Haxby Town Council held a full council meeting on Monday, December 11 in which it passed the resolution. The move follows a public apology made on the town council’s website, noticeboard and Facebook page after the safety ‘topple testing’ in Haxby and Wigginton Cemetery in October left 87 gravestones lying flat on the ground.
Haxby Town Council jointly operates the cemetery in Oaken Grove with Wigginton Parish Council – a cemetery committee is made up of members from both councils. Wigginton Parish Council issued its own apology in a statement dated November 23 which also said that the joint cemetery committee ‘agreed it would take responsibility for instructing a specialist contractor to reinstate all headstones safely and to pay for these works directly.’ The town clerk at Haxby Town Council said that contact is an ongoing process because there is no one single source of contact details and that around half of the grave owners to date had been communicated with.
In October, gates to the cemetery had a notice dated October 9 attached, warning of the ‘mandatory exercise’, saying that all upright headstones had been subjected to an independent ‘topple test’ to see if they were safe. Some headstones had failed the test, it said, and would need to be laid flat. The notice added that the work was being done on October 11. The notice concluded that: “Where possible the cemetery committee will contact grave owners and advise of the need to undertake repairs.”
Several members of the public who have already had their loved ones’ gravestones righted attended the meeting on December 11 including John Wood – who said he’s travelled from Lincolnshire to attend Haxby Town Council meetings since the ‘toppling’ – and Carol Davis, who has been attending from Leeds. Residents had also said that Christmas was the ‘crunch time’ for the potential lifting of gravestones.
It is not yet known how much it will cost to carry out the work.