Respect your hallowed ground, demands Selkirk councillor

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Selkirkshire councillor Kenneth Gunn has issued a plea to constituents after discovering what he claimed was another example of “disrespectul behaviour” at Selkirk’s main burial ground at Shawburn Cemetery, writes Andrew Keddie.

He explained he been contacted last month by a woman who was in tears after visiting her mother’s grave and discovering that a dirty old mattress was lying next to it, propped up against a skip used by Scottish Borders Council staff who maintain the burgh’s main burial ground.

He told us: “I am horrified at the lack of respect for the town’s cemeteries and memorials.

“I was disappointed to hear that the flat bed skip had been returned to the cemetery because I had asked for it to be removed last year.

“I was concerned it was being used to dump old televisions, furniture and general rubbish on consecrated ground.

“In view of this latest shocking and upsetting incident, I asked for the skip to be removed again and this has now been done. It will be replaced with a more discreet wire cage.

“I know this makes life more difficult for our hard-working council staff, but if we cannot get people to respect the sanctity of our cemeteries, then I have to ask where our population is heading?

“Our community safety wardens are now including our cemeteries on their tour of duty, but surely we should all respect our loved ones who are supposed to be resting in peace.

“I also appeal to the Selkirk public to report any misuse of cemeteries that they observe.”

Meanwhile, Selkirk’s community council has backed a plea by Mr Gunn to reject a proposal by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission to erect a new granite headstone close to an existing memorial in the town’s Auld Kirkyard.

“I am not alone in believing a new stone in this ancient, sacred site would look totally out of place,” said Mr Gunn. “I have been in touch with ex-service personnel and SBC’s cemetery officer Diane Munro and they believe the site is far too historic and important to Selkirk’s heritage for such an installation.”

Mr Gunn has written back to the commission, advising that a more appropriate site may be within the foyer of the Lawson Memorial building, which now houses Selkirk Parish Church.

That request is expected to be passed to the property section of the Church of Scotland in Edinburgh.