Fears over headstones row cost sparks grave concerns
A GRAVESTONE row in Gower could leave taxpayers footing a bill of several thousand pounds.
Last November two representatives of Pennard Community Council laid down some 60 gravestones on safety grounds in the council-run cemetery outside the village's St Mary's Church.
Although they were worried the gravestones were dangerous and could topple over, the Post understands that they did not follow relevant guidelines and that relatives of the those laid to rest underneath were not notified.
Nearly a year on, the matter is yet to be resolved — and there are concerns the horizontal gravestones could be a tripping hazard themselves.
An 81-year-old Pennard man, who asked the Evening Post not to name him, was one of those affected.
His wife said: "We had my husband's mother's headstone put down without knowing about it. There was no warning given.
"He (my husband) was naturally upset. He has lived here all his life."
She said the family did not suspect the gravestone was unstable, and wondered why tape had not been put around it if it was, as was the norm elsewhere.
She said she felt the community council should reinstate it, and added: "We have heard wording on some headstones has been affected because they have been laid flat in the elements for so long."
Some residents and councillors in Penard feel that public money should not be spent reinstating the gravestones — and the issue is said to have exacerbated divisions within a council that has lost two chairmen, an acting chairman and two clerks in the last nine months.
The council's new burial grounds committee chairman, Ian Ambrose, said this was not the first time the council had found itself in this position regarding gravestones.
"I and other community councillors feel strongly that the public have a right to know about this issue," he said.
In May this year, six months after the gravestones were flattened, the council agreed to pay to reinstate them. It has now authorised a £3,828 quote to restore the 29 gravestones that remain flattened. Acting council chairman Arthur Rogers said advice was now being sought regarding the separate matter of compensating the 30-odd families who have reinstated their gravestones themselves.
Regarding the decision to pay for the 29 gravestones, Mr Rogers said: "This decision, rightly or wrongly, has been democratically agreed and as such should be dealt with as soon as possible so as not to further the understandable upset of those involved."
Mr Ambrose said it would have been nice to restore all the gravestones by Remembrance Sunday.
"I want this matter resolved by Christmas at the very latest," he said.