Battle over Northop 'crem' hots up


Owen Evans

QUESTIONS have been raised over what councillors know about possible rival bids for the controversial Flintshire crematorium.

Buckley councillor Neville Phillips said he felt some councillors must “know something others don’t” about alternative plans to build the ‘crem’.

The comments came at a heated meeting where local members decided to hold a special meeting next month to consider a scheme  from funeral director Edward Davies of J E Davies and Son for a crematorium on land at Starkey Lane, Northop.

But there has been concern that the proposed Northop site is on green barrier land and last month Flintshire Council confirmed three alternative sites in Oakenholt, Kelsterton and Penyffordd are also being considered.

Then on May 26, rival company Memoria Ltd said it has identified four alternative locations to build a crematorium in Flintshire. It is in the process of identifying the best site and aims to submit its own plan later this month.

At yesterday’s meeting Cllr Marion Bateman asked if a rival application to build a crematorium on another site was submitted before June 26, it should be considered together with the J E Davies and Son’s bid at a special meeting.

But in reply,Cllr Phillips said: “Some councillors seem to know something that the rest of us don’t about another plan.”

Buckley councillor Richard Jones also expressed surprise at Cllr Bateman’s amendment proposal.

He said: “There seems to be a lot of information that is privy to some councillors and not others.

“The other rumours should be put to one side as they are not facts.

“I’ve got one application in front of me and as far as I’m concerned that is what we should be considering.”

Cllr Bateman’s amendment was narrowly defeated in a vote.

Cilcain councillor Owen Thomas said there should be no delay in ruling on the sole application now lodged. “We have got one application and it’s the only application,” he said.

“It’s time to look at this. People are now waiting for four weeks to cremate their families.

“It’s way overdue and we have got an application in front of us. That’s the application we should be looking at.”

Other councillors expressed frustration at the time the application had taken to reach its current stage.

Holywell councillor Gareth Roberts said: “I’m surprised the applicant hasn’t gone to appeal for non-determination. If we were to refuse this or not discuss it until we have had a host of other applications, I wouldn’t like to be the one to defend it.”

Concerns were also raised about the reasons given by Flintshire Council for needing a special hearing to consider the crematorium application after a report by planning officer Mark Harris said: “Determination of this application will include consideration of other possible sites in Flintshire for a crematorium.”

Cllr Richard Jones expressed fears about the council canvassing for other sites and said it was “bizarre” they were looking at alternatives, while Cllr Roberts said he knew with “who and when” canvassing had taken place.

But Peter Evans, the council’s democracy and governance manager, said: “We haven’t canvassed other sites. Alternative sites are relevant because the application we have got is in green barrier land.

“We have to ensure that there is no other sites not in the green barrier that could be more suitable.”

Buckley councillor Carol Ellis, who agreed with Cllr Bateman’s idea that alternative sites should be considered, said: “We’ve been in this situation before with landfill where we’ve approved an application and got ourselves in a right mess.

“There are rumours of two, three and even four sites and they should all come together and go before a special meeting.”

Broughton councillor Derek Butler added: “My understanding is there are potentially two alternative sites for crematoriums in Flintshire alongside this one. It should be decided on where the best site is.”

Blueprints for the Northop project, which would see a 10-acre crematorium built on a 23-acre site off Starkey Lane, were first unveiled in July last year.

Last November Northop community councillors announced they would not be supporting the plan, citing the weight of public opinion as a ma-jor factor in their decision.

Bereaved families have to travel to Blacon Crematorium in Chester, Pentrebychan Crematorium near Wrexham or Colwyn Bay.

See full story in the Leader

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