Agenda and minutes

West Norwood Cemetery Advisory Group - Wednesday 6 February 2019 5.30 pm

Venue: Room 1-04, Lambeth Town Hall, Brixton Hill, London, SW2 1RW

Contact: David Rose, Democratic Services, 0207 926 1037, Email:  Democratic Services Officer

No. Item


Welcome, introductions and declarations of interest


    The Chair welcomed all to the meeting and the following declarations of interest were raised:

    ·         Robert Holden had a family interest and a potential right to burial in five graves; and,

    ·         Jill Dudman was a cremation plot owner.




Minutes of Previous Advisory Group Meeting pdf icon PDF 105 KB

    • View the background to item 2.

    To agree the minutes of the meeting held on 17 October 2018.


    RESOLVED: That the minutes of the meeting dated 17 October 2018 be agreed as an accurate record of proceedings.




Minutes of the previous Scheme of Management Committee pdf icon PDF 100 KB

    To agree the minutes of the meeting held on 07 November 2018.



    RESOLVED: That the minutes of the meeting dated 07 November 2018 be agreed as an accurate record of proceedings.




Project Manager HLF Project Update pdf icon PDF 170 KB


    Thanks were offered to the Advisory Group, Scheme of Management Committee (SoMC), operational team, and officers for delivering a successful Development Bid, noting that this had been a long-held ambition of the community, councillors and officers. Advisory Group members also noted the thanks from grave owners, the local community, and the Norwood Planning Assembly to make these developments possible.  The £4.6m award from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and further Council and the Friends of West Norwood Cemetery (FoWNC) funding would allow delivery of plans including: monument restoration; a visitor facility; St Stephen’s Chapel repairs; infrastructure works; and potential additional entrances.


    Dan Thomas, Programme Manager for Capital Programmes, introduced the report and noted:

    ·           A re-initiation meeting was needed with the HLF to ensure the correct governance was in place, finalise the budget and works to be completed, and reform the development phase project team into a detailed design and delivery team.

    ·           A detailed programme would be produced over the next 3-6 months, accompanied by web presence and messages from the design and delivery team to the local population, including development of the Activities Plan.

    ·           The building programme would commence from February/April 2020-21.

    ·           A progress update and cashflow analysis would be provided to the next meeting.

    ·           It was agreed that a formal Project Manager post was needed to oversee the consultants.  Delivery work and would sit within Lambeth’s Major Projects team, so that the Council retained oversight and could provide knowledge of Lambeth governance and project management requirements. 

    ·           External consultants would be needed to provide specialist expertise as regards cemetery heritage and architecture.

    ·           Councillors Kind and Elliott voiced their personal preferences to expand an in-house team, which could inject and maintain passion into the project, were responsive to issues, and would ensure minimum of turnover in the role.  However, officers noted that an internally-appointed Project Manager would not have the necessary heritage and cemetery expertise.

    ·           The Project Manager role would be funded for a four-day a week appointment, but the successful applicant would be substantively associated with the project and at certain points would likely be employed on a five-day week contract.

    ·           Whilst the project would be disruptive to the cemetery, the emphasis was on a continuity of bereavement services.

    ·           Officers would report back on the Project Manager selection, planned works and the Cemetery’s services, project delivery, and on associated staffing.

    ·           There would be several roles associated with project to ensure success, including:

    o    Programme Manager;

    o    Public Engagement officer;

    o    Activities Coordinator to ensure consistent volunteering; and,

    o    Transition Manager during construction of the Visitor Centre to ensure activities, volunteers and normal service continued (visitor management).

    ·           The project planning group would act as a supervisory group to ensure accountability.

    ·           Officers were aware of and were in contact with Brompton Cemetery following their recent works.




Capital Investment Update pdf icon PDF 578 KB


    Dan Thomas, Programme Manager for Capital Programmes, noted the report and provided the following responses to questions:

    ·           The Letts and Thomas Memorials had been completed and provided much learning to be applied to other monuments and it was hoped that future restoration work would not be as intrusive.  It was noted that the Letts vault had collapsed completely and Thomas vault was intact to 23ft, but the coffin plates had not been recovered.  In addition, the removal of its railings at some point in the past had caused unnecessary and unsightly damage to the Thomas monument.

    ·           It was planned to improve the access to the Catacombs.

    ·           Detailed investigative work to review replacements and upgrades to the Catacomb, and to provide cost estimates, was due in April and options would be provided following this assessment. 

    ·           There was improved access to the back of the Catacombs since scrub clearance work in that part of the Cemetery.

    ·           A health and safety assessment of the Catacombs as regards visitors had been commissioned.

    ·           There remained a question whether Catacomb repairs required Faculty approval.

    ·           The Catacombs roof was not part of HLF envelope and no essential works would take place until the long-term strategy was in place and value for money had been assured; whilst the frequency of scaffolding inspection needed to be ascertained.




Operational Update pdf icon PDF 925 KB


    Jacqueline Landy, Bereavement Services Manager; and Doug Black, Design and Conservation Manager, introduced the report and responded to questions as below:

    ·           The bench programme had removed all old and decaying benches from the Cemetery.

    ·           Grass cutting had stopped due to the weather, but would begin again in early March.

    ·           Scrub clearance for 11 squares had been completed, with three more listed monuments were accessible.

    ·           The conifer removal programme was continuing, with letters sent to grave owners to remove unauthorised trees.  It was noted that these trees had been planted by members of the public and some specimens were growing over headstones and graves.

    ·           The Chair had met with Lambeth’s tree officer to coordinate urgent works, with some money available from the Capital Programme, noting the imminent removal of a tree by the Burges Monument and another specimen near St Stephen’s Chapel.  A detailed survey to be undertaken in the autumn would hold a digital map of some 500 trees, many of which needed removal or were at risk of shedding branches. The Chair would provide the Tree officer with the Landscape Management Survey to help locate the old oaks in the Cemetery.

    ·           Current volunteer working parties were restricted to pupils from Dulwich College. 

    ·           Grounds Maintenance and Community Payback teams continued to remove branches and pick litter.

    ·           The Capital Cemetery Investment priorities had seen work commissioned for the Johnston Memorial and discussions were in progress over replacing the Crematorium catafalque.

    ·           A grave excavator across Lambeth’s three cemeteries had been bought, but had not yet been delivered.

    ·           There was still no update on the facilities management/Interserve capital programme.  Officers would report back to attendees at the next meeting, including on Interserve’s financial viability.

    ·           Some of the Cemetery’s signage had been replaced, with a quote for further potential signage being requested.  The same fonts and imagery as the existing signage would be kept.

    ·           CCTV had been installed by the huts in the north east corner of the cemetery and was operational.

    ·           The Bereavement Service team now had filled the Supervisor post and one of two technician posts was also filled, with another vacancy to be filled over coming months.

    ·           The Cemeteries Maintenance team had changed its four seasonal posts to two full-time positions and one apprentice had been successful in taking a post.

    ·           Officers were currently awaiting an update from Deceased Online as to the digitisation of the cemetery records.

    ·           The red brick dwarf walls around the Crematorium were broken and needed repair.  The Chair noted that these walls should not be there and had been put in by previous management without consultation.  Further discussion would take place once further information was available from Tolu Fatogbe, Head of Operations for Property Services; but it was noted that the current walls did limit the possibility of vehicles reversing into monuments.