BEREAVED families upset by the state of Innerleithen Cemetery following budget cuts to services by Scottish Borders Council, has prompted action by a local resident to volunteer.

Professional photographer Graham Riddell, is renowned for photographing beauty in the Scottish Borders, but the upsetting images of gravesides in the town has inspired him to roll up his sleeves and maintain scenic places of historic value, rather than capturing them with his camera.

Graham feels that sacred places should not fall into decline at the hands of council cuts resulting in the desecration of cemeteries.

He said: “They are important on so many levels, not only for cultural history but more importantly for people’s connection with lost ones. We should have more respect for those departed souls and to those who visit them to renew or maintain their family connections.

“It’s just another example where the council fails to see value in publicly-owned assets for the betterment of communities they allegedly serve. The cutbacks on grass cutting are beginning to make the town look run-down which doesn’t reflect the vibrancy and energy of the community here”

Graham added: “My message to the council is – ‘give us the tools and we’ll get on with the job ourselves’ and stop putting our Council Tax up whilst reducing key services we all need.”

To allow volunteers to maintain greenspaces and cemeteries, calls are being made for equipment to be housed locally.

Graham said: “A hut with a good sit-on lawnmower and strimmer would be a good starting point as I don’t have the means to transport or use my own mower. Perhaps a company locally could donate some refurbished grass machinery equipment.”

But it isn’t just the maintenance of the cemetery that is concerning Graham and many others in the town, he feels Innerleithen is often neglected despite its growing population and increasing number of visitors.

“We have a population of 3,000 and attract more visitors to the area than people realise through festivals and events organised in the town. These misery cut-backs just serve to undermine all the good that is being done by so many”.

Local resident Bobby Little (pictured), who regularly visits the cemetery and has his wife, mother-in-law and father-in-law buried there says: “It’s a disgrace, they can find money for other things but our cemetery and green spaces are falling into decline”

And visiting her late mother’s grave is causing heartbreak for Lesley Nisbet, who said: “It’s upsetting, especially when you see all the hard work families put in to keep the plots tidy, and then the council comes along with weed killer. This is not the solution, there has to be something better than this.”

She added: “I know some of the locals have discussed cutting it themselves but that is a big job to take on board.”

Scottish Borders Council said: "Any communities who wish to play their part and carry out additional grass-cutting maintenance in their local area are encouraged to contact the council, who can provide advice and guidance on issues such as equipment and insurance.”