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Boston funerals could be beamed around the world

Mourners on the other side of the world could "attend" funerals held at Boston Crematorium without ever leaving their homes.

A large multi media screen and Skype link-up equipment would enable family members and friends living abroad to be part of proceedings and allow for pictures, messages and video recordings to be shared.

Members of Boston Borough Council's environment and performance committee heard from Cllr Carol Taylor who said she had gone to a funeral service where similar equipment was used.

She said she did not really know the deceased very well but, with the aid of such equipment and the use of family images, she had left the service feeling she really had known the person.

A report had been requested about bereavement services following a decline in the number of funeral services at Boston Crematorium. The conclusion was that location and not cost was a major determining factor for choice of venue for funerals and two new crematoriums had opened at Surfleet and Alford.

It was agreed to recommend reopening the Horncastle Road entrance to the cemetery for a trial period of six months. This has been closed in 1996 when a survey revealed that 47 per cent of vehicles entering the cemetery were using it as a rat run. The Marian Road entrance has been used as the main entrance.

The report said that access to the crematorium is not ideal and reopening Horncastle Road would ease access, especially for those travelling from the East Lindsey side of town and when there is town centre traffic congestion. The location of Haven High Academy and Park School also cause problems in Marian Road at certain times.

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A suggestion was made that a timed barrier could allow access for hearses and funeral corteges, but block access by later rat runners. The Horncastle Road entrance would be closed at times when funerals were not being held, evenings and weekends.

Councillors heard there is room for burials in the cemetery for nine more years and a report is to be brought back to them later this year to consider allocating more land for burials.

Despite a decrease in numbers of cremations - down from a peak of 2,016 in 2000 to a predicted 900 in 2013/14 - the service achieves a surplus each year of more than £100,000. So far this financial year it is up to £115,000.

In recent years £450,000 has been spent on refurbishment of the cremators and a new filtration plant and the crematorium has been redecorated, had some new lighting, an upgrade to its 23-year-old software system and some repairs to roadways.

One hour slots are now offered to families from 9.30am to 3.30pm, easing arrival and departure congestion.

It was recommended to increase cremation fees by £50 to £650, in line with Surfleet but below those proposed for Grantham (£784) and slightly above Lincoln (£620) and Alford (£550). A programme of improvements was recommended including road resurfacing - there is a mile of roads within the cemetery - carpet renewal, redecoration of other areas, LED replacement lighting, removal of the illuminated cross and replacement with a multi media screen which will be able to display a cross for Christian services.

Martin Potts, the bereavement service's principal officer, said half of all services now had no religious content and requests were made to cover the cross.

Cllr Paul Kenny said he only heard praise for the good service offered at the cemetery and the building needed bringing up to scratch.

Cllr Helen Staples said she had never had a complaint about the bereavement service.