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Around £2m invested into Devon mortuaries that "were not needed"

The temporary mortuary that was set up in Kingskerswell. Picture credits: Daniel Clark

Costs of setting up temporary mortuaries in case they were needed as a result of the coronavirus pandemic in Devon were in the region of £2m, it can be revealed.

The facilities were set up in case they were needed with the modelling anticipated that there would be a significant number of COVID-19 related deaths.

Initial forecasts had around 6,000 deaths from coronavirus in Devon, with the current figure at 356.

The sites, including one at the former John Craxford Ltd yard on the rural fringes between Torbay and Teignbridge in Kingskerswell, close to the A380 Devon Expressway, have not been used and remain in ‘suspended animation’, Devon County Council’s Corporate Infrastructure and Regulatory Services Scrutiny Committee heard on Wednesday.

An update on the response to COVID-19 by the council was been given by Dr Phil Norrey, the council’s chief executive, and Cllr Ray Radford asked questions about the temporary mortuary sites.

He asked: “Back in the early days of the pandemic, we were asked to make available temporary mortuaries, so where are we now with that with the number of deaths lower than forecast?”

Dr Norrey said that the council had to prepare for excess deaths but that the mortuaries were not needed. He said: “We invested significantly but they were not needed. They are still there in animated suspension but hope they are never needed. We took the modelling response and the requests and delivered, but the fact they weren’t need is a bonus.”

He added that the costs of the temporary mortuary were around £2m.

By Local Democracy Reporter Service reporter, Daniel Clark

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