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Save Southwark Woods has today written to Southwark Council demanding an explanation for the removal of historic burial monuments and memorials without notice at Camberwell old Cemetery.
Historic monuments and memorials appeared on Thursday morning, removed from their graves and lying in the car park without protection.
SSW has written to ask Cllr Darren Merrill, what is going on, along with Rebecca Towers Parks & Open Spaces manager, Avril Kirby Cemeteries and Crematorium Manager. The letter was copied to the Dulwich Society, the Friends of Camberwell Old and New Cemeteries and ward councillors Victoria Mills, Gavin Edwards and Renata Hamvas.
Rebecca Towers responded on Friday to an initial complaint about the lack of notice or consultation, that the monuments were being ‘restored not removed’.
This is the day after the council voted against the petition from 8,500 to declare the cemeteries nature reserves and preserve their woods, graves, monuments and memorials? And whatever Ms Towers says, they have been removed – and without the promised notice or consultation.
“These are important historic monuments,” said SSW spokesperson Blanche Cameron, “They are easily broken or damaged. They should be labelled then wrapped in a fleece and bubble wrap by qualified conservators. Not dumped in a pile by council workmen with the rest of the debris. This is totally unacceptable behaviour.”
Moving historic monuments without notice or consultation with relevant groups is a serious matter. Southwark has broken its promise many times now, to inform Friends Groups when works are due to take place.
SSW’s letter complained in the strongest possible terms about the council's lax attitude regarding the conservation and care of historic monuments and memorials. They have asked what the council intends to do to rectify this?
The council’s lack of respect for the dead and Southwark’s historic heritage contravenes the council's duty of care, their social contract with the families of people buried in the cemetery, their duty to make every effort to contact them, as well as their duty and promise to communicate with the Cemeteries Friends Groups.
This does not bode well for Southwark’s plans to excavate thousands of old graves.
Is democracy dead in Southwark? And if not, who watches the watchmen?
14th July 2015
Historic monuments and memorials, including one dubbed 'the Angel of Southwark' by local residents, lying on the bare tarmac at Camberwell Old Cemetery over the weekend
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