HEADSTONE safety inspections will be carried out for free at cemeteries across Blackburn and Darwen.

Brent Stevenson Memorials will work in conjunction with local friends’ groups to carry out the work at both cemeteries in Darwen, plus Blackburn Old Cemetery in Whalley New Road and Pleasington Cemetery.

People have been assured that no memorials will be laid down and all will be made safe in their original position. Work starts at Darwen Old Cemetery this month, It follows criticism in 2007 when Blackburn with Darwen Council came under fire for asking bereaved relatives to fix ‘dangerous’ headstones - when neighbouring authorities had carried out the work for free.

At the time, the council said it was ‘not policy’ for them to pay for headstone repair.

Now, inspections will be carried out to new Ministry of Justice Guidelines, where memorials weighing more than 500kg and of a higher risk of causing injury will be made safe at the council’s expense..

Chairman of the Friends of Darwen Cemetery John East said: “We are supporting the checks on the headstones to make sure families get assurance that things are safe.

“It is good news as we are working in partnership with Brent and the council.

“Over the years, I think they got a bit over-indulgent with laying headstones down and we don’t want that to re-occur.”

The smaller lawn memorials will also be tested to see if they are a cause for concern or are considered dangerous, in which case the council will pay to have them made safe.

Where memorials erected within 35 years are a cause for concern, but not a risk, the council will write to the grave owners at their last known address to advise them their memorial is loose, and the owners then have the choice of instructing a qualified memorial mason to make the memorial secure.

Tony Watson, Blackburn with Darwen Council’s head of environment and public protection, said: “The safety of these memorials is important to families and loved ones and helps to keep our cemeteries safe.”