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Barkingside woman labels cemetery ‘war zone’ after dozens of headstones overturned

PUBLISHED: 07:00 17 June 2020

Dozens of memorials at Barkingside Cemetery were knocked down for health and safety regulations. Picture: Irena Lukasinski

Dozens of memorials at Barkingside Cemetery were knocked down for health and safety regulations. Picture: Irena Lukasinski

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A woman said Barkingside cemetery looked like ‘a war zone’ after discovering her grandmother’s headstone and many others were torn out for health and safety regulations.

Irena Lukasinski was devastated to find her grandmother's headstone was laid flat as she thought it was in good condition. Picture: Irena LukasinskiIrena Lukasinski was devastated to find her grandmother's headstone was laid flat as she thought it was in good condition. Picture: Irena Lukasinski

Irena Lukasinski lives across the street from Barkingside Garden of Rest, in Longwood Gardens, where her grandmother has been buried since 1983.

She visits the cemetery regularly and on Sunday was shocked to discover her grandmother’s headstone uprooted and laid flat along with a number of others with a note over it deeming it unsafe.

After she enquired she was told that the memorials were laid flat as part of routine safety measures that are done every five years.

Her grandmother’s headstone was tested and was deemed to be in danger of injuring visitors or staff and she would need to pay £180 to have it replaced.

These notices were placed on memorials that were torn out. Picture: Irena LukasinskiThese notices were placed on memorials that were torn out. Picture: Irena Lukasinski

Irena told the Recorder: “It’s total poppycock that they’re using rubbish health and safety excuses to take down headstones that were perfectly fine.

“The cemetery was a quiet, nice place and now it looks like a war zone.”

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A spokesperson for Westerleigh Group, which operates the cemetery since 2005 said the work they’ve done is consistent with every other cemetery across the UK.

Irena said it was 'poppycock' that the cemetery was using health and safety regulations as an excuse to tear out the headstones. Picture: Irena LukasinskiIrena said it was 'poppycock' that the cemetery was using health and safety regulations as an excuse to tear out the headstones. Picture: Irena Lukasinski

“Due to health and safety regulations, every five years, memorials over two feet high at our sites are tested to ensure they are not in danger of injuring visitors or staff in the cemetery.

“Our stonemasons are currently carrying out this process at Barkingside Cemetery and unfortunately some memorials have been deemed unstable.

“We understand that it can be distressing for families to find that memorials have been laid flat but trust that they appreciate the safety reasons for this action.”

“Families may choose whether they prefer to leave memorials flat or to have them safely re-erected by one of our stonemasons.

“Families can also elect to use their own approved stonemasons providing they apply for a permit.”

Irena said her grandmother’s headstone wasn’t wobbling and the sight of it ripped out was traumatic.

“It’s total health and safety gone mad if you ask me especially at this unprecedented time.”


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