Hack writer

Hack writer

About this blog

This blog records occasional comments affecting hack riders' use of Epsom and Walton Downs, including reports from meetings of the Conservators and the Consultative Committee. See the downs web page for more information about riding on the downs.

Meeting, 16 April 2018

ConservatorsPosted by Hugh Craddock 16 Apr, 2018 17:59:18

Woodland Trust application: there was some discussion of the Woodland Trust application for the Memorial Wood, particularly because of the impact on the bridleway across Headley Road. The chairman showed some concern that the application was outside the Conservators' area, and concerns should be expressed to Mole Valley district council as the lead planning authority.

Staffing: it was asked whether the downskeepers were restored to full strength, and it was confirmed that they were, comprising six downskeepers.

Replacement of telecommunications joint box: the conservators had been asked to approve works to replace a sunken box on the downs near the toilet block on Tattenham Corner Road. Approval granted.

Events: a slate of applications for events on the downs was before the conservators for approval. It was confirmed, in response to a question, that all of the events had taken place previously, with similar numbers. Approval was given for all with no further discussion.

The meeting closed at a remarkable 18:21.

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Meeting, 12 March 2018

Consultative CommitteePosted by Hugh Craddock 12 Mar, 2018 17:55:43

Chief executive of the council, Katherine Beldon was introduced as the new ex officio clerk to the conservators.

The water main replacement works near the Derby Arms public house have nearly concluded.

We welcomed the revised hack riders' map, and said that, subject to feedback on some minor details, this would be very useful to hack riders on the downs. A final draft would be presented to the board.

Hack sand track: a response had been received from the Horse Race Levy Board to our enquiries, and a meeting with the chairman of the HRLB was planned.

Consultation on parking outside the Grand Stand enclosure: we asked for our response to be placed in whole before the board.

Signposting/marker posts: officers intend to review the location of posts after completing work on the hack riders' map.

Vegetation clearance: nothing new had been done during the winter season, because of staff shortage and works to the car parks. We expressed particular concern about the braided paths at the top of Rifle Butts Alley. Agreed to prioritise for next winter, if it could not be done immediately.

Hatched area: currently closed, but will be opened when it dries out. Riders occasionally have been noticed riding too far east or west.

Dog control: the present regime is considered to be much more successful in preventing dog interference with horses. We think dog keepers' behaviour is improved too.

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Meeting, 23 January 2018

ConservatorsPosted by Hugh Craddock 22 Jan, 2018 17:15:27

Parking on the Downs House triangle: a limited consultation on proposals is expected soon.

Repair works to water pipes to gypsy site: repairs were required to the water supply to the gypsy site on the downs, used during the Derby fortnight. The costs had not yet been ascertained, but might be between £3k and £5.5k. I arrived slightly late, and it was clear that there had already been some mixed views expressed about who should pay. There was concern that if the conservators covered the costs, it would establish a liability for the future. Conservators agreed that a contribution would be appropriate, on the basis that the gypsy site existed at the discretion of the conservators. Was the racecourse prepared to maintain the investment — the racecourse representative said (more or less) that it was. The chairman proposed a contribution of £1k; two (councillor) members suggested that the conservators should fund the whole cost, or at least half. The chairman upped the proposal to half of the maximum cost anticipated in the report: this was agreed, with one member proposing raising the site fees to recover the expenditure.

Radio controlled dethermaliser: the Epsom Downs Model Aircraft Club had sought approval for its members to use the device to help control the landing of free-flight model aircraft on land designated for craft of this kind (which is a much larger area of the downs than permitted for radio-controlled aircraft: see byelaw 7(2)). It was proposed that club members operating these devices should wear an arm-band to identify their membership. This was agreed. [Ed: The legal advice failed to resolve the tension that byelaw 7(1) simply doesn't allow the use of radio-controlled aircraft over the larger area: this is not something the conservators have power to resolve.]

Cabling works on downs: a proposal to carry out works in the owners' and trainers' car park on the downs. This would upgrade to meet modern technology requirements. The works would be near the path from the Ashley Road signalled crossing to the Rubbing House crossing of the racecourse. An alternative route onto the downs may be required while the works take place, which could last a fortnight. Agreed.

2018–19 budget: the condition of some of the car parks had deteriorated, and provision had been made for increased repair costs, which called for a 3.1% increase in the budget, compared with the previously agreed 2% rise. The budget was agreed with only one question.

Racing season: an extension to the fencing period, and racing on certain Sundays and evenings, was agreed. The racecourse would seek powers from the traffic regulation authority to close one of the footpaths across the racecourse on Ladies' Day and Derby Day. The racecourse will run four race evenings with decadal themes from the 1960s onwards, but no big name act is likely.

Sand track: a member asked about whether there had been a response from the Horse Race Levy Board. An office said contact had been made with the Levy Board, and discussions were taking place.

The meeting closed at 1845

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Meeting, 4 October 2017

ConservatorsPosted by Hugh Craddock 04 Oct, 2017 17:50:38

Cedar Point: planning applications had been made which would bring racing use of the yard to an end. The Jockey Club has objected.

Staffing of downskeepers: the staff are now up to a full complement.

Mid-year budget: the external auditors have signed off the 2016–17 accounts, but questioned the delayed sign-off to the accounts because the June meeting was inquorate. A £4.3k overspend was forecast for 2017–18 owing to unexpected VAT costs. Balances remained healthy. It was agreed to aim for a 2% budget increase in 2018–19.

Events approvals: a large number of events were up for approval, including some imminent ones. The Mole Valley Orienteering Club had applied for approval for an event (on the 22 October!) which was novel for the downs, but expected to have less impact than events using planned routes. A list of events was read out to the conservators by the chairman, but with the member most critical of events absent, there was less comment. There was a discussion about the timing of approvals for a particular season, as not all events for a particular season were presented for approval at the same meeting. Officers explained that organisers of large events preferred to seek approval well in advance, whereas those of smaller events saw no need to do so until closer to the event. However, there was no guarantee that all high impact events planned for a particular season would be presented to conservators for determination at the same meeting. The Race for Life was approved for 24 June 2018 and the Memory Walk (Alzheimer's Society) for 23 September 2018 — both major impact events — but the latter was capped at 2,000 participants (compared with the 4,000 sought). Officers commented that the Race for Life had in the past been capped at 4,000 including spectators, and was now committed to a maximum number of 1,650 participants. Officers were asked to prepare a paper for a future meeting to review maximum event numbers.

Hack sand track: it was asked if the track had deteriorated further. The head downskeeper said it had got worse as there was no maintenance. The chairman proposed that the board write to local stables to inform hack riders of the poor state of the track. A member added that the letter should explain the context, why the track was not maintained. Concern was also expressed that a letter might suggest the board had some liability, but the chairman said the letter would make clear that the board was not liable. A member questioned the purpose of the letter [Ed: the chairman failed to point out that the purpose of the letter was to identify that the sand track was unsafe, and therefore to avoid harm to hack riders and their mounts] and the conclusion of the meeting was that no letter should be sent.

Signs audit: a report proposing a schedule for replacing signs on the downs would be presented to the meeting in January 2018.

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Meeting, 18 September 2017

Consultative CommitteePosted by Hugh Craddock 18 Sep, 2017 21:38:17

Derby race meeting: weather had been helpful, but the terrorist incident in Manchester ten days before had heightened concerns for security. The racecourse said the clear-up had been good, and others agreed.

Parking on the grassland (enclosed by Tattenham Corner Road, Langley Vale Road north of the underpass and the racecourse railings): officers would need to look into parking on this area to see whether a problem was occurring. It would be raised with conservators at a future meeting.

Scrub clearance at the top of Rifle Butts Alley: described as a continuing project, where work had been done last winter, and would continue to be done. We asked for clearance to be done around the braided section of the hack ride, and the need for action this winter seemed to be understood.

Hack ride between Burgh Heath Road and Longdown Lane South: we asked for vegetation clearance along the hack ride (mainly low branches) — this will be done as soon as possible.

Hatched area ride: few issues reported to date with riders straying — we said that some indication was needed of limits to the hack ride, and particularly emphasis that there was no other access to the area apart from off Walton Road.

Hack sand track: we said that riders needed to be notified of the poor state of the sand track to avoid potential injuries to horses whose riders are unfamiliar with it. The clerk said that the racecourse was not responsible for the sand track, but the point would be taken to the conservators.

Reinstatement of the afternoon ride at the top of Six Mile Hill: officers said that cutting-back has been done to widen the area, and vehicles are excluded, to help the area regenerate over time. The TGMB proposed to reinstate the railings at the top end, and this was agreed.

Cutting of grass on The Hill: in the past, the limits of the hatched area were marked by distinctive cuts to the grass. Officers said they would look at whether a grass baulk could be left along the boundaries.

Condition of concrete posts: some of the concrete posts along the racecourse were deteriorating and liable to collapse. These would be inspected and dealt with.

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Epsom Vision

NewsPosted by Hugh Craddock 21 Apr, 2017 09:11:12

The Epsom Vision leaflet was distributed at the meeting of the board of conservators on 19 April 2017, where I've commented on it. I've subsequently kindly received an electronic copy courtesy of the racecourse which you can view here. Do take a look, or download the pdf: it's about promoting Epsom as a centre of training for racing. Why does that matter to hack riders? Because it's thanks to the racing industry, and the income it generates, that Epsom and Walton Downs are such a superb location for all riders. Take away the racing, and the funding, and the whole of the downs will end up as woodland.

Epsom Vision for racing on Epsom Downs, page 1

Epsom Vision for racing on Epsom Downs, page 2

Epsom Vision for racing on Epsom Downs, page 3

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Meeting, 19 April 2017

ConservatorsPosted by Hugh Craddock 19 Apr, 2017 17:33:13

Clerk to the conservators: Following the resignation of the previous clerk and chief executive to the council, the new clerk, Kathryn Beldon, was welcomed as ex officio clerk to the conservators, and Lee Duffy as interim treasurer.

Training Grounds Management Board: copies of a new leaflet, A Vision for Epsom, were circulated at the meeting, promoting use of the downs for training. [Ed: as an aside, the leaflet documents the decline in horses in training on the downs from over 600 in the 1960s to just 135 now. It vividly maps how many yards have been lost to development, including a cluster in Langley Vale and another cluster north of the downs. Some former yards were located so far from the downs (including one at or near Glanmire Farm, and another near the Brighton Road near Burgh Heath) that one wonders whether they trained on the downs at all. I've put the leaflet in a subsequent post.]

Hack sand track: officers had now written again to the Horse Race Levy Board about its position on the sand track. No response had been received.

Afternoon patrols: additional patrols are now being carried out in the afternoon to deal with hack riders straying onto the training grounds.

Water leak: a leak had been found in the supply to the downskeepers' hut and it was proposed to reroute the mains supply away from but parallel to Tattenham Corner Road west of the hut — the work would take place over a week, but probably postponed until after the Derby.

Policy to regulate small group sessions on the downs: it was observed that the conservators had no policy to deal with small groups using the downs perhaps for commercial or regular purposes, such as commercial exercise classes, and a new policy was proposed to cover such uses. There was concern that these uses could conflict with training and other uses. It was planned to charge a minimum of £25 per session. There was recognition that it would be difficult to distinguish, say, joggers on public rights of way [Ed: or indeed, anywhere else on the downs] from semi-formal training sessions. The trainers' representative was concerned about impact on horses in training, particularly in the morning, and referred to difficulties encountered with people engaged in kick-boxing training, which, despite a good dialogue with those concerned, was still affecting horses in the vicinity. The racecourse sensibly asked what controls existed at present to control such activities: the trainers' representative [Ed: rather wishfully] thought that repeated activities would cause damage and therefore would be subject to regulation, while officers mentioned a byelaw against 'organised games' and suggested that this illustrated a wider power to prevent damage to the downs [Ed: without specifying quite how]. It was noted that DCLG was currently consulting on the regulation of outdoor activities in public parks, but this was not though likely to lead to controls affecting land such as the downs. A member said that he led walks for health over the downs, and was concerned about the implications of greater regulation: officers replied that, as a structured and formal event, it ought to be subject to regulation. But others wanted to divert such activities away from the downs or to impose a larger fee. [Ed: although the proposals seemed orientated towards commercial activities, and it was recognised that a policy would be difficult to enforce, there was mention of regulating guided walks and post-natal classes, at least the former of which are done in exercise of the public rights of access. It is hard to see how it will be possible to discriminate between activities which are in pursuit of public rights, and those which are not, nor what action the conservators would take if anyone declined to seek formal approval, or was refused approval.] The proposal was rejected unanimously, with the chairman suggesting that it might be better to identify those activities which were detrimental. [Ed: but it was unclear how refusing a policy to regulate such events would ensure that they did not take place at all, nor how officers could encapsulate in a policy those activities which were intrinsically detrimental, without having the opportunity to examine proposed events in an application.]

Events on the downs: officers said that more applications were being received to hold events on the downs, and there was special attention to two Alzheimer’s Society Memory Walks which could attract 3,000–6,000 participants on Sundays in September 2017 and 2018. Officers compared with the Race for Life which was capped at 4,000 participants, organisers and spectators. The trainers' representative said that they would be unable to use the downs for training on those Sundays owing to the numbers on the downs and the additional traffic. Officers said that it would be open to stipulate that events should not be allowed on site before 0930. The trainers' representative said that this would accommodate training needs, but would affect local people's enjoyment of the downs. It would be possible to defer the proposal for 2018 until after this year's event had taken place. The head downskeeper said that litter collection from the Race for Life was improving, but was concerned about physical impact on the downs. Participants used the downs in advance of the event to practise, and officers agreed that this could not be controlled. A member pointed out that, if such events were allowed, it would be difficult to justify refusing the minor events considered earlier. The racecourse said that participants did not confine themselves to the surfaced routes, and strayed onto the grass and the gallops, and regretted the potential impact on the winter training areas at that time of year. Officers drew attention to the parallel between Race for Life in June, and the Alzheimer's Society Memory Walk in September: could the latter justifiably be refused if the former were permitted? A member suggested that there should be a cap on participant numbers, perhaps alternating between permissions for events in alternate years. The trainers' representative spoke out against several proposed running races, and there was a consensus against approving them all, but a majority to approve one subject to negotiation on the route. The racecourse said that the conservators should be cautious about engaging in applications on a case-by-case basis, particularly where new applications were on all fours with already approved applications, which raised questions about how they were distinguished. Officers noted that the policy allowed up to five B-class policies in the year, but only one had been approved so far this year. A member suggested that the policy should favour events connected with the borough, and the chairman agreed that the conservators could look at that in future: officers noted that although organisers were not necessarily local, those who participated often were. In the event, members were against approving just one Memory Walk, even with a reduced cap on numbers, and these were rejected.

Audit of signs on the downs: an electronic record of signage had been completed, but maintenance and repair would be demanding on resources. Steps would be taken to prioritise and plan future works.

Review of habitat management plan to include golf course: the plan had been revised to incorporate the golf course in a relatively independent but integral part of the overall plan.

The meeting closed at 19:25.

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Meeting, 13 March 2017

Consultative CommitteePosted by Hugh Craddock 20 Mar, 2017 08:47:18

Additional parking outside Rubbing House: we said that any proposals for further parking should be brought first to the consultative committee, and the racecourse agreed.

Staff: interviews shortly for a replacement member of staff.

Afternoon patrols: these were said to be dedicated to addressing incidents of out-of-bounds hack riders. We said they should also address other abuses on the downs, such as kite flying on the hack areas and out-of-control dogs. This seemed to be accepted.

Hack riding maps: a better map is being produced and will be sent to local stables. We suggested that the mailing should be accompanied by an offer of local meetings to help explain the rules for those who found the written explanation too daunting (we offered to help).

Epsom training vision: the racecourse said that training numbers had declined by about half in the last ten years. Epsom needs building up as one of England's key training areas, and this is what the vision seeks to achieve. Epsom needs to promote greater awareness of its importance in racing, including in the local community, where awareness among recently arrived residents is often low.

Horse margin along Langley Vale Road: resurfacing of the horse margin had been funded by local members' local budgets and the Training Grounds Management Board (TGMB). We suggested that the hedge screening should also be considered for improvement.

Hack sand track: the board was due to write again to the Horse Race Levy Board (HRLB) setting out the conservators' position, which was outstanding from the previous meeting (six months ago), having had no response to the previous letter. We were assured that a letter was imminent. The chairman said there was no quick fix, and the board awaited a response to its letter to the HRLB. We pointed out that the track continued to deteriorate in the absence of maintenance, and asked whether anything could be done to keep it in better order in the meantime, particularly in those sections which required only minor attention to keep them useable. However, the conservators were adamant that it would not be appropriate to maintain any part pending resolution of the question of liability.

Parking on Derby Arms triangle: we pointed out that the deposited map requires the retention of pedestrian margins around the triangle when the triangle is allocated for car parking during events.

Hatched area: we said that we were glad to see proposals brought forward by the TGMB, and would work with it to manage issues arising. An opening might be expected after the next TGMB meeting in April, but further work had yet to be done.

Marker posts: an audit of marker posts had been completed and shared with us, with a commitment to undertake various repairs and improvement subject to resources. We said we are happy to discuss how any ambiguities can best be resolved.

Scrub clearance: we asked again for a focus on work to remove scrub where the paths have become braided owing to scrub encroachment and flooding. There was some concern that clearance might make the problem worse, but we thought it could only improve matters. The Lower Mole Countryside Management Service will inspect and advise.

Audit of signs on the downs: this will be brought to a future board meeting (impliedly meaning not coming first to the consultative committee).

Afternoon hack ride on Six Mile Hill: much work has been done, and further flailing will occur. We said more attention needs to be given to preventing hack riders continuing east along Six Mile Hill, as the extension west of the polytrack means the barriers previously present here have been removed.

Downs House triangular area: the board could not afford to hire in cut-and-collect flailing equipment.

Warren wall: concern was express about the condition of the listed wall, and possible damage to the wall by tree growth. It was agreed that one area was of concern, and would be given further attention.

Next meeting: on 18 September 2017.

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Meeting, 18 January 2017

ConservatorsPosted by Hugh Craddock 18 Jan, 2017 19:28:32

Apologies: Simon Dow, the trainers' representative, had tendered apologies for his absence.

Training Grounds Management Board: had met the previous day, but the report related to a meeting in November. The racecourse said the board had voiced concern about the reduced staffing situation on the downs. None of the items in the report was discussed (and therefore, nothing about the proposed access to the hatched area, but see the end of this report).

Hack sand track: officers said that the recorded delivery letter had not yet been sent to the Horse Race Levy Board — the chairman asked for this to be sent as a priority.

Head downskeeper's report: the head downskeeper was back on duty, but a dowskeeper was on long term sick leave, another leaving, and another on paternity leave. Support was being provided from the council's ranger service. The chairman asked about the recruitment process, and was told that it would probably take a couple of months. It was observed that substitutes for downskeepers needed to be confident and competent with horses. The racecourse said that the substitute was familiar with working on the downs. The trainers had reported concern about abuse of the training grounds in the afternoon, which was not being addressed owing to the absence of patrols. The head downskeeper said that he had asked staff to do more patrols, including repeat visits to key sites, but there remained many routine functions which could not be omitted. The racecourse explained that the trainers' concern was stimulated by a report on social media which invited use of the training facilities during the afternoon: officers thought it might be possible to target such postings. The head downskeeper said that barriers used to be placed across the all-weather tracks to prevent use by hack riders, but this was no longer done.

Fees for events: the conservators were asked to approve the revised fees and charges. They did, with negligible comment.

Budget 2017–18: a 2.3% increase in precept from the contributing bodies (the council, the racecourse and the trainers) was proposed. Approved.

Parking in front of Derby Arms: the report proposed to endorse, in principle, the use of the green between Derby Arms Road and Ashley Road for parking for events. The racecourse pointed out that the green had been used for contractor parking during the roofing works, but this had ceased since the works were complete. The chairman asked about the need to use the green: didn't the racecourse have a car park adjacent to the race track? The racecourse said it was a 'nicer experience' to park adjacent to the entrance. A member said that there was adequate parking elsewhere, such as on the grand stand apron. The open space was an important part of the Epsom character. Parking was accepted as a part of the racing calendar, but should not be everyday. The racecourse said it would be used as a genuine overflow for antique fairs and the like, because the hard standing was already full. The Tattenham enclosure was less well drained, and therefore less suitable. Another member agreed, saying parking was untidy. Was the public house concerned about the proposal? The chairman wondered whether pub visitors would also use the parking: the racecourse said the parking would be stewarded. Asked about frequency, the racecourse said 12 antiques fairs each year, and perhaps 6 to 10 other events, but no count had been taken, and the racecourse could not say with precision what frequency was sought in the approval. A member said that if the proposal regularised past use, it should be agreed if there was no material change in use. Officers confirmed that approval was sought only in principle, and there should be further consultation with hack riders and others; the conservators could impose conditions on use if they wished. The racecourse referred to use for Woodland Trust planting, and the chairman pointed out that such visitors were well equipped to use the Tattenham enclosure instead. A member said that consultation should envisage a limit on the number of events. It was agreed that there should be consultation with all members of the consultative committee, and with other members of the public who wanted to be involved. A vote on the recommendation was taken, with five in favour and one abstention. The abstention sought confirmation that the matter would return to the committee after consultation. The chairman would look closely at the wording of the consultation, and a draft would be cleared with the conservators.

Racing season: Racing would take place on:

  • Wednesday 26 April
  • Friday 2 June (Ladies’ Day)
  • Saturday 3 June (Derby Day)
  • Thursday 6 July (Evening)
  • Thursday 13 July (Evening)
  • Thursday 20 July (Evening)
  • Thursday 3 August (Evening)
  • Monday 28 August (Bank Holiday)
  • Tuesday 29 August
  • Thursday 14 September
  • Sunday 1 October

with evenings and Sunday meetings approved by the conservators.

In response to a question, the racecourse said there were fewer meetings than permitted for commercial reasons, as mid-week days had performed poorly. There was no wish to hold meetings on an autumn Monday afternoon, which was the sort of opportunity which remained open. Epsom racecourse was more demanding than at other racecourse, and it was more difficult to get horses to run. The racecourse did not want to run low quality races. The average number of runners in 2016 had risen to 8.9 from 8.2, following elimination of poor performing races.

The racecourse said it had fabricated gates to permit continued equestrian access (outside race days) to the Lonsdale enclosure west of the subway, to avoid the problem with removing fencing panels.

The recommendations were approved.

Signs on the downs: a sign audit had been done, and would be brought to the next meeting.

Hatched area: the racecourse said that the training grounds management board should be commended for drawing up proposals to open the hatched area at certain times.

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Meeting, 5 October 2016

ConservatorsPosted by Hugh Craddock 05 Oct, 2016 18:01:36
Polytrack: a new walk in has been created for young horses to access the track at 5 furlongs.

Clear Height Stables: planning permission refused for demolition of stables, as they are thought to have a viable future in racing, but have not been properly marketed as such.

Hack sand track: there has been no response from the Horse Race Levy Board to a letter from the board disclaiming responsibility: this will be chased.

Head downskeeper's report: increase in recent anti-social behaviour incidents, with an attempt to break into the downskeepers' hut, and cars being driven over the downs. Two downskeepers are long-term sick, with support being provided from the ranger service. Concern about drawing down support from over-stretched ranger service, and whether this can continue to be provided: there are eight rangers to cover 23 parks. Providing ranger support will impose additional costs on the council.

Mid-year budget monitoring: the working balance continues to diminish, but there was no substantive comment on the in-year budget. The Treasurer had asked for guidance on setting the buget for 2017–18, proposing a 2.35% increase in precepts, which was agreed. [Ed: There was virtually no discussion about the merits of increasing the precept, and no indication of how or whether it could be accommodated in the council's own budget.]

Events: eight events had been proposed for approval, of which only next year's Race for Life was significant. One member welcomed the use of the downs, another repeated previously expressed concerns about 'grass being trodden down' and litter clearance, noting that the head downskeeper was ill and unable to comment. [Ed: has the member concerned seen the grass trodden down after Derby day?] The events were approved en bloc.

Ice-cream vending: this was not allowed on the downs under byelaws, unless with the consent of the conservators. A regular vendor had asked for permission to trade on the downs, and it was proposed to grant it, subject to not trading before midday, no chimes, and not on racedays. The van would be located in the Hyperion car park off the Old London Road roundabout, or at the milepost car park. The board wanted to impose conditions requiring the provision of litter facilities, and officers agreed to look at whether this could be done through borough licensing conditions.

Metal detecting: this year, the number of licences had been increased from 20 to 25, although only 23 had been purchased. It was agreed to continue to offer 25 licences each year.

Memorial policy: previously, no memorials had been permitted on the downs, but it was noted that the downs offered nowhere to sit down, and the policy should be reviewed. A paper was circulated to allow for this. It proposed to allow up to 12 rustic benches, bird boxes and planted trees. The demand was not thought to be great, and the price could be increased if demand proliferated. One member asked for benches to have a back, to cater for elderly people: this could be added in a natural form; it was also proposed to allow engraving into the wood (i.e. not a plaque): although there was some sympathy for these suggestions, they were rejected. It should be reviewed in one year. [Ed: there was no indication of where these memorials would be placed, and no doubt room can be found for benches, but one wonders what would be an appropriate site for tree planting, given that much effort is put into keeping the downs free of scrub, and trees grow naturally?]

Consultative committee: the minutes of the meeting last week (see my report here) had just arrived from the committee secretary, and the chairman offered to take board members through the highlights, although much had been covered already. Mention was made of the location of the gypsy site, and condition of the afternoon hack ride had been resolved on the tour. Comments were solicited, and a question was asked about dog control signage, and then about:

Parking in Derby Stables Road: a member asked whether parking controls would be put forward in the local committee, and the chairman said it would be quicker for a request to be put forward by the hack riders' representative rather than through the board. The member suggested she would favour such controls, and welcome a request to the local committee.

Outstanding references: no significant comments.

Dates of next meetings: Wednesday 18 January 2017 at 18.00 hours
Wednesday 19 April 2017 at 18.00 hours
Wednesday 14 June 2017 at 18.00 hours
Wednesday 4 October 2017 at 18.00 hours

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