Yesterday, Cemetery Stakeholder Group community members voted unanimously to stop Southwark Council carrying out any further tree felling in Camberwell Old Cemetery.
The vote read:
“The Stakeholders of the Camberwell Cemeteries do not give Southwark Council permission for any further felling in Camberwell Old Cemetery. Southwark Council must apply to the Church of England for the legally required faculty permission and agree a Conservation Management Plan with Cemetery Stakeholder community groups.”
Cllr Ian Wingfield, Member for Public Realm and Environment, tried to block the vote, demanding it shouldn’t be recorded - or even minuted. Clearly agitated, he stated the Stakeholder Group has no statutory or decision-making powers - the case with many of the Council’s so-called ‘stakeholder’ groups.
But Cemetery Stakeholder Group members including the Friends of Camberwell Cemeteries, Camberwell Cemeteries Working Group, Friends of Honor Oak Park and others - spoke as one to deny Southwark permission to cut down any trees in the 30-acre Grade 1 SINC which includes ten acres of woodland.
Voting were Anne Stanesby, Glynis Williams, Tom Snow, Symon Knightswood, Brett Callacher, Blanche Cameron and Lewis Schaffer.
FOCC also warned Cllr Wingfield and officers present that it has notified the Church of England, Diocese of Southwark, London Wildlife Trust and other organisations to the Council's intentions.
Camberwell Old Cemetery is a Grade 1 SINC on Metropolitan Open Land on the Green Chain Walk, listed on the London Parks & Gardens Trust’s register of historic parks.
The cemetery is one of Southwark’s designated woodlands and the Council must agree the Conservation Management Plan with community groups. This the Council should have done as soon as it decided to reopen the cemetery in the mid 2000s.
It is home to bats, stag beetles, reptiles, bees, butterflies, dragonflies and more and is of immense value for health, wellbeing, contemplation, history and nature.
Southwark Council wants ‘to progress projects’ clearing woodland Areas J, K, and L for ‘new’ inner city burial plots over thousands of people already buried beneath the roots.
But Southwark has not applied for the Church of England’s legal permission, required as these woods are consecrated ground.
The fact that Cemetery Stakeholder groups have no faith in Southwark Council not to fell woods without Church legal permission, public consultation or even a Conservation Management Plan is just another reason why Southwark is unfit to run a burial service.
FOCC SSW is fighting to save the Camberwell Cemeteries as nature reserves with respect for the dead and their memorials and woods and nature for the living.
www.SaveSouthwarkWoods.org.uk | firstname.lastname@example.org | @southwarkwoods | Facebook Page Save Southwark Woods
Above: Ten more acres of beautiful inner city woods over thousands of graves to be felled for 'new' burial plots over thousands of dead already buried beneath their roots.
Below: Hundreds of trees in 2-acre site Area Z already felled in February 2016 by Southwark Council without permission. To the left hand side of the fence are the newly targeted Areas J, K, and L.