Villagers slammed a local council for “blatant misuse of health and safety policies” after they stuck “unsafe memorial” tags on 37 gravestones – many of which are brand NEW. Residents in Terrington St Clement – 14 miles from Wisbech and 11 from King’s Lynn -say health and safety has “gone mad” after King’s Lynn and West Norfolk Borough Council placed the bright yellow warning tags on the gravestones in their churchyard.
Many were shocked to see the yellow tags on their loved ones’ gravestones, many of which aren’t even wobbly, with one only being erected last year.
Residents in Terrington St Clement say health and safety has “gone mad” after their local council placed yellow warning tags on gravestones. PHOTO: Terry HarrisThe notices ask relatives to get in touch with the council, who say they have a duty of care to keep the graveyard safe.
Local resident Michael Lister wrote on Facebook: “Many people may not be aware that since the parish church churchyard was closed to future burials the responsibility of its maintenance has been transferred to the borough council.
“This morning whilst visiting there I noticed that with its ‘duty of care’ to the public it has recently visited and inspected the headstones.
“A great number of them, mainly on the south side of the church now have notices attached to them advising that they are unstable and must not be touched.
“This is the first step before they return at a later date and lay the headstones flat. Visually to me it appeared that, whilst some were indeed unstable, some appeared to be just sinking to one side.
“Most are not ‘historic’ stones and must have relatives still living locally and I wonder if many of them know of this current situation.”
Hank Pooley replied: “When has anyone been injured or seriously injured by a falling headstone?”
Ashley Bareford said it was “disrespectful” and wrote: “They are not unsafe. I haven’t heard of anyone injuring themselves because of these headstones. It’s just a load of crap. The council doesn’t need to change anything.”
Tom Crossman-Kellie wrote: “Who seriously sat down with the H&S team stifling a laugh when they said ‘these leaning stones are a risk – someone could die if they fall at the wrong time. C’mon this is blatant misuse of H&S policies and guidance.”
Another local, who did not want to be named, added: “It’s health and safety gone mad. Many of the gravestones aren’t even wobbly. It seems completely over-the-top.”
Earlier this year the a spokesperson for the council said: “The graves and memorials within cemeteries are purchased by individuals – usually family members of deceased persons – and they retain ownership of these.
“This means that if remedial work is required to make a memorial safe, it is up to the owner to carry it out, although we will provide help and advice with this process.
“West Norfolk Council conducted inspections in five cemeteries in the borough in May. In advance of doing this, a press release was issued and notices were put up in the cemeteries being inspected.
“Out of more than 8,000 memorials tested, just over 900 have been identified as needing attention.
“Where it is considered that a memorial needs remedial work to make it safe, we do our best to contact the owner of the grave.
“This is not always straightforward. Most people who move house would not consider making the council aware of this fact for the purposes of grave ownership, and sometimes – especially with older graves – owners can be difficult to trace.
“As a result, contacting owners can be a time-consuming and complex process.
“In the meantime, we have put labels on the relevant graves while we make efforts to contact people.”