Hack writer

Hack writer

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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, 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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