Victory as council scraps charges for child cremations in Hartlepool

The crematorium in Stranton Cemetery. Picture by Frank Reid
The crematorium in Stranton Cemetery. Picture by Frank Reid

Families in Hartlepool who have suffered the agony of losing a child no longer have to pay for cremation fees after council chiefs scrapped the charges.

Last month Council Leader Christopher Akers-Belcher moved to end the fees for to parents who lost a child before the age of five, including miscarriages.

It was after a Mail survey of North East council fees revealed that Hartlepool Borough Council was the only authority to charge.

Now the council has confirmed that the charge has also been axed for older children up to the age of 16.

The authority says it hopes the move will make dealing with devastation of losing a child slightly easier for grieving families.

A Hartlepool Borough Council spokesman said: “Following the recent decision taken by the Leader of the Council, Councillor Christopher Akers-Belcher, to end charges for foetal cremations, we can confirm that the Council is now no longer charging for cremations in relation to children under the age of 16.

“We acknowledge the devastation endured by all families following the loss of a loved one of any age, and particularly where a child is involved.

“We hope this decision will help to some extent to ease the strain and pressure experienced by families affected by such tragedies.”

The council previously 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.

Councillor Akers-Belcher earlier took up the issue with senior council officials after it was raised with him by Hartlepool’s MP Mike Hill.

Coun Akers-Belcher previously 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.

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

Durham County Council recently voted to end a discrepancy in fees which meant there was no cremation charge for children aged up to 16, but families whose babies died before birth were billed.

Cruse Bereavement Care, a bereavement charity, said following Durham County Council’s decision: “Not charging for cremation is a small but important step towards helping bereaved parents.”