Grave danger

Graves are fenced off at Airbles Cemetery.
Graves are fenced off at Airbles Cemetery.
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Dozens of ‘dangerous’ gravestones at Airbles Cemetery have been fenced off by North Lanarkshire Council.

Regeneration and environmental services workers carried out a comprehensive review of each headstone to determine which ones are at risk of falling
over.

Those deemed unsafe have been surrounded by plastic with a sign asking families to contact the council to arrange for repairs.

Motherwell man Alex Esslemont is a regular visitor to his family’s plot and was surprised to find the grave fenced off last week.

Upon contacting the council he says he was quoted £150 to secure the headstone.

Mr Esslemont said: “My father died just before the war and the gravestone was put up around 1940 so 75 years isn’t particularly old.

“When I saw the sign I gave the stone a shoogle and it moved a wee bit, but it seemed okay.

“I was told I needed a new concrete base to be re-settled at a cost of £150. I haven’t heard anything since then and won’t be chasing them.

“I am a regular visitor to the cemetery, but I imagine there will be plenty of people who don’t go very often, if at all, so will have no idea the gravestones need attention.”

The council says it is trying to track down families and the cost of each will be considered on a case by case basis.

A council spokesman said: “We carry out a programme of checks and, where we identify a stone which is not secure, we will immediately make it safe.

“This involves installing a post on either side of the headstone with a plastic banding around to keep it upright or, for larger stones, placing a fence around it with a warning sign.

“We then contact the family to advise them of the situation and the need for a permanent repair. If the family have not taken steps to resolve the situation within 21 days, the council will dismantle the headstone and place it securely within the
ground.

“We prioritised memorials greater than 1.5 metres in height. These assessments were completed last month and we are in the process of contacting those families where the memorial
is unsafe.”