Leeds council to spend £800,000 on ‘temporary mortuary’

Leeds City Council has received emergency permission to build a temporary mortuary facility to help cope with expected increase in deaths due to Covid-19.

Tuesday, 7th April 2020, 4:35 pm
Updated Tuesday, 7th April 2020, 4:36 pm

The facility is expected to be housed in Waterside Industrial Park in Stourton, and is estimated to cost the authority around £800,000.

A local councillor for the area said it should bring the issue of social distancing into sharp focus as the city prepares for more coronavirus-relates deaths.

A document, which was uploaded onto Leeds City Council’s website today claimed the money would be used to manufacture, supply and install ‘bespoke equipment’ to form a temporary mortuary facility.

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Members of the press wearing face masks wait outside St Thomas' Hospital in Central London where Prime Minister Boris Johnson is in intensive care as his coronavirus symptoms persist. PA Photo. Picture date: Tuesday April 7, 2020. See PA story HEALTH Coronavirus. Photo credit: Kirsty O'Connor/PA Wire

The decision was not subject to the council’s normal decision-making channels, as the report claimed any unnecessary delay “may severely

impact on the city’s ability to deal with the anticipated increase in mortality rates as a consequence of the Covid-19 outbreak.”

The document added: “As part of the emergency planning in response to the Covid-19 outbreak, the City Council is making preparations for the provision of a temporary mortuary to support existing facilities in the city.”.

Coun Elizabeth Nash (Lab), represents the Hunslet and Riverside ward where the facility will be set up, and was briefed on the proposals by council officers.

She said: “It is out of the way, and most people will not know it’s there.

“But I do think the whole of Leeds has to know about this because some people still aren’t taking the virus seriously and listening to advice.

“It’s very grisly, but it has to be done.”

The report added that just over a third of the £800,000 would be paid to the company as part of its initial order, adding that it expected work to start on the site next week.

It stated: “Given the urgency of the nature of the works it was vital that Authority to Spend of £800,000 be approved so that an initial order (to the value of £306,000 rounded) could be placed with Airedale Catering Equipment Ltd, in order to secure the manufacture and installation of the equipment to allow delivery to site during week commencing 13 April 2020, so that the temporary facility is available to support existing mortuary facilities in the city as soon as possible.”