Agenda and draft minutes

Commons Advisory Panel - Monday, 3rd February 2020 6.00 pm

Venue: Committee Room 1, City Hall. View directions

Contact: Ali Hewson , Democratic Services Officer  Tel:(01522 873370) e mail: alison.hewson@lincoln.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

16.

Declarations of Interest

Please note that, in accordance with the Members' Code of Conduct, when declaring interests members must disclose the existence and nature of the interest, and whether it is a disclosable pecuniary interest (DPI) or personal and/or pecuniary.

Minutes:

None declared.

17.

Confirmation of Minutes - 16 September 2019 pdf icon PDF 132 KB

Minutes:

RESOLVED that the minutes of the meeting held on 16 September 2019 be confirmed.

18.

Matters Arising

Minutes:

Minute No 10 Cyclocross

 

Caroline Steel, representing Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust, advised that a rather wet site meeting had been held to discuss the Cyclocross course together with the organisers. A unanimous decision was made that holding the event would cause damage to the South Common unless it stopped raining, which it didn’t.

 

Councillor Murray agreed it had been an awful wet Saturday morning. The Cyclocross event would cause serious damage to walking areas on the Common should it be allowed to go ahead. He emphasised that regular Commons users came before bike riders.

 

Jon Davies, representing Long Leys Residents Association, asked whether the reason for not allowing the event to go ahead was down to principle or a lousy winter.

 

Councillor Murray agreed that if the event had been scheduled for June it would be much more likely to be fair on the ground. For this reason he had personally carried out the inspection and found it to be incredibly unstable underfoot.

 

Alison Griffiths, representing Carholme Community Forum, explained that her husband enjoyed Cyclocross. Normally in December the ground would be hard underfoot due to frost, however, global warming had perhaps changed weather patterns.

19.

Standard Agenda Items

20.

Work Priorities - Use of Car Parking Income pdf icon PDF 207 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Steve Bird, Assistant Director, Communities and Street Scene:

 

a.    provided a report to update Commons Advisory Panel (CAP) on the work priorities agreed at previous CAP meetings using income from Lincoln City Football Club’s use of Malandry Close for car parking on match days

b.    advised that the updated balance as at 1 July 2019 totalled £20,778 and was estimated to reach approximately £25,000 by the end of the financial year

 

c.    outlined the content of the work programme which had been updated since the last meeting with a broad delivery timetable where defined dates were not yet available and costs included where known or estimated, (lines highlighted were already spent or committed) as detailed at Appendix A of the report

 

d.    highlighted that once actions were completed they would remain on the table for one meeting before being removed

 

e.    asked whether members had any further priorities to identify

 

f.     requested members’ feedback on the content of the report.

 

RESOLVED that contents of the work programme be noted.

21.

Commons Management Plan Update pdf icon PDF 216 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Steve Bird, Assistant Director, Communities and Street Scene:

 

a.    presented a report which provided an update to the Commons Advisory Panel (CAP) on the Commons Management Plan

 

b.    referred to an update on the Management Plan activities attached at Appendix A to the report, relating to the period July 2019 to January 2020, following on from the update issued to September CAP which showed a summary of the non-routine actions delivered since the previous update, ongoing works and works planned for the coming quarters, including on-going volunteer work

 

c.    reported that in 2020 the Volunteer Coordinator would be developing plans for volunteering on Common land, before launching a recruitment campaign for commons specific volunteers

 

d.    highlighted that a review of the Management Plan had commenced, and that at the June 2018 meeting of CAP it was agreed that a sum of money from the car parking income from Malandry Closes could be used to support this work

 

e.    reported that progress on the Management Plan had been limited due to a shortage of staff resources, however, thanks to the dedication of a ‘professional volunteer’ supporting staff and contributing significant time in 2018/19 updating and reformatting the previous version, progress had been possible

 

f.     highlighted that first draft aims and objectives for the revised Management Plan were circulated to CAP members in December involving liaison with Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust (LWT) as a ‘critical friend’ role

 

g.    reported that LWT had now carried out ecology surveys of the three commons and the outcomes of these surveys would be fundamentally important in informing the management actions; full survey results were expected later this month February 2020

 

h.    highlighted that a sub group of CAP members met in October to start Management Plan discussions and a further meeting would take place in early March, following which the draft Management Plan would be circulated to CAP members ahead of the following meeting

 

i.      requested the following feedback:

 

·         Members’ comments on the content of the report and action plan,

·         A CAP opinion on the frequency and method of cut and collection of grass on the City Commons, and

·         Whether members had any photographs/documents relating to Lincoln Commons to form part of the Commons archive and/or be used to tell the Commons story in the Management Plan document.

 

Members discussed the content of the report in further detail.

 

Grass Cutting Options

 

Gretchen Fixter, representing Lincoln Commons Horse Association, raised concerns regarding the grass on the West Common football pitches which caused laminitis for the horses if not collected.

 

Steve Bird, Assistant Director, Communities and Street Scene, highlighted that collection on a mass scale seemed complicated and expensive. He asked members for a view on what was required.

 

Members offered various suggestions including the option just to top the grass; the remaining grass contained less sugar and was not as bad for the horses. It was also requested that the grass on the football pitches be cut twice a year.

 

Sally Davies, representing South Park Residents Association, asked  ...  view the full minutes text for item 21.

22.

Fallow Period pdf icon PDF 120 KB

Minutes:

Steve Bird, Assistant Director, Communities and Street Scene:

 

a.    presented a report to seek further discussion on whether to hold a Fallow Period in 2020

 

b.    advised that under the terms of the Lincoln City Council Act 1985 the Council may require horses to be removed from Common land for a specified period in order to facilitate protection of the sward

 

c.    provided additional information about horse numbers as at 22 January 2020 at paragraph 3 of the report

 

d.    requested panel members’ feedback on whether a fallow period should be held on the City Commons in 2020 taking in to account the condition of the sward, horse numbers, and the potential benefits of holding a fallow period

 

e.    reported that the council had previously consulted with independent specialists on whether to hold a fallow period, should this be felt appropriate, however there were currently no plans to do so in 2020.

 

Gretchen Fixter, representing Lincoln Commons Horse Association, suggested that the horses should be allowed to stay on the Commons. The new growth was now drying out and it was becoming the norm to take them off. She also felt that the lack of horse dung during their absence did not help the wildlife. She added that the spring on the West Common was causing ground problems near the gate and not the horses.

 

Caroline Steel, representing Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust, advised that there were pro’s and con’s for having a fallow period. The South Common needed as many animals as possible. There had been a mild winter so the grass was growing on the West Common too.

 

Councillor Hills asked whether there was any merit in correlating the timings for horses grazing on the Commons with cut and collection of grass.

 

Gretchen Fixter highlighted that if the horses remained on the commons 24/7 the grass did not grow as much, although it still required cutting twice a year.

 

George Woolfenden, representing West End Residents Association (WERA) and the Open Spaces Society, requested that a fallow period be held on the West Common in 2020. He referred to the exceptionally wet conditions underfoot and huge amounts of water lying stagnant which was causing odours. He suggested that there was no effect on wildlife on the Common whether the horses were on or off.

 

Sally Davies, representing South Park Residents Association, highlighted that South Common was under grazed, therefore the horses should be transferred from the West Common to benefit both.

 

Vic Hughes, representing Lincoln Civic Trust, welcomed more horses on the South Common for grazing purposes.

 

Emma Olivier-Townrow, representing Long Leys Residents Association, highlighted that allowing the horses from the West Common to graze on the South may give some respite for horse owners not having to seek alternative stabling.

 

The opportunity for horses from Bransby Horses Home to be relocated onto South Common was mooted but dismissed by members.

 

It was moved, seconded and:

 

RESOLVED that:

 

1.    A fallow period be held on West Common only during the summer  ...  view the full minutes text for item 22.

23.

Reports from External Members

24.

West Parade Gate (by George Woolfenden)

Minutes:

George Woolfenden, representing WERA and the Open Spaces Society, brought members attention to the appalling state of the ground in the general area of the West Common Gate which was saturated with water. This was resulting in risk of damage to the horses’ tendons and ulcers.

 

He had visited the site with Steve Bird, Assistant Director, Communities and Street Scene and Simon Lawson, Community Contracts Officer, however, it had been identified there was no simple solution to the problem.

 

He suggested that it may help if the enclosure incorporating the pedestrian gate was taken further out to the end of the fence so that the public were protected from the horses. The ground around the enclosure also needed remedial work to make it firmer.

 

Steve Bird agreed the weather had been so exceptionally wet. He accepted it would be better to find a different type of surface for the ground which was difficult in terms of the Commons Act. Alternatively, it would be helpful to find a way of diverting the water in the form of a drain. He suggested contacting Bishop Burton College for advice and reporting back to the next meeting of Commons Advisory Panel,

 

Steve Bird also raised the potential for income from car parking charges on match days to be prioritised to address the issue, subject to the Panel’s approval.

 

Councillor Lucinda Preston suggested an item be included on the agenda for the next meeting to discuss the congregation of the horses near the pedestrian gate.

 

Emma Olivier-Townrow, representing Long Leys Resident’s Association, suggested moving the horses feeding station to help the situation.

 

Gretchen Fixter, representing Lincoln Commons Horse Association, urged that the feeding station should not be relocated too far away from its present location to help those people who weren’t car drivers.

 

Jon Davies, representing Long Leys Residents Association, asked whether it would be possible to pass a sweeping machine over the wet ground periodically to push the mud away.

 

Lee George, Open Spaces Officer, agreed to investigate this matter further with the council’s contractor.

 

RESOLVED that a site visit be conducted between Councillor Neil Murray and Steve Bird to assess a temporary solution to the wet ground problem until a time when finances became available to change the drainage system, to be reported back to the next meeting of Commons Advisory Panel.

25.

Feasibility of Opening Tree Plantations (Gretchen Fixter)

Minutes:

Gretchen Fixter, representing Lincoln Commons Horses Association, suggested opening up tree plantations to offer shade to the horses at the following locations:

 

·         One opposite Grandstand

·         Half of tree plantation near Travis Perkins gate.

 

Steve Bird, Assistant Director, Communities and Street Scene, recommended against such action to avoid stripping of the trees.

 

Gretchen Fixter advised that tree gates could be installed around those trees that needed protection.

 

George Woolfenden, representing WERA and the Open Spaces Society, suggested trialling an experiment keeping the trees on the outside of the enclosure.

 

RESOLVED that options for opening up a section of the tree plantation opposite the Grandstand on a trial basis be explored.

26.

A.O.B

Minutes:

Fence- South Common Lakes

 

Sally Davies, representing South Park Residents Association, advised that the fence at the lakes on the South Common was being set on fire on a regular basis with people camping in the area.

 

Councillor Murray advised this should be reported to the police as criminal damage.

 

Lee George, Open Spaces Officer, highlighted that the council did remove tents found abandoned. He advised that the intervention team had been made aware. Legal action would be taken if there was a lack of cooperation.

 

RESOLVED that the PPASB Team be requested to offer clarification on the approach taken by the council to vagrancy on the commons.

 

Bridge to Path- West Common

 

George Woolfenden, representing WERA and the Open Spaces Society, advised that the new bridge to the path at the south side of the West Common was now in operation. However, new signage was too high and users could not read it.

 

Sponsorship of Benches- South Common

 

Sally Davies, representing South Park Resident’s Association, asked whether the legality of benches being sponsored by loved ones had been followed up. She suggested the possibility of felled trees being made into benches.

 

Lee George, Open Spaces Officer advised that felled wood didn’t last as long as seasoned timber and became a health and safety issue.

 

Councillor Hills highlighted that there was a procedures in place at Hartsholme Park to dedicate benches to loved ones, the same regime must work for other parks.

 

Steve Bird, Assistant Director, Communities and Street Scene explained that each park had its own Advisory Group. The service had not yet had time to formulate a policy for dedicated benches on the City Commons due to stretched resources.

 

New Benches on South/West Common – Locations

 

Jon Davies, representing Long Leys Residents Association asked for confirmation of the locations for the new benches due to be installed in February 2020 on both the South and West Common.

 

Lee George, Open Spaces Officer agreed to circulate a list with the next set of minutes.

27.

Dates of Future Meetings

Minutes:

Monday 30 March 2020-6.00pm-Committee Rooms 1 and 2.