Jasmine Lee Kennedy Reporter
World war soldiers’ graves will be exhumed to make room for new burials at Camberwell’s Old and New cemeteries.
Over a hundred graves, along with two acres of trees, have already been cleared for 700 new interments. Southwark Council now plan to get rid of thousands more, including 48 unmarked graves of war soldiers.
This has caused an outrage among local residents, who have formed the Save Southwark Woods Campaign. Their webpage said:
“Residents don’t want their loved ones dug up.
“[Southwark Councillors] publicly denied they were even planning it”.
According to burial law, which was implemented in 2007, once a body has been buried for 75 years London cemeteries can legally ‘reclaim’ and sell the used plot as if it were new.
This is due to research conducted in 2004 which foresaw all cemeteries being full by 2037.
Following the study, Harriet Harman, MP for Camberwell, said:
“While the survey results do not reflect trends and issues at a very local level, they suggest that there is a particular pressure on burial space in predominantly urban areas, and that there will generally be increasing pressure.”
Southwark Council Leader, Pete John, was consequently given planning permission by the Church of England to re-use graves.
David Kurten, a UKIP London Assembly member, questioned London Mayor Sadiq Khan:
“Will you intervene to prevent the re-use of the graves of 48,000 people in Camberwell Old and New Cemeteries, including the war graves of 48 First and Second World War servicemen?
“Do you not think people will be horrified by this?”
Khan answered that the matter was out of his hands, and that the future of the cemeteries was Southwark Council’s decision.