Graveside memorials will be made safe at Wakefield’s cemeteries

Horbury cemetery. w4859e830
Horbury cemetery. w4859e830

Graveside memorials could be inspected to protect the safety of those who visit and work at cemeteries, as part of a new council policy.

Headstones found to be the safest would be placed in the ‘green’ category and inspected every 10 years, or five if they are taller than 30cm.

Memorials placed in the ‘amber’ category will be inspected every 18 to 36 months, and owners will be recommended to make them safer.

But those which are deemed unsafe and placed in the ‘red’ category will be made temporarily safe by Wakefield Council.

Owners would be told to make permanent fixes, and once made safe the memorials would be re-inspected after five years.

The council’s cabinet committee is expected to approve the new policy on Tuesday.

A report to the committee said: “Many owners of the memorials do not appreciate that they have a responsibility to maintain their memorial so it does not to present a hazard to anyone and the need for them to employ a memorial mason to carry out any works that may be required.

“The policy makes clear the roles and responsibilities of all parties involved.”

The report said there were about 38,000 memorials in 19 council-owned cemeteries and 30 closedchurchyards for which the council is responsible.

And it said the council had a duty to keep cemeteries in good condition.

The report added: “Over a 30-year period, eight people in the UK have been killed when a memorial has fallen on them. Given the number of memorials and the number of visitors to cemeteries in any year the risk of injury is very low.

The report said the council could dig into the grave space and lay flat a memorial which is found to be unsafe.