Agenda and minutes

Venue: Committee Rooms, West Wing, Guildhall

Contact: Alistair MacLellan  Email: alistair.maclellan@cityoflondon.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies

Minutes:

The Chairman welcomed the Chief Commoner to the meeting.

 

Apologies were received from Joseph Byllam-Barnes, David Baker, Councillor Helen Cocker, Paul Krause and Pippa Woodall. The Town Clerk noted that David Baker was represented at the meeting by Professor David Hawksworth.

 ...  view the full minutes text for item 1.

2.

Members' Declarations under the Code of Conduct in Respect of Items on the Agenda

Minutes:

There were no declarations.

 ...  view the full minutes text for item 2.

3.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 170 KB

To agree the public minutes of the meeting held on 1 July 2013.

 

 ...  view the full agenda text for item 3.

Minutes:

RESOLVED – that the public minutes and summary of the meeting held on Monday 1 July 2013 be approved as a correct record, subject to the last two bullet points on item 5, page 5 being deleted.

 

Matters Arising

Committee Membership

The Head Ranger noted that a local youth worker had put himself forward as a candidate to be a member of the Committee. The Chairman welcomed this potential addition to the Committee’s membership and expressed the hope that it would lead to greater youth involvement in Ashtead Common.

 

Newton Wood

The Head Ranger noted that he had contacted the new owners of Newton Wood and would be meeting with them shortly. Members suggested that the new owners be invited to Committee’s July site visit to the Common.

 ...  view the full minutes text for item 3.

4.

Ashtead Common Consultative Committee - Terms of Reference pdf icon PDF 190 KB

To approve the Ashtead Common Consultative Committee Terms of Reference.

 ...  view the full agenda text for item 4.

Minutes:

The Town Clerk invited the Committee to approve their draft Terms of Reference, noting that some minor amendments had been made to them since they were last considered by the Committee in July 2013.

 

RESOLVED

 

·         That the Ashtead Common Consultative Committee Terms of Reference be approved.

 ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.

5.

Introduction to Structural Changes

Verbal Report of the Superintendent of Burnham Beeches, Stoke Common and City Commons.

 ...  view the full agenda text for item 5.

Minutes:

The Chairman introduced the item on structural changes by informing the Committee that the City of London had made major changes to its management structure following the appointment of the Superintendent of Hampstead Heath as Chief Executive of Wimbledon and Putney Commons. As a result the Superintendent of City Commons Bob Warnock had moved to Hampstead Heath to take up the interim position of Superintendent of Hampstead Heath. The Chairman placed on record his thanks to Bob for his work across the City Commons and at Ashtead Common in particular, which the members endorsed.

 

The Chairman went on to introduce the Andy Barnard, the Superintendent of  Burnham Beeches, Stoke Common and City Commons, noting that he had worked closely with Andy in Andy’s previous capacity as Superintendent of Burnham Beeches. He added that Andy was a very talented conservator and manager, and that whilst the logistics involved in covering Stoke Common, Burnham Beeches and the City Commons were enormous, he was confident that City Commons staff would find they had a good leader and manager.

 

Wyn James noted that the Ashtead Common Volunteers wished to place on record their thanks to Bob Warnock.

 

The Superintendent noted that he was aware of the strong legacy that Bob Warnock had left across the City Commons. He went on to introduce himself, noting that he had been involved in the management of Open Spaces since the 1970s, beginning as a volunteer. He had moved to Burnham Beeches in 1996. He added that he was passionate about the environment, biodiversity and sustainability. On a personal level he had been married 24 years and had a 34 year old daughter, and he was a keen kayakist and cyclist. He concluded by noting that the current management arrangements were for 14 months and therefore were not

 ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.

6.

Summary Report of the Visitor Survey 2012 pdf icon PDF 87 KB

Report of the Superintendent of Burnham Beeches, Stoke Common and City Commons.

 ...  view the full agenda text for item 6.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Head Ranger introduced a report of the Superintendent on the Volunteer Survey 2012, noting that it had been an observational survey by volunteers walking set routes across the City Commons and recording persons and activities. In general terms 40% of users had been walkers, 30% dog walkers and 20% cyclists. He acknowledged that the methodology of the survey had made it difficult to accurately assess the use of the Commons by disabled members of the public.

 

The Committee went on to discuss the report, with the following comments being made:

 

·         The Chairman noted that there was a desire to conduct further research into patters of use upon the City Commons and therefore feedback from members of the Committee was welcomed.

 

·         Councillor Northcott suggested that disparities in the data may have arisen from the survey being conducted upon different days of the week.

 

·         The Senior Ranger commented that, anecdotally, Sundays were indeed busier than Saturdays upon Ashtead Common and that activity tended to be concentrated on ‘honey pot’ areas of the Common.

 

·         As part of a general discussion on cycling:

 

o   Bob Eberhard commented that it would be interesting to research how many cyclists were family groups.

                                                                                       

o   Wyn James commented that it would be useful if cyclists could be educated to give adequate warning when approaching those on foot from behind.

 

o   Bob Eberhard noted that there was sometimes conflict between cyclists and loose dogs.

 

o   Members discussed the potential for cycling signage but felt that, given the nature of Ashtead Common, that an addition to the City of London entrance sign, any further signage on the site would be inappropriate.

 

o   The Superintendent commented that educating different user groups was one of the functions of the site rangers.

 

·         In response to a question from the Deputy Chairman regarding

 ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.

7.

Volunteer Improvement Plan 2013 pdf icon PDF 87 KB

Report of the Superintendent of Burnham Beeches, Stoke Common and City Commons.

 ...  view the full agenda text for item 7.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Head Ranger introduced a report of the Superintendent on the Volunteer Improvement Plan 2013. He noted that volunteers made a huge contribution to the City Commons and that Ashtead Common, in particular, would not be what it was without it. He added that rangers were keen to develop volunteer leaders and assisting external partners from doing the same. He highlighted the Volunteer Tree Warden scheme as one of the successful outcomes of the plan during 2013 and that a further plan would be developed next year.

 

In response to a question from Professor Hawksworth over whether volunteers were trained in understanding the ecology of sites, the Senior Ranger replied that training on ecological matters tended to take place on a task-by-task basis as part of the task briefing.

 

Barbara Newman welcomed the effort that rangers were putting into developing volunteer roles and the news that voluntary attendance at Ashtead Common was popular.

 

In response to a question from Councillor Townsend regarding the continuation of the Volunteer Tree Warden Scheme continuing now that a member of staff had left, the Head Ranger confirmed that it would be continued.

 

In response to a question from the Chief Commoner whether any Freedoms of the City had been awarded to City Commons volunteers, the Chairman confirmed that these had taken place, and furthermore volunteers were also invited to an annual reception at Epping Forest to thank them for their contributions.

 

In response to the observation from Wyn James that high numbers of volunteers were coming forward at Ashtead Commons, the Senior Ranger confirmed that, to maximise efficient task allocation and volunteer satisfaction, tasks were designed for a maximum group size of 20-24 persons which inevitably meant that a small waiting list was maintained of persons wishing to volunteer some time on the Common.

 ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.

8.

Key Projects and Annual Work Programme 2013/14

Presentation from Head Ranger & Senior Ranger of West Wickham Commons.

 ...  view the full agenda text for item 8.

Minutes:

The Head Ranger introduced a presentation on Key Projects and the Annual Work Programme during 2013/14. He summarised achievements under the City Commons management priorities as follows:

 

Visitor Experience

Ashtead Common had received top marks in the Green Flag inspection, and the Green Flag judges had taken the opportunity to meet with volunteers during the course of their inspection.

 

Consultation

New arrangements for the  Ashtead Common Consultative Committee had been  introduced during 2013 and  a format of a Winter meeting and Summer site visit had been established.

 

Conservation Grazing

A Grazing Business Plan  was being developed.

 

Tree Health

Trees had continued to be monitored for tree disease, both by rangers and Volunteer Tree Wardens.

 

Kenley Revival Project

The application for the first round of Heritage Lottery Funding had been successful and a project officer appointed to develop the application for the second round appointed.

 

In response to a question from Councillor Townsend over whether concerns over cattle safely grazing on the Common had been dealt with, the Senior Ranger replied that the cause of the cattle deaths was still unexplained and consequently we will need to think carefully before developing any plans to graze the affected area again. 

 

The Senior Ranger then updated members on key projects for 2014/15, noting:

 

Veteran Tree Survey

It was year 4 of  the programme and officers were developing a condition assessment to establish how effective  the work conducted to date had been. Rangers were currently up to date with their halo relief programme. Overall the veteran tree programme  was absorbing a significant amount of the Ashtead Common grounds maintenance budget.

 

Conservation Grazing

Five cattle currently overwintering with Pippa Woodall would be returned to the Common once ground conditions improved.

 

In response to concerns from Professor Hawksworth over whether cattle dung had a negative ecological

 ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.

9.

Management Priorities and Annual Work Programme 2014/15 pdf icon PDF 85 KB

Report of the Superintendent of Burnham Beeches, Stoke Common and City Commons.

 

 ...  view the full agenda text for item 9.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chairman introduced a report of the Superintendent on Management Priorities and the Annual Work Programme 2014/15, noting that many of the issues had been discussed as part of the previous item.

 ...  view the full minutes text for item 9.

10.

Questions

Minutes:

Site of Special Scientific Interest Boundary

Professor Hawksworth noted that he had been involved in the survey of the Green Belt around Ashtead for the Ashtead Boundary Review and had noted that neither Newton Wood nor the block of woodland bounded by the Epsom/Dorking Road and Newton Wood Road/Craddocks Avenue were indicated as SSSI on the MVDC maps. He suggested the matter be raised with Natural England. The Head Ranger agreed and noted that it would be worth raising the designation of Woodfield too as part of such an approach.

 

Farewell to Wyn James

The Chairman noted this was the final meeting at which Wyn James would be representing the Ashtead Common Volunteers, as he had indicated his intention to stand down. He thanked Mr James for his amazing service on the Common since 1991, when the City of London had taken over as the body responsible for Ashtead Common. He added that it was apt for volunteering to have been an agenda item at the meeting that day, given that in Mr James the committee had an exemplar in voluntary service to the Common. On behalf of the Committee, he informed Mr James that his contribution to the Common was hugely appreciated, and it was hoped he would remain involved in the Common in some capacity. The Chairman suggested that Mr James’ successor attend the July site visit, and emphasised the thanks of the Committee for his incredible service over so many years.

 

 ...  view the full minutes text for item 10.

11.

Any Other Business That the Chairman Considers Urgent

Minutes:

There was no urgent business.  

 ...  view the full minutes text for item 11.

12.

Date of Next Meeting

The date of the Summer consultation meeting to be discussed.

 ...  view the full agenda text for item 12.

Minutes:

The Chairman noted that the summer site visit would take place on the evening of either Tuesday 15 or Wednesday 16 July, and invited members to advise their preferred date in advance.

 

 ...  view the full minutes text for item 12.