AN "INCREDIBLY poor taste” April Fools' stunt by a crematorium threatening heavy fines for funerals that overrun has led to an internal review by a council.

This week a notice appeared in the vestry at York Crematorium warning ministers, celebrants and funeral directors they faced fines which could amount to £200 if services overran by a few seconds, in line with a new penalty system introduced in Grimsby.

Brentwood Live:

York Crematorium

Beneath the laminated notice was placed a newspaper cutting from the Grimsby Telegraph about how a grieving family landed a £200 bill after their funeral lasted 14 seconds longer than its allotted slot.

The vestry notice read: “Attention all ministers, celebrants, civils, etc. From the 1st of April 2019, we will be following the example set by Grimsby Crematorium which means that you will be fined if you over run. Remember you need to vacate the chapel 10 minutes before the next scheduled service.”

York celebrant Louisa Starr contacted The York Press alarmed at the prospect of the fines and the impact they could have on services. She feared ceremonies would have to be cut short, giving families less time to say their final farewells, in order to make sure funeral professionals like her did not incur hefty fines.

When The Press contacted City of York Council for a comment, it revealed it was a “poor taste” April Fool, and said the poster had been removed and an internal review had been launched.

In a statement, Pauline Stuchfield, assistant director customer and digital services for City of York Council, said: “We can confirm this was a misjudged April Fool in incredibly poor taste and is now subject to internal review.

“The sign was removed as soon as we became aware of it and we’d like to sincerely apologise for any distress this may have caused.”

Louisa said it had crossed her mind that it could be an April Fools' but she quickly dismissed the thought.

She said: “I didn’t think it was because of the serious nature of it. I didn’t think they would be that mean.”

She said the prank had given her a few days of worry.

“It was in very bad taste," she added. "It would have a big impact on people like myself who are self-employed that if they go over by 30 seconds they are going to get a fine.

“I couldn’t afford a £200 fine. The prank was not in really good taste.”

She said it had made her worry about how she could shorten her ceremonies so they would never over run and lead to a fine.

And she backed the council's move to hold an internal review, adding: “Someone’s in the dog house. Too right.”

York funeral director Hayley Owen also spoke out about the prank.

She said: “This is not an April Fool for the family in Grimsby who were fined £200 for being 14 seconds over. It’s not really a joke. This is already happening in Grimsby, which is only 70 miles away.

“A crematorium service is full of bereaved people all the time. It’s not really a joke to go to a funeral.”