A new Bereavement Charter aimed at reducing “scandalous” delays on burials across North Ayrshire went before council bosses this week.

The charter, which was approved on Tuesday, was formed earlier this year following concerns over major funeral delays.

The Times and our sister paper the Ardrossan Herald have previously reported how grieving relatives were facing weeks of delays before burying their loved ones.

There were concerns that there were insufficient funeral provisions in North Ayrshire.

Saltcoats funeral director Paul Stevenston branded the delays as “scandalous”.

This prompted council chiefs to take action.

The main concerns expressed after the Festive Period of 2016/17 were particularly in relation to timescales between registering a death and the burial taking place.

The Bereavement Charter, means that timescale must be within five days in order to avoid unreasonable delays.

In the Cabinet report released ahead of Tuesday’s meeting, it states: “Following concerns raised in the local press around the Burials process in North Ayrshire over the Festive period in 2016/17, it was decided to set up a Bereavement Working Group.

“The group consists of the Council’s Bereavement Team, Registration Services, Elected Members, Funeral Directors and Clergy.

“The objective of the group is to ensure service excellence in the burial process across North Ayrshire through collaboration, developing more effective working practices and better communication.”

North Ayrshire currently has 44 Burial Grounds of which 18 remain operational with 26 no longer available for new lairs.

The Council looks after its burial grounds through grounds maintenance and repairs to walls, paths and infrastructure.

The service manages approximately 750 burials per year of which, on average, half require new lairs.

Under the new framework North Ayrshire Council must offer a burial date within five working days of receipt of paperwork.

However families are still able to request a burial out with the five-day time scale.

The charter also insists Registration Services should offer an appointment within 48 hours and offer an out of hours service over the Festive Period.

Funeral Directors will also have to ensure paperwork is accurate and notify any changes to Bereavement Services at least two working days prior to the burial.

And Funeral Directors, Clergy and Celebrants must ensure good timekeeping when arriving at cemeteries/graveyards.

The Bereavements Charter, if agreed would be launched later this year It would be publicised on the Council’s website and at appropriate Council buildings.

Funeral Directors and Clergy will also be invited to publicise the Charter in their offices, parlours, websites and places of worship.