County councillors unanimously agree to look into registration services
A detailed report outlining planned improvements to Gloucestershire's registration services will be presented to the council this summer.
Following a motion to full council today (Wednesday 11th May), it was unanimously agreed by all parties to look into delays to the county's registration services. The motion calls for a report to identify the problems and the proposals for improvements.
The motion was presented to the council by Cllr Graham Morgan (Cinderford, Lab) who raised concerns about delays across the county, which meant some families were waiting beyond the statutory five day period to receive death certificates.
In recent months there had been six complaints made about delays in getting appointments with registration offices around Gloucestershire, particularly in March, which was due to higher than usual levels of demand and a shortage of staff.
The service has since recruited three new officers to posts around the county, which will create an extra 33 appointments per day, but acknowledges that there were problems.
Now a report will be compiled to determine why the problems occurred and to highlight what plans are in place or are proposed to improve the service for the future.
Cllr Morgan said: "This has been a problem for families across the County for too long now; I know from personal recent experience what it means when you can't get the death certificate of a loved one.
"I am happy that Council supported me in this motion and I hope that now the Council have agreed to look at this issue they will return with some suggestions on how to improve it."
Cllr Nigel Moor (Stow, Conservative), cabinet member with responsibility for the county's registration services said: "Firstly, we'd like to apologise for any inconvenience or distress caused. We're working extremely hard to better meet the expectations of all our communities by matching our resources to the changing and unpredictable demand.
"The staffing shortage has now been resolved with the addition of three new registration officers, and appointments are more readily available. We will be looking more closely at how we can improve things further and presenting the findings in the report."
Cllr Paul Hodgkinson (Bourton-on-the-Water and Northleach, Liberal Democrat) leader of the Liberal Democrat group, said: "When anyone suffers a bereavement in their family or their friends, it's a hugely difficult time, so the last thing anyone wants at that stage is for the registration of the death to be held up or for the certificate to take a long time to come through.
"That's why I'm very pleased today that the council has sent a clear message on this, and that hopefully the situation will resolve itself and certificates and death registrations will happen as quickly as possible in future."
Alan Preest (Lydney, UKIP), leader of the UKIP group, said: "When you lose a loved one it is distressing enough without having the added delay of waiting to register their death.
"I'm glad that we're already taking steps to rectify this situation and I am more than happy to support this motion."
The council agreed for the cabinet member responsible for Registration Services to present a report, outlining why the service was facing these challenges and what is being done to improve the quality of the service.
The report will be presented to the Environment and Community Scrutiny Committee in July 2016.