Progress report on headstone reinstatement works

Progress report on headstone reinstatement works
18 September 2019

Work to re-erect headstones in Orkney's cemeteries is continuing with five cemeteries now completed, and one more expected to be completed shortly.

Training events were held in Orkney in July to bolster the availability of council staff and local construction firms trained in the inspection, maintenance and repair of headstones in the county.

The provision of the training has allowed the Council to work with two local contractors to speed up the process of reinstating the stones laid down last year - with Stenness, Sandwick and three Hoy kirkyards now completed and St Olafs due to complete in the next few weeks - subject to fair weather continuing.

Work will also be getting underway to identify and make safe stones where required in the remainder of Orkney’s kirkyards as part of a continuous programme of public safety over the months and years ahead.

In May 2018, it was announced that Orkney Islands Council would be carrying out a statutory safety review of all its cemeteries, with any headstones deemed to be at risk of toppling laid flat.

The intention was that only those stones deemed by the Council to be at the greatest risk of toppling would be laid flat and that, where the Council's records would allow, families would be contacted in advance. The Council recognised that these intentions were not met and a full apology was issued by the Council to those affected in February.

A report on the work carried out as part of the safety programme will come before the Monitoring and Audit Committee on Thursday September 26.

Council Convener Harvey Johnston said: “I am pleased to see work speed up on this since the training took place in the summer.  I’m delighted with the progress, and local folk should start to see a difference in the kirkyards as the work goes on.”

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