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Last Updated: Wednesday, 13 September 2006, 10:56 GMT 11:56 UK
Gravestone repairs cost 730,000
A council has agreed to pay 737,000 to repair 10,000 gravestones in its cemeteries to comply with health and safety regulations.

Stoke-on-Trent City Council has agreed the four-year programme of repair.

It comes after a five-year campaign in which relatives were asked to maintain memorials, but most were not repaired.

The council said the decision would make graveyards safer and more attractive to visit and has been welcomed by residents.

The authority estimates there are 10,000 graveyard memorials in the nine council cemeteries in the city which need repair because they fail safety standards.

Gravestones laid flat

The council has written to grave owners, who are responsible for the upkeep of the plots, asking them to repair memorials, but only 40 per cent carried out the work.

Unsafe gravestone are either laid flat or are given temporary support.

"With memorials laid down or given temporary support it means that the cemeteries are not what they should be, it's obviously a situation that couldn't continue and the decision has been taken to do something about it," said a council spokesman.

"This should make cemeteries safer and attractive places for people to visit."

Resident Peter Chadwick, who led a four-year campaign for gravestones to be repaired, said the decision will greatly improve the situation.

"I can always remember my first visit to Hartshill cemetery when the scene was like something out of a war zone, people were kneeling down crying," he said.

"The general feeling for people walking around was absolutely horrific."

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