Mortonhall baby ashes: Edinburgh City Council plans memorial

Mortonhall Crematorium The memorial is part of a council action plan in response to 22 recommendations made in a report by former Lord Advocate Dame Elish Angiolini published in April

A memorial to remember the hundreds of babies whose ashes were not given to their parents in Edinburgh is being planned for the Meadows.

Parents affected by the Mortonhall Crematorium baby ashes scandal are to be consulted later this year on the design and location of the memorial.

Bruntsfield Links, Princes Street Gardens and Mortonhall are also being considered as possible locations.

The plans are to be considered at a council meeting on Thursday.

The memorial is part of a council action plan in response to 22 recommendations made in a report by former Lord Advocate Dame Elish Angiolini published in April.

These included that the council should review how Mortonhall crematorium is managed, ensure the location of interment of remains is recorded in future and discuss options for memorials with parents.

The council said its working group had given "sustained and proper consideration" to each of the recommendations made by Dame Elish.

Immediate actions include discussions with the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) about existing practice and permits and the introduction of an infant cremator.

Dorothy Maitland The scandal was first uncovered by Dorothy Maitland, whose daughter Kaelen was cremated at Edinburgh's Mortonhall 25 years ago

There has also been an exchange of letters between the council and the Scottish government as well as the Federation of Burial and Cremation Authorities and the Institute of Cemetery and Crematorium Management.

The council plans to hold discussions with infant death charities SANDS and SIMBA about when the time is right to open discussions with parents about improving the landscaping and the design of a memorial.

Staff at Edinburgh's Mortonhall crematorium secretly disposed of the remains of stillborn and dead newborn babies without their families' knowledge over decades, from 1967 to 2011.

Sue Bruce, Edinburgh City Council's chief executive, said: "I would like to re-iterate my sincere apologies to the bereaved families for the distress they have suffered as a result of the practices at Mortonhall Crematorium.

"I want to thank them for their co-operation with the investigation and contributions to the report and also thank Dame Elish and her team for their hard work.

"The families should be able to take comfort from their dedicated campaigning which has resulted in our action plan and the Infant Cremation Commission report by Lord Bonomy which will lead to legislative change in Scotland to ensure nothing like this can happen again.

"I have been impressed by the willingness of all the participants, especially the parent representatives, to work together. The publication of this action plan marks a significant step forward to ensuring that the highest possible standards are adhered to at Mortonhall.

"I am pleased with the progress already made but we now need to build on that impetus to ensure the action plan is closely monitored and delivered in full.

Mortonhall Crematorium Mortonhall Crematorium staff told parents there would be no ashes

"The working group will continue to closely with the Scottish government to ensure our actions are consistent with the recommendations of Lord Bonomy."

Other measures in the action plan include a review of staffing in bereavement services and the development and roll out of a management and leadership programme.

The report into the Mortonhall scandal by Dame Elish Angiolini found parents faced "a lifetime of uncertainty" over what had happened to their infants' remains.

Earlier this week, an investigation into the handling of baby ashes across Scotland, led by Lord Bonomy, made 64 recommendations.

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