‘How long does it take to rebuild a wall?’ asks bereaved widower

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By Hannah O’Hanlon

A Machrihanish man has been left ‘devastated’ by a collapsed wall in Kilkerran Cemetery which prevents him from accessing his wife’s memorial as the anniversary of her death approaches.

David Baxter told the Courier that a large section of the wall, on which his wife Jillian’s memorial is placed, has been broken for ‘at least four months’ and that it looks like a ‘bomb site’.

‘It’s gone on and on and on and it’s not good enough,’ said Mr Baxter. ‘It looks awful.’

The wall runs between a section of the cemetery’s headstones and the burn which flows through the graveyard.

It has now been cordoned off, meaning access is prohibited to the memorials which are attached to the back of the wall, marking where people’s ashes are laid to rest.

‘I chose that spot because it’s a nice, peaceful part of the cemetery, beside the river,’ Mr Baxter told the Courier. ‘Why has the council taken four months to do anything about this?

‘This is not a bus shelter, it’s where people are lying in rest.’

Family members will be travelling from Glasgow to visit Mrs Baxter’s memorial to mark the anniversary of her passing, on September 29, last year.

‘I am devastated if my family have to see it like that,’ Mr Baxter said. ‘Council staff have been very apologetic but they talk of budgets and cuts and it’s not acceptable.’

There is a large, visible crack, which Mr Baxter estimates to be three-four metres long, on the remaining section of wall, which he says ‘could be down with the next strong wind’.

‘This has been my last resort,’ Mr Baxter said. ‘I keep hoping to come and find it sorted or even the work started – I wouldn’t care if it took two months as long as progress was being made.’

Mr Baxter contacted the Courier the same week as it was announced that the council’s environment, development and infrastructure committee had updated its policy for the maintenance and safety of cemeteries in the area.

The report warned that any memorials thought by council staff to be unsafe will be laid flat on the ground at the next inspection to prevent incidents involving falling headstones.

Councillor John Armour, who Mr Baxter contacted regarding the issue, said: ‘I have great sympathy with Mr Baxter’s experience, it must be distressing for relatives in cases like this.

‘I have spoken to council officers and urged them to ensure that the problem is attended to without delay.’

An Argyll and Bute Council spokesperson said: ‘Before dealing with the damage, we had to bring in a specialist contractor to remove tree roots that were undermining the wall.

‘With this done, we will be able to take down and then replace the wall, making it sound for many years to come.

‘Work is scheduled to start next week.’

There is a large crack on the remaining section of wall.
There is a large crack on the remaining section of wall.

Mr Baxter beside the broken section of wall which is now cordoned off. 50_c38cemeterywall01

There is a large crack on the remaining section of wall. 50_c38cemeterywall02