RESIDENTS in Renfrew have won their battle to have locked gates at a church graveyard reopened...with a little help from The Gazette.

A heavy padlock had been placed on the gates at the entrance to the former Old Renfrew Parish Church, preventing families from visiting graves of loved ones in the run-up to Christmas.

Members of Renfrew Community Council hit out at the move, pointing out that local people had every right to visit the burial site, which is maintained by Renfrewshire Council.

READ MORE: Families raise grave concerns over lack of access to Renfrew church grounds

Their concerns were echoed by the War Graves Commission, as the church grounds are home to an official war grave dating from the First World War.

Renfrewshire North and West MSP Derek Mackay called for the site to be “treated with respect” and added that Renfrewshire Council was pursuing the owner of the former church building to have the gates reopened.

Now access has been restored, much to the relief of residents.

Lindsay McKillop, secretary of Renfrew Community Council, said: “Well done to The Gazette for getting the gates unlocked.

“Many people in the town were rightly angered by this. It should never have happened.”

Planning permission was granted in 2017 to convert the historic, Gothic-style building to nine flats but this has not yet been carried out.

The community council is calling for clarity on who owns the building and their plans for its future.

Worries are also growing that items in the church which have historical importance to Renfrew may be removed.

Ms McKillop said: “This is a very historic church and it breaks my heart to think that things are being taken away – items that have been gifted by the people of Renfrew.

“I have seen vans coming and going from the church and no-one seems to know what’s going on.

“We also want to know what happened to a war memorial that has been removed from the grounds.

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“Nobody seems to know why it was removed or where it is now.

“People in the town have relatives named on the memorial.”

Ms McKillop said another concern is that people who are shopping in Renfrew are parking in the church grounds.

She has called for an appropriate barrier to be installed to keep cars out.

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