SENIOR councillors have given their approval to address hundreds of "unsafe" memorials across Flintshire after serious health and safety concerns were raised.

Flintshire Council's bereavement service currently manage 15 cemeteries and eight closed churchyards throughout the county.

The service is responsible for approximately 20,000 memorials of varying shapes and sizes and has a duty to ensure its burial grounds are in good and safe order.

But hundreds of memorials in those spaces have been deemed "structurally unsafe" - presenting a risk to staff and visitors.

Flintshire Council's cabinet met on Tuesday (January 16) to discuss the situation - and proposals for dealing with it.

Cllr Dave Hughes, deputy leader of the council and cabinet member for streetscene and the regional transport strategy, told the meeting: "A combination of absence of records and absence of family members willing to maintain memorials has resulted in approximately 700 of them being deemed structurally unsafe.

"Whilst these continue to be supported by wooden stakes, a permanent solution is yet to be implemented."

The cabinet was recommended in a report to adopt a "digging in" method to stabilise memorials and to address unsafe kerb sets by repositioning all kerb sections within the structure of the grave.

Bereavement Services' Anthony Stanford said: "In recent years we have had increasing issues of existing headstones and kerb sets falling into disrepair.

"With owners either interred in the plot, or of an age where repair may not be feasible, it's not always possible to do permanent repairs through liaison with family members.

"It is essential we take action as it does pose a serious health and safety risk."


Mr Stanford told the meeting that in 2001, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) launched a campaign to try to improve the safety of cemeteries and churchyards following the recording of 21 serious accidents, including seven fatalities, involving unsafe memorials over a 10-year period across the UK.

He added: "We didn't see it as an option to remove or lay them flat - that would be deemed disrespectful or inappropriate.

"The preferred option is 'digging in' - which involves securing the headstone 18 inches below the ground level and backfilling with earth."

The cabinet voted to follow the recommendations as set out in the report.