Council accused of grave neglect of Jedburgh cemetery

Rory Stewart in Jedburgh's Castlewood cemetery.
Rory Stewart in Jedburgh's Castlewood cemetery.

Concerns have been raised over the state of gravestones and grounds upkeep at a Borders cemetery.

More than 100 headstones at Jedburgh’s Castlewood cemetery were deemed unsafe and laid flat earlier this year, and five months later, they remain grounded, with the grass and paths around them growing increasingly unkept.

Jedburgh's Castlewood cemetery.

Jedburgh's Castlewood cemetery.

And now Scottish Borders Council has been accused of failing to treat the site with the dignity it deserves.

Jedburgh resident Rory Stewart described the state of the cemetery as “what looks like an act of wanton vandalism” by the council.

Mr Stewart, a plasterer, said: “In the oldest part of Castlewood, the ground is being allowed to grow without any maintenance, and some head stones have been laid down flat.

“In the 20th century side of the cemetery, there again have been headstones laid flat and the pathways left to grow wild without any maintenance whatsoever.”

Mr Stewart claims that despite money being secured from a quality of life fund to put around 20 stones in the old part of the cemetery back up, the council failed to carry out the works in time and the funding was subsequently lost as it could not be carried over.

He said: “I cannot understand why, if operatives employed by Scottish Borders Council are not allowed by policy or procedure to enter the area that has the most headstones laid down, they are not allowed to weed the pathways or at least spray them with a weedkiller that would visibly take effect almost immediately.

“I suspect that this is another ruse to save a little more money by only having these areas sprayed during their cycle of keeping weeds under control.”

The former Scottish Borders councillor for Jedburgh added: “There are many hundreds of people visiting Castlewood cemetery on a weekly basis at this time of year, when some people are home to celebrate our festival and pay their respects to loved ones lost years before, only to be met by this completely disgusting scene of what looks like an act of wanton vandalism by authority.”

A council spokesman said: “The council received reports of unsafe headstones in the older part of Castlewood cemetery, and although headstones are the responsibility of the next of kin, we have a duty of care to make cemeteries as safe as possible for visitors and staff alike.

“A headstone survey was undertaken in this part of the cemetery in February this year which resulted in 107 headstones being laid flat for safety reasons.

“A further detailed headstone survey was undertaken this week, and the area will remain closed until such time as itis made safe. Once this has been done, maintenance will be undertaken and the area reopened.

“Seven headstones were re-erected in April this year, and work is expected to start within the next few days for re-erection of a further 15.”