Today, the Save Southwark Woods Campaign of the Friends of Camberwell Cemeteries wrote to Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn urging him to help us stop the sell-off of our cemetery assets.
We urged Mr Corbyn, who has spoken out against transfer of community wealth to private hands, to speak out against cemetery owners selling off the plots to private interests, destroying nature and heritage.
Southwark Council is a test case for what is euphemistically called “grave re-use” - where in perpetuity burial is erased, nature obliterated and new bodies placed on top of the bones of Britain’s dead.
The results are communities losing acres of woods, as well as the monuments to their dead.
The Save Southwark Woods Campaign is calling for our inner city cemeteries to me made into Memorial Park Nature Reserves, as a vital part of London National Park City.
The campaign has cross-party support in Southwark from the Liberal Democrats, the Greens, The Conservatives, UKIP and TUSC, among others, and has many secret Labour supporters.
“We are asking Mr. Corbyn’s help to stop the sell-off or our old cemetery.” said Blanche Cameron, Chair of Friends of Camberwell Cemeteries.
“We are desperate to to put an end to the horrific plans to destroy hundreds of acres of wild nature and heritage in Britain.”
Open letter to Jeremy Corbyn from the Friends of Camberwell Cemeteries:
Dear Jeremy Corbyn,
Would you help us?
Southwark Council is selling off the graves of our ancestors and destroying wild places for private gain.
Southwark are treating graves like they are treating council flats - taking community assets and selling them for profit. The council has begun cutting down acres of inner city woods at the Camberwell cemeteries to mound over the public graves of London’s poor to sell as ‘new’ private inner city burial plots.
Southwark have already felled two acres of woods and plan to fell ten more acres, including dozens of trees on historic One Tree Hill.
This is a national issue. Southwark cemeteries is just a test case. Dozens of public cemeteries in London are under threat and hundreds across Britain, under new laws which have ended ‘in perpetuity’ burials.
These are the graves of poor hardworking British people. They are on Metropolitan Open Land where the wild nature has been allowed to grow, cleaning the air, preventing flooding and keeping the city cool. They are now beautiful natural places where our children play. They are part of our common land.
Please stand against this destruction of our public assets - the graves, woods, history and nature of our public cemeteries - just as you stand against the loss of council flats and NHS services.
Chair, Friends of Camberwell Cemeteries
The Save Southwark Woods Campaign
www.SaveSouthwarkWoods.org.uk | [email protected] | @southwarkwoods | Facebook Page Save Southwark Woods
In a nutshell:
Trees, woods and green spaces are too valuable to be used for burial plots - we need more woods and trees not less, for health and well-being and climate change adaptation
History and heritage are vital to our understanding of ourselves, our past and our future
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 on the edge of the city 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.
Above: Friends of Camberwell Cemeteries demonstrating outside Southwark Cathedral before the Consistory Court directions hearing in May
Below: The vandalism of nature begins. Two acres of Grade 1 SINC woods felled in February at Camberwell Old Cemetery, and some of the beautiful ten acres of woods, graves and memorials still under threat from Southwark's chainsaws and diggers