Essex

Unstable gravestones at Saffron Walden cemetery to be fixed

More than 100 headstones at a cemetery in Essex are to be repaired after they were found to be unstable.

Saffron Walden Town Council will start work within the next month to shore-up 104 headstones that failed so-called "topple testing".

Each repair will cost about £95 and will initially be paid for by the council, who will then invoice the families which own the memorials.

About 2,000 headstones at the cemetery were tested last November.

Conservative town councillor David Watson said they had been checked after a visitor injured her leg on one of the unstable headstones.

He explained strong metal spikes would be fitted into the ground and then drilled into the headstone, making it "extremely difficult for one to topple."

Family search

Mr Watson explained the council had taken the decision to prevent anyone else being injured at the cemetery, which it has run since 2010.

He said: "We understand injuries are a rare event, but it's not an event we want taking place in Saffron Walden."

Mr Watson said it had traced about 60% of the families who own one of the headstones, but was keen to hear from more.

He said: "Any monuments placed on graves are the responsibility of the family.

"We will take into account any sort of hardship and we are aware some people have several family members in the graveyard.

"So we will discuss that with them and are prepared to be extremely reasonable."

He added: "We have to be realistic - there are some we are never going to find. Some people are buried in Saffron Walden who lived here, but their families don't.

"And if the relative who arranged the funeral has subsequently died, other relatives may not even know they inherited the plot."

The council has been given £9,000 by the cemetery's former owner, Uttlesford District Council, to help with the repairs.

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