Limits on mourners at Pontefract and Wakefield crematoria increased by Wakefield Council

The number of mourners allowed to attend funerals at crematoria in Wakefield and Pontefract will be increased from tomorrow (July 1).

Wednesday, 30th June 2021, 3:00 pm
Local councils can now set their own rules for crematoria, under government guidelines.

Wakefield Council said that 45 people will be able to go to services at Pontefract Crematorium, up from 30, while at Wakefield Crematorium the limit will rise from 26 to 40.

The council said the changes were prompted by government changes to social distancing guidance, which will now allow one-metre spaces between people, provided further measures, such as face coverings, are enforced.

The previous limits had been heavily criticised by Castleford man Mike Johnson, earlier this month.

Pontefract Crematorium

Mr Johnson, whose father's funeral at Pontefract Crematorium on June 4 was attended by 30 people, said the cap was a "smack in the face" for grieving families and suggested it was "out of kilter with the rest of society".

The new 45-person limit at Pontefract includes 18 sitting in the balcony at the venue.

At Wakefield, the 40-person limit includes seven mourners who will be allowed to watch the service on a TV in the crematorium's venue.

The council said that more people are allowed stand in the grounds to attend a service as long as they maintain social distancing.

Castleford man Mike Johnson had been critical of the council's position on the issue earlier this month, saying more mourners should be allowed to attend services.

The new limits do not include funeral directors, ministers or other staff.

The council's deputy leader Jack Hemingway said: "Over the past months, restrictions have meant some very difficult and upsetting circumstances for the bereaved.

"We hope that this latest relaxation in social distancing guidance and subsequent increase in the number of mourners permitted to attend services will bring some comfort and support to families and friends of the deceased."

Responding to the changes, Mr Johnson said the raised limits were welcome, but added that the council could have done "more sooner".

He said: "I'm very glad it's now where it needs to be and families will benefit from this, but it was within the council's power to do this a month ago."

Local Democracy Rep