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Today, Save Southwark Woods filed a formal complaint against Southwark Council Parks Officer Rebecca Towers for withholding documents requested by residents in the Diocese of Southwark Consistory Court case.


The complaint has been made to Ms Towers' boss, Southwark's Head of Environment and Leisure Deborah Collins.


Southwark's appalling works at the Camberwell Cemeteries to fell acres of woods and mound over 48,000 graves require permission from the Diocese of Southwark as most is consecrated ground.


But the Council has already started work, destroying beautiful woods with bat colonies, owls and a myriad of wildlife, and desecrating graves with works vehicles.


The Consistory Court is holding the hearing because of over 800 objections to the project to fell 2.5 acres of Grade 1 SINC woods and mound over 48,000 public graves in Camberwell Old Cemetery and cut down as many as 60 trees on One Tree Hill in Camberwell New Cemetery - all for fewer than 800 burial plots.


Save Southwark Woods intends to be a party and represent many other objectors. But legal objections must be based on Southwark's own Petition to the Diocese.


Objectors were given three weeks by the Church to apply to be a party to the proceedings for a hearing into Southwark Council's proposals in late spring.


Residents have been trying for nearly two weeks to obtain the Petition documents held by Towers that set out Southwark Council's application to the Church. The deadline is now next week.


And Rebecca Towers has still not forwarded the documents despite repeated requests.


This is just the latest attempt by Southwark Council to block public objection to the largest grave excavation and mounding project in UK history.


Aware of how unpopular they would be, Southwark Council has desperately tried to keep its plans quiet, even denying on ITV News in January they have plans to dig any graves up at all.


But all their plans are on the Council's own website, including digging up every grave over 75 years old and mounding over every public grave to sell as 'new' burial plots.


The complaint from SSW is below.


12th January 2016


Dear Ms Collins,


Re: Formal Complaint against Parks & Open Spaces Manager Rebecca Towers


I am writing to register a formal complaint against Ms Towers regarding requests by Anne Stanesby for copies (not originals) of Southwark Council's Petition for Faculty to the Diocese of Southwark for the Camberwell Cemeteries, on behalf of the Cemetery Stakeholder Group of which Save Southwark Woods is a member.  


These Faculty documents are now the subject of legal proceedings as Ms Towers is fully aware.


We are appalled that, 13 days after requesting the Faculty documents, Ms Towers has still failed to provide these.


So far 13 of 21 days have been lost for objectors to prepare their formal legal case against Southwark Council's Petition for Faculty – the project for which these documents are the basis.


Rebecca Towers recently petitioned the Diocese for Faculty to fell more than 2.5 acres of SINC woods and mound over 48,000 public graves at Area Z Camberwell Old Cemetery and to cut down many mature oaks and other native broadleaf trees in Area D1 on historic One Tree Hill, Camberwell New Cemetery.


These plans are just the most recent part of the largest grave excavation and mounding project in UK history.


Southwark Council has already started felling trees on both consecrated and unconsecrated ground and without permission from the Diocese.


I refer you to the email exchange attached between Anne Stanesby, Rebecca Towers and officer Tim Walker.


29th January: Anne Stanesby asked Paul Morris Registrar of the Diocese of Southwark where the documents could be obtained.


29th January: Clerk to the Registry Richard Hastings replied saying Southwark Council holds them and should give the public access.


30th January: Anne Stanesby wrote to Rebecca Towers requesting access to the documents.


2nd February: Rebecca Towers, responsible for the Faculty and the documents and well aware of time constraints, rather than just providing the documents, delegated the request to officer Tim Walker, even though she had just sent the documents herself to the Diocese.


Tim Walker apparently found that originals had been sent to the Diocese.


Today, 12th February, on a Friday afternoon, two working days before the deadline to apply to present legal objections to these documents in the Consistory Court proceedings, some documents were forwarded by Tim Walker – incomplete, encrypted and inaccessible.


It appears only documents relating to Area Z were sent not D1. However, no one can open the documents.


Rebecca Towers is fully aware that these documents, her own Petition for Faculty on behalf of Southwark Council to the Diocese of Southwark, are to be investigated in a court hearing in the Consistory Court of the Diocese of Southwark sometime in late spring, as a result of over 800 public objections to the appalling project.


Rebecca Towers not Tim Walker is responsible as the Petitioner for keeping a copy of the Council’s Petition for Faculty in her department offices.


Rebecca Towers has failed to act in an appropriate manner or timescale.


Rebecca Towers has prevented public access to documents in the public domain.


Rebecca Towers has delayed a legal process.


Rebecca Towers has prevented members of the public preparing a legal case against her own project in her own department about proposals that she not Tim Walker is leading.


As the Petitioner to the Diocese of Southwark for Faculty, Rebecca Towers will be representing the Council's project in the Consistory Court hearing.


Rebecca Towers has abused her position of public trust.


Rebecca Towers is not fit for public office and should apologise for her conduct, abuse of her position and her disregard for public rights and due legal process and resign immediately.


Please let me know what the complaints procedure is. If you need anything else from me or Save Southwark Woods to investigate this complaint, please let me know.



Blanche Cameron

for Save Southwark Woods

SSW files formal complaint against Parks Officer Rebecca Towers for not sharing public information in Church court case

12th February 2016    |    [email protected]    |    @southwarkwoods    |    Facebook Page Save Southwark Woods