Agenda and minutes

West Norwood Cemetery Advisory Group - Wednesday 17 October 2018 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 Declaration of Interest

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    The Chair briefly discussed the Advisory Group terms of reference and roles (see Annex 1), with Democratic Services to check on attendees and report back to the Chair. In summary, all positions were by nomination from external organisations except those of ‘regular visitors to the cemetery’ (two). The Group had adopted an open policy of facilitating comment by all attendees, but some form of selection to these roles may have to be considered in future.


    The Chair next 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;

    ·         Jill Dudman was a cremation plot owner; and,

    ·         Nicholas Long was a grave owner.



Election of the Chair and Vice-Chair

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    To agree on the election of the Chair and Vice-Chair of the West Norwood Cemetery Advisory Group.


    The Clerk conducted the election of the Chairs.


    RESOLVED: To elect Professor Robert Flanagan as Chair of the West Norwood Cemetery Advisory Group for 2018/19.


    RESOLVED: To elect Councillor Ben Kind as Vice-Chair of the West Norwood Cemetery Advisory Group for 2018/19.


    The Group thanked Dr Brent Elliott, who had served as Vice-Chair since the Advisory Group’s inception, for his hard work and commitment to the Cemetery.



Minutes of Previous Joint Meeting of the West Norwood Cemetery Advisory Group and Scheme of Management Committee (01 August 2018) pdf icon PDF 182 KB

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    To agree the minutes of the meeting held on 01 August 2018.



    RESOLVED: That the minutes of the meeting dated 01 August 2018 be agreed as an accurate record of proceedings. 



Minutes of the Previous Scheme of Management Committee (21 August 2018) pdf icon PDF 103 KB

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    To agree the minutes of the meeting held on 01 August 2018.


    RESOLVED: That the minutes of the meeting dated 21 August 2018 be noted.


Project Manager HLF Project Update pdf icon PDF 175 KB

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    Additional documents:


    Dan Thomas, Programme Manager for Capital Programmes, introduced the report and responded to questions as below:

    ·           The HLF Bid had been submitted on 01 September 2018 and was currently being assessed, with a meeting on 02 November 2018 for supplementary questions and site visit.

    ·           The £7m HLF Bid would concentrate on monument conservation, paths and drainage, a visitor centre, and potential new entrances.  Planning application notices had been put up locally.

    ·           Planning permission for St Stephen’s monument repair had been approved, but permissions for the Visitor Centre, St Stephen’s Chapel access and the proposed entrances were outstanding.

    ·           Planning were asking for an impact assessment of additional traffic generated as a result of the HLF Bid and potential second entrance, and although officers believed this was low risk, proof was needed that plans would not unduly inconvenience the local population.  Initial assessments showed increased footfall within tolerance, increased parking at a second entrance was thought to be a minor risk, and funerals and cremations would not unduly increase from a successful HLF Bid.

    ·           In addition, Planning had added conditions regarding disabled access and cycle-parking provision outside each entrance; but formal conditions were still being awaited.

    ·           Faculty had been received on the conservation of monuments in the consecrated area.

    ·           Officers would circulate HLF feedback to members of the MAG and SoMC once received.

    ·           The Friends of West Norwood Cemetery (FoWNC) would contribute an additional £20,000 towards overall costs.

    ·           Once funds had been secured, officers would draft a Communications message and provide further detail on plans, and would seek MAG/SoMC advice on these.  It was also noted that communication would acknowledge the input of partners and the FoWNC.

    ·           Dan Thomas was asked to continue planning for five monoliths at the main entrance (with four on the Cemetery’s history and a fifth providing HLF bid updates).

    ·           During December to January (formal HLF hearing) officers would proceed to draft a procurement strategy and continue recruitment to deliver on the Bid commitments.  This meant that work could start immediately upon the Bid’s outcome.


    The Advisory Group thanked officers for their efforts and for the successful submission of the Bid.




Capital Project Officer Update pdf icon PDF 211 KB

    • View the background to item 6.

    Additional documents:


    Dan Thomas, Programme Manager for Capital Programmes, gave the following responses to questions:

    ·           The appendix (agenda pack, page 41) detailed the railings near the Library/Visitor Centre planning application, and officers were looking to procure a company to install the railings after planning approval.

    ·           Officers were taking advice from Harrison Design on railings and would confirm that they would match the spice colour and design of current railings.

    ·           Resources to replace the Catacomb’s scaffolding ‘cap’ was available and structural engineers (Connisbee) had been asked to cost options, which were awaited.

    ·           The current scaffolding did not meet regulations, was not safe and was beyond planning remit.

    ·           It was important not to lose sight of what structure would go over the Catacombs, and that this would form part of a HLF Bid in the future.

    ·           Concern was raised that a member of the public had sought to informally obtain scaffolding works costings and noted that this should have been done by officers. It was requested that those concerned in future seek advice and properly challenge officers, and not seek to obtain competitive estimates themselves.  Additionally, it appeared the member of the public was enquiring around the incorrect nature of the scaffolding.

    ·           Kevin Crook would provide detail on the Catacombs’ health and safety works, including access.

    ·           The reinstatement of regular Catacombs tours would be pending the resolution of health and safety issues and of concerns over the security of the Catacombs and contents.

    ·           Jill Dudman would compile evidence of Catacombs tour requests.

    ·           Work on the Letts and Thomas Monuments was on track to be completed by December, with Sally Strachey Conservation on site, and would be beneficial to the HLF Bid. FoWNC were planning to fund the carving of a replacement lamb to replace that stolen some years ago.

    ·           Attendees asked that detail on the repair to the Talford Memorial be provided.

    ·           Officers had requested the Diocese to amend the Faculty on the Letts Monument intervention due to damage to the coffins which was not apparent on initial inspection prior to opening the vault.

    ·           The Thomas vault was in better condition and restoration would proceed as planned, with two coffin plates to be kept in the proposed museum in the Visitor Centre.

    ·           These two restorations were useful exercises for future planned vault rebuilds and resolved outstanding health and safety issues, including the need to block wildlife access to open vaults.

    ·           It was requested that tree maintenance be added to the Capital Programme/Project Briefing for the next meeting.

    ·           The planting of new trees would be structured according to the 1837 planting scheme and appropriate to the Cemetery.  The last tree plantings were memorial trees, which were not properly controlled and may in time be removed when they are out of tenure.

    ·           Councillor Kind added that the Forestry Commission could provide free trees and details would be provided to the Project Manager.



Operational Update pdf icon PDF 362 KB

    • View the background to item 7.


    Jacqueline Landy, Bereavement Services Manager, introduced the report and responded to questions as below:

    ·           Out-of-contract memorial bench removal continued with a further removal next week and resumption of the programme in 2019.

    ·           Scrub clearance would continue throughout the winter, concentrating behind the Greek Enclosure.

    ·           Grounds Maintenance could remove trees under 5ft in height and were now certificated to use herbicides to kill stumps.

    ·           Lambeth had a dedicated tree officer, with City and Suburban contracted as necessary to remove trees. There was a small allocated budget under Parks.

    ·           Tree maintenance was c.40 years behind schedule and included memorial and self-set trees.

    ·           There was likely a greater risk to the public from trees than memorials, which also posed a threat to surrounding structures.

    ·           Leaf and litter collection was every Tuesday, with Dulwich College students given weekly direction.

    ·           Bereavement Services were working with the Capital Programmes team on a replacement Crematorium Catafalque/lift, and were also collecting quotes and undertaking a feasibility study for Johnston Memorial next to Spurgeon’s tomb (with family contact once three quotes were received).

    ·           A mechanical grave digger for use across all three cemeteries was being purchased.

    ·           A solution for broken signage was being sourced. An offsite local company had been drafted to fix them, and incident reports would be drafted to deduce what had happened.

    ·           There was an EFB outbreak in South London, but the inspector had found no issues with the bees at the Cemetery.

    ·           The CCTV near Robson Road would be installed over the next week.

    ·           It was hoped to move the Bereavement Services technician who uses the mess hut into the Crematorium mess room, and potentially to use the north-east corner as burial space.

    ·           An electric charge point had been installed and was awaiting activation in a bay across from the Cemetery Office for the new Bereavement Services electric car, but would also be available for public use and could generate some income.

    ·           Staffing levels were detailed (agenda pack, page 46) with one supervisor starting in August and two technicians’ team vacancies advertised today.  In all, a full complement was expected by Christmas.