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Safety tests planned for 8,000 Rossendale graves
MORE than 8,000 graves across Rossendale are to be inspected within the next five years in one of the council’s biggest-ever safety initiatives.
Beginning this month, cemeteries in Haslingden, Rawtenstall, Bacup, and Whitworth, will be looked at.
The campaign takes its lead from the Health and Safety Executive, which has advised all local auth-orities to perform inspections in a bid to stop serious injuries and fatalities caused by unsafe memorials.
No such incidents have happened in the Valley, according to Alison Wilkins, the council’s locality manager.
If a headstone, or memorial, is deemed unsafe during testing, it will be listed on the cemetery notice board and the grave’s owner will be contacted, where possible, to help enable owners to carry out repairs.
Any memorials which pose an immediate danger to public safety will be carefully made safe, and the owner informed. Council leader Alyson Barnes, said: “Our cemeteries are very important within the community and we have to ensure all of ours are safe to visit.
“There have been some extremely tragic incidents involving unsafe headstones over the years, and we have a duty to make sure it never happens in Rossendale.
“We fully understand the sensitive nature of this campaign, but the council has to balance this with ensuring the risk to visitors, relatives, and our own cemetery staff, is minimised.
“This means a programme of inspection, working with the owners responsible for the graves, and advising them on the best steps to take for repair. Working together with the grave owners in a sensible and sensitive way, we can create a safe environment to remember loved ones.”
The inspection will begin in the cemeteries in Haslingden.
It will also highlight any untidy, and untended, graves.
The testing process consists of a visual inspection, and a nationally-recognised hand test.