A row has broken out over the future of Highgate Cemetery which has led to fears the burial ground could become a “Disneyland of Death”.
An argument has erupted over the election of new trustees to The Friends of Highgate Trust to oversee the famous grounds where Karl Marx and George Eliot are buried.
It has been claimed the group is looking to attract more business brains over community minded volunteers as it looks to generate more cash from visitors.
The Camden New Journal reported tensions were further raised this week when one of the cemetery’s “protectors”, who act as a watchdog to the trustees, resigned after she wrote a critical letter.
Janet Wolf is believed to have told the volunteer group there was a “growing emphasis on the cemetery as a tourist attraction, with a constant drive to increase visitor numbers and visitor income. We are on the way to becoming a theme park”.
Sam Perrin, a former guide at the cemetery and member of the friends group, said the elections had become like “the next series of The Apprentice” due to the importance given to corporate skills.
She said: “It wouldn’t surprise me if, in the future, the cemetery ends up a Disneyland of Death,” the paper reported.
Chief executive of the group Ian Dungavell dismissed comparisons the cemetery would be run as a theme park.
He told the Camden New Journal: “There’s a lot of things we don’t do that other cemeteries do. We don’t do anything at Halloween to bring people here. We don’t do spooky ghost walks.
“If people are looking for Disneyland here, they are going to be very disappointed.”
The elections are due to take place later this month.
Financial pressure has increased on the cemetery because of the number of people choosing to be cremated instead of being buried, meaning it is increasingly reliant on money from visitors.
Dungavell told the newspaper: “If you step back from the internal politics, it can be said there is a success story at Highgate.
“People have strong views but we don’t get any money from the local authority, which is thankful because local authority budgets have been reduced in austerity but it means we are reliant on income from visitors, burials and donations.”
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