Recovery in Progress: Haxby Town Council Takes Action to Rectify Toppled Gravestones

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In a recent decision, Haxby Town Council has agreed to finance the reinstatement of numerous gravestones toppled during safety ‘topple testing’ at Haxby and Wigginton Cemetery in October. The resolution was passed during a full council meeting on Monday, December 11, following a public apology issued by Haxby Town Council through its website, noticeboard, and Facebook page. The safety testing in October left 87 gravestones lying flat on the ground, causing concern and disappointment within the affected families and the wider community.

Haxby Town Council manages the cemetery in collaboration with Wigginton Parish Council, and a joint cemetery committee, comprising members from both councils, oversees operations. In response to the incident, Wigginton Parish Council released its own statement on November 23, acknowledging the communication lapse and expressing remorse. The joint cemetery committee took responsibility for engaging a specialist contractor to reinstate all headstones safely and committed to covering the associated costs directly.

The statement revealed that advice had been received, indicating the need for both participating councils, Haxby Town Council and Wigginton Parish Council, to agree to the proposed expenditure. This requirement added a layer of complexity to the resolution process.

The incident unfolded in October when notices were affixed to the cemetery gates on October 9, notifying the public of a ‘mandatory exercise’ involving independent ‘topple testing’ on all upright headstones. The notice specified that some headstones had failed the test and would need to be laid flat, with the work scheduled for October 11. The cemetery committee pledged to contact grave owners wherever possible to inform them of the necessary repairs.

Responding to concerns about communication, the town clerk at Haxby Town Council explained that the contact process was ongoing due to the lack of a centralized database for grave owners. Approximately half of the grave owners had been communicated with up to the present date.

Several affected individuals, who had already witnessed the righting of their loved ones’ gravestones, attended the December 11 meeting. One attendee, who has been diligently attending Haxby Town Council meetings since the incident occurred, remarked on the significant effort invested. Another attendee, who discovered the topple testing through acquaintances, emphasized that Christmas was a crucial time for the potential restoration of gravestones. Addressing the emotional impact, one individual, whose father’s gravestone has been rectified, stated, “It’s almost Christmas – it’s depressing enough as it is, but with a stone being laid flat, to put a wreath or flowers on it is even more depressing.”

The Labour Party parliamentary candidate for York Outer, including Haxby, has been actively involved in advocating for the affected families. He expressed relief that the council has heeded calls from concerned parties. The candidate voiced support for the resolution proposed by Haxby Town Council and Wigginton Parish Council.

As of now, the cost of carrying out the restoration work remains undisclosed. The commitment to fund the reinstatement of the gravestones reflects a step towards amending the consequences of the safety testing incident and addressing the concerns and emotional distress experienced by the affected families. The community awaits further details on the restoration process and the financial implications involved.

Danielle Trigg
Danielle Trigg
Journalist Danielle is a skilled journalist specializing in regional coverage across the United Kingdom. With her wealth of experience and in-depth knowledge, Danielle dives into the stories that matter to local communities. Her meticulous research and engaging writing style captivate readers, providing them with a comprehensive understanding of the dynamic business landscape. Danielle's commitment to delivering accurate and thought-provoking news sets her apart, making her an invaluable asset to the News Write Ups team.

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