Council contractors may take headstones in Havant, Waterlooville and Warblington cemeteries out of the ground

FAMILIES have been warned their loved ones’ headstones could be taken out of the ground if they are wobbly.

Friday, 21st June 2019, 12:02 pm
Updated Friday, 21st June 2019, 6:37 pm
Waterlooville Cemetery. Picture: Malcolm Wells (180202-5150)

It comes as council contractors gear up to test the safety of an estimated 4,000 memorials across cemeteries in Havant, Waterlooville and Warblington.

Norse South East workers will inspect the headstones and take physical action if they appear to be loose.

Those which look unsafe may then be removed from the ground, with family members of the deceased alerted.

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Conservative councillor Gary Hughes, who represents the Purbrook ward. Picture: Sarah Standing (020519-7934)

Councillor Gary Hughes, Havant Borough Council’s cabinet lead for commercial services, said: ‘[Contractors] will take a visual check to make sure the headstones are safe first.

‘Where there is any suspicion they are not, subsequent tests will take place.’

It is not yet known what these tests are, but Cllr Hughes said headstones that appear loose will not be shaken, so to avoid damage.

Those that require immediate action after this stage however will be removed from the ground, pending family action.

‘If any stone is found to be potentially unsafe, we will take temporary safety measures and will contact family members where possible, so it can be decided how to make it safe long term,' said Cllr Hughes.

‘If we can, we will lay it down on the grave itself in a respectful way.

‘If the relative chooses not to come back and do anything, that would be a permanent solution.’

Council policy states the upkeep of graves and headstones is the responsibility of the family or relatives of the deceased.

According to the council, newer memorials and graves should be under guarantee and the memorial mason who carried out the original installation should be able to correct any faults if found.

Cllr Hughes added: ‘We always deal with these issues as sensitively as possible.

‘However, given the age of some of the memorials it is not always possible to trace any living relatives.’