Present: Anne Orange (chair), Helen O'Brien, Bernie Bullbrook, James Slattery-Kavanagh, Pat Fisher, Jane Pickard, Clover Williams, Simon Berlyn, Rod Brown, Ann Ridley, Richared Moore, Coun Geraldine Evans, Luke Wickings (vicar of St Luke's).
Apologies: Michael Grimwood, Coun Robert McConnell, Coun Jeremy Baker, Coun Janet Grigg, Gerry and Daphne Slaughter.
Minutes and Matters Arising from Previous Meeting
James Slattery Kavanagh said he didn't make the comment on existing designs for St Luke's Gardens. With that deletion, the minutes were agreed. It was also noted that the "NAG tree" - a Judas Tree - had been planted with others in a tree-planting event by Friends of Norwood Park. *Later in the meeting, when Gerry Evans had arrived, but Simon Berlyn had left, Gerry said she did not understand Simon Berlyn's reference to her not bringing plans about St Julian's field to a partnership board sub-group meeting. She had not attended such a meeting. It was agreed to delete the reference as it was ambiguous.
St Luke's Gardens
Luke Wickings, who had been invited as chair of the St Luke's Gardens steering group to update people on progress, summarised the group's activities in its two years of existence. He presented a written progress report and showed the report drawn up for presentation to the Heritage Lottery Fund, which had, however, given little hope of being able to fund the project. The report described the gardens as in a poor state of repair and included old photos showing the railings and gates. Both NAG and the church had decided they wanted to reinstate the railings in keeping with the architecture. The pillars were listed so something had to go between them. The garden also needed new paths and plants and better disabled access to the church. It had been dedicated in 1949 as a war memorial garden. It also contained burials which limited the digging which could be done. But Luke said he didn't feel the cross pattern of the paths and flower-beds was important. The group now needed designs for consultation and a project manager. Some group members had met councillors the previous week to discuss funding for this.
Jane Pickard, a steering group member, said that since the meeting with councillors, the Area Committee had agreed £2,500 to help pay for the architect to draw up initial designs.
Simon Berlyn, group secretary, said it was regrettable that his proposal for fund-raising wasn't taken up. The group needed someone with knowledge of fund-raising to move the project forward. If we had a design but no clear way of going forward with it, we were no better off. We'd had 90% thumbs down from the lottery fund and the only hope now was to roll the gardens into a wider church project.
Luke said the church had appointed a new architect to look at the church restoration work, so a joint project might be possible. Richard said Coun Robert McConnell knew someone who was a professional fund-raiser. James Slattery-Kavanagh asked why the church had allowed the gardens to get into this state in the first place, when the grounds of other churches were maintained by parishioners. Luke said it had been the council's responsibility to maintain it and it wasn't a question of just going out and mowing the lawn. The parishioners needed around £500,000 just to keep the church standing and had already spent hundreds of thousands on the church. It wasn't worth doing much on the gardens now, if there was going to be major work in a year or two.
Luke also pointed out that, in terms of their visual impact, the gardens were a focal point for the whole of West Norwood. It wasn't just about the church. If they were given a facelift, it would really lift the whole appearance of the town centre. If both the church and gardens were looking good - which could include floodlighting the church - it would improve civic pride. He rejected a suggestion that the church take the land back from the council, as it would not help matters.
Simon Berlyn added that he had contacted the council's new conservation officer, Michael Copeman, who was very supportive of the project.
Richard proposed we thank Luke and the group for the work they had done and that NAG approved of the church restoration. Agreed. (Luke then left the meeting)
Election for St Luke's Steering Group
The following people volunteered or were nominated: Simon Berlyn, Bernie Bullbrook, Pat Fisher, Richard Moore, Jane Pickard, Clover Williams, Jim Williams. Anne Orange was nominated but withdrew as she is on the group as a nominee of St Luke's Church. Jim Williams was nominated in his absence since he had done a lot for the steering group but his present status appeared to be as a co-optee.
Simon Berlyn listed his contributions as secretary of the steering group. He said he initiated the idea of restoring the railings and had been instrumental in drawing NAG and St Luke's together around a list of agreed objectives. He had got the architectural historian John Brushe to attend the steering group and give advice as well as Robert Bargery of the Georgian Group. He initiated the meeting with the Heritage Lottery Fund and had communicated with architects, as well as carrying out the administration of the group with minutes and agendas.
After a ballot, counted by Gerry Evans as a non-member, it was declared that the following were elected: Bernie Bullbrook, Pat Fisher, Richard Moore, Jane Pickard and Jim Williams. Clover Williams had missed being elected by one vote and it was agreed she would be deemed elected if any of the others pulled out. As Simon had left the meeting for another meeting before the counting was finished, it was agreed to send him a letter of thanks.
Both James Slattery-Kavanagh and Jane Pickard had been in contact with members of the Dulwich Society. James said they seemed surprisingly ignorant of NAG. Jane said that they couldn't tell her much about their Civic Trust membership, but had told her of a London Forum of amenity groups affiliated to the Civic Trust, but neither she nor Anne had been able to attend the one taking place in November. However, she would keep in touch and hope to attend the next one, as it was round the corner from her office in central London.
Richard Moore said he had heard of some legal advice being given which could have the effect of putting limits on grants to unincorporated voluntary bodies. Thousands of groups like NAG all over the country could be affected. It might mean NAG should consider becoming a company limited by guarantee, or a registered charity or similar. JP suggested we wait to see if there was a problem before taking action.
Anne Orange suggested we get a speaker from the Civic Trust and attend the next meeting of the London Forum. Richard also suggested we write to Norwood and Dulwich Societies pointing out cross-border issues and exploring the exchange of minutes and other information.
Any Other Business
1. Crime in Norwood High Street. Richard Moore said a local shopkeeper had been repeatedly threatened, racially abused and attacked by a group of youngsters. Both Richard and others had called the police 10 times in total about this group and a housing official had threatened anti-social behaviour orders (asbos) against four of them. But Richard said that although the police would like to arrest, they felt politically they couldn't: that the community safety unit wouldn't want to see arrests take place. But asbos didn't seem to be happening either.
Clover Williams, who lives near the shop, said the local tenants association was also pressurising the police and council over this group. There were some people in her community who felt they were above the law. But residents were giving up on the police and feeling they had to deal with the abuse themselves.
Coun Gerry Evans said asbos were on the rise. She was concerned to hear about the politicisation of the police and was meeting with the councillor responsible for community safety.
JP asked for clarification: were people saying that the police were reporting that they would not arrest young black people? If this was the case, why were the pages of the South London Press full of reports of trials which in many cases involved black people?
Bernie Bullbrook said there was considerable pressure among borough commanders, which filtered down, that you had to walk a careful line in Lambeth because of things that happened 20 years ago. He felt a lot of misinformation was put out.
RM said there were no officers in the council dedicated to enforcing asbos. Gerry Evans said she had told residents to log everything that happened to help enforcement.
2. Money-raising. Pat Fisher said a local resident had raised £9 for St Luke's Gardens by opening her own garden to the public, after hearing we needed to raise money for the project. NAG agreed to send her a letter of thanks.
3. A vote of thanks was agreed for all the officers who had worked on the St Luke's Gardens project over the past two years.