Motion for graveyard fund

labour Group councillors in County Buildings, Ayr, will lodge a motion that South Ayrshire Council should provide financial assistance for families to maintain relatives’ cemetery memorials at the next meeting of the full council.

Girvan and South Carrick councillor John McDowall will put the motion forward at Thursday morning’s meeting, after there were deaths in graveyards due to unsafe and toppling headstones.

Speaking to the Gazette, Mr McDowall said the council are required to ensure that graveyard premises are safe for visitors and employees.

He said: “The council are required in terms of the Health and Safety at Work Act to ensure that council premises including graveyards are safe for visitors and employees.

“There have been six deaths in the past few years - all in England - as a result of toppling headstones. Two of these were children.

“That is why the headstone stability programme is being carried out to make sure headstones and memorials are safe and if not, be made safe.”

However, this has led to instances where some relatives have been unable to afford the cost of repairs and we now have a number of memorials in cemeteries where the headstone has been secured by wooden posts and binding wire.

Mr McDowall continued: “The risk of injury is small compared to the overall number of headstones, but is still a risk which has to be managed.

“This is why I am asking for an assistance fund to be set up to provide help to those relatives who would have difficulty in meeting the whole cost of repair which can run to several hundred pounds.

“There are now a number of lairs where the stone has been made safe by the use of posts and binding wire and this is distressing for families.”