DOZENS of headstones in Colchester's cemetery have been 'tagged up' amid health and safety fears in a move described as making it look like a "jumble sale". 

Colchester Council has carried out an inspection of graves at the cemetery in Mersea Road. 

But many visitors to the cemetery were left confused after dozens of their loved one's graves have been left with a yellow tag hanging on its side.

Colchester Council said the process is necessary to ensure the cemetery remains safe for visitors and warned unstable grave stones may be cordoned off or laid down. 

Gazette: Cemetery - a gravestone with a health and safety tag Cemetery - a gravestone with a health and safety tag (Image: Alan Munson)

Alan Munson, a visitor of the cemetery, said: "Hundreds of gravestones have been tagged for health and safety, it makes the cemetery look like a jumble sale."

One Colchester woman who visits her grandparents' graves said it was sad to see so many graves tagged up.

“There may be lots of elderly people who can no longer make it to the cemetery to tend graves,” she said.

“Hopefully they will be notified and helped to put things right.”

A spokesman for Colchester City Council said: “We understand concerns raised about recent markings on headstones at Mersea Road Cemetery. We want to assure residents that this is a necessary safety precaution.

“Last month, we began a programme of memorial stability testing across the cemetery. This ongoing project ensures compliance with health and safety regulations and follows Ministry of Justice and ICCM guidelines.

“The testing programme is methodical and will cover all memorials in the cemetery. Markings indicate that a headstone has been assessed, and further evaluation may be needed."

Gazette: Hundreds - the many headstones which have been taggedHundreds - the many headstones which have been tagged (Image: Alan Munson)

The spokesman said any headstone identified as a "potential hazard" will undergo a risk assessment to work out how to safely repair it. 

However the upkeep of the grave is the responsibility of the owner. 

They added: "For public safety, memorials near walkways deemed at high risk may be cordoned off. In rare cases of imminent collapse, a headstone may be carefully laid down until repairs are made.

“Responsibility for the maintenance of a headstone falls upon the grave owner and if required we can provide details of local stonemasons for families to contact. Our contractor will demonstrate and explain the testing process if requested.

“We apologise for the temporary disruption this may cause and appreciate your patience as we prioritise the safety of everyone visiting Mersea Road cemetery.”