Graveyard topple tests start again

GRAVESTONES across North Somerset are due to face the topple test again one year after the first phase of safety checks sparked outrage. Last year North Somerset Council carried out memorial testing in 19 churchyards across the district. Every headstone

GRAVESTONES across North Somerset are due to face the topple test again one year after the first phase of safety checks sparked outrage. Last year North Somerset Council carried out memorial testing in 19 churchyards across the district.Every headstone given a grade two priority must be checked 18 months after the first round of topple tests.This means that 65 more headstones at St Mary's Church in Hutton could be flattened if they fail the inspections this time.Last year 55 memorials in the churchyard were found to be unsafe and were flattened sparking uproar from bereaved relatives who claimed they had not been warned about the inspection.Of the 207 memorials in the closed churchyard 65 were listed as grade two priority which means they must now face the topple test again.Hutton Parish Council clerk, Andrew Basterfield said: "Twelve months ago we came in one morning to find that North Somerset Council had carried out safety inspections in the churchyard and brought professional contractors in to lay flat around 50 headstones."We had a number of complaints from people visiting the churchyard. I would assume they will give advance notification to everybody including the parish council on any future inspection. "We didn't have a problem with the memorial testing if they were required to do it by law, it was purely the way it was handled. I would be very surprised and very disappointed if they didn't now follow the procedures they said they would and give advanced notice so people can be aware of what's happening."The 87 remaining headstones in the churchyard passed the original inspection and will not be tested for another four years. A number of individuals are currently taking the complaint against North Somerset to the regional ombudsman in a bid to make the authority pay for repairs to the gravestones which were flattened last year.The complainants are being supported by Hutton Parish Council in their case.


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