Back in June we reported on the considerable decline in the standard of maintenance at Nairn Cemetery. On July the 13th outrage at the decline in care of this important part of Nairn was expressed at a River Community Council meeting and the watchdogs acted quickly. All this seemed to have come as a surprise to Highland Council and they admitted things were on the slip. There had been warnings expressed that the administration's policy of cuts and putting grass cutting out to contract could be potentially damaging to a town like Nairn which needs to keep its appearance in top condition given how important it is to attract visitors . The state of the cemetery is so much more important than anywhere else in the town and if a local authority cannot care for this facility to the standard that its citizens demand then why are we paying the wages of the Councillors who voted for the policies that have created this shameful situation?
Things seem to have got worse since July despite Graham Marsden taking the matter up with officials. This evening (Tuesday) Stephanie Whittaker of the River CC read out a letter she had received from the council which explained that the contractor was only responsible for grass cutting and the path-edging, weed-killing, shrub pruning and grave digging was the responsibility of the Council and that since Cllr Marsden's intervention it had been agreed that Nairn Cemetery will now be classed as a high amenity cut. This observer can only wonder why Nairn Cemetery was never classed as the highest amenity value in the first instance?
There was more to come at the meeting and it was quite shocking to hear what Liz had to say. She told the meeting: "I've had complaints over the weekend about breakages to vases etc around the graves when they were trimming. The grass was very long and there were some very upset families there on Friday. They were saying to me that it is difficult enough going up to visit graves without seeing it in a dreadful mess and cleaning up breakages that have been caused by the contractors."
Liz went on to say that she had been in contact with an official in Aviemore called Val Gallagher who has contacted the families to hear what their concerns are. To this observer this is almost beyond belief, if you are unhappy with the way the Highland Council are looking after the area around the grave of a loved one then you have to deal with some official in Aviemore!
Iain Gordon of River CC sternly told Cllr Marsden of his dissatisfaction in the matter and how this was a very emotive matter. Graham replied:
"I'm not disagreeing with you, I'm just saying what's already been said, and that is there is, I think, a recognition among all of us that this is a very sensitive area and we must work very hard to ensure that it is done properly."
Liz went on to explain one of the explanations for the drop in standards she had been given by Tech Services. They had told her that there was a new regulation in regard to weed control and they couldn't just pre-spray weeds...now they have to wait until the weeds are substantial before they can start spraying." This explanation was met with gasps of incredulity from some of those present.
Stephanie once again came into the debate and told the meeting: " We need to do something, we should write on the behalf of the distressed families, it is no good saying this is dreadful and doing nothing about it!"
River CC will once again be complaining to the Council. One is left perplexed at how the ruling group members on the Highland Council who represent Nairn (Graham, Laurie, Sandy) have allowed it all to come to this. What is the point of you being in your positions if you cannot sort this out?