SBC is to carry out safety inspections at 18 cemeteries across the area.

The local authority have said that any headstones which fail the safety test will need to be cordoned off and if possible, the owners/next of kin will be contacted.

Council leader, councillor Shona Haslam (Cons) said: “Clearly this is a sensitive matter. We are very sympathetic to the issues and will ensure the work is undertaken with due respect and only where absolutely necessary. Our cemeteries are peaceful, tranquil places but we also have to make sure they are safe places for everyone.

“Unsafe headstones pose a significant risk and we must take all reasonable steps to make these areas as safe as possible.

“While there is no specific funding or obligation on the Council to re-instate headstones, various alternative sources of funding could be explored by communities and the Council is willing to assist wherever possible.

“It is very unfortunate, and I understand the distress and concern that this action will cause, but the Council often has little option but to lay flat unsafe headstones which are not repaired by the owner or their next of kin.”