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Revealed: How families are illegally scattering ashes of loved ones to avoid charges

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Families have been 'illegally' scattering ashes of their loved ones in gardens of remembrance to avoid paying the £51 charge.

Council bosses revealed they had seen an increase in people going into the memorial gardens at Gornal Wood and Stourbridge Crematoriums and scattering ashes, which is not allowed.

Families can pay to witness cremated remains of relatives being scattered in the gardens but it is thought some are taking it on themselves to use the garden as they believe the cost is too steep.

It has led to fears families are being priced out of services as it was also revealed some were turning down the opportunity to witness burials of their relatives' ashes, with the cost again thought to be the reason.

Council chiefs have even admitted the £51 charge is 'very high' and have decided to freeze it for 2017. Other bereavement fees have increased but leaders at the authority have become concerned with the growing trend of people taking it on themselves to scatter ashes. A council report said: "The fee currently is very high and is deterring people from being present at the time of their loved ones' burials and interments into the columbarium niches.

"We are also seeing an increase in illegal scattering of cremated remains in our gardens of remembrance which is potentially due to people not wishing to pay the witness fee and so they scatter the remains themselves. Further increases could see more instances of this occurring and so a freeze on this fee is recommended."

Councillor Khurshid Ahmed, cabinet member for planning and economic development at the council, said: "We always strongly recommend people do not scatter their ashes there. For future generations there won't be any records of where their relative was laid to rest.

"It is only a small amount of people that do it but it is something that has happened.

"We have facilities that we provide – there is a charge – but unfortunately some people do not choose to use these facilities."

Councillor Paul Brothwood, who is leader of the opposition UKIP group, said families were being asked to pay too much.

He said: "It's an extortionate fee. That's the problem when you set fees, people end up doing something. It encourages bad behaviour. It would be far better if they reduced the price. Then more people would pay and it would increase income. When people are suffering at a difficult time it is the last thing they want."

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