BEREAVED families in the Wee County have had to cut the grass in cemeteries themselves ahead of burials in past weeks.

The coronavirus pandemic has already had a profound affect on mourning families, with funerals limited in the number of relatives that can attend.

Officials have also been unable to maintain cemeteries during the outbreak, with members of the public taking up the charge before saying their goodbyes to a loved-one.

Local funeral directors have highlighted that councils in Stirling and Falkirk have been keeping up to date with maintenance at the same time.

However, after the issue was raised, Clackmannanshire Council, which charges a one-off £268 maintenance fee when a coffin lair is purchased, revealed it was planning to restart grass cutting this week.

Tommy Roy, an experienced funeral director in the Wee County, told the Advertiser last week: "We had a funeral [last week] at Tullibody; the family spent all weekend with lawnmowers and cut 95 per cent of the grass in the cemetery and roundabout to try and tidy it up for their loved-one's funeral.

"That's absolutely disgraceful."

Tommy explained he understood the pandemic has caused disruption, but added: "The most sacred place in a town is the cemetery.

"I don't mind the parks not being cut. But cemeteries? Different kettle of fish."

He argued that a single worker cutting grass on a machine should pose no threat as far as coronavirus social distancing goes – the same argument made by other nearby local authorities which did carry on with maintenance.

Guidance from the Scottish Government last month made it clear some people who work on their own, such as gardeners, can continue to do so where there is no personal contact.

Clackmannanshire Council said it has been focusing on delivering essential service to vulnerable residents and staff have only been assisting with the interment process – digging and backfilling graves.

A spokeswoman for the local authority said: "During the pandemic, we've been focussing our available staff on delivering essential services throughout the council for our most vulnerable residents.

"That has meant our staff have been assisting with burials only and were unable to cut grass.

"We have made plans to re-start grass cutting in our cemeteries during [this] week, subject to requirements for staff and equipment.

"We thank our residents for their patience during this unprecedented situation."