A pretty routine meeting this evening.

Abuse of the gallops: It was reported that the Training Grounds Management Board was unhappy once again about hack riders riding on the gallops. So are we, but then we’re unhappy about kite flyers flying kites on the hack areas, dog walkers letting their dogs run under riders’ feet, cyclists riding without regard for other downs users, etc. The point is that it’s difficult to catch people, and even more difficult to make a prosecution stick. There’s no provision for fixed penalty tickets in the local Act, and there’s little appetite for prosecution. At least no-one’s likely to get hurt if a hack rider takes to the gallops, but people can and do get hurt when dogs attack horses. So a sense of priorities is needed.

Rubbing House: Pressure to increase parking for customers of the Rubbing House continues to mount. Current thinking is to pave some of the verges, but we’re wary of any proposal to extend parking onto the downs below the access road. Plans will be put to the next conservators’ meeting in January.

Marking of hack rides: The downskeepers reported that work to repaint the posts marking the hack rides was almost complete. Unfortunately, this hardly addresses the question of whether the posts are in the right place. We’ll take it up at the consultative committee meeting on 6 November.

Downs House hack ride: This is the one on the south side of the Downs House enclosure. The width is less than 3 metres, whereas it’s supposed to be 9 metres, affording a broad grassy strip all the way up the gentle gradient to Walton Road. There was agreement that the scrub adjacent to the Downs House enclosure needs to be cut back, perhaps over two years, to regenerate a grassy sward on the inside of the existing hard track. However, suggestions that the current track was constructed to the outside of the original track, so that the scrub lies over hardcore rather than turf, may make this difficult to realise.