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Today, the Save Southwark Woods campaign has again made a Freedom of Information request to Southwark Council to disclose the costs of burial proposals.

 

The Council plans to cut down acres of woods at Camberwell Old and New Cemeteries for less than four years of burial provision. But with fencing going up and days from felling the first tree, the Council still has not disclosed the cost.

 

On 17th September, Director of Environment & Leisure Deborah Collins told the Overview & Scrutiny Committee she had no figure for the burial strategy that consultants Harrisons have been developing for the Council for the last eight years.

 

Southwark intends this winter to clear two and a half acres of trees and excavate 12,000 tonnes of soil in Camberwell Old Cemetery woods in so-called ‘Area Z’, for 740 burial plots.

 

In 2011, the estimate for these works was £1.3M. This was without the costs of bomb disposal experts now required daily during months of excavation, or the installation of two large water tanks to try to hold back Cemetery flood water from gardens on Ryedale Road.

 

Even at this conservative 2011 estimate, the 740 plots would still cost over £1,750 each. A burial plot lease is sold for an average of around £1400, meaning more than £250,000 in losses on this one site alone – and that’s excluding Cemetery maintenance costs.

 

The Cemeteries cost Southwark £1M a year to run. The Council plans to allocate all income from selling these new burial leases to annual running costs, meaning undisclosed capital costs are just to be written off – and not a penny reserved to cover the cost of 25 or 50 years of maintenance promised with each lease sale.

 

In a time of austerity, the Council is not only subsidising burial, it is also promising grounds maintenance to families buying burial plots it appears it has no financial plan to deliver.

 

The Council says saving money and justifying every penny of expenditure to the public is its top priority at the moment. It seems even more incredible therefore to be writing blank cheques to the burial service while making huge cuts in other areas. This week the Council announced it would be slashing the Youth Services budget by 73% - that’s a £2.5 Million cut with the loss of 80 posts.

 

More than 10,000 people oppose Southwark’s plans to cut down the woods for burial plots. Greener, cheaper and fairer burial for all faiths is available just outside the borough.

 

Yet Council Leader Peter John seems determined to press ahead with burial plans at all costs, and without financial scrutiny - why?

 

Why sacrifice other services to subsidise burial? What do Southwark Council - or other parties - stand to gain?

 

Save Southwark Woods believes that works will in fact cost far in excess of 2011 estimates. The public has a right to know: how much is Southwark Council preparing to pay today for its burial plans? And how much will maintenance cost for the next 25 or 50 years?

 

Southwark Council: How much are your burial plans going to cost?

 

 

Dear Deborah Collins,

 

Re: Southwark Council Burial Strategy implementation costs

 

I am writing yet again to ask, how much will the Council’s burial plans at Camberwell Old and New Cemeteries cost?

 

The public has a right to know costs as of today, not be fobbed off with figures from 2011.

 

They also have a right to know the cost of the maintenance due under lease sales for 25 or 50 years, and the proportion of lease sales revenue to be allocated to this.

 

Please consider these and the following questions as a request for information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000, although we believe this should not be necessary as this information should already be publicly available and to hand, as works are due to start imminently.

 

1. What are the full 2015 cost estimates for works proposed at:

a.‘Area Z’, Camberwell Old Cemetery?

b.‘Area D1’, Camberwell New Cemetery?

 

2. What are the cost estimates at ‘Area Z’ for:

a.Temporary site fencing and security during works?

b.Tree felling and undergrowth clearance?

c.Excavation, removal by truck and/or reprocessing on or off site, and/or sending to landfill 12,000 tonnes of site soil and rubble?

d.Trucking in hundreds of tonnes of new topsoil for ‘Area Z’?

e.Re-grading and landscaping the slope for burial plots?

f.Site drainage measures, including costs of two water tanks proposed to manage stormwater following the removal of hundreds of trees?

g.Presence of bomb disposal consultant(s) on site during works?

h.Presence of arboricultural consultant(s) on site during works?

i.Further consultancy fees, including those to comply with planning conditions regarding groundwater protection measures, construction work impacts and visual amenity?

 

3. What are the cost estimates at ‘Area D1’ for:

a.Temporary site fencing and security during works?

b.Tree felling and undergrowth clearance?

c.Construction of the new vehicle access roadway?

d.Re-grading and landscaping the steep slope for burial plots?

e.Site drainage measures to manage stormwater following the removal of trees?

f.Presence of arboricultural consultant(s) on site during works?

g.Further consultancy fees, including those to comply with planning conditions regarding groundwater protection measures, construction work impacts and visual amenity?

 

4. How much has been paid to Harrison Design Development to date for:

a.Designing and writing Southwark Council’s Burial Strategy?

b.Designing and delivering each burial site development scheme resulting from it?

 

5. What is the loss of Capital Asset Value such as environmental and social amenity as a result of the two current developments at ‘Area Z’ and ‘Area D1’ (for example, loss of trees and natural habitat)?

 

6. What additional costs are estimated for works to roads and vehicular/pedestrian infrastructure as a result of the works?

 

7. What is the total cost estimate for Southwark Council’s full Burial Strategy 2012, as of December 2015?

 

If Southwark Council does not have these figures - after years of preparation and only days from starting work, please explain why not?

 

Sincerely,

 

Blanche Cameron

 

Blanche Cameron

for Save Southwark Woods

07731 304 966

savesouthwarkwoods@gmail.com

www.savesouthwarkwoods.org.uk

@southwarkwoods

Facebook Page Save Southwark Woods

 

Watch the aerial video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b76wj7BO8yI

Sign the petition to save Southwark Woods https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/save-southwark-woods

 

6 SAVE SOUTHWARK WOODS LOGO

Why is Southwark Council writing a blank cheque for Burial Services? SSW requests costs of burial plans. AGAIN.

2nd December 2015

SSL22311

The beautiful woods of One Tree Hill in Camberwell New Cemetery - with one of the best views of London