Legacy Independent Funeral Directors owes councils more than £53,000

Legacy Funeral Directors
Police have been investigating the care of bodies at Legacy Independent Funeral Directors. Credit: PA

The funeral business at the centre of a police investigation into the care of bodies has council debts of more than £50,000.

Legacy Independent Funeral Directors, based in Hull, owes Hull City Council £51,508.46 and East Riding Council £2,000.

A spokesperson for the Hull authority said it was looking into how to get the money back.

In a statement they said: “The debt in question relates to unpaid fees and charges, including cremation fees. The debt totals £51,508.46. We are currently exploring options to recoup any monies owed to the authority."

The news emerged before a meeting of Hull council on Thursday, during which it was revealed that around 2,000 calls have been made to a special hotline set up by police since their investigation began on Wednesday 6 March.

Enquiries started after concerns were raised about the "care of the deceased".

Last week, Humberside Police said 35 bodies had been removed from premises belonging to Legacy in Hessle Road, west Hull.

A 46-year-old man and a 23-year-old woman arrested on suspicion of prevention of a lawful and decent burial and fraud are on bail.

This week both Hull and East Riding councils announced every funeral director in the area would be inspected in the wake of the investigation.

Speaking during Thursday's full council meeting, council leader Mike Ross said the impact on people in Hull would be felt for months, or even years.

He said the council was working with other organisations, including the health service, to provide counselling and mental health support to those affected.

Cllr Ross said: “Our sympathy is with all those caught up in these events, the true magnitude of this is yet to come to light. The passing of a loved one is a terrible time whenever it happens, for families to be affected by what’s happened here is doubly tragic.

“For every deceased individual there will be eight or nine people affected. The police have received over a couple of thousand calls to the dedicated helpline number.

“Many people will have questions and some of those questions will go unanswered. This will be one of, if not the, most harrowing matters council and other staff have had to deal with in their professional lives. The impact will be felt for many months and even years to come.”

Councillors passed an emergency motion, brought by Cllr Daren Hale calling for the funeral industry to be regulated.

He told the meeting it is "harder to open a sandwich shop than a funeral directors".

"It's a completely unregulated service," he said.

"We know most independent funeral businesses are well run and run by dedicated people who do a good job for their customers.

"But we can't have in this day and age an industry that is purely based on people doing the right thing - choosing themselves to do the right thing... so shaken is the faith in the industry and the trust that we have to have a minimum set of standards."

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