Safety inspections begin at cemeteries and graveyards

Released: Friday, 10 February 2023

Our officers are to visit each of Adur and Worthing's cemeteries and graveyards to ensure there are no safety risks for visitors.

We're responsible for maintaining five cemeteries as well as 11 closed Church of England churchyards, some of which were first used more than 1000 years ago.

The work has not been prompted by anyone being injured at any of the burial grounds but instead is to ensure we're meeting our legal duty to ensure no-one visiting or working in them is put at any risk of harm.

Members of our bereavement services team have today begun checking each site. This is a painstaking process as it involves examining not just every memorial but also the grounds around them, paths, trees and boundary walls.

To help with the process, an independent review was first done to determine which sites would be more likely to have potential safety issues due to, for example, the age or size of the memorials there.

The review identified that Heene Cemetery and Christ Church Cemetery in the centre of Worthing - which are both now closed to further burials - would be the most likely to contain potential hazards. We have therefore begun the inspections at these two sites.

If we discover any potential hazards we will immediately make them temporarily safe, such as by fencing them off. If any memorials are involved, we will try to contact the owners so they can be made permanently safe.

Heene Cemetery has been temporarily closed while the inspection is carried out. The churchyard at Christ Church will also be temporarily closed next week, although there will still be access to the church.

Church officials and the Friends of Heene Cemetery conservation group have both been contacted in advance to make them aware of the activity.

Cllr Vicki Wells, Worthing's Cabinet Member for the Environment, said:

“Thousands of people engage with Worthing's cemeteries and graveyards for a variety of reasons every year. Whether remembering loved ones, walking through them or tending to them as part of a valued history or nature-based Friends of Group, we need to ensure the safe utilisation of these spaces.

“We hope this safety work will not overly disturb visitors but it is vital that we make sure that we keep everyone safe.”

After the inspections have been carried out at Heene and Christ Church, the teams will move to other sites on a rolling programme. In each case we will contact church officials and any Friends groups connected to the burial grounds in advance.

In addition to Heene and Christ Church, we're responsible for maintaining Durrington, Broadwater, Southwick, Mill Lane, Lancing and Sompting, and Southwick cemeteries. They also manage the closed graveyards at St Mary's churchyard in Goring, St Andrew's in Tarring, St Mary's churchyard in Broadwater, St James the Less and West Lane Cemetery in Lancing, St Nicolas and St Mary de Haura in Shoreham, and St Julian's and St Michael's in Southwick.

Photo: Heene Cemetery

PR23-015 - Heene Cemetery

(PR23-015)

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Page last updated: 20 February 2024

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