Grave decision: headstones pulled down in Sidbury

A FAMILY is disgusted after a relatives headstone was one of several at Sidbury cemetery to be pulled down by the council on the grounds of public safety.

A FAMILY is 'disgusted' after a relatives headstone was one of several at Sidbury cemetery to be pulled down by the council on the grounds of public safety.

Susan Baker, 68, visited her sister's grave last week and found the headstone lying on the ground with a notice stuck on it stating: 'This memorial has been found to be unstable and laid down for public safety. Please do not stand up again.'

Miss Baker, of High Street, Sidmouth, said: "It really upset me and I was very shocked to see it.

"There had been high winds and straight away I thought it had been blown down but then I saw the council's sign and realised what had happened.

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"It was such an insensitive way of dealing with it. I thought they could have at least put something in the paper to warn people that they were going to it or let them know it had happened."

A spokesperson for East Devon District Council (EDDC) said during routine checks it was necessary to remove headstones that are deemed unstable to "ensure that it cannot harm anyone nearby".

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He added: ""We then attach a label to the stone, informing the family why the stone has been laid flat and inviting them to contact us."

The gravestone, which is about three-foot-high, was erected 26 years ago and Miss Baker said she thought it was secure.

She added: "There are a lot of older headstones in the cemetery and some of them are falling sideways but they were still left."

Miss Baker's brother, Eddie, said: "It is ludicrous. If it had been a monumental cross I would have understood it but a thing of that height couldn't hurt anyone."

The siblings have now had the headstone removed and are forking out more than �300 to replace it.

Mr Baker, 66, of Fortescue Road, added: "If an old lady went to see her husband's grave and that had happened it would be very upsetting and she might not be able to afford to have another headstone put up."

The spokesperson for EDDC added: "Maintenance of the headstones is the responsibility of the family of the deceased or whoever arranged for the stone to be placed by the grave.

"In a recent cemetery check at Sidbury, we found 25 unstable headstones, nine of which were recent, with the others much older. Where possible, we will be contacting the owners of the stones and asking them to have them made safe.

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