Agenda and minutes

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Contact: David Arnold  Email: David.Arnold@cityoflondon.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Joseph Byllam-Barnes, Conor Morrow (Lower Mole Countryside Management Project), Councillor Chris Townsend (Surrey County Council), and Pippa Woodall (British Horse Society).

 ...  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 none.

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3.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 156 KB

To agree the public minutes of the meeting held on 18 February 2014.

 

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Minutes:

RESOLVED – That the public minutes of the last meeting held on 17 February 2014 be agreed.

 

Matters Arising

 

Site of Specific Scientific Interest (SSSI) Boundary

In response to a member’s question, the Head Ranger for Ashtead Common advised that Natural England had been contacted regarding Wood Field and Craddocks Wood not being included within the SSSI boundary. He added that it was a lengthy process to include these areas within the SSSI and there was a risk of other parts of the SSSI being excluded if standards were not met.

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

4.

Terms of Reference pdf icon PDF 63 KB

To note the Ashtead Common Consultative Committee Terms of Reference, approved at the last Committee meeting.

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

Minutes:

The Committee received the approved Terms of Reference for the Ashtead Common Consultative Committee.

 

RESOLVED – That the approved Terms of Reference be noted.

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5.

Update on 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 Committee received a verbal report of the Superintendent regarding structural changes within the Open Spaces Department. He explained that Ashtead Common was the responsibility of the Burnham Beeches, Stoke and City Commons division within the City of London Corporation Open Spaces Directorate. He advised that he had been appointed as Superintendent of Burnham Beeches, Stoke and City Commons on a permanent basis in December 2014 and there had been a reduction of one Head Ranger post within the division to create a Support Services Manager post, which was currently being recruited.

 

The Chairman congratulated the Superintendent on his permanent appointment and thanked for the excellent work carried out by his team so far.

 

Members were advised that the next steps following the structural changes included the development of the vision and strategic objectives for the Burnham Beeches, Stoke and City Commons division and to meet the financial challenge of the Service Based Review.

 

In response to a Member’s question, the Superintendent advised that he had been working at least one day a week at each Commons’ office. He added that his next objective was to spend more time out on the open spaces to gain a better understanding of each site.

 

RECEIVED.

 

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

6.

Service Based Review

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

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

Minutes:

The Committee received a verbal report of the Superintendent regarding the Service Based Review. Members were informed that the Open Spaces Department was required to make savings of £2.189 million by 2017/18, which represented a 14% budget reduction. The Superintendent advised that £1.175 million of savings would be met through core areas such as third party provision of sports facilities and a review of the Department’s facilities; £541,000 would be met through operational efficiencies such as improved vehicle fleet management; and £473,000 would be met through increased income generation by increasing car park charges, adding new charges and letting out surplus properties on the Commons. Members were assured that core activities such as nature conservation and recreation would continue to be delivered to a high standard whilst savings were delivered.

 

The Chairman added that the Superintendent had an excellent track record of being economical and imaginary with limited funds available from his experience at Burnham Beeches. He thanked members of the Consultative Committee in advance for their support required during the financial challenge ahead.

 

In response to a member’s question, the Head Ranger for Ashtead Common advised that there was an existing close working relationship with the Borough of Epsom and Ewell and the possibility of a more strategic relationship to share resources and make savings would be explored.

 

Members noted that there could be opportunities for funding through the Heritage Lottery Fund or grants from the European Union (EU) for biodiversity projects. Collaboration with Surrey University or the Surrey Wildlife Trust during projects could help further reduce costs. The Superintendent added that the possibility of EU grants had been looked at previously but the application process was both lengthy and costly.

 

In response to a member’s question regarding increased wayleave charges, the Head Ranger advised that full details of

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

7.

Epping Forest Legislative Changes

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

 

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

Minutes:

The Committee received a verbal report of the Superintendent regarding changes to legislation governing the City of London Corporation’s Open Spaces. He explained that each open space within the directorate was governed by specific Acts of Parliament from the 1870s, so decisions relating to spending had to be reflected in those Acts. Amendments had to be agreed by Parliament via Various Powers Acts, which had been used in the past for specific changes. He advised that there was now a need to amend and update the Acts more generally to incorporate the motor car, increasing financial challenges, population increase, and anti-social behaviour.

 

The Superintendent added that the following issues could be addressed with a Various Powers Act amendment:-

-       surplus vacant accommodation on the Commons could be let to domestic or commercial private tenants instead of remaining vacant or being demolished;

-       business and Commercial contracts could be no longer limited to three year periods;

-       fines that were limited to specific amounts across the Open Spaces Directorate could be increased in line with the national scale of fines to better act as a deterrent against anti-social behaviour;

-       members of the public could not be ejected from the site under the current legislation so new powers would enable staff to do this and to temporarily exclude the public from small areas to encourage income from the film industry;

-       damage to verges caused by vehicles could be addressed via a legal framework within the Acts.

 

In response to a Member’s question, the Superintendent advised that small areas of the sites would be reserved for filming for perhaps one week at a time and a local filming policy would be developed for each of the City Commons. The Superintendent also advised that each part of the Division may need its

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

8.

Management Priorities for 2015/16 pdf icon PDF 69 KB

Verbal update by the Head Ranger for Ashtead Common.

 

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

Minutes:

The Committee received a verbal update by the Head Ranger of Ashtead Common regarding the management priorities for 2015/16. Members were advised of the following matters:

 

Grazing

The Head Ranger advised that a small grazing herd of five Sussex cattle would return to wood pasture and scrub grassland areas, whilst future options would be reviewed incrementally. In response to members’ questions. He added that an invisible fence system had proved successful with cattle at Epping Forest but artificial insemination of females had not been as successful as it had been at Epping.

 

Tree Health

The Head Ranger advised that tree wardens and staff would regularly monitor for Oak Processionary Moth (OPM) and Ash Dieback. Members were advised that the threat of OPM was moving ever closer through West and South West London, so wardens had been trained to check for its effects.

 

In response to a member’s question, the Head Ranger advised that there was no minimum time required by volunteer tree wardens so local Duke of Edinburgh students were able volunteer as much of their time as they could.

 

Management of Pollution at the Rye Brook

Members were advised that an oily substance had been polluting water at the Rye Brook. An improved response was required from the Environment Agency (EA) and Thames Water, whose responsibility it was to deal with the water quality. Volunteers had helped survey the diversity of fauna in the Brook, in partnership with the Lower Mole Project; they found that the water in the polluted area of the Rye Brook scored lowest on the Angler’s Score Index (ASI), a measurement of species diversity in water. This suggested that the pollution had affected species diversity in the water but the second inspection showed a higher ASI score than the first, which was a positive improvement.

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

9.

Review of Annual Work Programme 2014/15 and Presentation of the 2015/16 Annual Work Programme pdf icon PDF 382 KB

Report and verbal update by the Senior Ranger for Ashtead Common.

 

 

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

Minutes:

The Committee received a verbal updated from the Senior Ranger of Ashtead Common that reviewed the 2014/15 annual work programme. Members were advised on the following matters:

 

Veteran Trees

The Senior Ranger advised that it had been year five of the Veteran Tree Schedule, with the cutting season due to finish at the end of February 2015. Members were advised that 96 Oak trees had been retrenched along with 138 halo released and 78 high halo released. The Senior Ranger added that this work had been carried out a team of three contractors from KPS, who were currently on site. In response to members’ questions, he advised that the retrenched veteran trees were given a 10 – 15% reduction of limbs to give a natural look. Members were advised that one or two veteran trees succumb to strong winds each year but they provided excellent deadwood habitat for wildlife.

 

Bracken Control

The Senior Ranger advised that bracken management was focussed on more than ever during 2014. Bracken would continue to be tractor mowed and hand pulled as part of a plan to develop more areas for wood pasture.

 

Volunteering

The Senior Ranger advised that Monday Estate Team of volunteers had made a significant contribution to the fabric and furniture of Common in 2014, helping towards the application for a Green Flag Award. He added that higher level volunteer experiences had also been developed: a student volunteer from Merrist Wood College had worked for the tree team for 300 hours over a three month period.

 

In response to a member’s question, the Head Ranger advised that there was not a waiting list for volunteers at present but a good level of interest remained; new volunteers were able to provide assistance in certain areas straight away. He added that volunteering did not

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

10.

Questions on matter relating to work of the committee

Minutes:

There were none.

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

11.

Any Other Business That the Chairman Considers Urgent

Minutes:

12.

Date of Next Meeting

To agree the date of the 2015 summer visit.

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

Minutes:

It was agreed that the Town Clerk would circulate a date for the summer visit after consultation with the Chairman, Superintendent and Head Ranger.

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