Mortonhall parents meet as fears over city probe into crematorium scandal grow
Bereavement charity Sands Lothian is organising the gathering next Wednesday as it emerged the council would release a report on their own inquiry by January 15 at the latest.
The report is expected to be published in full on the council’s website in the days leading up to the transport and environment committee meeting scheduled for 11 days’ time.
The findings will address claims first reported last month in the Evening News that crematorium staff had failed to tell parents their children’s ashes were being buried in cardboard boxes at the Howdenhall Road facility.
Parents have come forward with cases dating back more than four decades.
The council has persisted with its own inquiry led by head of schools and community services Mike Rosendale, despite parents’ demands for an independent investigation.
Sands Lothian operations manager Dorothy Maitland said the council increasingly appeared to be “closing ranks”.
She said the meeting had been called so parents could discuss how to guarantee a public inquiry by an external watchdog.
Council representatives will not be invited to the meeting, which will be held at the Craiglockhart Tennis Centre at 7.30pm.
A Facebook petition calling on the Scottish Parliament to launch an independent investigation had attracted 3134 signatures as of late yesterday.
Ms Maitland said: “Next week’s meeting is mainly to discuss what’s been happening over the holiday period.
“I went into the office even though we were shut to try and get a few answers for people and was e-mailing Mortonhall and texting [the council], but got absolutely no response from any of them.
“I’m not sure if they’re just closing ranks at the moment. I’m just not satisfied with what parents are being told.
“Three of us were [originally] told that our babies’ ashes are in that Garden of Remembrance and now as far as I’m aware the people that have been told anything have been told there were no ashes and no records of cremations.
“I just find that quite unacceptable. I think we’ve come to a bit of a standstill and we’re also worried that staff at Mortonhall are frightened to speak up.”
Mr Rosendale previously pledged to speak with both existing and past staff members at Mortonhall. He also promised to check whether the facility had met standards demanded of UK crematoria.
Council environment convenor Lesley Hinds said: “The investigation will look at all the issues that have been raised.
“We will carry on working closely with Sands and will continue discussions over some form of permanent memorial.”