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Cllr Wingfield announces out-of-borough burial is on the cards

21st July 2016    |    [email protected]    |    @southwarkwoods    |    Facebook Page Save Southwark Woods


20th July 2016


Dear Cllr Wingfield,


Southwark out-of-borough burial assessment


We welcome your announcement on Saturday at the Southwark Parks meeting that you will be assessing out-of-borough burial options for Southwark. 9 of the 13 inner London Boroughs already provide burial out-of-borough.


As you know, burial is a non-statutory service. Southwark's statutory services are being slashed, yet capital costs of at least £5M (2011 estimates) for burial are just being ‘written off’. Burial cost-benefits and needs must be compared against statutory services such as housing, education and health.


Southwark’s Cemetery Strategy is unfit for purpose, destroying 12 acres of inner city SINC woods and 300,000 Londoners’ graves and memorials, against thousands of residents’ wishes. It also discriminates against as many as 40% of residents seeking burial, since many cannot be buried over the dead.


Will you therefore confirm that your out-of-borough burial assessment will include:


1.Southwark Burial Needs Assessment, and comparison of in- and out-of-borough burial's ability to respond to residents’ burial needs


2.Financial Cost-Benefit comparison of in- and out-of-borough burial


3.Environmental and Social Impact Assessment of in- and out-of-borough burial


4.Cost of out-of-borough burial land at economies of scale


5.Burial plot fee scales and subsidies – current subsidy for in-borough burial is over £5M


6.Revenue reinvestment opportunities (e.g. more burial land or statutory services)


7.Impact of allocation: Southwark and non-Southwark residents


As you know, Tower Hamlets Council invested £3M in 3 acres at Kemnal Park Cemetery, closer to Southwark than Tower Hamlets, for multifaith burial and to preserve Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park for inner city nature, health and wellbeing.


Revenue could be reinvested in more burial space or other services.


Either statutory services like housing, education and health.


Or non-statutory – like burial.  




Blanche Cameron


Southwark Potential Burial Needs - only a Borough-wide Burial Needs Assessment will understand residents' personal and faith requirements



Blanche Cameron

Chair, Friends of Camberwell Cemeteries

The Save Southwark Woods Campaign


In a nutshell: Trees, woods and green spaces too valuable to be used for burial plots - we need more not less, for health and well-being and climate change adaptation; Burial over the dead not an option for many - discriminates against many residents' burial needs, plot buyers not being told; history and heritage of those buried and their families must be respected and preserved; fair burial provision is already available at a fraction of the environmental, financial and social cost.

This week, at Southwark’s annual Parks Conference, Cllr Ian Wingfield responsible for Southwark’s cemeteries announced he is to explore out-of-borough burial provision.


The Friends of Camberwell Cemeteries (FOCC) – the Save Southwark Woods campaign – have written to Cllr Wingfield to welcome the announcement.


“We are very glad Cllr Wingfield is going to assess out-of-borough burial,” said Blanche Cameron, Chair of FOCC.


“Burial is a non-statutory service. Housing, education, youth and health service budgets are being slashed, yet capital costs of at least £5M possibly as much as £20M for burial can be ‘written off’?


“Southwark Council tries to justify it by saying there is a demand for burial,” said Blanche. “But they don’t run their Housing Department like that. You don't get a Council flat just because you demand one.


“Southwark are destroying 12 acres of inner city woods, to mound over or dig up thousands of graves for burial over the dead, which is unsuitable for many residents anyway.


“We demand a Borough-wide Public Consultation immediately, before any more destruction. Plenty of burial space is available at cemeteries just outside the borough. Southwark could invest a fraction of current costs in long-term burial provision and reinvest revenue in more burial land or other services.”


Tower Hamlets Council bought 3 acres of multifaith burial land for £3M at Kemnal Park Cemetery to preserve Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park for inner city nature and health.


FOCC say out-of-borough burial is a win-win situation – and would protect the Camberwell Cemeteries’ inner city SINC woods, greenspace and history.


FOCC want Southwark to create a long-term nature, health, wellbeing legacy – a Memorial Park Nature Reserve with 100 acres of woods, meadows, playing fields and allotment for the living, and respect for the dead and their memorials.


Their letter to Cllr Ian Wingfield is below