Our contractor has now completed our Memorial Inspection Programme in Southborough Cemetery. He will return later in the year to carry out further inspections at St Peter’s Closed Churchyard, which the Town Council has maintenance responsibility for. We do understand that inspections can be a sensitive topic and that visiting the cemetery and seeing some of the notice stickers can understandably feel upsetting and stir up memories, so we wanted to explain what they mean and why we have to do it.
What does the yellow sticker mean?
If you visit Southborough Cemetery, you may notice yellow, triangular warning stickers on some memorials. These have been placed on graves where there is a safety issue but it was not high risk enough that we had to take action. The sticker simply means it has been identified as having some issues and has failed the inspection. Please contact us and we will be able to explain in more detail where the issue is. Memorials are private property and are the responsibility of the grave owner to repair, however the Town Council has a duty of care under Health and Safety Law and is legally bound to carry out inspections to fulfil this responsibility. Grave owners will need to speak to a qualified memorial mason about the repairs, so they can assess and advise. Memorial masons will then apply to us to do repair works, though there is no charge. We simply run checks to make sure the appointed mason is working to the NAMM Code of Practice and is accredited to carry out such works.
Transfer of Exclusive Rights of Burial (Grave Rights) Issues
Sometimes, in the course of a conversation with us, we may pick up that there has been no legal transfer of the grave rights and the rights are still listed in the name of someone who has passed away. Under burial law, the Town Council must effect a transfer before any works are approved, because the rights must be in the name of a living owner for any memorial works or future burials to take place in a grave. There is a set process to follow and we can explain what is needed in each individual case. We proactively advise people about transfers now to prevent issues and maintain contact with a living owner, but the cemetery has been open since 1903 and a lot has changed over time, so some have been missed.
Southborough Cemetery Management
As many of of you will know, we sadly lost our Cemetery Keeper, Malcolm Reynolds, in September 2022. Management of the cemetery was always a joint effort between our office administrative team handling legal matters and Malcolm, taking care of the cemetery on the ground and assisting us with grave and memorial information. Nobody could ever replace Malcolm and nobody now does the type of job he did for many years. As such, our office administrative team now manage all areas of cemetery management, in conjunction with our Grounds Staff Team, who have taken over full maintenance duties for the site.
We will be writing to all grave owners, where possible, to advise where repairs are needed. But we would encourage you to get in touch if you have seen a yellow sticker on a family grave, in case we do not have up-to-date ownership details on file. You can contact the Deputy Clerk or Office Administrator:
MAIN TEL: 01892 529176