Readers' Letters

Readers' Letters

Families not pressured to pay for grave repairs

PUBLISHED: 11:18 06 February 2008 | UPDATED: 10:15 22 July 2010

I WANTED to write and try to give some explanation about the story ""You're in grave danger"" (Gazette, January 24) about the maintenance of Islington's cemeteries.

I WANTED to write and try to give some explanation about the story "You're in grave danger" (Gazette, January 24) about the maintenance of Islington's cemeteries.

The council is obliged by national health and safety law to test gravestones and make sure that they are secure. The checks are aimed at preventing accidents caused by gravestones falling on people, and children in particular.

There have been a number of incidents nationally where children were killed when gravestones fell on them, and this legislation was designed to reduce this risk to the public. The council, which maintains the cemetery, has to take this legal responsibility seriously.

So it's been a balancing act, between safety on one hand and sensitivity on the other, but we tried to take a common-sense approach and one that gave people options.

Some councils have just laid all the gravestones flat, but we thought that the wholesale laying down of lawn memorials that fail the stability test was both unnecessary and undesirable. Instead, the insecure headstones have been secured with stakes, and relatives have the option to repair the monument or leave it with the stakes.

No deadline is set for relatives to carry out work, and no-one has to pay if they don't want to. The cemetery service will be happy to give advice or help residents with any questions they might have. They will also be happy to help people find stonemasons to carry out permanent repairs. - Councillor Ruth Polling, Liberal Democrat member for Bunhill, Islington Council, Town Hall, Upper Street, N1.

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