CONKER trees in Burnley's cemeteries are to be torn down as part of a root and branch review of safety in burial areas.

Up to 20 horse chestnuts could be felled as part of the scheme, which is aimed at reducing the number of deaths and accidents in cemeteries.

Council bosses said although the trees themselves are not a danger they encourage children into the burial sites, where there are dangers like stone monuments.

Despite the move being aimed at improving public safety, it could prove unpopular with environmentalists, who suggested the area could be fenced off.

The safety review is part of a wide-ranging five-year plan for the future of Burnley's crematorium and cemeteries.

The safety recommendations follow the death of David Crossley, nine, who died after a game of hide and seek turned to tragedy when a quarter tonne gravestone in Burnley Cemetery toppled on top of him six years ago.

David suffered brain damage after stopping breathing for several minutes under the weight of the memorial. He survived for two years and died at Burnley General Hospital on February 28, 1998.

An inquest heard David, a pupil at Hargher Clough school, was playing hide and seek with five friends and sat on the grave ledge to count.

Friends of the youngster said they had gone to get conkers but went to the bottom of the cemetery to play hide and seek and tig after a ranger told one of them to get down from a tree.

Council bosses are now set to introduce a series of measures to tighten safety, including regular inspections by an approved monument mason, plans to deal with unsafe monuments and a safety campaign aimed at youngsters living near cemeteries warning of the dangers.

Burnley Borough Council's parks manager Simon Goff, said: "Safety is an important issue and children need to realise that cemeteries are not playgrounds and that they should not be coming into them to play.

"We will be working with communities and schools to make sure children understand the message. As part of the safety issue we will be looking at removing horse chestnut trees, which attract children into cemeteries, and replacing them with other more suitable species."