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Naomi Newstead, Conservative Party candidate for Camberwell and Peckham, today joined GLA AM and Green Party Group leader Jenny Jones and Liberal Democrat Councillor James Barber in a cross-party call to save the magical Southwark Woods at Camberwell Old and New Cemeteries from the diggers.
These Victorian cemeteries lie in what is currently a Labour seat held by Harriet Harman MP.
Despite huge local opposition, the Labour-controlled council is pushing forward with plans to rip out woodland, wooded areas and greenspace for sanitised landscapes, densely-packed with 6,000 burial plots, reminiscent of mass war graves.
The Save Southwark Woods campaign says this is out-of-date thinking, calling for Southwark to declare these cemeteries Local Nature Reserves.
If managed for woodland along with the neighbouring woods of One Tree Hill and Nunhead Cemetery, this could make a 100 Acre Wood, right here in Central London.
Naomi said of the campaign, “Thank you for all your hard work. It would be devastating to lose these woods. I will do anything I can to help.”
Local residents say they have not been properly consulted and said at the Public Meeting last Wednesday they feel betrayed by the council, especially after years of illegal fly tipping and dumping was allowed to take place under the council’s watch across at least 3 cemeteries in the borough.
And now Southwark’s Labour party is looking isolated, as politicians of all colours join the campaign.
James Barber, Liberal Democrat councillor for East Dulwich, has supported the campaign from the beginning, as have the Southwark Green Party.
This week, London AM and GLA Green Party Group leader Jenny Jones contacted the Save Southwark Woods campaign to lend her support.
“I have supported the campaign by signing the petition and tweeting about it. If you feel there’s something else I could do, for example a visit, do let me know.”
Save Southwark Woods are taking her – and any political representatives – up on their offers.
Air pollution is London’s biggest killer, and Southwark is one of the most polluted boroughs.
Modern thinking recognises the value of woodlands in reducing air pollution, storing storm water and cooling the city in hot summers. They also provide a multitude of other health, educational and cultural benefits for free. This is our Natural Health Service.
As the 2015 elections approach, politicians from all parties are recognising the essential role Green Infrastructure plays. Will Labour realise before it’s too late?
Woodlands are the lungs of London. And politicians of all persuasions are saying – Save Southwark Woods.
Camberwell Old Cemetery woods by Save Southwark Woods
Save Southwark Woods garners cross-party support
15th February 2015