Get in line to register deaths

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Bereaved families in Falkirk are being forced to make an appointment to register the death of a loved one.

Some relatives are waiting so long they are going outwith the district to complete the official paperwork and obtain a death certificate to allow funeral arrangements to be made.

Since Falkirk Council closed down district registry offices and centralised the registration service in its Newmarket Street building last year, anyone wishing to formalise a birth, death or marriage must attend the town centre office.

However, this has prompted calls for an upgrade in the former Burgh Buildings premises which are almost 140 years old.

The local authority said staff deal sensitively with the bereaved and will invite them to wait to be seen if they turn up without an appointment.

But that has brought reports of people waiting in a bleak corridor for over 90 minutes

Complaints about the facility were raised after news that Arnotdale House in Dollar Park was to get a £1.5 million upgrade to turn it into a community hub.

The majority of the cash is coming from the Scottish Government with Falkirk Council providing £450,000.

But people suggested the building should have been “restored to its former glory and used as the registry office”.

May Brown commented on Facebook: “I bet there would be a huge surge in numbers of couples wanting to get married in the beautiful house and gardens. I can’t get rid of the awful memory I have of going to the current registrar office to register my mum’s death in March last year.

“I didn’t know you had to have an appointment and I was told to sit in the corridor ... which I did for over an hour and a half. It was awful. A dark, dingy, decrepit building which did nothing to help my grief. And I’m not the only one. It would be so much nicer and calmer to bring all the registrar services here.”

Council leader, Councillor Craig Martin, said: “I’m not aware of any complaints about the registry office, however, we are reviewing all our assets as we fully appreciate that some buildings are older and were not designed for the role they now have.

“It will then be a decision for the incoming administration after May’s election to decide what action to take.”

Falkirk Council said staff dealt with more than 1700 death registrations in 2016.