Posted: Thu 22nd Dec 2022

Councillors in Flintshire took the opportunity to quiz the region’s coroner this week

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Thursday, Dec 22nd, 2022


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Councillors in Flintshire have taken the opportunity to quiz the region’s coroner.

John Gittins, Coroner for North East Wales and Central, gave a presentation on his work to Flintshire councillors at this month’s meeting of their corporate, resources and overview scrutiny committee.

Local authorities contribute financially to the running of the coroner’s office which records and investigates sudden, unexpected and violent deaths.

Coroners establish facts such as who the deceased was, plus when, where and how he or she came by the medical cause of death – but they do not apportion blame or liability.

After the presentation, Mr Gittins took questions from members about his work.

As the council is a social housing provider, Hawarden Mancot Cllr Sam Swash (Lab) asked whether there had been mould-related deaths in Flintshire, in light of the recent findings of an inquest into the death of a two-year old boy in Rochdale.

Awaab Ishak, died in December 2020 from a respiratory condition caused by mould in the one-bedroom housing association flat where he lived with parents in the Greater Manchester town.

His father had previously complained to Rochdale Boroughwide Housing (RBH) about the mould, the inquest at Rochdale Coroner’s Court was told.

Mr Gittins said no identical cases had crossed his path but he had investigated deaths related to housing or accommodation issues in the county, and would speak to council departments if necessary.

He said: “I haven’t yet had any cases which directly impact on that.

“I already keep an eye on the likes of housing because it does crop up.

“I’ve had cases, it’s a Flintshire case I’m thinking of in particular, where people have been struggling with housing and ended up in temporary accommodation, living rough or in tents, and I have to be challenging at times.

“I come to the likes of your housing department and ask ‘what have you done, what did you do, and how have you supported them?’.

“What you always get in my courtroom is a level playing field. There will always be two sides to a story.

“As a consequence of Rochdale I think there will be a little bit of a line in the sand in relation to this but in my particular area it’s not top of my agenda and a major issue.”

Cllr Swash also asked about mortuary and cemetery space, concerned that some Flintshire cemeteries might not have much space remaining.

Mr Gittins said he had no concerns at the moment and the establishment of a temporary mortuary in Mochdre during the pandemic showed what could be done in a crisis.

He said: “For all of us Covid was a massive learning curve.

“There were presumptions made at the time in terms of the modelling and the number of deaths that could occur and thank goodness they never came to pass.

“The establishment of the temporary mortuary space in Mochdre, while it was an amazing facility, it didn’t get used – but it showed what we could do.

“In terms of burial space I think the truth of the matter is that it’s an ongoing problem for local authorities.”

Mr Gittins added: “In terms of burials and cremations generally, you’re quite well provided now with the provision of the crematorium in Flintshire which was developed over in Northop a few years ago.

“That took a massive strain off the other crematoriums in the area at Mochdre in Colwyn Bay and Wrexham and has been used very substantially.”

Mr Gittins was invited back to give a presentation to Flintshire councillors in an all members workshop at a future date.

By Rory Sheehan – Local Democracy Reporter

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