COUNCIL bosses have been forced to apologise after damaging four gravestones.
Greta Robson initially thought vandals had knocked over the headstone of son Steven Robson, who died of a heart muscle disease in 1983.
Mrs Robson, 66, discovered the damage at Mere Knolls Cemetery, during a regular visit last month, and wrote to Sunderland City Council to complain.
Steven’s gravestone fell on to the one behind it, which caused it to crack.
Mrs Robson, from Seaburn, was also annoyed she had not been told about it.
But now council bosses have admitted workmen were to blame, and are now trying to get in touch with all the families affected so they can repair the damage.
Mrs Robson, who visits the grave every couple of months with husband Colin, 68, said: “We had a phone call from the council, and they have admitted that the damage was caused by council workers.
“They offered to pay for the damage, but we have repaired it ourselves, so we are just grateful they have apologised because that is all we really wanted. Apparently, the council were trying to contact us at our old address, but we haven’t been there for 25 years. They have said they have sent us a letter, so hopefully, we will receive that.”
Councillor James Blackburn, responsible for city services, said the council accepted full responsibility for what happened, and apologised for the delay in contacting the couple.
He said: “Investigations into an inquiry last month from Mr and Mrs Robson have confirmed that damage to four headstones was the result of accidental damage by maintenance staff who reported it immediately.
“We fully accept that council employees were responsible for the accidental damage, and are trying to put things right as soon as we can.
“A senior manager from the council contacted Mr and Mrs Robson to inform them what had happened, and personally apologise.
“Since we started our inquiries, we have had difficulties getting in touch with three of the families, including Mr and Mrs Robson.
“Some have not responded to our letters or, as in the case of Mr and Mrs Robson, had moved away from the address listed at the time the grave was purchased.
“We have gone to great lengths to get in touch with the families concerned to offer our sincere apologies for what had happened, and also to obtain permission to carry out necessary repairs.
“We are also looking to review the process of making contact with families in such cases, to reduce the time taken to contact them and the resulting distress that events such as these can cause.”