Apology demanded over graves 'vandalism'

GRIEVING relatives have demanded an apology from a Suffolk council after claiming safety checks on headstones had left them “vandalised”.St Edmundsbury Borough Council has come under fire after the tests at Bury St Edmunds cemetery left many gravestones cracked and damaged.

GRIEVING relatives have demanded an apology from a Suffolk council after claiming safety checks on headstones had left them “vandalised”.

St Edmundsbury Borough Council has come under fire after the tests at Bury St Edmunds cemetery left many gravestones cracked and damaged.

Council chiefs said last night they were doing everything possible to limit “unnecessary distress” - but faced mounting criticism from relatives who found signs attached to the monuments informing them of the problems.

Raymond Yates, who lives in the town, said he was horrified to discover his parents-in-laws' graves had failed safety tests and he said the cost of repairs could be prohibitive for many pensioners.


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He said: “Where are people going to find this extra money? A neighbour of mine is a widow with two graves which were found to have faults in them and this is after he had to pay for repairs when a lawnmower hit the stone.

“I think they should apologise to everyone. I feel it is so unfair on pensioners on fixed incomes who have to pay for this vandalism.

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“If the council are going to insist on checking them they should help people pay for this.”

Borough councillor David Nettleton said the council had a responsibility to help pay for damaged graves which had upset many and described an apology from the council as “vital”.

“I have visited the cemetery in Kings Road which forms part of the ward boundary between Abbeygate and Risbygate to see for myself,” he said.

“Many electors have both parents buried here and some have their husband or wife buried. As they show me the graves and describe their feelings I can hear the hurt in their voices.

“People are angry and distressed. A caring council would issue a public apology and also absorb the costs of repairs.”

A council spokesman said they had a duty under health and safety legislation to ensure that all the memorials in their cemeteries were safe.

“We wanted to do this in the most sensitive way possible whilst ensuring the appropriate guidelines were followed,” he said.

“Following the recent expression of concerns, we have thoroughly reviewed our procedures and a copy of that review is on our website.

“In April, the council's policy development committee will be considering a range of issues about memorial safety. Funding for memorial repairs for those in hardship will be one of the issues to be discussed.

“We are doing our level best to deal with this very difficult issue without causing unnecessary distress. “However, if anybody believes we have not followed our procedures or wishes to discuss any concerns they should contact us.”

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