Training Grounds Management Board: Agreement was given (with no discussion) to extend the polytrack to its original intended full length.

Dog control: the promised update was that there was nothing to report. A possible dog control order could not be taken forward unless there was sufficient funding for enforcement – which there was not. There was the possibility of a roadshow on the downs to promote better education. One member said it was important to keep dog control high on the agenda, and the recent incident (see link from blog) was mentioned. But it was unclear what, if anything, was being done to keep it high on the agenda.

Epsom Downs Racecourse Family Funday: plans for a combined trainers’ open day and family funday racecourse meeting.

Kite flying: Chris Grayling MP had written with his concerns about kite fliers and model aircraft fliers being in conflict. Downs officers had gained the support of the model aircraft fliers to resolve the situation. Downskeepers are said to be vigilant to address any problems.

Integration of maintenance downskeeper: concerns expressed by the trainers’ representative about whether recent changes to staffing portended a threat to the level of support currently delivered by the downskeepers. He asked that arrangements be reviewed regularly. A member made the sensible point that pressures on the downs were increasing because of housing developments in the area, but there was no increased funding for downskeeping.

Events on the downs: approval was sought for four events on the downs – Omni Terrier Derby (28 August 2011), Cross Country League Race (12 November 2011), Tadworth Athletic Club 10 mile run (2 January 2012), and Rotary Club Sponsored Walk (13 May 2012). The racecourse said they needed to recover their costs of stewarding where this was provided, and a member asked if charges could be raised: the racecourse wanted the conservators to look at cost recovery. There was a possibility of other applications coming forward later in the spring. There was the usual criticism of excessive numbers of events (which appeared to be predicated on a misunderstanding of how many events had been approved – just three for the year not counting the four up for approval). It was agreed to review the strategy, and the limits on the number of events, at the next meeting. Meanwhile, the applications were approved. The Tadworth Athletic Club was criticised because the route adopted would encourage encroachment on the training areas and was timed to set up early in the morning: it was approved subject to set up beginning no earlier than noon. There was a lengthy discussion about the Race for Life, for which an application had only just been received. Probable numbers were above the threshold previously advised by the board. It was agreed that details submitted were too thin and too late to enable a decision to be taken by the board, but concern for the presentational implications of a refusal led to authorisation of the chairman to agree detailed plans. However, it seemed likely that the organisers would be told that the event would not be permitted subsequently. The public comments received on the refusal of the Oddballs’ Perch event were ‘noted’: one member, noted for her advocacy of refusals, said the comments were ‘valid’, which was odd.

Downskeepers’ hut: the racecourse said that they now had a proposal connected with the downskeepers’ accommodation which they wished to bring to the next meeting. This would involve some landscaping in the area to enable easier use of the land for raceday facilities, but also improve public amenity, improve fencing, and provide some funding for replacement accommodation. The works could be carried out early in the New Year. So no further action was taken on the report recommending refurbishment. However, a warning was sounded about potential planning permission issues. The chairman criticised the late announcement from the racecourse, and stressed that she wanted a detailed report for the next meeting.

Hack sand track: the report suggested that works costing £34k would be wasted in the long term and adequate structural works costing around £140k were needed to preserve the equine sand. The chairman said the report was clear, and the board didn’t need to go through it. It might be possible to spend capital savings from the downskeepers’ hut on the £140k works, and it was agreed to prepare a scheme for capital funding (but don’t hold your breath). The treasurer said that the issue around health and safety was critical, and a case should address the board’s responsibilities. The trainers’ representative said that only spending the full £140k would protect the investment; recent maintenance had increased, and he suggested that summer maintenance should be adequately continued throughout the entire year. The head downskeeper said that maintenance couldn’t be done during the racing season, as they didn’t have time to do this, although they had done a good deal of flint picking by hand during the winter months. Officers said they would look at providing additional resource from grounds maintenance. Stone picking machines had difficulty collecting variable sized stones, and a membrane was needed to exclude stones. Spreading the sand around did not necessarily improve conditions for riders, even though the appearance was better. Option 1 was approved (care and maintenance – except during the summer it seems), and the contractors would be approached to refine their costings of the full £140k option.

Gypsy caravan site (Derby): the proposal was to adopt and construct a new entrance onto Langley Vale Road to better manage access to the gypsy caravan site, which was agreed.

Lower Mole Countryside Management Project: it was strongly agreed to “note the proposal made by Surrey County Council with regard to the level of support and financial contribution it provides the Lower Mole Countryside Management Project†and “That the Conservators express their views on the proposal and request the Clerk to respond to Surrey County Council appropriately.â€

Date of next meeting: 27 June 2011.