Town Council to Undertake Memorial Inspection Programme at Fairmile Cemetery

A new Memorial Safety Policy and a programme of memorial inspections at the Fairmile Cemetery has been agreed at the Henley Town Council’s Recreation and Amenities Committee this week.

A partial inspection of the cemetery’s memorials was carried out in 2017. The committee agreed to implement a further programme of inspection to identify any memorials which are unstable and a safety risk.  The inspection programme will be funded through budgeted cemetery expenditure for 2024/25 and is expected to cost in the region of £2,500.

A Memorial Safety Policy, created in accordance with guidance from the Institute of Cemetery and Crematorium Management (ICCM), was presented to the Committee. The policy emphasises the importance of proportionate action to manage risks, ensuring sensitivity in handling memorials.

To ensure transparency and communication, the Council plans to provide one month’s notice of inspections through local press, the Council’s website, and noticeboards. Additionally, grave owners will be contacted by letter before their memorial is inspected. Where an unstable memorial is identified, the Council will either place notices, or provide temporary support, or if appropriate, cordon off the memorial. Memorials will only be laid flat where this course of action is necessary to prevent a genuine hazard to health and safety that cannot be remedied or reduced to an acceptable level by temporary support or cordoning.

The Council has recently completed the digitalisation of cemetery records, including over 1,000 memorial records.   It was agreed that when memorials are found to be unstable, a letter will be sent to the grave owner wherever possible, providing them with the opportunity to repair the memorial at their own expense. In cases where the grave owner cannot be contacted or declines to repair the memorial, appropriate action will be taken.

Additionally, in instances where a memorial is deemed to have historic significance or contributes to the character of the cemetery, the Council may consider funding repairs, subject to further discussion and cost assessment.

In light of the presented information, the Committee unanimously resolved to approve the Memorial Safety Policy, and to approve the programme of memorial inspections, to be funded through budgeted cemetery expenditure for the year 2024/25. Final arrangements will be made by the Parks Manager and Estates Manager, in consultation with the Town Clerk.

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