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Southwark Liberal Democrat Councillors have tabled a motion to council on July 8th, for a full Public Consultation on Southwark’s plans to chainsaw 10 acres of Grade 1 woodland and graves for thousands of new burial plots.

 

The motion, proposed by Leader of Southwark’s Liberal Democrat Group Cllr Anood Al-Samerai and seconded by Deputy Leader and Health Spokesperson Cllr David Noakes questions the validity of Southwark council’s 2011 consultation process and the lack of financial detail around their proposals.  

 

It calls for:

 

•   a review of the existing cemeteries strategy by the relevant scrutiny committee

•   all councillors involved in the scrutiny process to visit the woodland

•   a new consultation exercise to explore how to protect and enhance the woodland and wildlife in this area and

•   to ask specifically whether new burial spaces should be provided within the borough

 

The motion will be put to council on July 8th, the same meeting at which campaigners present the petition from over 8,000 people to declare Camberwell Old and New Cemeteries a 100 acre nature reserve, with respect for the dead already buried there and woodland for the living.

 

This motion underlines what constituency MP and acting Labour Leader Harriet Harman said back in March, that ‘people must be properly consulted’.

 

Capital costs of £5.2M minimum will not be recouped, meaning each plot would be subsidised by at least £1,100 (some by over £1,700).  For a fraction of the cost Southwark could invest, as Tower Hamlets has done, in burial provision at Kemnal Park cemetery, purpose-built to help manage London’s burial crisis.

 

And they could preserve these essential inner city woodlands, meadows and trees, for the benefit of generations to come.

 

 

MOTION FROM CLLR ANOOD AL-SAMERAI (Seconded by Cllr David Noakes)

 

Save Southwark woods

 

1.         Council assembly notes the challenges in finding new graves in the borough and understands that the council's focus has primarily been on securing sustainable burial space.

 

2.         Council assembly recognises the consultation held on the burial strategy in 2011, but has the following concerns about the process:

 

•   the consultation focused on Honor Oak Recreation Ground, not the disputed woodland in Old and New Cemeteries, and the majority of respondents were Lewisham residents.

 

•   there was insufficient consultation with those who plan to be buried in the borough or their families.

 

•   the consultation failed to highlight the potential impact of new grave sites on existing woodland and the word ‘trees’ only appears once in the 2011 report.

 

•   there were no consultation responses from people of religions other than Christian.

 

•   there were no precise costs or estimates of the number of trees to be felled.

 

•   the consultation was conducted too far in advance of the current implementation - Southwark has a high population turnover and many residents near the cemeteries will be new.

 

3.         Council assembly notes that the existing plans to provide over 2,000 new graves will affect existing woodland negatively and that while Southwark has excellent maintained parks, there are few natural woodland areas.

 

4.         Council assembly also notes that The Camberwell Old Cemetery woodland is a Grade 1 site of borough Importance for nature conservation and councillors have a duty to protect heritage and nature for future generations.

 

5.         Council assembly recognises there is no legal obligation for the council to provide burial space within the borough and that 9 out of 13 inner London boroughs have no plans to create new graves.

 

6.         Council assembly further notes that the new graves for Southwark residents could be provided at Kemnal Park, as Tower Hamlets council has done recently.

 

7.         Council assembly therefore calls for:

 

•   a review of the existing cemeteries strategy by the relevant scrutiny committee to investigate the direct effects on woodland and whether there are more cost-effective and less harmful alternatives.

 

•   all councillors involved in the scrutiny process to visit the woodland.

 

•   a new consultation exercise to explore how to protect and enhance the woodland and wildlife in this area and

 

•   to ask specifically whether new burial spaces should be provided within the borough.

Southwark Lib Dem Group Leader Anood Al-Samerai and Deputy Leader and Health Spokesperson Cllr David Noakes at a meeting at Southwark Woods last week

6 SAVE SOUTHWARK WOODS LOGO

Liberal Democrats call for full Public Consultation on council plans for Southwark Woods

25th June 2015

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