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REPORT OF THE STRATEGIC DIRECTOR OF LOCAL SERVICES

TO THE CABINET MEMBER FOR TRANSPORTATION & STREET SERVICES 16th March 2004

NON KEY DECISION MEMORIAL SAFETY – MUNICIPAL CEMETERIES AND CLOSED CHURCHYARDS

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SUBJECT AND BRIEF SUMMARY OF PROPOSALS This report sets out the current position in respect of the Management of Memorials within the Municipal Cemeteries and Closed Churchyards maintained by the City Council. The report also seeks approval for the proposals and recommendations for the current and future measures necessary to ensure the controlled management of memorials in the City Council’s cemeteries. RECOMMENDATIONS That the proposals for Memorial Safety as set out in the report be approved.

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BACKGROUND The City Council is responsible for the operation, management and control of ten Cemeteries covering in excess of 433 acres of land. The Council also has responsibilities for certain aspects of the maintenance of nineteen Closed Church of England Churchyards. There has been growing concern that during the past 6 years there have been six people killed in UK cemeteries due to dangerous memorials. In addition there have been serious injuries within cemeteries in the country that resulted from unsafe memorials. The likely number of unsafe memorials within City Cemeteries is unlikely to differ when compared with the National position and is a large-scale problem being faced by all Burial Authorities across the Country. It is clear that the primary responsibility for a memorial erected on a grave rests with the owner of the Exclusive Right of Burial for each grave or their heirs or assigns. The Department’s first action will therefore be to contact the owner of the memorial or the responsible person. It seems likely however, that as memorials which are found to be unsafe will have been in place for many years in many cases that an owner will not be found and in such circumstances the legal advice we have been given is that the City Council, acting as Burial Authority, will have responsibilities as the owner of the cemeteries to ensure the Health and Safety of visitors as part of its “Duty of Care”. With effect from the 2003/2004 financial year the City Council made available funding of £100,000 each year to address the issue of memorial safety in the cemeteries some of this funding is directed to the salaries budget.

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In January the Bereavement Services Section employed two Memorial Safety Officers who will carry out inspections of memorials and the administration of notification and rectification programmes that will be necessary in dealing with unsafe memorials that are identified. In addition to the Council’s responsibilities as the Burial Authority the Council has responsibility under the Building Act 1984 (s.77s.78) for buildings or structures considered to be in a dangerous or unsatisfactory condition. The definition building or structure extends to any material fabricated or erected by hand of man and therefore would include memorial monuments. Surveying Services Section of Building Consultancy are responsible, through delegation to the Chief Planning Officer, for enforcement of this legislation which requires the Local Authority to render safe dangerous structures. The powers and responsibilities of the Authority in this respect are similar to those of the Burial Authority as defined By The Local Government Act 1972 (s.214 s.215) Surveying Services are a part of the Development Directorate and report to the Public Protection Committee.

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4. 4.1

PRIMARY PROPOSALS There will be consultation with interested groups (Elected Members, Funeral Directors, Stone Masons, the Diocesan Registry and the Conservation Section of the Development Department), prior to any works being undertaken by the City Council within cemeteries or Closed Churchyards. A comprehensive publicity exercise will be arranged to raise the awareness of the public and service users in relation to the proposed inspection programme that the Department intends to carry out within the cemeteries and Closed Churchyards through the media and by public notices in the cemeteries and where appropriate through the Church Authorities. That wherever possible, the owner of an unsafe memorial will be contacted and be encouraged to arrange urgent remedial work, at their own expense, to ensure the future safety of the memorial. On occasions when the person responsible for an unsafe memorial cannot be identified or traced, the cost of rendering the memorial safe will fall to the City Council. In such cases a charge would be set against the grave, in order that it offers the Authority the opportunity to recover costs if the grave is used in the future. However the burial register will show the graves that are “full” and the potential for recovery of costs is likely to be limited That a suitable Stone Mason or Contractor is appointed to deal with the making safe of memorials that have been identified as unsafe or in need of remedial works in accordance with City Council Procurement Procedures. That the methodology for dealing with memorials within the Cemeteries and Closed Churchyards be in accordance with The Bereavement Services Policy for Dealing with Memorial Safety (attached the Appendix). This has been compiled in conjunction with Surveying Services. That primary responsibility for safety of memorials be that of the Council in the form of Bereavement Services, and that Surveying Services shall in the first instance advise Bereavement Services of any report concerning unsafe memorials received by them. That Surveying Services shall, if the condition of a memorial is found to be such that it requires immediate action to render it safe and, having consulted with the grave owner and or Bereavement Services, undertake such works in accordance with the Bereavement Services Policy as required on behalf of the City Council acting as the Burial Authority, and that such costs as are incurred in so doing shall be paid by Bereavement Services and be recovered from the grave owner or a charge registered against the grave.

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MATTERS FOR DECISION To approve the Policy and Procedure detailed in the report. EVALUATION OF ALTERNATIVE OPTIONS “Outsourcing” of the inspection, administration and rectification works could be a possibility for the future, however it is recommended that existing expertise within the City Council is used to address the various issues, the intention being to use “professional” external contractors for the specialist rectification works on a contract basis. CABINET MEMBER CONSULTATION Councillor John Tyrrell, Cabinet Member for Transportation and Street Services. WHAT CONSULTATION (if any) HAS TAKEN PLACE Information and invitations to feedback opinions have been included within The Cemeteries and Crematoria Bulletin, which contains updates on service delivery and circulated to Funeral Directors and Monumental Masons on a regular basis. There has been direct consultation with Stone Masons when in late 2003; the Principal Cemeteries and Crematoria Officer attended a local meeting of the National Association of Memorial Masons (NAMM) attended by Local Stone Masons who were generally of the opinion that the issue of unsafe memorials within the City Cemeteries must be addressed and the City needed to develop a clear policy and procedure for this work prior to embarking upon any testing regime. WHAT REPRESENTATIONS (if any) HAVE BEEN RECEIVED E.G. IN RESPONSE TO THE INCLUSION OF THIS DECISION IN THE FORWARD PLAN Not applicable. LEGAL POWERS AND IMPLICATIONS FOR RESOURCES, FINANCE, PEOPLE, PROPERTY AND IT CONSIDERATIONS Details of the legal powers are referred to in the Background section of the report. Any works ordered by the Department will be managed within the budget provision available for this purpose. Consultation will be carried out with interested groups as outlined within the Primary Proposals of this report.

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IMPLICATIONS FOR POLICY PRIORITIES

11.1 Specific Service Priorities – The proposals in the report will allow the City Council to deal with the serious issue of unsafe memorials, which exist, in most if not all of the cemeteries operated by the Authority. 11.2 Implications for Specific Issues – Current equalities (Black and Minority Ethnic People, Women and People with Disabilities) and the Environment – There are no exceptions in all City Council Cemeteries and Crematoria and all religious and non-religious communities are provided for. 12. ARE THE RECOMMENDATIONS IN THIS REPORT CONSISTENT WITH ANY APPROVED “POLICY FRAMEWORK” PLAN OR STRATEGY/OR THE APPROVED BUDGET All proposals will be contained within the budget provision for Memorial Safety. REASONS FOR RECOMMENDATIONS The recommendations for the treatment of unsafe memorials and the subsequent Policy Document have resulted from the identification of potential risks from unsafe memorials within the Municipal Cemeteries. Approval of the proposals contained within this report will allow the City Council to begin to address its responsibilities in this area in accordance with the requirements of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.

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BACKGROUND DOCUMENTS Nil

……………………………………………….. David Maxted Strategic Director – Local Services

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CONTACT OFFICERS Margaret Wells Assistant Director, Trading Services Telephone: - 0121 464 8640 E-mail: Margaret.j.wells@birmingham.gov.uk Nick Baines Head of Bereavement Services Telephone: 0121 303 0309 E-mail: nick_baines@birmingham.gov.uk Rick Powell Principal Cemeteries and Crematoria Officer Telephone: 0121 708 1342 E-mail: rick.powell@birmingham.gov.uk

Terry Perkins Surveyor Services Manager Telephone: 0121 303 3088 E-mail: terry.perkins@birmingham.gov.uk

My decision is to adopt the recommendation(s) set out in this report. MEMORIAL SAFETY – MUNICIPAL CEMETERIES AND CLOSED CHURCHYARDS

………………………………………………………

CABINET MEMBER FOR TRANSPORTATION AND STREET SERVICES

DATE:………………………………………………

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Appendix 1

BIRMINGHAM CITY COUNCIL BEREAVEMENT SERVICES

MEMORIAL SAFETY POLICY

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Introduction Birmingham City Council recognises that the issue of unsafe memorials is not restricted to this authority but is a nationwide problem. In seeking a solution it has and continues to seek the cooperation of grave owners, local Memorial Masons, other Burial Authorities, the National Association of Memorial Masons, the Institute of Cemetery and Crematorium Management, the Health and Safety Executive and other stakeholders. The authority will seek to implement and abide by any national standards or policies that are introduced in relation to memorials. Wherever possible it will seek to use these as a baseline and promote higher standards for the benefit of Service Users. The purpose of the policy is to set out in a structured manner the steps Birmingham City Council will take to prevent and remove the potential hazards posed by unsafe memorials to the bereaved, those attending funerals, employees and the general public. The policy recognises that the authority faces an immense task, which has built up over several decades and exists to varying degrees at every cemetery. To resolve the problem will require sustained investment over many years. The policy also recognises that any action the authority takes in relation to memorials must be done with extreme sensitivity. The memorials are not the property of the authority and they have immense emotional value to a bereaved family. In addition the importance of memorials, architecturally, socially and historically is recognised and every effort will be made to retain those in these categories. It is vital that memorials are not removed wholesale, creating "Green Deserts"; rather the matter be dealt with sympathetically to retain the character of cemeteries. Proposals such as lining headstones removed from the grave around the boundary of a cemetery or churchyard are not seen as an acceptable option. The policy also recognises the important role IT has in both identifying and recording unsafe memorials. Wherever possible, new IT solutions must be implemented to enable the task to be completed as effectively as is possible. The policy recognises that different religious and ethnic groups may have specific requirements relating to memorials and these must be taken into account.

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Memorial Fixing In order to contain the problem of unsafe memorials and prevent further escalation, it is necessary that the mistakes of the past are not repeated and all memorial works are carried out to industry standards or above that standard. In order to ensure standards are met it is necessary to regulate both the individuals carrying out the fixing and the methodology which is adopted. Memorial Fixing Methodology The policy recognises that memorial fixing is a partnership between the authority and the memorial mason and a contract between the memorial mason and the owner of the memorial. In particular the authority provides the location for the memorial mason to fix upon. For this reason with new graves, it is incumbent upon the authority to ensure the memorial is either fixed on a suitable foundation, such as a concrete raft, or alternatively allows the mason to fix on to undisturbed ground, not the excavated portion of the grave. The memorial mason will use the latest national standards laid down by the National Association of Memorial Masons to determine the fixing methodology. This applies to all works carried out in relation to memorials; irrespective of whether they are new or additional works. Existing Memorial The problem of memorials that are insecure, either through age or poor fixing methodology that was acceptable in the past, is now widespread throughout cemeteries. It is therefore impossible either, financially or logistically, to resolve it without a prioritised and phased programme over a number of years. Formal Inspection Programme The first priority, in accordance with the advice from the ICCM and NAMM, is to introduce a rapid inspection process to identify those memorials, which pose the greatest hazard. The initial inspection will concentrate on all memorials above 1 .5m in height. There are no clear overriding criteria for dictating, which cemetery the inspection process is to commence at. The Cemetery at Sutton New Hall was opened in 2002 and is likely to accommodate memorials that will be deemed to pose the lowest risk to visitors. The cemeteries of Key Hill and Warstone

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Lane are “open cemeteries” where the public can gain uncontrolled access at all times. These cemeteries have many very old large memorials, which pose a potentially high risk to visitors. However, there is little to choose between the cemeteries at Yardley, Lodge Hill, Sutton Coldfield Rectory Road, Handsworth, Brandwood End, Witton and Quinton in respect of the condition of memorials and therefore Key Hill and Warstone Lane cemeteries will be the first sites at which inspections will be conducted. They have an added advantage in being the smallest cemeteries and there being virtually no burials, also no employees are based on the sites. 5.4 As there are no mechanical means of testing memorials above 1 .5m high the inspection will rely upon the visual and pressure test set out by the ICCM. In many cases it will be necessary to use the expertise of a structural engineer to determine the condition of larger memorials. The details will be recorded and entered onto a computer database for future reference and to enable future inspections to be programmed. The memorials which are found to be insecure will be identified / made safe by:  Repairs  Laying flat  Cordoning off and erecting warning signs Wherever possible the owner of the memorial will be contacted to advise them of the situation and request they instigate the necessary repairs. The laying flat of larger memorials and the reinstatement of memorials in general will be carried out by an appointed contractor following tendering of the work through the City Council’s Procurement procedures. This will be necessary due to the specialist nature of the work and the equipment necessary to perform this function safely. Once the inspection of all memorials above 1 .5m high has been complete the inspection will revert to smaller lawn type memorials. It is recognised that these headstones are more susceptible to fall or be pulled backwards, due to the plate (vertical headstone) being fixed at the rear of the base. Therefore those which are not "back-to-back", and which could be pulled over from the back will be the subject of the next round of inspections. The memorials below 1.5m in height will be inspected using the same visual and pressure test as outlined by the ICCM. In addition a calibrated pressure gauge will be used to provide an objective assessment of the condition of the memorial. The pressure gauge will be calibrated at the level set by NAMM, currently 35kg. The gauge will be subject to regular calibration in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.

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5.9

The memorials which are found to be insecure will be made safe by:  Being banded to a secure metal stake (where appropriate / practicable).  Repairs  Laying flat  Cordoning off and erecting warning signs Wherever possible the owner will be contacted to advise them of the situation and request they instigate the necessary repairs. The final group of memorials, those, which are "back-to-back" will be subject to the same inspection regime as set out in 5.7, 5.8 and 5.9 above. Random Inspections In addition to the inspection program set out above a number of memorials will also be inspected where the:  Memorial is adjacent to where a mason is working and it may have to be moved.  Any that employees engaged in the course of their work are concerned about.  Any memorials, which members of the public or memorial masons report to be potentially unsafe.

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These memorials will be inspected in accordance with policy set out above. Training The inspection and making safe of memorials is a specialist task and requires a variety of specialist and general training. The specialist training, for example the inspection process will be sourced from the ICCM, NAMM and other specialist organisations. The general training, for example manual handling will be sourced from within the authority. Funding The task of making safe old memorials, managing the existing memorial stock some of which are of significant design and sculpture and controlling the installation of new memorials will take considerable financial resources. The investment is necessary not only on the grounds of safety but to ensure cemeteries can continue to be part of our cultural heritage, havens for nature and conservation and tranquillity, urban green space, historical landscapes and remain important therapeutic, environmental, historical and educational resources for our communities. Many of our cemeteries are now Listed on the Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest at Grade II.

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Public Awareness The City Council will make public its intentions regarding the memorial inspection process. This will be achieved by:      Positive media involvement. Information given to Funeral Directors and Memorial Masons. Highly visible signage within cemeteries. Awareness training for cemetery employees. Regular briefing sessions for front line employees who meet service users.

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