Unsafe graves to be laid flat
Residents who fail to maintain their loved ones’ memorial in an Argyll and Bute cemetery risk having it cordoned off, a report has warned. Members of the council’s environment, development and infrastructure committee have considered an updated policy for the maintenance and safety of cemeteries in the area. A report to the committee states that around 45 per cent of information on lair holders – those permitted to bury loved ones in a plot – is thought to show people who are still alive. A warning is given that any memorials thought by council staff to be unsafe will be laid flat on the ground, inscription side up, at the next inspection. Multiple unsafe memorials in the same area will mean the zone is cordoned off. Cemeteries are inspected every three years, but the next one could be imminent after recommendations by Sheriff Linda Ruxton as part of a fatal accident inquiry earlier this year into the death of young Ciaran Williamson at Craigton cemetery in Glasgow. Eight-year-old Ciaran died instantly after an unsafe headstone fell on him at the cemetery in May 2015.
A report for the meeting compiled by executive director of development and infrastructure Pippa Milne said: ‘The responsibility for memorial upkeep and maintenance rests with the burial lair owner. ‘Where details of the burial lair owner are known they will be contacted regarding any works that are required to be carried out on memorials. ‘Where memorials pose an immediate danger and/ or owners cannot be traced, memorials will be laid on the ground, inscription up. ‘This policy document has been produced following the publication of Sheriff Ruxton’s determination of the Craigton Cemetery, Glasgow, fatal accident inquiry on January 22, 2018. ‘The policy document sets out the inspection regime for the 131 cemeteries in Argyll and Bute and also sets out what action will be followed should a dangerous or potentially dangerous memorial be found.’
When memorials pose an immediate danger and owners cannot be traced, memorials will be laid on the ground, inscription up.