A petittion designed to prevent the privatisation of Bretby Crematorium is likely to attract 3,300 signatures, one of its organisers has predicted.
Kevin Richards, leader of the opposition Labour group on South Derbyshire District Council, said the total will have been realised despite less than a full day’s campaigning.
“I think we will hit 3,300 signatures, which is not bad saying all we’ve done is collect petitions over a 23-hour period,” he said.
“The response has been absolutely phenomenal.
It’s the best I’ve known for many years. It’s a good show.” The petition was launched in response to the revelation that the Geary Lane crematorium, owned by the district council and East Staffordshire Borough Council, may be sold to Midlands Co-op for £8 million.
Opponents believe the move is not only unnecessary, as they claim the crematorium has provided a successful public service for years, but fear it would result in increased charges and the destruction of grounds used to scatter ashes.
They hope their petition will persuade council leaders to change their minds, including those who will determine the district council’s position when they meet in secret on Thursday.
In a bid to generate as much pressure as possible, Councillor Richards and his fellow campaigners began collecting on March 5 with a three-hour stint in Swadlincote High Street, and repeated the effort a week later while also gathering signatures for three hours outside Morrisons, in Coppice Side.
The team followed up its effort on Saturday with three-hour initiatives in High Street and outside Morrisons, combined with a seven-hour marathon outside Sainsbury’s.
“It’s not a political thing,” Councillor Richards said. “We’ve discussed it with people from all parties and supporters of all parties have signed it.” The crucial issue, he claimed, was the uncertainty privatisation would generate.
Yesterday, barely 48 hours before the petition ended, he said the number of signatories was ‘moving towards 3,000, if not above’.
Councillor Richards said the figure did not include the number who had added their names online or those who had signed up at funeral director J Hylton and Sons.
Asked if he thought the petition would work, he said: “I hope it does.
“Bearing in mind the hours it’s taken to do it, the amount of people who have been prepared to sign it, the others who have searched the net to find the electronic version, and the strength of feeling regardless of political persuasion, then if the politicians don’t listen after all that, let it be on their heads.”
Councillor Richards encouraged people to sign before the deadline.
The names will be handed to John Harrison, chairman of the district council’s finance and management committee, 24 hours later.