Southwark Council held their first public event to discuss the future of their cemeteries yesterday on the Recreation Ground.
Very nice - marquee with a carpet, cakes, drinks, coloured A3 information sheets - and the sound of children playing happily in the background added a welcome touch of irony!
Despite being a brilliant day for lounging in the sun, about 30 people turned up to hear Barrie Hargove, the key Cabinet councillor introduce the proceedings. He was followed by Rebecca Towers, Parks and Open Spaces Manager giving the background to the consultation and then the options available detailed by Paul Harrison, a Landscape and Development consultant.
Some points from the meeting:
1. The consultation is going to continue until the end of September. Then all the questionnaires will be analysed and a report drawn up which will be on line. This will be put to Cabinet in December and decisions made probably in Jan 2012
2. It seems that although in April at the Cabinet meeting 8 years of short term burial space was determined and voted for (see post below), there may well be serious hitches and this may well have been overly optimistic.
Namely, on site A adjacent to the picnic area, there are planning issues. Also, soil and drainage sampling is still going on to verify the practicalities of burial there.
One may ask why this wasn't begun in April, three months ago.
Work is not well underway at Camberwell Old cemetery either where there is a plan to rebury on topped up public graves. And there is only a handful of spaces left at Camberwell New cemetery. Conclusion: well under 8 years left .....
3. People are being asked to respond to the questionnaire without being fully given information about costings which will obviously be a driving force for a cash strapped council. Barrie Hargrove said that financially using the Rec would be the cheapest option even though it was the cabinet's "least preferred option". Having said that, he also said that cemeteries count as recreational spaces for the living as well as for the dead!
4. Paul Harrison said that recycling of burial land has been going on throughout history, and it is only modern rules and sensitivity which are preventing it now.
One person said she has changed her mind from burial to cremation to save green space.
5. SC said this is a great exciting opportunity for people to say what they want and for the Council to be leaders and set an example for the other boroughs and forge new avenues on the burial issue ..... (editor's note: well, that would exclude using well used open green space then )
SO ..... WHAT YOU CAN STILL DO:
Complete the questionnaire! see post below on where to find it!
Attend the next public events - again see below!
But the next one on the Rec again is
SATURDAY 10 SEPTEMBER 1 - 3 pm
SCHOOLS are BACK so let's get a larger contingent down there!
And a last word:
What are the Lewisham councillors doing to help?
A motion in support of the Rec was passed by Lewisham Council in March but we know of little more which has happened apart from one meeting between the two leaders.