Mother’s anger at cemetery mess

A mother whose son is buried in a local cemetery has expressed her anger at the mess left by Aberdeenshire Council workers.

Thursday, 21st July 2011, 6:08 am

Arleen McDonald’s son Thomas, who was 20 at the time, died five years ago when he was involved in a road accident.

Thomas was buried at Strachan cemetery where many of his father’s family were laid to rest.

Mrs McDonald has said she now finds it difficult to visit the site because the state of the place makes her distressed.

“It is always hard to go and visit Thomas without getting upset, but the mess of Strachan cemetery gives us all added grief,” she said. “The stress of seeing the cemetery in such a mess has meant I can’t face going to visit as much as I would like.”

Arleen, along with her husband Thomas Snr, first noticed the untidiness of the cemetery as far back as ten years ago when they visited Thomas Snr’s father at Strachan cemetery.

Mrs McDonald said: “My father-in-law died 11 years ago and not long after, we would notice little things here and there which were not well maintained, but over the last five years my anger has really built up over the plain laziness of people who work here.”

Mrs McDonald, who lives in Aberdeen, said she had to constantly clear grass and chopped flowers which had not been picked up by workers.

“It is getting beyond a joke,” she said. “Last week, my husband and I spent about an hour and a half clearing stones in the cemetery because grass was sticking to them. These people who cut the grass don’t take any care at all.

“I have spent a lot of money on flowers and I couldn’t believe it when I saw that they had been ripped up by grass cutters. It is a total lack of respect.”

Mrs McDonald added that two wooden crosses for World War One soldiers had been broken and failed to be repaired.

“I have lost count of how many times either myself or my husband have contacted the council to complain about the mess of Strachan cemetery but nothing has ever been done about it. They are not taking any responsibility.”

Aberdeenshire Council explained that not picking up the grass after cutting is part of procedure.

A spokesperson said: “The grass is cut at all Aberdeenshire’s cemeteries as per the approved maintenance programme.

“Every effort is made to ensure this process is carried out in a respectful manner and all feedback provided by residents will be given careful consideration.”

After visiting the cemetery personally, Banchory and Mid-Deeside councillor Linda Clark spoke with Mrs McDonald over the phone.

Councillor Clark said: “Mrs McDonald and I discussed the state of Strachan cemetery and she was clearly upset as she feels there has not been enough respect shown.

“Mrs McDonald told me about her flowers being ruined and this is something I have raised with the relevant departments within Aberdeenshire Council.

“It is vital that Aberdeenshire Council maintains a high standard of work as the council prides itself on its relationships with constituents.”

Councillor Clark added that it was unlikely that the two wooden crosses were the responsibility of Aberdeenshire Council but there was still a degree of confusion over which organisation was in charge of maintaining them.

Iain Anderson, regional supervisor for the Commonwealth War Graves Commission said: “I am going past Strachan cemetery this week. I will have a look at the two graves.

“We do not have any graves at this cemetery that I am aware of and suspect they may come under another authority, depending on when the death was.”