The use of cemetery car parks – and even cemeteries themselves – as overnight parking and camping spots should be clamped down on with more stringent council regulations, according to a report going before councillors this week.
Cleansing services manager Iain N Campbell will tell members of the transportation and infrastructure committee that incidents have been reported where overnight campers have caused distress to local residents and cemetery visitors at different places in the Western Isles.
The committee, which meets on Wednesday (30 November) will hear of a tent pitched outside a cemetery on the west side of Lewis, with guy ropes attached to the perimeter fence.
In another incident the Comhairle’s burial grounds team was notified that a cyclist had pitched a tent and camped overnight within the grounds of a cemetery in North Uist.
Mr Campbell reports: “A cemetery should be regarded as a place of peace for those who have passed on and those who mourn them.
“Visitors to a cemetery are expected give due consideration, privacy and respect at all times, particularly to any funeral or memorial ceremonies or services taking place.”
But, he adds: “With a significant increase in visitors to the islands in recent years, there has been reports of camping both in and next to cemeteries within the Western Isles.
“These incidents have been reported in the press and there have been several representations made to the Comhairle about overnight parking and overnight camping at some of the Comhairle-managed cemeteries.”
A proposed addition to the Comhairle’s burial grounds management rules would read: “Car parks provided at burial grounds are for legitimate cemetery users such as use by funeral parties; council staff and stonemasons; families and the bereaved to visit plots; and for visitors researching their genealogy and local history.
“The use for overnight parking, camping and motor homing is not permitted. Camping within the grounds of a cemetery is also not permitted.”
Comhairle nan Eilean Siar manages 12 of the 29 cemeteries through the Western Isles.
The picture shows a tent pitched within a cemetery in North Uist in August this year, and was supplied to Comhairle nan Eilean Siar.