Hampstead Cemetery saved from closure as volunteers step in for stretched council services

Hughes attacke his victim in Hampstead Cemetery, in Fortune Green Road

Hughes attacke his victim in Hampstead Cemetery, in Fortune Green Road - Credit: Archant

Hampstead Cemetery has been saved from closure as volunteers have stepped in to run stretched council services.

The cemetery was set to close today (Wednesday, April 22) following incidents of anti-social behaviour and a rise in burials and cremations during the coronavirus pandemic.

However, Islington and Camden Cemetery Services (ICSS) has now u-turned after The Friends of Hampstead Cemetery (FHC) agreed to help manage the site.

The news follows government advice over the weekend calling for cemeteries to remain open.

Fortune Green councillor Lorna Russell said: “The ICCS’s sudden decision to close Hampstead Cemetery last week was extremely disappointing for the community, who have been relying on the green space to get their much needed bout of daily exercise in.

“We have been working tirelessly with residents and Camden officers behind the scenes and I’m really pleased to say that we have found a solution to keep the cemetery open.

“This means that residents will continue to be able to access this vital lifeline during this difficult period.

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“I want to give a special thanks to the Friends of Hampstead Cemetery group who are coordinating local volunteers to open and close the cemetery each day.

“Without them it would not be possible to keep the cemetery open.”

Under the new ‘short-term’ arrangements, Hampstead Cemetery will open with revised hours, from 7.30am to 4pm.

Islington and St Pancras Cemetery in East Finchley will open on Saturday (April 25).

Islington Council’s environment lead Rowena Champion said:“I know how hard this has been for mourners wanting to visit the graves of their loved ones in our cemeteries, at this very difficult time.

“Our top priority during this global health emergency must be to ensure that our cemeteries are safe.

“I’m pleased we’ve been able to introduce new measures to allow us to re-open cemeteries in a way which protects mourners and our critical staff.”

Fortune Green resident Jill Henry thanked FHC and local councillors Flick Rea and Lorna Russell, adding: “The cemetery is currently a lifeline to people in the area who take their daily exercise walking there.

“It is such a relief that it will remain open.”