East London funeral directors’ fears for Olympics

With the Olympics just days away, funeral directors in east London have repeated their concerns about being able to carry out their duties during the Games.

Many are worried that they will have problems parking or will be fined if they stop in restricted areas. They have also expressed concerns that there will be delays due to congestion on the roads as vehicles are restricted to fewer lanes as others are set aside as Games lanes.

Stan Kemp, from the Society of Independent Funeral Directors, an organisation that represents some 900 firms in east London, said: “There is no direct assistance to funeral directors to enable us to carry out funerals without possible delays due to traffic conditions.

“We are only asking for permission to use the Olympic lanes for actual Funeral vehicles (Hearses, Limousines & Ambulances) and we would advise mourners that private vehicles would not be allowed to follow us in the lanes.

“We also want assurances that if called on to remove a deceased person from a private address on the routes we would be allowed to park

and not receive a penalty fine.

“We are also aware that road blocks will be placed where vehicles and contents will be checked and while we are all aware of the need for

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security, we feel that having to have our vehicles opened in public is disrespectful to the deceased and also to passers by who would be able

to see the contents.”

Mr Kemp said the issue was a particular concern for firms in east London as the area has four main Cemeteries/Crematoriums: The City of London, Aldersbrook Road in Manor Park; Manor Park Cemetery/Crematorium, Sebert Road, Forest Gate; The East London Cemetery/Crematorium, Hermit Road Plaistow and St. Patricks Catholic Cemetery, Langthorne Road, Leytonstone.

A spokesman for LOCOG said: “For the last four years, we have involved churches and others across all nine faith communities in the Interfaith network. We set up a LOCOG Faith Reference Group at the time, and we have run through our plans with them and discussed this there.

“As a result of these meetings, TfL is circulating a map with a list of faith buildings for representatives to check and add to where necessary along the ORN and work out areas affected and the impact on their activities. The next stage will then be to engage locally and consult on the impacts. At the request of the representatives, TfL will ensure that Funeral Directors in the areas affected are consulted.”

Ben Plowden, Director of Planning at TfL Surface Transport, said: “TfL has worked with more than 20,000 companies of all types and sizes, including funeral directors across London, to help them prepare for Games-time travel. We will continue to offer advice and guidance as required to help businesses understand the temporary changes on the road network and plan ahead to minimise how they will be affected.

“The ORN is a requirement of all Olympic Host Cities and is necessary to ensure all athletes, officials and media can get to their events on time. We’re working hard to minimise the impact on Londoners and businesses and to keep the capital moving.

“To avoid delay and disruption, all road users should plan ahead using all the tools, tips and travel information at GetAheadoftheGames.com.”

He said the physical measures along the ORN will be in place throughout the Games, but the Games lanes, in place on only a third of the ORN alongside lanes for general traffic will generally be operational between 6am and midnight to get the athletes, officials and media to their events on time.

Mr Plowden said they would operate the Games lanes as flexibly as possible. They will be opened up to all traffic at times when demand from Games family vehicles is low and capacity available. A network of around 150 variable message signs along the route will tell motorists when Games lanes are open to regular traffic throughout the day.

*The ORN will be in place on 109 miles, or one per cent of London’s roads.

*Games lanes will only be in place on a third of that.

*The ORN will be operational from July 25, a couple of days before the Games begin and will end a couple of days after.

*It will not be in operation between the Olympics and Paralympics. The smaller Paralympic Route Network will also come into operation just a couple of days before the Paralympic Games begin. Once Games events are completed at a venue and the route is not required, the ORN will be removed.