Training Grounds Management Board: TGMB agreed refurbishment of the Mac track and the Poly track (at the bottom and top of Six Mile Hill). This is now underway, with the Mac track already reopened. The position on use of the hatched ground was unchanged, and predictably there was no mention of the questions which we discussed at the consultative committee meeting and asked the chairman to raise at this meeting.
Dog control: no news.
Horse margin, Langley Vale Road: Signage about priority to horses in training are being prepared. There was yet another redundant discussion about the status of the horse margin as a public bridleway (this ground has been covered more than once before). It was suggested that cycling could be prohibited before noon, but the highway authority was not receptive.
Mid-year budget monitoring report: The treasurer reported that current and forecast spending levels were reducing available reserves. A deficit of Â£27k was forecast for 2012â€“13, which would reduce the working balance to around Â£20k. The treasurer noted that scope for further savings and opportunities to generate more income were limited, and a review of contributions was desirable. Although the council was facing an 11% budget cut, it might be possible to use contingency to fund an increase in the councilâ€™s precept. The racecourse said that new funding was not realistic, and the conservators should start exploring previously discounted options, such as charging for parking and events. Was there really no scope to reduce costs? The treasurer said that a proposal for new rotas (to reduce the staffing requirement) had been rejected three years ago, but could be revived: decisions on next yearâ€™s budget were needed by January. Central services provided by the council were generally not charged even now. The head downskeeper said that staffing had already been cut back. There was a discussion of whether charges could be made for external events held on the Downs (i.e. non-racing events), with several board members speaking in support of recovering the costs of hosting the events, and a report was commissioned from the racecourse and officers for the next meeting in January, which would need to consider the legal framework. Meanwhile, a proposal from the chairman to increase precepts by 4Â½% for 2012â€“13 was deferred until the next meeting.
Music nights: The head downskeeper reported that better racecourse stewarding and police intervention (confiscating extensive quantities of alcohol from under-age drinkers) had helped to reduce the amount anti-social behaviour. One board member reported particular problems with use of Chalk Lane. The board agreed to pass on its thanks to Surrey Police. The racecourse planned just three events next year, because of the Olympics, targeted at an older profile.
Hack posts: A number of new hack marker posts have been installed. Yellow hack ride arrows, used to identify hack rides available after noon, will be marked with a red border, to distinguish them from public footpath waymarks.
Training restrictions: The TGMB has resolved to tighten up on regulations regarding training on the downs, and the head downskeeper will consider whether increased patrolling of the gallops can be done in the afternoon.
Diamond Jubilee beacon: The event would follow the Derby weekend, organised by the scouts, and parking might be limited owing to dismantling within the Tattenham Enclosure. A question was asked about the financial implications, in terms of cleaning up and additional patrolling: however, it was expected that additional costs would fall on the council vice the conservators. The proposal was agreed in principle, with provision of food and drink (with reservations expressed about alcohol).
Events on the downs: several small events were approved.
Conservatorsâ€™ downs tour: This had taken place on 7 October. No substantive discussion.
Minutes of the consultative committee: This had taken place on 4 July. No substantive discussion.
Hack sand track: A capital bid had been submitted to the council as one of the precepting bodies. The total cost would be Â£140k, shared between the precepting bodies. The racecourse was asked to note the capital requirements, having regard to the risks of the existing facilities.
Route to the south of Juniper Hill, designation for inclusion as authorised cycle routes: the chairman summed up by saying that the situation should be left as it is, so that the route would not be designated, but equally, there would be no enforcement. The county council would be asked to remove the route from its map of cycle routes.
Pathway near 10th hole of golf course: Proposal agreed.
Surface of Ebbisham Lane: The chairman confirmed that copy of my email of 11 October had been received by board members. Comments were invited. The clerk said a site visit had taken place last year. Her report on the notice process was before the board. Costs depended on who drafted the notice: if done in-house, the costs would fall on the legal team, else counsel would cost Â£1k. Other organisations were at liberty to serve a notice. The chairman noted my comments that the process was intended to be straightforward. The racecourse asked whether the road fell within the conservatorsâ€™ jurisdiction, as the road was in the adjoining borough: why was it of concern to the board? The conservators had a duty to maintain the car park at the foot of Ebbisham Lane. The chairman expressed reservations about spending any money on the process, however little. One member said she would change her mind if the cost was less than Â£1k. The clerk noted the implications of lack of repair for reinstating the hack sand track. The board agreed to take no action.
Downs strategy: The chairman asked to see the downs strategy action plan by the next meeting.
Date of next meeting: Was agreed for Thursday 19th January 2012. A meeting on the alterations to the Tattenham Flat and Lonsdale Stand was agreed for 10th November 2011 or Monday 21st November, to be decided by the racecourse.