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Increase in pauper’s funerals in Great Yarmouth

PUBLISHED: 07:00 20 August 2017 | UPDATED: 18:39 20 August 2017

The number of public health/national assistance funerals in Norfolk and parts of Suffolk organised and paid for by borough councils across the region over the past seven years. Picture: ARCHANT

The number of public health/national assistance funerals in Norfolk and parts of Suffolk organised and paid for by borough councils across the region over the past seven years. Picture: ARCHANT

Archant

More council-funded funerals are held in the Great Yarmouth area, compared with other areas of Norfolk and Suffolk figures reveal.

Sergiusz Meges who was killed in St Stephen's underpass in Norwich. Photo: The Peoples' Picnic/FacebookSergiusz Meges who was killed in St Stephen's underpass in Norwich. Photo: The Peoples' Picnic/Facebook

Between April 2016-17, Great Yarmouth Borough Council paid for 58 national assistance funerals which cost the authority £65,844, according to an EDP Freedom of Information request.

The figures also reveal a six-fold increase in the number of council-funded funerals in the Yarmouth area, compared with 2010/11 figures.

National assistance or Public Health Act funerals take place when a person dies and nobody else can make arrangements for a burial or cremation.

Local councils have a responsibility, under the Public Health Act, to make arrangements in such cases.

A spokesman for Great Yarmouth Borough Council said: “Lack of money is not the sole reason why suitable arrangements might not be in place.

“Public Health Act funerals fluctuate from year to year, however generally Great Yarmouth Borough Council undertakes more such funerals than other Norfolk authorities because the James Paget University Hospital is within the local authority boundary. Legally, it is the local authority area where the person dies which is significant in determining which district council is responsible, not where the person normally lives, so Great Yarmouth is often responsible for Public Health Act funerals for patients from Waveney, Norwich, South Norfolk and further afield.”

The Yarmouth council recovers about half of the costs it spends on these funerals each financial year.

Figures from other councils reveal:

Norwich City Council held 14 national assistance funerals in 2016 and has so far held 17 in 2017;

Waveney and Suffolk district councils organised nine from April 2016-17;

North Norfolk District Council held eight in 2016 and has so far held seven in 2017;

Borough Council of King’s Lynn and West Norfolk held 11 in 2016 and has so far held 6 in 2017;

Broadland District Council held nine in 2016 and has so far held six in 2017;

South Norfolk District Council held five in 2016 and has so far held one in 2017;

Breckland District Council held three from April 2016-2017.

Norwich City Council pay for funeral of murdered homeless victim Sergiusz Meges

Homeless murder victim Sergiusz Meges was one of the dozens of people to receive a Public Health Act funeral.

The body of Mr Meges, known as Sergio, 29, was found in Norwich’s St Stephen’s underpass on June 10, 2015.

His death was initially treated as unexplained but forensic inquiries revealed fatal injuries.

A murder inquiry was launched which resulted in the arrest of two men.

But no further action was taken against the men, both from the Norwich area.

An inquest into his death revealed that the Polish national was found with splenic lacerations.

He was known to have had previous addresses in both Norwich and Thetford, but had been homeless in Norwich at the time of his death.

Anyone who could assist with inquiries into Mr Meges’ death should call Norfolk Police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

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