FAMILIES are waiting up to three weeks to hold funerals in Gwent, a councillor claimed.

The number of cremations is nowdue to increase fromnine to 11 a day to cope with demand, it was revealed at a Monmouthshire Council meeting.

Since June, Gwent Crematorium, in Croesyceiliog, Cwmbran, has held its last service at 1pm each day while work is carried out to install equipment that will remove mercury from its cremations in order to meet Environment Agency targets. This is expected to be completed in March next year. As a result, the number of cremations has reduced froma possible 15 to just nine a day.

At last week’s meeting, held in the Shire Hall, Monmouth Cllr Kevin Williams said he was contacted by the deeply distressed family of a man who died in August but could not be cremated for three weeks.

He said: “A delay of over two weeks is unacceptable and causes distress.

“An extra hour is not excessive and a reasonable request.”

Cllr Paul Jordan, who sits on the Greater Gwent Crematorium Joint Committee, said funeral directors were working with neighbouring crematoria to ensure families were not kept waiting too long during a “difficult and distressing time”.

He said it was not possible to operate after 1pm, but confirmed that from this month, cremations will be increased from nine to 11 per day.