Witney Town Council is undertaking the next stage of an on-going programme of memorial safety checks in our cemeteries to ensure they are safe places for you to visit. The program is a legal requirement to be carried out every five years following a number of accidents, including some that have been fatal, that have occurred across the country in recent years.
Tower Hill, being our oldest cemetery, is most likely to be at risk of having headstones that may fail safety checks so we are starting there, but Windrush Cemetery will also be included in the program.
Each memorial headstone will be tested to make sure it’s not at risk of falling over and injuring someone.
Notices are in place at Tower Hill cemetery while the testing is taking place. A specially trained stone mason will start by doing a visual inspection of the memorial, followed by a hand test. This will involve pressure being applied to the memorial to check for movement. In most cases, there will be no movement and a record will be kept that the memorial has passed the test. If the memorial moves it will fail the test.
We have previously carried out a demonstration of how the checks are performed but if you have any questions please ask.
It is the responsibility of the grave owner, or their next of kin, to make sure that the memorial headstone is kept in a safe condition, so for those that fail the owner will be asked to get it repaired at their own cost.
Where we have contact details a letter will be sent to the registered owner of failed memorials asking them to contact us within one month to determine what action they would like taken.
The options are:
- We can lay the memorial flat so that it cannot pose any danger to anyone
- The memorial can be staked and banded as a temporary measure until fully repaired by an approved stone mason.
- The memorial owner can employ a stone mason to bring the memorial back to within current safety standards.
Please do not try to move or make repairs to the memorial yourself.
Memorials will be checked every five years. Memorials that have had repairs made will join the 5-year inspection cycle.
We understand that this is a very sensitive issue and we will make every effort to contact memorial owners before laying any memorial flat, but there is a time limit of one month for this so that we can keep the program moving forward, make the area safe and complete the inspections in a timely manner. If you own a memorial headstone, please check that we have the correct contact details for you by calling 01993 777820.