stopped the hearse to allow a JCB to get passed.

“Last week, there was a short service and the family wanted to have a minute’s silence.

“Just as the silence started, all you could hear outside was the sound of a chainsaw ­starting up.

“I encourage families to avoid Mortonhall at the moment because it’s basically a building site.”

Another funeral director said: “I’ve had the limousine held up by a JCB but thankfully the coffin was already at the chapel. I’m not aware of noise problems but I know some families have been unhappy.” But another said the disruption had been kept to a minimum.

He said: “There have been some difficulties but I’m not aware of any real problems.”

The council said it was aware of only one incident where noise interrupted a funeral, and that was halted when it was brought to the workmen’s attention.

A council spokeswoman said: “This is a matter we take extremely seriously and will investigate further.

“Mortonhall Crematorium is currently undergoing extensive renovation work and we have been working closely with ­contractors and funeral directors to ensure that any ­disruption caused by this ­process is kept to an absolute minimum.

“Our main priority has been to ensure that work is carried out sensitively, without disturbing people attending funerals or the services themselves.

“Contractors have been instructed not to carry out any work during services and this has been carefully managed by crematorium staff.

“We have not received any complaints about the conduct of those working on site.”