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Graveyards Should Be Locked At Night
Airdrie North councillor Sophia Coyle is calling for cemetery gates across North Lanarkshire to be locked overnight for safety reasons.
The issue, which has been raised with the local authority previously by Councillor Coyle, is being highlighted again in the wake of last month’s tragedy when an eight year old boy was killed by a falling headstone in Glasgow.
Two other youngsters were badly injured following the accident at Craigton Cemetery and Ms Coyle fears it is only a matter of time before another tragedy takes place.
North Lanarkshire Council insists it operates an efficient programme of checks and repairs to ensure all headstones are safe, without having to lock the gates as an additional measure.
But Councillor Coyle disagrees saying, “I’ve been contacting the local authority about this issue for more than a decade but feel now is the right time to highlight it again.
“Cemeteries are dangerous places to play and I know that in Airdrie groups of young people gather in them late at night. As far as I’m concerned the best option is to just lock the gates.
“A few years ago I took the idea to the council but was told it wasn’t possible as it would cost too much for this to be done throughout North Lanarkshire.
“Surely, whatever the price, it’s one worth paying if it stops something terrible happening?”
She continued: “There are a lot of old headstones, particularly in Old Monkland cemetery, that are not too secure and all you need is some bad weather like we’re experiencing now to bring them down. It can be a very dangerous place.”
Councillor Coyle also feels that it is important for action to be taken to deter the threat of vandals and irresponsible dog walkers from destroying memorials and floral tributes.
She added: “It’s a question of respect and in the past floral tributes and other mementos have been destroyed by people going through the graveyard late at night. I don’t think it’s asking too much to have locks fitted on the gates. They could be locked up at around 9pm and reopened again at about 6am.”
A council spokesperson said: “The council carries out a programme of checks on headstones and where we identify a stone which is not secure we will immediately make it safe.
“This involves installing a post on either side of the headstone with a plastic banding around to keep it upright or, for larger stones, placing a fence around it with a warning sign.
“We can then contact the family to advise them of the situation and the need for a permanent repair.
“If the family have not taken steps to resolve the situation within 21 days the council will dismantle the headstone and place it securely within the ground.
“The council operates 15 cemeteries across North Lanarkshire. As part of the council’s savings programme a decision was taken a number of years ago to leave cemetery gates open.”