Grass-cutting at cemeteries is earmarked for the chop
CEMETERIES on Islay are getting cut … from the council’s grass- cutting schedule.
As a way to save money, Argyll and Bute Council is reducing the number of times it cuts the grass to once a year.
The council budget states that grass- cutting will be carried out once, either in October or November, with some areas returned to meadow or natural growth, and hedges will be maintained in winter only with one cut per year.
Alastair Redman, who runs the post office on Islay, said: ‘I was very unhappy to hear that our council may stop cutting grass at the cemeteries on Islay.
‘ While I understand savings must be made somewhere and that the pool of money the council has gets smaller every year due to the council tax freeze, front-line services should be the last to be hit and the council should look at reducing the pay-packets of some of its well-paid managers – such as Argyll and Bute’s chief executive who receives £118,251 per year.
‘Many local residents have been voicing their anger about the maintenance cuts to our cemeteries to me and I would implore our elected officials to reconsider this move.’ A spokesman for Argyll and Bute Council said: ‘ This is a time of unprecedented challenge for local government.
‘Drastically reduced funding means we have to save more than £10 million in 2016/17 alone. This means we can’t do everything we would like to do for our communities.
‘ We have reduced grass- cutting at old cemeteries on Islay, which are full.
‘By reducing grass- cutting, we can keep our environmental warden service, keep public conveniences open, keep hanging baskets and annual bedding displays – things our communities told us were important to them.’
Councillor for Oban South and the Isles, Roddy McCuish, echoed the council’s sentiment and added: ‘It’s regrettable that we are at this position, and hopefully in the future this will change, but, unfortunately, reduced funding means reduced services.
‘I will be asking for the schedules to come back to the area committee to see if we can prioritise or change the way we do this but still make the same savings.’
A spokesman for Taxpayer Scotland, an advocacy group for Scottish taxpayers, said: ‘Argyll and Bute appears from its policy to be minimising what it spends on looking after these cemeteries. No doubt other needs take precedence and it is more than likely right about that.
‘What is now needed is some imagination on how to resolve the issue if local people are concerned.
‘There are numerous community-based voluntary approaches to this that would cost taxpayers nothing. These should be explored by the community and its council.
‘Scots must stop always assuming that the public sector will pay for everything. It can’t. As the saying goes, “there is no more money” to be taken from taxpayers without making everyone poorer.’
Alastair Redman suggests cuts to executives’ salaries.