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Banwell graves could be exhumed over health and safety

By cfayfineran  |  Posted: December 14, 2013

  • About 41 graves may be exhumed at Banwell cemetery due to a collapsing wall

  • Banwell Church

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The mortal remains of 41 Cheddar Valley residents may have to be exhumed because of a health and safety risk.

A section of Banwell cemetery has been closed off, due to fears over the stability of a crumbling wall.

Banwell Parish Council, which owns, maintains and manages the cemetery next to the graveyard of St Andrew’s Church, says it intends to repair the south wall, known as the Abbey Wall.

A spokesman for the council said: “The wall is showing signs of distress with cracks and bowing clearly present.

“With public safety in mind, the parish council have commissioned a structural survey on the wall.”

The survey report concludes that the wall may not be safe, and further cracking or bowing would be likely if the wall was left in its present state.

The spokesman said: “It is conceivable that sections of the wall could collapse in adverse weather conditions.

“As a temporary measure the parish council has decided to cordon off a section of the cemetery to prevent the public coming into close proximity of the wall.

“The cemetery footpath will be within the excluded area.

“A temporary alternative footpath may be installed.”

The council wants to contact the families of the 41 people whose remains were buried in the section of the cemetery nearest the wall, between 1992 and 2012, many with headstones, in case their remains have to be exhumed so work can be carried out.

Until the wall is repaired the area is to be cordoned off, and there will be no access to the 41 plots.

Once the families have been contacted, a decision about repairing or replacing the wall permanently will be made.

The spokesman said: “We need to make contact with relatives of the people buried next to the Abbey Wall as a matter of urgency.

“Could relatives, or anyone with information on the whereabouts of relatives, contact the parish clerk on 01934 820442.”

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