Report of the Superintendent of Burnham Beeches, Stoke Common and City Commons.
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 the report’s conclusions regarding Ashtead Common, namely that visitor numbers were lower than at comparable sites; there being few observations of children at play; and there being few observations of people with visible disabilities, the Head Ranger replied that similar issues had been discussed at the meeting of the Coulsdon Common Consultative Committee on 12 February 2014, and that one of the priorities arising from the Visitor Survey was to establish how such issues could be addressed.
· Wyn James commented that he knew of one regular user of the Common who was disabled.
· The Senior Ranger commented that it was less common for children to use the Common by themselves as it had been, arguably, a generation ago.
· Councillor Northcott commented that the visitor numbers to Coulsdon Common –5,000 persons – seemed low by comparison to other sites.
· In response to a query from Douglas Mobsby regarding the disparity in the way information was presented between Coulsdon Common and Farthing Downs, the Head Ranger replied that this was likely due to the summary nature of the report and that further details explaining patterns of site-use was available within the overall Visitor Survey.