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Why are we carrying out headstone safety checks? This work has been required by the Health & Safety Executive following a series of incidents across the country where people have been injured or killed by falling memorials. Tragically, there have also been incidents of children being killed by falling memorials whilst playing in cemeteries. A man was killed by a falling memorial in a Salford churchyard, and a woman was seriously injured in an accident involving a small headstone in a Greater Manchester cemetery. Some of the memorials in our cemeteries could be unsafe. The Council has a responsibility for the safety of visitors to the cemeteries. Who are the Health and Safety Executive? The Health and Safety Executive is a central government enforcement agency responsible for the general health and safety in public places. Which cemeteries are affected? All the closed cemeteries listed below. These are:
• St Lawrence churchyard, Church Road, Frodsham • St Paul’s churchyard, Chester Road, Helsby • St Mary’s churchyard, Church Street, Weaverham, Northwich • St Johns churchyard, Chester Road, Hartford, Northwich • St John’s churchyard, Delamere Street, Winsford • Christchurch churchyard, Crook Lane, Wharton, Winsford.

Who is responsible for keeping my memorial repaired and in a safe condition? The grave owner or their next of kin is responsible for keeping the headstone/memorial repaired and in a safe condition. However, the Council has the obligation of making a memorial safe if it is found to be in an unsafe condition. What will the safety tests involve and who will carry them out? Each headstone will be given a visual check to assess the condition of the memorial, as part of a continuous 5yr rolling programme. Each headstone will then be given either a gentle push test or a topple test, to check that it is not in ‘immediate danger of falling’. The checks are being carried out by a trained officers from Vale Royal Borough Council, who will make sure any work is carried out with due respect. A record will be made of the date of inspection and of any action that was taken or is required.
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Revision Date: 27/10/2005 Revision number: 1.01

What will you do with headstones that fail the test? Once a headstone is found to be unsafe the Council has a duty of care to make sure it is made safe immediately because the cemetery is a public place. Headstones, which are in immediate danger of collapse, will be carefully laid flat and marked with a sign explaining to the owner what to do next. No memorials/headstones will be removed from the grave space as part of this testing. We will ask the church authorities to contact grave owners as soon as possible to inform them where it has been necessary to lower a memorial to the ground for safety reasons. What should I do if my headstone/memorial has been lowered to the ground? Please contact the church concerned or contact the Council on 0800 435 199and speak to a member of staff. We will advice you to contact an approved monumental mason, preferably a member of the National Association of Monumental Masons who will be able to assist you with re-erecting your memorial safely. Under no circumstances should you try to re-erect the memorial yourself; this could be very dangerous and may result in serious injury to yourself and/or to members of the public. Grave owners' or the next of kin are responsible for fixing the memorial back in place to a safe condition. If I have insurance cover on my memorial will the costs of repair be covered? Please check with your monumental mason or your insurer to find out. My headstone has been lowered to the ground and I wasn't contacted first. Why? Our immediate priority is to make a complete inspection of all cemeteries we maintain to make sure they are safe places for the public to enter. Every headstone lowered to the ground will have a sign attached to it advising the owner what to do next. When the inspection is complete the church authorities will contact as many grave owners as possible whose memorials have been lowered as a result of the inspection. If they have not written to you it may be because they do not have a record of your current address Will my headstone be subject to further tests in the future? Yes we will be carrying out similar tests at regular intervals in the future.


Revision Date: 27/10/2005 Revision number: 1.01

Where can I get further information? We understand how upsetting it can be for families to see a memorial to a loved one laid flat and we want to help people deal with their unsafe memorials as quickly as possible. Anyone, who wants to talk about what is happening or who needs information, can always contact us by letter, email or telephone at the details given below. We will try to resolve their problem as soon as possible. Further inspections on the cemeteries will be ongoing for some time. In the meantime, members of the public are asked to keep to the paths where possible and to keep children under close supervision at all times. Contacts It is essential that families do not attempt to move memorials or headstones, which have been laid down. Please contact a monumental mason preferably one who is a member of the National Association of Monumental Masons, If you need to contact us, please call, telephone or write to:

Cemetery Registrar Vale Royal Borough Council Environment and Sustainability Directorate Wyvern House The Drumber Winsford Cheshire CW7 1AH Tel: 0800 435199 Fax: 01606 867549 E-mail:

Office Hours Monday to Friday 9.00am to 5.00pm.


Revision Date: 27/10/2005 Revision number: 1.01

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