Plans are being made to set up a group that will campaign for improvements to Hawkhead Cemetery, in Paisley.
Desmond Barr is horrified at what he describes is the “disgraceful state” of the Renfrewshire Council-owned burial grounds where his mother, father and other family are buried.
Now, after hearing concerns raised by other visitors to the cemetery, he is hoping to set up a group called Friends of Hawkhead Cemetery to act on their behalf and take up issues they want raised with the council.
Issues that Des believes the local authority should take immediate action on repairing potholes on roads throughout the cemetery and repair and clean the pathways that are crumbling and covered in moss.
He also wants the group to ask the council to clear the piles of dead leaves that have been left to amass throughout the cemetery since last year and cut the grass more often.
The the final issue is of families not being informed about the council toppling over relatives’ gravestones under Scottish government regulations and tell people what is to happen to the gravestones that have been left lying flat on the ground.
Desmond, 61, who owns a newsagent in Paisley, said: “We’re certainly not criticising the cemetery staff because there are so few of them and they are fighting a losing battle trying to keep the cemetery tidy.
Photo: The cemetery is full of large potholes on paths and roads
“The state the cemetery is in just now is disrespectful to the people who are buried there – they may be gone, but they are certainly not forgotten.
“It is a place that brings many emotions to the surface, but the last thing people should feel is anger, disappointment or disgust at the neglected and untidy state of the final resting place of their departed family.
“Sadly, the cemetery looks extremely neglected and even vandalised the way the council has gone about toppling headstones because they say they are following Scottish Government guidelines and headstones are in a dangerous state.
“Everyone buried at Hawkhead were once part of the community and were dearly loved by family and friends. The state of the cemetery doesn’t reflect this.”
“I regularly visit my mum and dad’s grave and people I talk to who are also visiting the cemetery are all saying the same thing – that it’s in a disgraceful state and something needs to be done about it.
“One lady said to me that her mum, who is buried at Hawkhead, was very house proud and always kept her home meticulously neat and tidy and her mum would be affronted to think that her final resting place was in such a state.”
Photo: Soil paths are overgrown and in need of repair
Desmond says his idea of having a Friends of Hawkhead Cemetery group is to give people a voice and represent the families of the people buried there.
He continues: “I want to find out if there are others who share my concerns and want the council to make the cemetery a more presentable and proper place where we can remember and pay our respects to our relatives who have passed on.”
“My idea is that a Friends of Hawkhead Cemetery group would find out what concerns people have, what improvements are needed, then make representations to Renfrewshire Council and campaign to get something done to improve the state of the cemetery.
“If there are enough people interested, then I would be willing to take the next steps in setting up a Friends of Hawkhead Cemetery group and organise a meeting to bring everyone together.”
A council spokesperson said: “We are very mindful of the importance of our cemeteries to local communities and are committed to providing a welcoming and respectful environment for visitors.
“Inspections are carried out on a regular basis and we aim to ensure any issues not picked up by our ongoing maintenance are dealt with as soon as we can. An additional £100k of investment is already planned for local cemeteries over the next year.
“We already successfully work with a wide range of community groups across Renfrewshire who have an interest in particular parks or locations, and would be happy to talk to any group or individuals who are interested in helping us improve Hawkhead Cemetery.
“In terms of some gravestones being laid flat, this is required under Scottish Government guidance to ensure the safety of visitors and staff. While it isn’t possible to contact every lair holder in advance of inspections, we encourage them to contact us to make sure their memorials meet the safety standards.”
If you are interested in joining the Friends of Hawkhead Cemetery and want improvements made to the cemetery, you can contact Desmond at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo (and main photo at top): Desmond Barr