Council rejects claims moles are to blame for unstable headstone at Holsworthy Cemetery
TORRIDGE District Council has quashed claims that headstones in Holsworthy Cemetery are becoming unstable because of moles.
Yellow plastic bags with warning signs are covering several headstones on graves because officers deemed the structures unsafe.
After spotting molehills in the cemetery grounds, Crispin King thought the burrowing rodents may have contributed towards the stonework becoming uneven.
However, the council does not believe the unstable headstones are a result of rodent activity. Instead, the way the stones are attached could be the fault.
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Crispin visits the cemetery regularly to attend to his parents', grandparents' and aunts' graves. He is also a delivery man for the florist Floral Design.
After seeing the condition of the cemetery, he said: "The yellow bags are unsettling. If people didn't visit loved ones often it would come as a bit of a shock. The bags look out of place. It doesn't look right in a cemetery.
"Some of the headstones have not been attended to in a long time. They have become neglected and overgrown, which is a shame.
"The cemetery is reasonably well looked after.
"There are pockets which are good and pockets which are not.
"I have four sisters. My mother would take us to put daffodils on our grandfather's grave.
"I made it a point to carry on. It doesn't take long and it's a mark of respect. I think it's important to remember loved ones."
The council carried out a safety audit on the cemetery last month. Officers found some headstones had become loose.
A council spokesman said: "The safety audit, which was carried out in February, revealed a small number of headstones which have become loose over time, and as such may present a risk to visitors.
"Our officers do not believe this was caused by moles, but rather the way in which the headstones are attached, or not, to the plinths or the ground.
"We have placed the yellow sacks over the headstones purely as a precaution so that members of the public are aware of the potential danger while we try to contact the owners of the plots. It is the responsibility of the owners to maintain their headstones and graves and to make sure they are safe.
"In the event that the council is unable to trace the family the grave belongs to, we will, if necessary, remove any dangerous headstones and lay them flat on the ground. Since 2003 the council has insisted all headstones erected in our cemeteries have been done so with ground anchors to stop them subsequently becoming loose."