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Asbestos in HOP
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Posts: 203
Joined: Feb 2008
Post: #1
22-01-2009 12:51 PM
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Posts: 49
Joined: May 2005
Post: #2
22-01-2009 04:32 PM

The BBC News item on illegally dumped building waste in three cemeteries reported that council officials say some of the cemeteries now have contaminated soil, but no graves have been affected.

The front page article headed ?Dumped on our Dead? of today?s edition of Southwark News reports matters slightly differently: - ? Although the majority of the contaminated waste was said to be buried on land earmarked for new graves, some of that discovered at Camberwell Old cemetery was on ancient graves where burial rights no longer applied. When asked how much the alleged scam may be worth in terms of unpaid landfill charges, Anne Sheppard, Southwark Council?s Chief Executive replied ?We are talking about millions.?

Camberwell Old Cemetery runs beside Wood Vale and is designated as a site of nature conservation importance. It is also where Fredrick Horniman, founder of the Horniman Museum, is buried.

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Posts: 61
Joined: Oct 2006
Post: #3
22-01-2009 06:27 PM

What wasn't made clear in the report is that the waste that was dumped in Camberwell New Cemetery is in the new extension next to Honor Oak Station and the Honor Oak Recreation ground close to the children's play area. If Southwark hadn't decided to extend the burial ground in the first place this might never have happened.

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Post: #4
12-02-2009 05:01 PM

I have been thinking about the cause and effect Woody.

You see the dumping didn't start after they extended the cemetery into firstly, a third of Honor Oak Rec, and then the old Nurseries site. It started long before.

Taking new land from parks, or land that was supposed to be turned into a park (the old Nurseries site) to increase the size of the graveyard, never made any sense. Not when they already had a huge area covered by existing, badly maintained cemeteries, which were very expensive to maintain. No other local authority in the country was doing it. The other authorities were all for re-using very old grave spaces, as happens all over the world, to bring in new fees so they could run the cemeteries decently.

But of course if there are people employed by the local authority who are running a potentially murderous criminal racket, using the neglected cemeteries to dump contaminated waste, then those people are not going to want the cemeteries properly run, are they? Because if the cemeteries continue to be used for burials, it's not going to be that easy to use them as dumps. And if there's an extremely well used park next door, people are going to notice the dumping and ask questions. Which I for one did.

Southwark Council (they, and not Lewisham, own Honor Oak Rec) were presented with photographs and a witness account and asked how the dumpers came to have a key to the council's gates to the site. No action was taken to stop it happening and if you were involved at the time, you will be aware of the thuggery that was used against the few people who raised questions like this.

There needs to be a thorough criminal investigation into just how many persons were involved in this, who was on the take, and how much can be recovered from them. And an independent study of what toxicants were dumped - for it appears that not just asbestos, but carcinogens and aromatic hydrocarbons may be involved - chemicals that can trigger all kinds of life-destroying illnesses.

The councillors who let it carry on, should now be carrying the can. They took salaries to represent us and they treated the public with complete contempt. One of those I dealt with at the time is now a government minister and another, God help us, tried to become Mayor of London. They are all doing very nicely.

They were given evidence about the dumping. They were provided with advice about managing the cemeteries properly, as per other local authorities, from a highly regarded expert who had contacted the Friends of Honor Oak Recreation Ground - and if they had taken that advice this would never have happened. Not only did they not act on any of it, they allowed their staff to intimidate the independent expert - they actually threatened him with violence in an attempt to prevent him speaking here. And Southwark Council let them continue in their jobs without any sanction.

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Post: #5
13-02-2009 12:17 AM

Thanks for the additional information.

It prompted me to dig out my papers and having flicked through them it is possible to summarise the history of the Honor Oak Recreation Ground.

1901 Site acquired by Camberwell Borough Council along with adjoining land for burial purposes.

1920s Camberwell New Cemetery opened followed by Honor Oak Crematorium.

1956 to 1995 Six and a half acres at the southern end of the site used as a nursery by Southwark Council. The buildings were demolished in 1998.

1991 Camberwell New Cemetery extended when Southwark take approx. 3.8 acres from the northern end of the Recreation Ground. At the time this was projected to provide enough space to last until 2010. This left eleven acres of Recreation Ground.

November 1996 Southwark decides to take three more acres from the northern end of the Recreation Ground to provide extra burial space. At the same time Southwark begins consultation on the future of the former nursery site. The three options are (A) cleared public open space with grass (B) public park (C ) mixture of private sports club and public sports facility. The deadline for comments is 20 June 1997

April 1999 Southwark launches a further consultation exercise on the future of the former nursery site using Groundwork Southwark.

July 1999 Environmental investigation by Parkman indicates that clean up costs for the former nursery site will be ?362,306.

September 1999 Sketch designs circulated for converting former nursery site to a combination of parkland and a junior football pitch.

11 October 1999 Southwark states that three acres at the northern end of the Recreation Ground will not be absorbed into the cemetery until the old nursery site is rehabilitated and becomes part of the Recreation Ground. Total conversion/reclamation/clean up costs said to be ?892,000. Southwark allocates ?150,000 from 1999 budget and proposes ?350,000 from 2000 budget to pay for this. It applies to English Partnerships for a grant to fund the balance.

December 1999 Application for funding from English Partnerships unsuccessful.

18 April 2000 A meeting of Southwark's Regeneration and Environmental committee resolves that the three acres to be taken from the northern end of the Recreation Ground be used for burials from June 2000. The steering group set up as part of the consultation exercise on the future of the former nursery site is given three days notice of this meeting and has an emergency meeting on 17 April.

By June 2000 It is suggested that the cemetery extension goes on the former nursery site.

17 November 2000 Southwark gives itself planning permission to convert the former nursery site into an extension of the cemetery. Lewisham did not object to this decision. Southwark drops its planning application to take three acres from the northern part of the Recreation Ground.

On reflection the consultation exercise was a complete farce. I can only remember one of the Southwark Councillors who was involved in the consultation meetings. That was Cllr Dominic Thorncroft. The minutes indicate that Cllr Niall Duffy, Cllr Vicki Naish and Cllr Mick Barnard were also involved. The Lewisham Councillor who was most active in trying to look after the interests of Lewisham residents who used the Recreation Ground was Susan Wise.

I didn't realise that the illegal dumping had started before the conversion of the former nursery site began. Similarly I was not aware of the physical intimidation to which you refer.

I did notice the large amounts of spoil being deposited on the site after the conversion began but I naively assumed that this was the result of ground works associated with the creation of the new cemetery. What did concern me was the apparent use of the site as a vehicle depot by a tree felling company but I did not raise this with Southwark.

I am not a great fan of conspiracy theories and so I guess the reason why the nursery site was taken for burials was because Southwark wasn't prepared to fund the ?900k required to pay for the conversion/reclamation/clean up of the nursery site into parkland.

Of course that doesn't address the dumping issue. We can only hope there is a full and transparent enquiry and that Southwark and those responsible are held to account.

Presumably the site will also have to be decontaminated. That is bitterly ironic as it was the cost of decontaminating the site that was a factor in preventing its conversion to parkland in 1999/2000.

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love honor oak park

Posts: 1
Joined: Apr 2009
Post: #6
09-04-2009 11:04 AM

Hello Woody,
Please can we talk. I am local Honor Oak Park resident - set up Honor Oak Park Action Group and now we are forming Friends of Honor Oak park. We are trying to improve our local area and have some good ideas for this site.
Would you be interested in meeting up? many thanks

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Posts: 201
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Post: #7
09-04-2009 12:54 PM

Learnt something new today, I had no idea that Fredrick Horniman, founder of the Horniman Museum, is buried in Camberwell Old Cemetery.

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