Grave danger?

THOUSANDS of gravestones and memorials in Ipswich could be in a dangerous condition, the Evening Star can reveal today.Prompted by the Government, Ipswich Borough Council has embarked on a safety inspection of all 5,125 graveyard headstones and monuments.

THOUSANDS of gravestones and memorials in Ipswich could be in a dangerous condition, the Evening Star can reveal today.

Prompted by the Government, Ipswich Borough Council has embarked on a safety inspection of all 5,125 graveyard headstones and monuments.

So far 767 have been inspected and a shocking 189 have been condemned as dangerous and cordoned off from the public.

One couple today spoke of their shock at discovering they may have to pay hundreds of pounds to repair a headstone which is only seven years old.

Brenda and Robert Mann returned home from holiday on May 29 to a letter from Ipswich Borough Council stating Mr Mann's father's grave was in need of repair.

Mrs Mann, of Thackeray Road, Ipswich, said: "At first we thought it had been vandalised and were really worried but when we arrived at Ipswich cemetery the next day there appeared to be nothing wrong with it.

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"My husband tried to push the grave with all his strength but it still appeared to be firmly fixed to the ground. The only reason you could tell anything was wrong was because there was security tape sectioning it off.

"I think it is an absolute disgrace. My father-in-law has only been dead seven years and already they want us to spend money on having the headstone fixed. "What about all the graves that have been there for 60 or 70 years, surely they must be in a worse state."

When the couple phoned the council for more clarification they were told the problem was due to a compound joint but for any more detail they would have to contact a stone mason.

A spokesperson for Ipswich Borough Council, said: "All Councils across the country have a statutory duty for the health and safety of visitors to cemeteries.

"Therefore Ipswich Borough Council has started an inspection programme of all memorials within the cemetery grounds to check the stability of headstones and other large monuments.

"Any headstones considered to be unsafe, are being recorded and the owners notified by letter."

The spokesman said that 189 letters have been sent out to relatives of defective graves so far but more may follow as every grave in Ipswich is checked.

In the case of Mr and Mrs Mann the problem lies with a break in the joint between the underside of the base stone and the foundation stone.

The spokesman also said because of the volume of questions from people who have received the letters the council has agreed to investigate further and will try to explain precisely what is wrong with each headstone. They will also try to give an estimate of how much it will cost to fix.

A Spokesman for stone masons Co-operative Wholesale Society, of Suffolk Road, Ipswich, said: "If grave stone joints are not safe you do not need to replace the whole thing but it could cost between £100-£200 to have the joints fixed."

What do you think? Have you been informed of an unsafe monument? Write in to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk or visit the forum at www.eveningstar.co.uk

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