Ebbisham Lane: The cyclists representative observed that the board at a recent meeting had duly received the clerkâ€™s report on the procedure for serving notice on the highway authority, but had not had any opportunity for discussion on the procedure, and the chairman very reluctantly accepted that a future board would be asked for its views. (Ed: it will be interesting to see how much latitude the board is given: the chairmanâ€™s antipathy was all too apparent.)
Dog control orders: The chairman said that the difficulty of enforcing dog control orders was key: education was important with better behaviour needed from dog owners. Officers had been working hard to achieve results at Nonsuch Park. After several members expressed concern about dog control, the clerk agreed to convey the committeeâ€™s views to officers about dog control on the downs. I suggested that some form of byelaw or dog control order was necessary as a longstop to deal with egregious behaviour, even if prosecution was unlikely to occur. However, the clerk noted that byelaw 22b dealt with out-of-control dogs, and that enforcement was the issue.
Chestnut paling fencing: Commented on the chestnut paling fencing going up a fortnight before the event: the racecourse said the fencing set out a footprint for the festival, and was therefore needed as the first step in marking out the downs. However, my point that the fencing stood in splendid isolation on the downs over the bank holiday weekend, serving no purpose at all, was side-stepped.
Authorisation of early fencing: the chairman said that the clerk stood by her advice, that the board could authorise something which the 1984 Act clearly does not permit it to do (Ed: notwithstanding its absurdity). No debate. (Ed: So itâ€™s official. The conservators and the racecourse donâ€™t consider themselves bound to operate within the terms of the 1984 Act, so why should anyone else?)
Clean-up of the downs after the Derby: it was recognised that glass had again been left behind, and I asked why the contractors were not required to deal with it. The racecourse said that broken glass was difficult to identify, and was sometimes missed. The contractors were keen to learn from feedback. (Ed: same story every year.)
Hack sand track: Full reinstatement would be very expensive, but would be considered at a future board meeting. Alex noted that even the current maintenance programme was inadequate, and that even if nothing could be done towards reinstatement, the track should be kept safe and convenient to use. It was unacceptable to persist with the current arrangements. The head downskeeper said he had acquired a harrow with the intention of harrowing once or twice a week. Integration of council operations with the downskeepers would also assist in maintaining a more effective programme of maintenance.
Hack rider misbehaviour: Simon Dowâ€™s report, previously not disclosed, referred to riding along the top of Six Mile Hill between the Polytrack and the woods. We said that this area needed better signposting, and proposed better markers at each end of the part which is not a hack ride. We agreed that we would inform other hack riders of the concerns expressed by the trainers regarding encroachment on this area and request them not to do so through the website. Done.
Hatched area: we asked the chairman to ask the TGMB to respond to the questions about what conditions would permit use of the hatched area. She agreed, but said she had little influence. (Ed: odd that, youâ€™d think the chairman of the conservators would have considerable influence. Perhaps she meant that she did not wish to wield it.)
Cycling on the downs: Epsom cyclists had asked for the hack ride along the south side of Juniper Hill to be authorised for cycling. We said this request had been made and refused twice in the past, on the grounds that the path was narrow and suffered from poor visibility. The clerk agreed there had been a lengthy debate on authorised cycleways, but it was a matter for the board to decide whether it wanted to review the matter. It was agreed to refer the matter back to the board, notwithstanding that there was no evidence that there had been any unfairness in past consideration. It could be a candidate for the downs tour.
Date of downs tour: 5 September 2011 at 1730.
Date of next consultative committee meeting: 31 October 2011 at 1800.