Bizarrely, the Chancellor of the Diocese of Southwark has written to the Friends of Camberwell Cemeteries to ask if they believe he is biased and want him to step aside?
Today, the Friends of Camberwell Cemeteries have asked the Chancellor to defend his actions.
Southwark Council have applied to destroy acres of woods, graves and memorials at the Camberwell Cemeteries, for 'new' inner city burial plots over the dead.
The Chancellor is to decide in September whether to grant Southwark Council permission.
But much of the destruction has already taken place.
Now, the Chancellor has written to the Friends to ask them if they believe he is biased and want him to step aside??
Below is the Friends' response:
12th August 2016
Chancellor Philip Petchey
Diocese of Southwark Consistory Court
5 Montague Close
London SE1 9BB
Dear Chancellor Petchey,
Unprecedented level of public objection - but no Public Hearing? Is the Diocese of Southwark Consistory Court biased?
You have asked us to state if we believe you are biased and should therefore 'step aside'?
The key question for us is not whether you are biased, but how have you, as Chancellor of the Consistory Court of the Diocese of Southwark:
* Demonstrated fairness and objectivity to the public?
* Defended the public's right to have Southwark Council's applications determined by the Court, not by Southwark Council's fait accompli?
* Stopped Southwark Council carrying out works without Church permission before the hearing?
* Made Southwark Council respond to the unprecedented level of public objections?
In January, you said a Public Hearing was very likely because of the unprecedented 800 objections to Southwark Council's applications to destroy woods, graves and memorials at the Camberwell Cemeteries.
Now you say you do not intend to hold a Public Hearing.
Who or what has made you change your mind?
In January, we informed you Southwark Council was about to start felling two acres of woods without Church permission - a major part of the public's objections to Southwark's applications.
You said we could apply to the Church for an injunction on Southwark Council to halt work until the hearing.
We applied for an injunction. You turned it down.
Southwark Council went ahead and felled the woods, without a hearing or Church permission and with your full knowledge.
In January, you said if we became a party to the proceedings to argue to save the woods, it was very unlikely we would get Southwark Council's legal costs. At the Directions Hearing in May, you said it would be extremely likely.
Who or what made you change your mind?
The threat of huge legal costs caused us to withdraw as a party to the proceedings.
This cleared the way for you now to say there is no reason to hold a Public Hearing - as there are no parties to the proceedings.
1) Why will you not hold a Public Hearing?
2) Why did you not order Southwark Council to stop until applications for permission had been heard?
3) Why allow the public to object if the Church ignores even unprecedented levels of public objection?
4) How do your actions reflect Southwark Diocese's environmental policy 'Taking Care of God's Creation', given you did not order Southwark Council to stop destroying acres of woods until the hearing?
We await your response.
Chair, Friends of Camberwell Cemeteries
The Save Southwark Woods Campaign
07731 304 966
Facebook: Friends of Camberwell Cemeteries - Save Southwark Woods
www.SaveSouthwarkWoods.org.uk | firstname.lastname@example.org | @southwarkwoods | Facebook Page Save Southwark Woods
In a nutshell:
Trees, woods and green spaces too valuable to be used for burial plots - we need more not less, for health and well-being and climate change adaptation
History and heritage are vital to our understanding of ourselves
Burial over the dead is not an option for many - and discriminates against many residents' burial needs. Plot buyers are not being told
The history and heritage of those buried and their families must be respected and preserved
Fair burial provision is available elsewhere at a fraction of the environmental, financial and social cost
Save our woods and graves and make them Memorial Park Nature Reserves, with respect for the dead and history, woods and trees for the living.
Top: Two acres of Grade 1 SINC woods felled without Church permission in February at Camberwell Old Cemetery
Below: Some of the ten more acres of woods, graves and memorials to go