Today, a Government Minister has confirmed that City of York Council cannot deny people the right to attend the funeral services of their close family members and will be issuing “a very strong rebuttal” to the actions taken by York’s Council.
Rachael Maskell, MP for York Central has worked around the clock to get this decision overturned following reading letters from distraught close relatives of the deceased. She was greatly moved by the incredible tributes paid to parents and other close family members, including an only child. She has responded to each powerful testimony and reached out to others in the city, like faith leaders who were also deeply troubled by the actions of the Council.
The York Central MP has ascertained that Councils, who were cited by City of York Council as also instituting similar measures, like Bradford, have not gone down this path. She has also spoken to leaders at Public Health England who stressed that their guidance published on 31 March 2020 should enable funerals to go ahead. Public Health England have confirmed that the conduct of City of York Council can be reported to the Ombudsman.
Rachael Maskell MP says:
“City of York Council have not only been breaking hearts but also breaking the law. The Government guidance, drawn up by Public Health England was very clear that funerals should proceed, but the right precautions must also be put in place by limiting the attendance to close family members and ensuring that social distancing is put in place. Proper care of crematorium staff must also occur.
“I have had the privilege of reading about the lives of constituents who have recently passed away but also the pain and heartache of their families at being denied the opportunity to ‘say goodbye’ to their precious loved ones. One described the ruling as causing far more distress than the actual death, others describing how the enduring pain will never leave them of not being able to honour their lives with a simple service. My thoughts and prayers are with all those families grieving at this time.
“I have been deeply moved by my constituents and have worked day and night to get this decision overturned. It is clear that the Council have acted without authority and following the Government’s instructions. At a time when City of York Council are still not instituting strict social distancing measures for their staff working in a number of areas, risking us all, I am incensed that they felt they had a right to cause such grief to families at their most vulnerable time.”
Rachael Maskell MP has asked City of York Council to:
- That you will immediately withdraw from withholding attendance at crematorium services
- That you will immediately apologise to those families who have had to suffer the severe grief of being barred from attending the services of their families
- That all families who have been told that they cannot attend a future service are contacted
- That you will set out how families who were barred from attending the funeral of their close relative will be compensated
- If it is not too late then can these cancelled services are rearranged.
The article from York Press can be found by following this link: