CULTURE Secretary Tessa Jowell is to be brought in to determine the fate of a crumbling Victorian crematorium in Hull.
Opened in 1901, the Hedon Road crematorium and chapel are thought to be the oldest municipal buildings in the country.
Earlier this year Hull Council’s cabinet committee decided the authority could not afford a 70,000 repair bill for the Grade II listed crematorium, which is in the middle of the cemetery. The buildings were put up for sale but there have been no takers.
Planning councillors are desperate for the council to take action – there are large cracks running down the walls of the crematorium caused by subsidence and a leaking roof.
The law prevents the planners serving an urgent works notice on another council department, so Mrs Jowell will have to take action instead. Coun Colin Inglis of the development management committee, which deals with planning issues, said planners had to set an example to everyone else in Hull. “We are guardians of listed buildings. If we don’t set an example how can we lay down the law to others,” he said. “Over the last year and a half we have been trying very hard to get listed buildings which are endangered sorted out.’’
Local historian John Morfin said: “The responsibility lies fairly and squarely with Hull Council. They should stop wasting time, get on with the job and renovate the structure. It’s high time that the chief executive and senior officers exercised due responsibility.’’
Meanwhile the fate of the Grade II listed Scott Street Bridge over the River Hull hangs in the balance. The Edwardian bridge has impressive railings, a bridgemaster’s office, and the remains of the original hydraulic system.
The cabinet is being asked to consider putting in an application for listed building consent for demolition as the bridge could cost 1m to modernise.
But Mr Morfin said the council’s move was premature. He hopes the bridge can be adapted for cycle and pedestrian use only. “Whatever option is going to be costly. Simply thinking that it’s fit for demolition is not on,” he said.