CREMATIONS will no longer take place at the council-run facility in Poole due to concerns about the “worsening” condition of its equipment.

BCP Council said funeral services would still be held at Poole Crematorium but that from Monday cremations would be carried out in Bournemouth.

The move has been described as “a devastating blow” for the community, with a competitor blaming the council for “years of underinvestment” in the facility.

The need to renovate equipment at the facility has been known for several years but Poole council decided against making any commitment ahead of it becoming part of BCP Council.

The new unitary authority said the cremator, which is more than 20 years old, had already been "reaching the point of failure" and that options for its future were being considered.

But it said its condition had deteriorated “quicker than expected”, forcing it to be taken out of operation.

From Monday remains will instead transferred to and from its facility in Bournemouth although funeral services will otherwise continue as normal.

Capacity at Bournemouth crematorium is being increased four-fold to 600 cremations a week in order to cope with the extra demand this and the coronavirus pandemic are expected to cause.

The council has also reduced the cost of cremation services from £805 to £705, partly due to restrictions on the number of people able to attend, brought in to limit the spread of the disease.

Its chief executive said the experience of mourners “should not change”.

“Poole Crematorium can continue to provide its tranquil and peaceful grounds and excellent, compassionate service,” he said. “We know this can be particularly important for those with family and historical connections to the site.”

But the move has been described as a “devastating blow” at a “particularly sensitive time” by the owner of Tapper Funeral, which runs its own crematorium outside Upton.

“I believe it will be a difficult question for bereaved families to consider whether to have the funeral service at a place that will not then cremate their loved one’s coffin," Steven Tapper said.

“Unfortunately, this closure has been anticipated for a long time.

“The staff at Poole Crematorium are dedicated and hard-working professionals but they have been let down by the council through years of under-investment which has resulted in all three cremators going beyond end of design life to the point they have failed."

He estimated that the cost of bringing the facility back into use could "easily" reach £750,000.

The council said its cabinet would be considering longer-term options for the crematorium "at the earliest opportunity".