Grave shock

GRAVEYARDS in Axbridge, Shipham, Weare and Wedmore are among 23 closed churchyards in Sedgemoor in need of new safety measures according to a report. The report from Environmental Health and Clean Surroundings (EHCS) was presented to Sedgemoor District Co

GRAVEYARDS in Axbridge, Shipham, Weare and Wedmore are among 23 closed churchyards in Sedgemoor in need of new safety measures according to a report.The report from Environmental Health and Clean Surroundings (EHCS) was presented to Sedgemoor District Council this week and included proposals to stop gravestones from falling over. EHCS group manager Adrian Gardner said: "It is important that all reasonable efforts are made to ensure the safety of all visitors to cemeteries."Safety measures include laying the gravestone down inscription face up. However, this is unpopular as it can upset families. The second alternative is the 'founding method', where 20-30 per cent of the memorials could be buried in the ground to stabilise them. Finally, the memorials could be anchored to the ground with one or two spikes extending into the ground. A brief survey of the area shows that 600 memorials could fail safety tests. They would cost about £87,000 to repair if ground anchors were used and £27,000 by the founding method. Sedgemoor has agreed to pay for any alterations but it needs to find a way of including them in its next budget which is currently being finalised.The council believes the anchor method would be the best solution as it is the most modern method.Mr Gardner added: "Our main concern for the moment are two Bridgwater cemeteries, but we will be focussing on graveyards in South Somerset over the next two years."A number of accidents and deaths have occured in cemeteries nationally in recent years. Enforcement action against councils has been taken by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), after incidents of crumbling gravestones falling over.

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