Council urged to cut grass at “eyesore” Greyfriars graveyard

© DC ThomsonThe overgrown Greyfriars churchyard in Perth.
The overgrown Greyfriars churchyard in Perth.

Council bosses in Perth are under pressure to cut overgrowing vegetation at an ancient city centre graveyard.

The Greyfriars burial ground dates back to the 16th Century and is considered to be home to some of the best collections of old graves in Scotland.

But grass around the tombstones has been allowed to grow because of a biodiversity scheme put in place by Perth and Kinross Council two years ago.

According to signs installed in the grounds, the Heritage Lottery-funded project aims to protect a “unique haven for diverse flora and fauna”.

It also protects the historic tombstones from council lawnmowers.

The local authority has been accused of turning the historic site into an eyesore and disrespecting families whose loved ones are buried there.

Lynsay Harris, whose great-grandmother and great-grandfather were laid to rest at the cemetery, has told council chiefs she intends to take matters into her own hands and cut the grass of her family’s plot herself.

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“I couldn’t believe the state it was in,” she said. “My great-grandparents were well respected members of the community. My great-grandfather, Thomas Harris, was an upholsterer who worked on chairs for Scone Palace. They’ve probably still got his furniture there today.

“It’s just disrespectful to his memory to let it grow like that. It doesn’t look like a biodiversity project, it just looks like a mess.”

She said: “The cemetery should be a real asset for Perth and I know it brings in visitors, because I spoke to them when I was there. You’d think the council would want to do all it could to protect it and promote it.”

Conservative city centre councillor Chris Ahern has been approached by Ms Harris and has agreed to look into the policy and its impact on families.

A council spokeswoman said: “The long grass in Greyfriars Churchyard is the result of a refurbishment project which was funded by the Heritage Lottery.

“The objectives of this project were not only to encourage biodiversity but also to protect old headstones from maintenance machinery and to develop the Churchyard’s ‘heritage’ character.”

She said: “The edges of the paths continue to be cut to keep the main access routes clear and to provide a contrast with the long grass areas.”