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Gorleston headstones' safety blitz

PUBLISHED: 18:25 09 July 2009 | UPDATED: 14:22 03 July 2010

INSPECTIONS into the safety of grave memorials at Gorleston old cemetery will begin soon, with the borough council expecting few failures.

It follows a similar exercise in Caister cemetery where just two headstones were found to be in need of repair out of 13,400 memorials tested.

INSPECTIONS into the safety of grave memorials at Gorleston old cemetery will begin soon, with the borough council expecting few failures.

It follows a similar exercise in Caister cemetery where just two headstones were found to be in need of repair out of 13,400 memorials tested.

Linda Bigg, bereavement services manager at the borough council, said she expected similar results in Gorleston old cemetery where the majority of memorials were the traditional sandstone type, generally more robust than newer lawn memorials.

She said: “I would expect the failure rate will be minimal and if we could get a result there like the one in Caister that would be brilliant. The council wants headstones to pass the test.”

Preparation work for the inspection in Gorleston old cemetery has begun and 13,500 headstones will be tested.

Earlier this year the Mercury ran a series of reports on the headstone health and safety saga following calls and letters from angry readers who were baffled by the health and safety notices which had been put on graves that appeared structurally safe.

Under the Local Authorities Cemetery Order 1977 councils have a duty of care to visitors and members of the public and the issue of memorial safety was highlighted in 2000 following the tragic death of a child in a Yorkshire cemetery.

The borough council introduced the headstone testing policy in 2004/2005 following advice from its insurers.

Currently, the council has 103 outstanding cases where notices have been put on memorials but no action has been taken to repair the headstone.

Mrs Bigg said: “We will be advertising the details of these memorials in the local press and appealing for friends or relatives to come forward in the hope that we can get these memorials repaired.”

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