HUNDREDS of families are set to face hefty bills to repair loved ones’ gravestones.

Flintshire Council has declared 198 memorials at cemeteries in Bagillt and Holywell are health and safety risks.

From the end of the month the stones branded dangerous will either be laid flat or propped up.

Cllr Gareth Roberts, of Holywell West ward on Flintshire Council, raised concerns over whether the work was necessary.

He said: “This is one of the most sensitive issues there is and there needs to be maximum care taken in the way it is handled.

“I am not currently aware of any concerns at the cemetery. I certainly haven’t heard any mutterings that things are not quite right. I want to see the plans the council has on this.”

Holywell’s mayor, Cllr Peter Curtis, whose parents are both buried in the town’s cemetery, said: “The council has a duty to make sure the graves are safe and there may be instances where no relative is taking care of the grave any more.

“But this must be handled in the most sensitive of ways.”

All 15 council-owned cemeteries in Flintshire are being inspected over the course of three years.

Two years ago work at Flint's Old London Road cemetery sparked fury. Families arriving to tend graves found temporary wooden enforcements in place and faced hefty repair costs.

Cllr Alex Aldridge, the member for Flint’s Coleshill ward, said he hoped that situation would not be repeated.

He added: “Lessons have to have been learned from what happened in Flint. It was one of the biggest challenges I have faced as a councillor here, with many residents upset by what was happening.

“There needs to be advance notice for relatives about what is going on.”

The changes are being made under the Local Authorities’ Cemeteries Order 1977, which empowers a burial authority to take action to remove dangers caused by the condition of a memorial.

A Flintshire Council spokesman said: “Throughout the inspection programme the council has tried to balance the requirement to address the problem of unstable memorials with the need to be sensitive regarding people’s natural concerns in relation to this issue.

“The council’s concern is to ensure that any memorial is not in danger of falling over and causing injury to people visiting the cemeteries.”

Any questions should be directed to the council’s bereavement services office on 01352 703360/1/2.