SAFETY inspections are due to take place at Thornbury Cemetery to check the stability of gravestones.

Staff from Thornbury Town Council will be carrying out statutory testing of memorial stones during this summer and autumn. 

Responsibility for the maintenance of memorials lies with their owner - usually the closest family member of the deceased.

Councils have a duty to ensure that cemeteries and graveyards for which they are responsible are safe. 

Memorials can become unstable and cause accidents. 

To try to prevent this, most councils now test the safety of memorials at regular intervals.

Between 1979 and 2009 eight people in the UK were killed when a memorial fell on them, according to Ministry of Justice figures.

A spokesperson from Thornbury Town Council said: “This testing involves a very specific amount of force being applied onto memorial stones. 

“If any movement is detected, the plot owner is contacted to let them know what they need to do next. 

“In some instances, the staff must carefully lay down the stone to prevent a potential hazard to users of the cemetery. 

“Our staff at the cemetery are fully trained in the appropriate process by the Institute of Cemetery and Crematorium Management.”  

They added: “As a burial authority, the town council is legally obliged to carry out this testing.

“There have been instances at other cemeteries of injury and even death as a result of loose memorial stones falling over onto cemetery visitors. 

“We understand completely that families may be very upset if a memorial stone needs to be laid down, but we would like to reassure people that this is done very carefully. 

“We will write to any plot owners whose memorial stones fail the testing and are very happy to talk to them about the process and help to guide them through what they need to do next. 

“Unfortunately, many plot owners are not aware that once a memorial stone is put in place, both they, and the town council, continue to have legal responsibilities for it.”  

For more information see here -

The town council has asked that any plot owners contact staff by calling 01454 412103 or by email at