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Calls for review of grass cutting in rural cemeteries

The grass will only be cut three times a year Photo: ITV Border

Alf Potts parents are both buried in this graveyard near Dundrennan. It's one of several rural cemeteries that now fall under a new policy from Dumfries and Galloway Council.

Under a proposal agreed at the last budget cemeteries with less than two per cent of the overall burial in the region will have their grass cut only three times a year.

For Alf it's a decision that shows a lack of respect for the dead. He cuts the grass on his parents graves himself to ensure it looks the best it can.

"I just hate seeing it like this, I think it's a disgrace to the village. Graveyards should be kept. I've just been strimming my Mum and Dad's grave and my Granny's just to keep it a bit tidier because I don't think it's right that it should be left to grow like this."

– Alf Potts
MSP Alex Fergusson is concerned the grass will rot Credit: ITV Border

Alex Fergusson MSP has had several complaints from his constituents about the issue. He's asked the Chief Executive of the council to revise the policy as soon as possible.

"This grass has already been cut once this year, that means there is only two more cuts to come for this cemetery if this policy is upheld, it's not massively lengthy just now but we're coming into the season for high grass growth and the next time this is cut it's going to resemble a hay field and that hay is just going to be left to rot, that is unacceptable in terms of respect for the dead and respect for the communities that have family members interred here."

– Alex Fergusson, MSP Galloway and West Dumfries
The grass in this cemetery will be cut 12 times less than others in the region Credit: ITV Border

A few miles down the road in Castle Douglas and it's a different story, where the grass is cut 15 times a year.

The council say budget cuts need to happen somewhere and reducing the maintenance of less well used graveyards is a logical step.

"Our Council has to make savings of £27million over the next three years ... reducing or stopping grounds maintenance on little used areas is an obvious example of a savings opportunity."

– COUNCILLOR STEPHEN THOMPSON, Chairman, DGFirst Management Committee

The Council also say a public consultation was undertaken into the proposal before it was agreed, however if they decide to review the issue again it could take several months before the future of cemetery maintenance in the region is determined.