Gravestones labelled dangerous

RELATIVES are today being warned gravestones in a town's cemeteries have been labelled as dangerous.Letters are going out to the families in Stowmarket as 41 out of approximately 1,750 gravestones in the town have been laid down or marked for attention after being found to be unstable.

RELATIVES are today being warned gravestones in a town's cemeteries have been labelled as dangerous.

Letters are going out to the families in Stowmarket as 41 out of approximately 1,750 gravestones in the town have been laid down or marked for attention after being found to be unstable.

Advice is being issued to relatives by the council but it is the families who will have to pay to have them replaced.

Marilyn Finbow, town councilor, said: "We have tried to contact all relatives as it wouldn't be nice for them to turn up and see wood either side of the gravestones, tied together with string.

"We have told them we will help them in any way we can but it is something we have had to do because it is dangerous.

"People have been very understanding."

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The town's two cemeteries lay either side of Violet Hill Road. Most of the problematic gravestones were between two and four years old and in the new cemetery.

It is believed modern gravestones have a design weakness because of the way they are made.

A lot now have platforms for headstones to sit on instead of just a long piece of stone half-buried into the ground.

They have a foundation stone which should be buried to ground level, a base stone which sits on that and the headstone

which sits on that. This means there are lots of joints that could become loose.

The foundation stone can become uncovered when regular gardening work is carried out and by extreme weather conditions.

Even if it is just the joints that are unsafe, it is expected to cost between £100-£200 to have them fixed.

The work by the council was prompted by demands from the Health and Safety Executive.

The council has asked the stonemason it deals with to make sure all the gravestones they install are fixed down securely in the future.

Emily Adie, deputy town clerk, said: "The maintenance team has found this to be a difficult task but have used their skill and judgment in minimizing any potential upset to the public."

The Evening Star revealed in June how hundreds of gravestones and memorials in Ipswich were in a dangerous condition.

The National Association of Memorial Masons is trying to encourage stonemasons to move to a new system called the ground anchor system which means metal poles are placed through all three parts of the gravestone holding them tightly together.

What do you think? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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