Repairs riddle in headstone saga
CONFUSION reigns over the borough council's headstone health and safety policy, with several readers reporting headstones being mysteriously repaired. Fleggburgh man Roger Turner was prompted to contact the Mercury following the recent coverage after part his family's memorial at Magdalen Cemetery had been filled with concrete.
CONFUSION reigns over the borough council's headstone health and safety policy, with several readers reporting headstones being mysteriously repaired.
Fleggburgh man Roger Turner was prompted to contact the Mercury following the recent coverage after part his family's memorial at Magdalen Cemetery had been filled with concrete.
When visiting the grave in June last year Mr Turner and his wife Janice noticed the hole in the base of the headstone, where flowers are usually kept, had been filled with concrete.
Mr Turner, 67, claims he wrote to the borough council to ask for an explanation, but never received a reply. The couple decided to let the matter rest until they visited the cemetery last month, only to find the headstone had been identified as unsafe.
After making enquiries to repair the grave the couple were astonished to learn they would have to pay up to �49 to have the grave's deeds transferred so work could be carried out.
He said: “We were amazed to find the stone was now loose. For our part we will pay for the deed transfer and we will pay for the re-positioning of the stone.
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“My concern is for the very elderly people in the borough with no supporting family who must be completely distraught by this fiasco.”
In a response the council said it had been unable to locate any correspondence from Mr Turner to the bereavements department amongst the “many received and dealt with”.
A spokesperson said: “Staff have checked all relevant files and cannot find any record of either receiving a letter or of any reply. All correspondence is responded to within the service delivery standards set by the council.
“We are presently unable to identify which grave Mr Turner is referring to as neither Mr Turner, nor the Mercury, have provided us with sufficient information, ie the section, grave number or the names of those interred.
“If Mr Turner would like to contact the bereavement services manager, she will be more than happy to visit the site with him, explain the inspection procedure and provide him with documented information regarding the memorial inspection which took place in 2004 and if necessary discuss transfer of ownership.”
The Mercury highlighted the issue last month after readers raised concerns over the policy, which to many, appeared to be targeting headstones which look structurally sound.
This week, the Mercury learnt the borough council has purchased a ground anchor drilling machine - a method used by memorial masons to repair unsafe headstones.
However, the council said it was not its intention to compete with local masons for work.
A spokesperson said: “The council has purchased equipment to enable repairs to be undertaken only on memorials where the owner of the exclusive right of burial, after all reasonable avenues of enquiry have been exhausted, cannot be traced. Any works undertaken by the council will be charged to the grave and should a living owner/new owner make contact the cost of the works would have to be cleared before any other works or interments would be authorised.”
The only other options open to the council would be to lay the memorial down or dig the memorial in by one third of the overall height. Whilst these options remain available to the council, we feel that neither would be favorably received by the general public.”