Verbal report of the Superintendent of Burnham Beeches, Stoke Common and City Commons.
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 the changes would be circulated to volunteers later in year to ensure that neighbours to the Common received correct information.