COUNCILLORS have agreed to cut a pound off the cost of a cremation in Argyll and Bute – after officials noticed that a price increase had taken the new rate up to £666.

The cost of an adult cremation in the area went up by three per cent as part of an increase in most fees and charges in the authority’s 2018-19 budget plans.

But a report to councillors pointed out that that meant the figure of £647 to have an adult cremated at Cardross Crematorium – the only such facility in Argyll and Bute – would have risen to £666.

Members of Argyll and Bute Council’s policy and resources committee agreed with a recommendation from officials to reduce that new cost by £1.

The revised rate of £665 was rubber-stamped at a full council meeting in Lochgilphead on Thursday.

A report prepared for the policy and resources committee stated: “As part of applying that standard inflation increase of three per cent to fees and charges for 2018-19, the cremation charges for adults aged 16 and over, has increased from £647 to £666.

“It’s unfortunate that the three per cent inflation has meant the charge is £666, which could be upsetting for some people."

“Members are asked to agree the charge is amended to £665 in 2018-19.”

As this article was published, the council’s website was still showing the cost of a cremation for someone over 16 as £666 on a weekday and £737 on a Saturday.

During 2016-17, the most recent year for which figures are available, the council carried out 737 cremations at the Cardross facility, 728 of them being for adults.

The crematorium also returned a budget surplus of £26,000 in 2016-17 and £33,000 in 2017-18.

The number 666 is referred to in the New Testament’s Book of Revelation as “the number of the Beast” – a reference which has made its way into many aspects of popular culture over the years.

Avoidance or fear of the number 666 even has its own term in the dictionary – hexakosioihexekontahexaphobia.

James Auld, owner of James Auld Funeral Directors in Helensburgh, said: “The price was one of the first things I noticed when the list came out.

“If people are aware of the Bible and the sign of the devil, then the last thing they want to see is that figure.

“I think it is a good move to change it.”

An Argyll and Bute Council spokesman told the Advertiser: “Year on year cuts to our funding mean that, like all councils, we must make changes to how we work so that we can continue to deliver services.

“The crematorium charges were amended after applying a standard inflation increase of three per cent to fees and charges for 2018-19.

“It was agreed by councillors to adjust the charge for cremation to £665.”