Renfrewshire Council told 'people not happy' with communication surrounding toppling of headstones

Headstones that have been laid flat at Hawkhead Cemetery in Paisley
-Credit: (Image: Andrew Neil)


Council chiefs have been warned "people are not happy" with the level of communication surrounding the toppling of certain headstones in Renfrewshire cemeteries.

The local authority has a practice of laying "unsafe" headstones – effectively those deemed at risk of falling after inspection – in its facilities flat. The practice itself has been criticised by pressure group Friends of Hawkhead Cemetery, which recently petitioned against it, but has been considered necessary by the local authority in the interest of public safety.

But it has also emerged that relatives, whose loved ones have been laid to rest in the area's cemeteries, still have concerns about the level of communication shown by the council on the issue. Councillor Eddie Devine, who represents Paisley Southeast, asked at a meeting of the infrastructure, land and environment policy board: "Could I mention the headstones that keep getting laid down – could somebody tell me what our protocol is for letting people know?

"I know there's a lot of graves there that we won't be able to contact people but we really need to up our game on contacting [people]. I know other councillors like myself have had emails about it, people are not happy."

Councillor Michelle Campbell, board convener and SNP representative for Erskine and Inchinnan, said: "It's obviously such a sensitive topic matter and it can be very upsetting. I think as a board we've always acknowledged and recognised that so please know that that view is taken very seriously."

Gavin Hutton, the council's head of operations and service development, acknowledged the subject was a "challenging area". He added: "There are many, many stones that we go to contact people and there is basically no relative available.

"We haven't had the resource that we would like to have to focus on that. We have now dealt with that, we've now got someone in post. We're looking to make changes to the procedure there to clear it up and we will be bringing something back to a later board to clarify on how that process will finally work.

"It's clearly one of the areas that does cause issues. We do have to operate that the cemeteries are left safe once the guys have inspected them. We don't have any option to leave it until we can get in touch with someone so it's quite a difficult situation, but we will bring something back to a future board on that."

Don't miss the latest Renfrewshire headlines – sign up to our free daily newsletter here