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In a letter today to Southwark council leader Peter John, SSW has demanded the removal of Darren Merrill, the councillor in charge of Southwark’s burial policy.
Since at least 2012, the council has consistently claimed it has a so-called ‘sustainable’ burial strategy for Camberwell Old and New Cemeteries.
Until this week, with no public consultation and no public mandate, this so-called ‘sustainable’ burial strategy has relied on clearing acres of valuable woodland and excavating thousands of historic graves, for new burial plots.
But this week, Cllr Darren Merrill has stated he now only intends to develop one acre of woodland - three years’ supply.
SSW has asked Peter John to take charge and either ask Darren Merrill to resign, or remove him from his cabinet position as member for Environment and the Public Realm.
“If the strategy relies on excavating thousands of old graves and clearing acres of woodland for thousands of new burial plots, is it not misleading to say only one acre is required?” said SSW spokesperson Blanche Cameron.
“And if the so-called ‘sustainable’ burial plan no longer exists, Cllr Merrill must come clean and admit years of time and public money have been wasted. Either way Darren Merrill must be removed.”
Campaigners have also asked Mr John to make a statement clarifying what has happened to the council's so-called 'sustainable' burial strategy, and to hold Rebecca Towers and other officers to account who have encouraged these unworkable and expensive proposals.
Over 3,500 residents have signed the petition to stop these plans. Perhaps councillors now realise the public will never tolerate such wholescale destruction of the borough's natural, social and historical assets.
It appears Southwark’s so-called ‘sustainable’ burial policy is dead in the water.
It is time for Southwark to adopt the fairer, cheaper, healthier legacy SSW and others have proposed, supported by thousands of residents: declare the cemeteries nature reserves, with respect for the dead and their memorials, and woodland and all its natural and social benefit for generations to come.
Burial for all faiths can be provided at Kemnal Park for a fraction of the cost, with a bus service laid on.
How long will Southwark continue to waste the public’s time and money postponing the inevitable?
Save Southwark Woods demands Cllr Darren Merrill be removed from burial policy
15th July 2015
The Camberwell Cemeteries are full of natural, social and historical heritage and value - and Southwark has no 'sustainable' burial strategy
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