Agenda and minutes

West Norwood Cemetery Advisory Group - Wednesday 30 October 2019 5.30 pm

Venue: TH1 - 04 Lambeth Town Hall, Brixton, London, SW2 1RW

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

No. Item


Welcome, Introductions and Declarations of Interest


    The Chair, Professor Bob Flanagan, welcomed all to the meeting and the following declarations of interest were raised:

    ·         Robert Holden had a family interest in five graves; and,

    ·         Jill Dudman was a cremation plot owner.



Minutes of the previous Advisory Group meeting pdf icon PDF 103 KB

    • View the background to item 2.

    To agree the minutes of the West Norwood Cemetery Advisory Group meeting on 12 June 2019.


    RESOLVED: That the minutes of the meeting dated 12 June 2019 be agreed as an accurate record of proceedings.



Minutes of the previous Scheme of Management Committee pdf icon PDF 127 KB


    RESOLVED: That the minutes of the meeting dated 03 July 2019 be noted.


    In discussion it was noted that the Beeton Memorial was back on-site and looked splendid, and the Rose Garden resurfacing was complete. Thanks were offered to the Bereavement Services for initiating and monitoring these projects.  Jill Dudman emphasised that the Maddick Mausoleum handles required replacing, with the interior handles to be used as a template, and the roof was leaking. The Chair noted that the Benjamin Colls Monument (Grade 2) still required remedial work to the bronze bust damaged six years ago during an attempt to steal it. A quote for the repair was deferred to officers to progress. 



Project Manager NLHF Project Update pdf icon PDF 298 KB

    Additional documents:


    Dan Thomas, Programme Manager for Capital Programmes, introduced the report, noting that:

    ·           This report included the submission to NLHF and financial assessment.

    ·           A Project Manager, Preeti Chatwal-Kauffman, had been appointed and brought experience in architecture with conservation to the project. Once she returned from leave she would be managing the plan’s execution and leading on the moderation of tenders to develop submissions to the NLHF into technical packages for construction companies (in conjunction with Professor Flanagan).

    ·           The transfer of elements from the Greek Trust, including St Stephen’s Chapel and boundary wall, had been finalised and the promised financial contribution received. This provided a platform to further develop the project. 

    ·           Cemetery works would start in earnest during November-December 2019.

    ·           The project was on track against timelines, with governance changes to align with the wider strategy to dissolve the SoMC and instigate a partnership board to manage the cemetery being planned. 

    ·           Initial meetings of the Implementation Board and project meetings had occurred and would lead to the development of construction plans.

    ·           The biggest risks were reputational, primarily with respect to potential implications for graves (permissions to extinguish burial rights needed to be resourced accordingly and an additional Bereavements Officer would handle local, community and grave-owning stakeholder concerns); new entrances and their impacts; and, mitigating disruption to the Cemetery operation (requiring decanting of Bereavement Services into temporary accommodation in order to operate a normal cemetery service). 

    ·           Expectation management would commence during work programme phasing and be guided by the construction company; with service contingency plans, including internet and potential Portacabin use.  Plans would be undertaken by consultants, but required Council risk assessment.

    ·           Dan Thomas would discuss governance issues with Kevin Crook and Jacqueline Landy on insurance for the Greek Chapel and enclosure, and would report back to the Advisory Group.

    ·           The Greek Cemetery was not shut to visitors, but had signage notifying dangers and visitors were not encouraged.

    ·           The Project Officer, Hannah Radlowski, would report to the Implementation Board and through Dan Thomas to the MAG and SoMC.

    ·           Joahanne Flaherty’s final activity would be the moderation of current tenders (2), whilst the new Project Manager would tour the Cemetery with the Advisory Group and SoMC Chairs when this could be arranged.

    ·           The Technical Officer Group for the Catacombs included Professor Flanagan, Nicholas Long, Kevin Crook, Jacqueline Landy, and Dan Thomas.

    ·           Provision for an Interpretation Consultant was included in the Bid. The appointee would devise and advise on material presented to public, ensuring good quality, and review alternative ways of presenting information.  The Chair noted that he had largely undertaken this role in the past and that the Friends of West Norwood Cemetery (FoWNC) could provide most of the source material.  Detailed plans and a job description would be brought to the Advisory group at a later date.

    ·           The Chair reiterated his concern on extra entrances, primarily as regards security/theft of monuments and health and safety.  Dan Thomas, the Project Manager and Doug Black would further discuss these matters during a tour  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.


Capital Project Officer Update pdf icon PDF 137 KB


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

    ·           Officers were to meet the arboriculturalist and Professor Flanagan on 08 November 2019 to review priority and urgent works.  It was noted that this work had funding and a contractor, but some work had been outstanding for 10 years or more.  Urgent works included branches touching structures, health and safety issues, the Burges Tomb and monuments with tree growth that threated their integrity.

    ·           Hanna Radlowska, Project Manager, was on long-term leave.

    ·           The Nettlefold Hall wall (between the Library and Cemetery forecourt) was to be rebuilt and made more attractive.  This work was paused on the structural engineer’s advice due to expected disruption and potential impact on Tite Arch, but would become part of major capital works, with funds to be secured.

    ·           Catacomb access would be made safe with reset steps and a handrail.  In discussion, it was noted that conservation permission was not needed and uneven inside flooring would be dealt with at a later date, with enquiries into Catacomb tours highlighting continuing interest.

    ·           The scaffolding would await the Project Manager’s return, but would comprise a half-membrane, half-scaffolding solution.  It was noted that the structural engineer advised against a more robust design on-top of the Catacombs, which would be dealt with under a separate future bid and Kevin Crook had already applied for internal capital funding for longer-term works.  The scaffolding was still required to provide protection from the weather and a blended option was the most cost effective and sensible solution prior to a longer-term investment plan.

    ·           The Catacombs re-opening would be dependent on access, controlled visiting and insurance, and the pre-tendered quantity surveyor estimates would be circulated to attendees.




Operations Update pdf icon PDF 440 KB


    During the discussion of this item, Councillor Sonia Winifred, Cabinet Member for Equalities and Culture, left the meeting at 18:36.


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

    ·           There was to be one last cycle of grass cutting before the winter.

    ·           The conifer removal programme had found it difficult to identify all conifers in need of removal, but was continuing.

    ·           Signs had been procured to attach to memorial trees in need of removal, but there were not records for all specimens.

    ·           Dulwich College working parties comprising 8-10 students would come back in the Spring, concentrating efforts at the front of the Cemetery.

    ·           Five benches were scheduled for removal this year, with the remaining 23 benches to have signs placed to contact the office prior to removal.  The programme should end by December 2020.

    ·           Dustcart difficulties had led to a build-up of waste in the cemetery, but was now resolved and collections would continue.  Two bins had broken frame lines and would be replaced, but not all damaged bins could be replaced due to lack of funds.

    ·           Bereavement Service officers had all received Safety Inspection and Assessment of Memorial (SIAM) training, which meant that all memorials under five feet could be inspected in-house.

    ·           The initial desire was for grave owners to fix memorials, but, in the interim, memorials may need to be laid down or those over five feet screened off.  In discussion, it was noted that memorials thought to be dangerous needed to be flagged in advance with the SoMC. The Chair noted that most of the examples of fallen monuments in the Cemetery were modern installations.

    ·           The two grassland areas left uncut as nature conservation areas had not been agreed and required ratification at the SoMC. The Chair noted that these areas looked unkempt.

    ·           Boxes for swifts were to be installed on the sides of the Crematorium and the lodge.

    ·           Scaffolding had been installed over the Lodge for roof works. 

    ·           Community Payback work continued, and there was now interest in a second payback group.

    ·           The annual ICCM Bereaved Charter assessment had been completed and the Service was working to achieve Gold in both the crematorium and burial categories.

    ·           WNC had been entered into the Cemetery of the Year competition this year and would hear back in November.

    ·           A purchase order was raised for the Capital investment priorities (catafalque and lift), with works to commence in six weeks, but there would be an impact on cremation services.

    ·           An ad hoc gardener had been employed under Kevin Wallace’s management, and would review the areas in the foyer and around the offices. The work would include removal of diseased or damaged plants and maintenance of flower beds once removal of brambles and low tree branches was complete.

    ·           Interserve capital programme works to improve the Crematorium buildings, electrics and behind the Rose Garden were scheduled for completion by 11-16 November, with continued disruption from works and extra vehicles expected.

    ·           War Grave signage was installed at no cost  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.


Shadow Strategic Partnership Board pdf icon PDF 254 KB


    Dan Thomas, Programme Manager for Capital Programmes, noted the Shadow Strategic Partnership Board minutes, which had been included for information and which mirrored the updates provided above.  The Chair noted that the Shadow Board’s terms of references would evolve and were with Legal Services and the SoMC to progress, but until such time as the SoMC was dissolved by Faculty, the MAG and SoMC would continue to monitor and approve all works in the cemetery




NLHF Implementation Board pdf icon PDF 206 KB


    Dan Thomas, Programme Manager for Capital Programmes, introduced the NLHF Implementation Board minutes for information, and noted:

    ·           Heather Lane, NLHF Consultant, was to meet the Advisory Group and SoMC Chairs and tour the Cemetery, with Dan Thomas to organise.

    ·           Thanks were offered to Sir Colin Berry for attending on behalf of FoWNC.

    ·           The NLHF remained highly enthused about developments in the Cemetery.

    ·           It was noted that the Shadow Partnership Board would take a backseat role until the governance of the cemetery had been altered by Faculty.