Hartlepool council launches cemetery safety checks
Council bosses in Hartlepool are carrying out regular safety checks at cemeteries to ensure they are safe for visitors and staff.
The work is part of a five-year programme to test the safety and stability of all memorials in the area’s cemeteries and churchyards which are managed by Hartlepool Borough Council.
If any memorials or headstones are found to require attention, the owner will be contacted where possible and the council’s bereavement service team will provide advice to help ensure they are made safe.
Sarah Scarr, the council’s heritage and countryside manager, said: “Each of our burial grounds has a special significance for families across Hartlepool and we would like to reassure residents that these safety inspections will be carried out with the greatest respect and sensitivity.
“Our staff are highly trained and experienced in this important work and they will treat every headstone with care and dignity.”
She added: “Each memorial will be visually inspected and if there are any signs of damage or instability a gentle ‘hand test’ will be performed on the headstone to check for movement.
"Where a headstone is found to be unsafe, a notice will also be placed by the headstone advising the owner what to do next’ This will also act as a warning to members of the public so please leave these notices in place.
“If we are unable to trace the owner of a headstone, we will endeavour to make it safe in the most sensitive manner possible.”
Although the council does not have the right or responsibility to repair memorials, it can support owners by helping them to understand the options available to them and how to move forward by making arrangements with one of the local memorial masons on its list of registered firms.
Ms Scarr added: “Get in touch with our bereavement team if you require any support.
”We appreciate this is a sensitive issue, however the actions form part of the council’s legal duty of care to ensure our cemeteries are safe places for visitors, staff and anyone working on them.”