A petition has been launched in a bid to stop Renfrewshire Council toppling headstones in local cemeteries.

The Friends of Hawkhead Cemetery group claim there are alternative methods of dealing with the issue of Scottish Government regulations regarding headstones.

The campaigners also say other local authorities in Scotland use different methods to ensure the safety of headstones in cemeteries.

Friends of Hawkhead Cemetery had written to Renfrewshire Council with alternative suggestions of dealing with the issue, but officials are adamant that their methods of mass toppling of headstones should continue.

The local authorities own figures show that more than 1500 headstones in Renfrewshire cemeteries have already been toppled and left to lie flat on the ground.

Now the group says there is no alternative but to launch a petition and hope public pressure will force council officials and councillors to change their mind.

Chairman of Friends of Hawkhead Cemetery, Des Barr said: “The decision by officials to lay flat the headstones has been met with widespread anger and disappointment among relatives and friends who visit their dearly departed. This act shows no respect for how these memorials are dealt with.

“There are alternative ways that other local authorities deploy to deal with this issue, but so far Renfrewshire Council officials have ignored our pleas to consider these.

“We were hoping councillors would instruct officials to have another look at their methods of mass toppling of headstones. After all, councillors are elected to run the council and not the officials.

Mr Barr added: “My parents, along with countless other loved ones, rest in peace within the sacred grounds of cemeteries in Renfrewshire.

“Many feel that the council’s action in toppling headstones disregards our cultural norms and traditions surrounding death and remembrance. The Friends of Hawkhead Cemetery group have proposed several alternatives to this approach, but so far, these suggestions have fallen on deaf ears.

“Cemeteries are not just a place to bury our dead, they are also places for us to remember and honour them. In fact, visiting gravesites can play an essential role in the grieving process by providing a physical space for remembering our loved ones.

“By laying flat headstones in Renfrewshire Cemeteries, we risk losing an integral part of our mourning process whilst also disrespecting those who rest there.

“We call upon Renfrewshire Council to reconsider their decision on laying flat headstones in all their cemeteries. We also urge the council to engage more openly with Friends of Hawkhead Cemetery about alternative solutions that show more respect for our deceased loved one’s memory.

“Please sign this petition if you believe in preserving dignity and respect within our final resting places.”

Photo: Des Barr, Chairman of Friends of Hawkhead Cemetery group

If you would like to sign the petition, you can do so by visiting https://www.change.org/p/stop-renfrewshire-council-toppling-headstones-at-local-cemeteries.

More information can be found on the Friends of Hawkhead Cemetery Facebook page, here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/725309485294156.

By Ricky Kelly

Main writer for Renfrewshire News

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