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Labour councillors debate cemeteries plans

13 July 2015
Southwark councillors have debated the council’s plans for cemeteries at Council Assembly, with Labour councillors arguing for the council to continue providing burial space for residents in the borough. 

Following a petition and community evidence from campaigners and a local undertaker, Labour councillors agreed that the council should proceed with plans to create new burial space in Camberwell Old and New cemeteries to ensure that burial space in the borough does not run out.

Labour councillors argued for the council to recognise the wishes of those residents who want to have the option to bury their loved ones locally and who for financial reasons would struggle to travel to visit a cemetery outside the borough. 

The council’s plans for expanding burial space involve bringing two pieces of designated burial ground, of which is currently inaccessible, into use in Camberwell Old and New cemeteries. The areas proposed for development measure one acre in total.

Labour councillors responded to the concerns of campaigners about the environmental impact of the cemeteries strategy, committing to maintain the status of Camberwell Old and New Cemeteries as Sites of Importance for Nature Conservation. Councillors also called on the cabinet to continue working with the London Wildlife Trust, the Forestry Commission and the local community to ensure that the plans for managing the cemeteries enhance the existing biodiversity and ecology of the area. 

Labour criticised Lib Dem councillors, who called on the council to back the ‘Save Southwark Woods’ campaign, after failing to engage in council’s consultation or make any representations on the council’s cemeteries strategy. Labour slammed Lib Dem councillors for laughing at the suggestion that some residents could be driven to payday lenders to cover funeral costs during the debate, demonstrating how out of touch they are with local communities.

Cllr Darren Merrill, cabinet member for environment and the public realm, said:

“Our aim is to protect green spaces throughout the borough, as well as providing burial space for the future, to create quality open space for local people alongside a respectful place for the deceased. We believe it is important to give residents the option to bury their loved ones locally and if the council takes no action, burial space in Southwark will run out in 2017.

“We will continue to engage with the local community, local Friends groups, Funeral Directors, ward councillors and London Wildlife Trust as the council’s plans for Southwark cemeteries come forward.”


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