Hastings register office causing delays for mourners

The register office moved to the town hall on March 1
The register office moved to the town hall on March 1

Issues at Hastings register office are creating delays for grieving families and undertakers with a backlog of unregistered deaths.

Funeral directors and mourners are being ‘put under pressure’ due to the problems at the office which moved to its new home at the town hall on Tuesday, March 1.

The council blamed the delays on ‘unusually high levels of enquiries’ but parents and brides-to-be are having to wait to up to two weeks to register new babies and book weddings, as well as funerals.

Arranger at DC Mercer and Son funeral directors Joe Parker said the problems disrupt the schedule and leave families waiting to grieve.

“There has been a bit of an issue. One client rang today wanting to organise a funeral for next week but couldn’t get through,” he said.

“They tried for 20 minutes but there was no answer so we had to play it safe and book the funeral for the following week.

“It is affecting our business in a way as next week is going to be lighter than usual and the following week will be busier so it just backs everything up by about a week.”

Not every undertakers is experiencing delays.

Arthur C Towner’s office manager Robert Duncan said he is aware of the problems but that meant they are taking more care when advising families about registering their loved one’s death.

“We are aware there’s an issue but we have no idea why,” he said.

“I don’t know if it’s that they’ve just moved into the new building or there’s staff issue. But our clients have been saying that they’re finding it difficult to get an appointment.

“We’re very cautious about making sure people are registered in time but we haven’t yet had an issue with it.

“And as we are aware of it, we are even more careful as to how we advise families.”

An East Sussex County Council spokesman apologised for the disruption and asked the public to understand.

“We are experiencing some delays at Hastings register office caused by unusually high levels of enquiries,” the spokesman said.

“We have increased staffing levels but it does take time for the impact of this to be felt as new employees need to undergo training.

“We’d like to apologise for any inconvenience and would ask people to bear with us.”

Mr Parker is hoping the situation improves soon as the delays are affecting the service his company provides to bereaved families.

“We can’t meet what our customers want because if you can’t book an appointment until the following week then it causes delays for them to mourn without the service,” he said.

“And it pushes our funerals back because we can’t get them in that quickly.”

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