Redditch Borough Council has agreed to proceed with its plan to use waste energy from a crematorium to heat a municipal swimming pool.
The provocative scheme gained cross-party support, and a final vote on the proposal saw 25 of 27 councillors in favour, with the remaining two abstaining.
The project involves sucking heat from the Borough Of Redditch Cemeteries & Crematorium to the nearby Abbey Stadium Sports Centre, at an annual saving of £14,500. Up-front equipment costs are £39,000, the Birmingham Mail explains.
Conservative council leader Carole Gandy said the public response to the proposal had been as largely positive as that of her fellow councillors.
She explained: "We have probably received more feedback on this project than any other project this authority has gone forward with. We have responses from Canada, Belgium, France, Australia and all parts of the UK. But the views that matter most to us are those of Redditch residents and those families who visit the crematorium and leisure centre.”
She added that "undertakers and faith group representatives who attended meetings had been supportive and only a handful of residents had expressed concerns".
Among those none too keen on the idea is local funeral director Simon Thomas, who recently shuddered: "I don't know how comfortable people would feel about the swimming pool being heated due to the death of a loved one, I think it's a bit strange and eerie.
"I'm not comfortable with it at all and I think trying to save money due to the death of someone's family member or friend is a bit sick. I think it will cause uproar and may even put people off using the facilities which would lose the council money. It just doesn't feel right."
Local trade union officials are equally unimpressed, claiming the idea is simply an example of the effects of government spending cuts.
Roger McKenzie, regional secretary for Unison, told Reuters: "These proposals are sick and an insult to local residents."
Councillors disagree. Redditch Labour group leader Bill Hartnett insisted: “It is a delicate and sensitive matter, but this is a green project which will benefit all sorts of people.”
His fellow party member, the "elderly" Jack Cookson, quipped: “As the next candidate for the crematorium from this council, I must say it is good that I will be able to do something useful when I am gone." ®