Families warned ‘don’t die during the Olympics’
09:53 08 February 2012
Churches and funeral directors in Newham are warning residents not to die during the Olympics as conducting a funeral under proposed traffic restrictions could prove impossible.
Canon John Williams, rector of St Saviour’s Church in Forest Gate said: “You better warn your readers that they can’t die in August because we have nowhere to put them.
“I mean, it’s absolutely ridiculous. People want to be buried in the place where they worship, we can’t just send them to another church.” St Saviours’ congregation includes those who have moved as far out as Deptford and Chelmsford, leading Canon Williams to predict dwindling numbers of worshippers during the Games.
He added: “My main concern is chiefly the Sunday mornings when our congregation will be entirely disrupted. In that respect, I really think the Olympics are restricting people’s civil liberties...the freedom to worship.”
T.Cribbs and Sons, who cary out horse-drawn funeral processions from their Beckton base, dread the congestion brought about by 30 dedicated Games Lanes.
Funeral director John Harris said: “I would ask people that if you’re going to die, you’d better do it before the Games or try and hang on till afterwards.
“I don’t see why people in Newham should be inconvenienced if they lose somebody just because some dignitary needs to get to the Games on time.”
He added: “The answer we got back from Newham Council was that we’ll ‘just have to plan ahead’. You cannot legislate for funerals and if people want to be buried in a family grave, you can’t pick another cemetery, you have no other choice.
“I am not confident they are going to approach this sensibly. We were told to use alternative parking in the area but it’s too far away from our office and you can’t wheel coffins around the streets.”
Newham Council said they intend to contact residents and businesses in due course to minimise disruption during the Games.
A spokesman for Newham Council added: “They will also receive information on how to register for virtual permits and visitors’ permits from LOCOG which will enable them and their visitors to park in the borough. In addition, to enable residents to hold events such as christenings, weddings and funerals, Newham Council will be identifying a special parking process.”