Com­mu­nity hopes to take over ceme­tery

The Oban Times - - News -

NETHER Lochaber Com­mu­nity Coun­cil is to make a bid to take over own­er­ship of a grave­yard from the High­land Coun­cil.

The move fol­lows a row be­tween the com­mu­nity and the lo­cal au­thor­ity last year af­ter the 200-year- old dry-stone wall around Craig Mhor ceme­tery at Onich was up­rooted and re­placed with mod­ern fenc­ing. The com­mu­nity coun­cil claimed the de­ci­sion to re­place the wall was taken by the coun­cil with­out any pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion.

Fort Wil­liam and Ard­na­mur­chan councillor An­drew Bax­ter told the com­mu­nity of the coun­cil’s plans last Oc­to­ber.

Af­ter the wall was de­mol­ished, mem­bers of com­mu­nity went to great lengths to re­cover the pieces of stone, which were dumped at In­ver­coe beach. Speak­ing to the Lochaber

Times, com­mu­nity coun­cil chair­man Iain Jen­ner said: ‘Given the ef­fort the com­mu­nity coun­cil made to re­cover the stone wall af­ter it had been dumped on In­ver­coe beach last Septem­ber, it makes sense that own­er­ship is trans­ferred to us.

‘The grave­yard should be a com­mu­nity coun­cil as­set be­cause of the in­trin­sic value it has. Some peo­ple have grand­par­ents buried in that grave­yard and Rev­erend Alexan­der Ste­wart is buried there which raised the pro­file of Nether Lochaber.’

Mr Jen­ner said the com­mu­nity coun­cil plans to raise funds to em­ploy a pro­fes­sional dry-stone waller to put the wall back or run a train­ing course to show res­i­dents how to re­build the wall.

Poor main­te­nance is an­other rea­son the com­mu­nity wants to take over the grave­yard. Mr Jen­ner said: ‘They [the coun­cil] don’t get the grass cut monthly any more fol­low­ing bud­get cuts. We want to take it on be­cause it’s part of Nether Lochaber’s cul­tural his­tory.

‘We want to be ad­vised fur­ther on it. We were told in Septem­ber they would look into the process of us ac­quir­ing it, but we have heard noth­ing more since.’

Councillor Bax­ter added: ‘The lo­cal com­mu­nity has de­cided it wishes to take over own­er­ship of the grave­yard and be re­spon­si­ble for fu­ture main­te­nance.

‘Fol­low­ing the coun­cilen­dorsed van­dal­ism of the dry- stone wall last year, which saw the stone re­moved and dumped on the fore­shore across the loch, I sup­port the com­mu­nity’s ef­forts.

‘Let’s hope the coun­cil can be quick in com­plet­ing the trans­fer be­fore the grave­yard be­comes com­pletely ne­glected.

‘I’ve a meet­ing next week with the of­fi­cer re­spon­si­ble for grave­yard main­te­nance to dis­cuss prob­lems else­where and I in­tend to take her to visit Craig Mhor.’

A High­land Coun­cil spokesper­son said the process can be com­pleted through an as­sets trans­fer within com­mu­nity plan­ning leg­is­la­tion and there are spe­cific time­lines laid down for re­sponses. She said: ‘Our ward man­ager has been in touch with them and clar­i­fied this process.’

Councillor An­drew Bax­ter.

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