Stillbirth cremation charge to grieving Hartlepool parents set to be scrapped

The crematorium in Stranton Cemetery.
The crematorium in Stranton Cemetery.

Cremation charges for grieving Hartlepool families who have suffered miscarriages look set to be scrapped in a victory for the Mail.

Town MP Mike Hill has appealed to Hartlepool Borough Council leader Christopher Akers-Belcher to end charges for foetal cremations.

Hartlepool Borough Council leader Christopher Akers-Belcher

Hartlepool Borough Council leader Christopher Akers-Belcher

Councillor Akers-Belcher says he has acted quickly to end the charge he believes is “morally wrong” after the issue was brought to his attention.

It comes after a Mail survey of 12 North East councils revealed that Hartlepool Borough Council is the only authority to charge fees.

Hartlepool parents are currently charged £70 for ‘cremation of foetal remains or a stillborn child or child under five years of age’ and £219 for a child aged between 5-16.

Mr Hill said: “Losing a child through miscarriage or stillbirth is unbelievably traumatic and where possible it is right that parents can give their loved ones an appropriate service and cremation.

“In such circumstances it is right and proper that the council does what it can to facilitate this, despite all the pressures it is under financially, and waives the fee.

“I would also encourage Hartlepool Borough Council to reconsider its position on charging for cremations for children under 16.

“At the end of the day losing your child is one of the most heart wrenching experiences in life and not charging for cremations is an important step towards helping bereaved parents.”

Coun Akers-Belcher has spoken to senior council officers, chief executive Gill Alexander and Denise Ogden, the director of regeneration and neighbourhoods, to change the situation.

He said: “I am grateful to Mike for raising this important matter and I am happy to confirm that as soon as this issue was brought to my attention I took immediate action to rectify the situation.

“I have asked the chief executive and the director of regeneration and neighbourhoods to act swiftly to correct this historic practice.

“In my opinion the charge is morally wrong and should not be levied.”

Durham County Council recently voted to end charges to families whose babies died before birth.

A spokesman for Cruse Bereavement Care, a bereavement charity, said: “Not charging for cremation is a small but important step towards helping bereaved parents.”