Protest Over Cemetery Manager Eviction
Supporters of a Southampton cemetery manager who's being made redundant after 26 years are planning to protest outside the city council today (August 23rd August).
60-year-old Jim Emery also faces losing his four-bedroom house at the entrance to Hollybrook Cemetery that came with the job.
The council says he's been offered four other jobs which he turned down so will get a redundancy payout and a pension and he's also been offered a flat.
Southampton City Council's cabinet member for environment and resources issued a statement.
Councillor Asa Thorpe said: "Two things are not in dispute in this case; firstly that Mr Emery has had a long and dedicated career with the council, and secondly that his job as cemeteries superintendent came with a lovely four-bedroom detached house at a nominal rent.
"But beyond that, I'm afraid this whole campaign is misguided.
"No one is being put out on the street, and we have offered Mr Emery four alternative jobs to avoid redundancy. He turned them down, as is his right, and so is set to walk away on 5 October with a lump sum, a local government pension and a redundancy payment.
"The Emerys told us they had very specific re-housing requirements, and this week we made them an offer on a two bedroom flat in the area they prefer, with room for their dog, and parking. It ticks all the boxes they asked for, but it can't be held for them indefinitely.
"Councillors and officers are showing every sensitivity to the Emerys, but the fact is, what they are asking for would be very unfair to others.
"It's a sad fact of life that times change and to plug our budget deficit, the council has had to look at smarter, more modern ways of working to offer better value for money for our council taxpayers. This job simply doesn't exist any more, and that decision was made nearly a year ago.
"As for the Lodge, of course Mr Emery has become attached to this house, but he always knew that when the job ended, the tied tenancy would as well.
"His supporters want a special case to be made to allow Mr Emery to stay on at the Lodge, but how are we supposed to explain this to the 7,500 families on our housing list that need a family home?
"As a council, we need to balance the needs of council staff at risk of redundancy, council tenants and would-be tenants, and tax payers. Mr Emery's supporters don't have the full picture.
"We cannot ignore our obligations."