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Work to restore cemeteries set to get underway

OIC has apologised and work to restore Orkney’s cemeteries will shortly get underway.

Work to reinstate headstones laid flat in Orkney’s cemeteries is due to get underway shortly.

Work will begin in Stenness, with the initial focus being on headstones that are under one metre tall, and were put up after 1950.

These will be reinstated at no cost to the family, according to Orkney Islands Council.

Harvey Johnston, convener of Orkney Islands Council, said: “We apologise again for the upset and distress that has been caused to local families, and hope that they are comforted that appropriate action is being taken to put this right.

“As a caring organisation, responsive to public concern, we will restore kirkyards to the condition people would expect.”

The move follows a public outcry at the state of the county’s cemeteries and accusations that the authority had not informed relatives of their intention to lay a headstone flat.

The council later issued a full apology.

Interim work will also be carried out across a variety of cemeteries in the coming weeks, to infill the holes left by the headstones that have been laid flat.

Councillor Johnston added: “As we look to the future, local folk’s safety will remain an important concern for us, and we will be resuming our headstone inspections at an appropriate time.

“Be assured, though, that we’re taking steps to make sure that our actions are proportionate to the risk posed, that we mark stones identified as being unsafe and highlight these to local community representatives, and that we give relatives the time they need to discuss with us any work they might wish to carry out themselves.”

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