A FAMILY have accused North Ayrshire Council of disrespecting their relatives’ graves after essential works had to be carried out to repair headstones at two plots they own in Hawkhill Cemetery.
The Campbell family from Stevenston have six relatives buried within the two plots at the cemetery on Kilwinning Road.
North Ayrshire Council recently informed the Campbells that the two headstones at the plots were deemed unsafe and so work would be carried out to repair the foundations.
But when William Campbell and his niece Lorraine Murdoch visited the graves last week, they said that that the way council staff had carried out the repairs led them at first to believe the plots had been vandalised.
William and Lorraine said they were horrified to find a deep hole had been dug alongside their relatives’ resting place and the gravestones lying flat on top of the plots.
William said: “I honestly thought vandals had been down. They’ve dug a hole for the headstone foundations to make it secure but it looks like a miniature grave.
“My sister’s daughter and granddaughter went down and they were crying about it.
“I phoned the council and they said that’s just the way they do it.
“They said they’d placed the headstones on the grave but they haven’t placed them on the grave, they were dumped on the grave.
“It shouldn’t happen. I said to the lassie in the council these people working there should have a bit of respect. When I mentioned the hole lying open to the world they admitted they should have covered it up.
“I’m absolutely scunnered over it. I can’t believe it’s happened. I think that’s what they do with everyone it’s not right. What if their mum and dad were buried there? Would they do that then?
“It’s one of the worst things I’ve experienced in my life. It’s not right and it must be happening to other families too ”
William’s sister Agnes was buried in one of the plots in November last year.
When Agnes’ daughter Lorraine visited the grave after the repair works had started, she too thought at first that the plot had been desecrated.
Lorraine said: “The headstones have been basically put on top of my mum.
“I thought it was vandalism at first but then I saw the bit of wood underneath and the flowers were undisturbed so I knew the council had been.
“They’re saying it’ll be like that for three to four weeks. I think that’s shocking.
“I’m angry. It’s disrespectful.”
A North Ayrshire Council spokesperson said: “We take the utmost care to ensure that any work carried out in our cemeteries is handled sensitively and with respect.
“We were saddened to hear that Mr Campbell was unhappy as we made him aware beforehand that the process to re-erect a headstone would require it to be taken down and laid flat on the grave. Indeed, Mr Campbell signed a form which agreed to this.
“The headstone was carefully laid face-up on batons while the old foundations were excavated to allow the new foundations to be created.
“We apologise that these were left uncovered for a short period but we quickly made arrangements to ensure that these were covered over.
“We would be more than happy to discuss this further with Mr Campbell directly.”