Clerk to the conservators: Frances Rutter has been appointed as interim chief executive to the council, and ex officio interim clerk to the Conservators, owing to the illness of David Smith.

Retirement of the head downskeeper: the council is now recruiting a replacement, advertising internally and externally. An interim supervisor will be appointed from the existing team.

Habitat Management Plan: the final plan remains elusive, but it was hoped to have an update by end of January.

Rubbing House car park: a planning application to the council is imminent to increase car parking space between the access road and the Rubbing House car park wall.

Fencing on the downs: proposal for a better process to approve fencing will be brought to next meeting.

Signposting on the downs: byelaws boards are the main outstanding task: 27 need to be replaced. Some may double up as interpretation boards. Much needed design assistance will be offered by the racecourse.

Horseman’s Sunday: a risk assessment will be considered at the next meeting.

TGMB: Concern that new grandstand will create new foot traffic (particularly to and from the hotel) conflicting with movements of horses in training (across Tattenham Corner Road). Proposal to allow horses to pass to the other side of the fence up to bridge, with resurfacing necessary. To be funded by the racecourse. Improvements may also be sought to lighting to improve the environment after dark.

157 winners trained from Epsom in 2008: number of horses in training reported healthy, and prize winning performance good. There are currently no yards available for rent.

Cancellation of concerts on downs in 2008: the concerts have been ‘postponed’ from 2008 to 2009. Some questions about powers to stage concerts have been answered in brief, but these tend to underline the inadequacy of the original advice from counsel. The racecourse would like to seek approval from the next meeting of the Conservators, and approval from the Council shortly thereafter: one conservator pointed out that the economy would not have picked up by then, but the racecourse wants an approval in its pocket by then to enable advance planning. Another conservator agreed that the points raised by the consultative committee should be addressed in the advice to the conservators, but was reassured that ‘the answers would be the same’.

Bridleway 65: the ‘racehorses only’ sign will be repositioned within the next month, and a wider opening at the northern end will be put in place ‘imminently’.

Communication of the consultative committees’ views: two conservators thought that the consultative committee should be regularly invited to represent the views of the committee.

Out of control dogs: the clerk thought the byelaws were sufficient to ensure that dogs should be kept under control or on leads, but the legal team will provide advice on changing the byelaws if that is required. Simon Dow said the trainers wanted to see all dogs kept on leads while horses were in training (i.e. before noon), and thought that there were accidents waiting to happen, with various unpleasant incidents occurring. The chairman mentioned an email from a hack rider about dogs out of control, and the racecourse confirmed that this was a problem equally for hack riders. However, the downskeepers thought it would be difficult to enforce a requirement for dogs to be kept on leads: some dog owners could be abusive. A councillor thought there should be signs to drive the message home. It was observed that the byelaws had not been prosecuted for some years, and the conservators had to be confident that there was proper signage.

Proposed events on the downs: 2009 will be the busiest racing year ever, with 14 race meetings, including five days when there will be evening concerts after racing. The council will keep a schedule of events on its website, so that downs users can find out when conflicting events are taking place. One councillor hit the mark when she pointed out that the downs were supposed to be a place for quiet recreation, and that the conservators had no policy on what was an acceptable number of events. Ten runs had been planned for the winter period of 2008-09, and Simon Dow said that many of these were interfering with both training and recreational use of the downs, particularly as many events were set up early in the day. The conservators agreed that they needed a strategy to handle requests for such events, and decided to withhold permission for a charity fun run in the autumn.

Next meeting: 15 April 2009