Dozens of headstones deliberately pulled down by council could be reinstated as mourning families finally get an apology two months after accusing bosses of ‘vandalism’
- A total of 87 graves were laid flat by inspectors after a ‘mandatory topple test’
Council chiefs who sparked outrage by pulling down dozens of graveyard headstones without warning have apologised and revealed they may pay to put them back up again.
Horrified residents were stunned to discover 87 headstones had been pulled down in a so-called ‘topple test’ at a North Yorkshire cemetery in October.
Some mourners found the cemetery strewn with flattened headstones that had been laid down on the ground after being deemed unsafe.
The council said the headstones were laid on the ground because they failed a ‘topple test’ which is done to ensure visitors aren’t injured by falling headstones.
Some described the actions by workmen at Haxby and Wigginton Cemetery near York, North Yorkshire, as an ‘act of vandalism.’
Mourners were shocked to discover 87 headstones had been flattened at Haxby and Wigginton Cemetery, North Yorkshire, in October
Heartbroken families have slammed council bosses for toppling over headstones they deemed unsafe
The council said the headstones were laid on the ground because they failed a ‘topple test’ which is done to ensure visitors aren’t injured by falling headstones
However Haxby Town Council has now apologised and blamed the decision on the fact its cemetery’s committee didn’t have a clerk.
It is now considering a recommendation from the cemetery committee to pay to reinstate the toppled headstones.
Home Office rules make clear relatives should be properly informed if their loved ones’ graves are disturbed.
The council said in a statement: ‘Please be assured that lessons have been learned and as such the communication will in future be much improved.’
But mourners believe they should have received letters of apology – rather than the statement which appeared on a website and Facebook.
Fiona Allison lost her mother Maria in 1992, whose stone was one of those affected, and she says she is ‘still waiting for answers.’
She said: ‘We’re still waiting for some answers now. I don’t know of one grave owner who has got a letter.
The council has now published an apology but those affected have questioned why they have not personally been contacted
‘My father hasn’t got one yet, and he’s still at the same address that was registered with the committee.
READ MORE: Daughters’ agony after council flattens their mother’s gravestone without warning over fears it could ‘topple’ – and pair find it lying on the ground
‘Why haven’t letters of apology gone out to older people, who don’t use social media?’
Tracey Smith lost her 21-year-old brother James in 1992 and his stone was also affected.
She claims she has been quoted £372 to reinstate the headstone and added that the council ‘should have put the apology up around the cemetery.’
Tracey said: ‘The council have got so much scope in the village, the noticeboards, they could have put the apology up around the cemetery.
‘At the end of the day communication is key, making sure people are aware so that this never happens again – 87 families are going through this trauma.
‘There’s still headstones laid down, one of them has got a bunch of flowers just tied to it.’
Haxby Town Council said it will consider the cemetery committee’s recommendation at the next full council meeting, which is today.
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