Hundreds of graves fail safety tests

MORE than a fifth of all gravestones tested for safety standards in Ipswich cemetery have failed it can be revealed today.Relatives are now left forking out costs for repairs – and have been told that if the work is not done the graves could be filled in.

MORE than a fifth of all gravestones tested for safety standards in Ipswich cemetery have failed it can be revealed today.

Relatives are now left forking out costs for repairs – and have been told that if the work is not done the graves could be filled in.

Ipswich Borough Council started checking gravestones in May last year after the Health and Safety Executive demanded tests be carried out.

To date the team has checked 2,500 out of the 5,126 graves in the lawn cemetery and have found 582 failures.

But the testing has been controversial with some families who felt that some of the repair work was unnecessary.

Meryvn Reeve, of Bramford Lane, Ipswich, received a letter saying his wife's grave had failed the test but he refused to pay the money and was told the grave would be filled in.

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However, after some negotiation, the test was carried out again and it was found nothing was wrong with the grave.

He said: "I bugged them for weeks and eventually they said they would carry out the test again.

"They agreed there was nothing wrong with the grave but I had to fight tooth and nail to get them to make that decision."

Clive Bradley, of Belstead Avenue, is also responsible for a grave at the cemetery.

He said: "The grave was solid when I sat there and cleaned it but a few days later the checks were carried out and it was deemed unsafe.

"It now rocks on its base."

Mr Bradley said he felt the hand-rocking method used to test the graves put too much pressure on them.

Instead he feels the council should use a specific device made for pushing the gravestones at a certain pressure.

Mike Grimwood, cemetery manager, said: "There is a devise called a topple tester which looks like a bike pump with two handles on it.

"We have one of these on order and shall be using it when we test the graves in the Old Cemetery.

"We cannot use it for the ones in the Lawn Cemetery as the stones are too small and need to be tested at a lesser pressure.

"We have all had training to carry out the tests in the correct manner and ensure the correct amount of pressure is applied.

"If we could, we would ask all of the relatives to come and watch while the tests took place but it would be impossible to organise a time to suit everybody and we could not put the safety of visitors at risk just so relatives could be present."

He added that no relative who had been contacted about the dangerous state of the gravestone had so far refused to do anything about it.

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