Row over Paddington Cemetery reignites as workers seen wearing protective clothing
PUBLISHED: 12:59 13 April 2018
Kilburn’s most outspoken councillor is accusing the town hall of a graveside “cover up” after contractors clearing supposedly safe soil were photographed wearing protective breathing masks.
Former waste enforcement worker Cllr John Duffy (Lab) says questions still linger over trace amounts of asbestos found at Paddington Cemetery.
Brent Council has consistently maintained the cemetery in Willesden Lane is safe, with very low levels of asbestos similar to those in “any back garden in London”, although it has cleared the affected soil anyway to reassure the public, and introduced new tests for soil being added to the graveyard in future.
But last week Cllr Duffy, who has been deselected from the Labour Party over the issue, took photographs of specialists working with protective gear and breathing masks at a contaminated mound.
He claimed to have seen workers at the site on June 24 last year working without the same apparatus, despite asbestos having been found six weeks earlier. But the town hall denied this, telling the Times on Tuesday: “Staff have been provided with and have worn the appropriate clothing.”
At the time contractors spotted what they thought was asbestos at two grave sites on May 9, 2017, Brent Council had been building a new burial mound from soil arriving from other Brent-run cemeteries. Cllr Duffy claims asbestos was found at one, Carpenders Park, in 2015, but the council said it was “not been possible to identify how and when the extremely low level of asbestos got into the soil at Paddington Old Cemetery in the first place” because there had been “several movements of soil over many years”.
Of the apparent discrepancy in the equipment worn by workers in June last year and April this year, Cllr Duffy added: “I believe the workforce has been put in danger.”
But handed a list of Cllr Duffy’s claims, Brent Council said it had “addressed these issues previously, publishing all relevant reports on our website, being fully transparent and open”. A timeline detailing the council’s version of events has been uploaded to the council website.
A town hall spokesman reiterated that the levels of asbestos eventually found in the soil “do not represent any risk to visitors to the cemetery”.