Southwark’s Labour council has been offered a final chance to halt the felling of 60 trees and digging up of 60 graves as part of its plans for new burial space at Southwark Woods in Nunhead.
At the last meeting of the council, Southwark Liberal Democrat councillors tabled a motion calling on the ruling Labour administration to carry out a new consultation exercise on where new burial space for Southwark residents is located. Labour refused to support the proposal.
Liberal Democrat councillors had argued that the previous consultation was flawed as it was carried out in 2011, the majority of respondents were not Southwark residents and it failed to set out the environmental impact and costs of its proposals.
Southwark Council wants to spend at least £5million building over 2,000 new graves at the Southwark Woods site. The plans have provoked outrage and a huge community campaign - supported by Southwark Liberal Democrats - to save the woodlands has been launched. A petition of 8,000 signatures objecting to the plans was presented to councillors.
Following the council meeting, Liberal Democrat councillors have written to the Chair of the Council’s main scrutiny committee asking for the cemeteries strategy and proposals for Southwark Woods to be looked at in more detail with a proper analysis of costs, alternatives and environmental impact.
Southwark Liberal Democrat Leader, Councillor Anood Al-Samerai, said:
“The strength of feeling locally about the Labour council’s plans for Southwark Woods is clear with over 8,000 people signing the petition to save the trees, woodland and old graves.
“Yet again though, Labour councillors refused to listen to local residents and call a halt to their plans.
“There are alternatives that would allow Southwark residents to still be buried in the borough that should be looked at properly, especially when it is clear the Council is proceeding on a flawed consultation that is four years old and mostly Lewisham residents responded.
“I hope that Labour councillors will now listen at the last minute and agree that the plans should be put on hold to look at the issues in more detail. This is the Labour administration’s last chance to change their minds and save the woods for future generations.”