Management Minutes

8 May 2012, 2pm, Pill Resource Centre
Present
Cllr Don Davies
Cllr Carl Francis-Pester
David Parker
Maggi Stowers
Katie Spencer
1. Apologies
None
2. Minutes of the previous meeting
Agreed as correct
3. Matters arising
Future Governance and maintenance
The situation now is that NSC wants to hold onto their assets
unless there is a benefit to the tax payer in transferring them.
The remaining balance in the S106 account for maintenance is
£119,006.54 which will last approximately 7 years (going on past
years expenditure), although this could be stretched to last longer
now that larger projects have been completed.
Other opportunities for funding need to be explored and a plan
developed for maintenance. This needs to be factored into the
new management plan.
NSC is able to manage the site (amenity grass cutting, litter
picking and dog bin emptying) in a more cost effective way than
smaller organisations due to economies of scale.
4. Disabled access
The chicane barrier at the Watchhouse Road entrance has been
successfully adjusted to accommodate mobility scooters.
5. Skate park
The docks are still saying no to a BMX park. This would be an
ideal location away from houses and close to the motorway.
It is felt that the hill is not a suitable site due to its rural nature.
Locating a skate park near the MUGA or in the car park could be
a possibility as this area is more ‘park like’ but there is likely to be
opposition from residents due to the proximity to houses.
Construction and ongoing maintenance costs also need to
be considered. Cllr Francis-Pester said that the skate park in
Clevedon is in an ideal location as it is away from houses and
is in a prominent position as it is looked down on. Depending
on the ground conditions it shouldn’t need to cost more than
between £20-£50K to construct and around £2000/yr to maintain.
Who would pay for this? NSC would not be able to take on its
maintenance.
It was agreed that this item would be kept on the agenda as
Arthur is continuing negotiations with the docks.
The hospital area is now being developed. As with all planning
applications there will be the opportunity for people to comment.
6. New path and cycle path drainage
The newly installed stone dust path is a success and there does
not seem to be a problem with drainage.
The grass at the top of the cycle path is boggy. The pond is
overflowing and water is running across the cycle path. Maggi
and Katie to have a site visit.
7. Horse riding
Now that Katie has the addresses of the liveries she will send the
letters out.
Maggi will write an article for the Pill Paper towards the winter if
horse riding is still a problem then.
8. Dog mess
It seemed that the spray painting ‘campaign’ did help to reduce
dog fouling but since Maggi has stopped spraying piles the
situation has got worse again, especially at the Watchhouse
Road entrance. Maggi will start spraying dog mess again and will
put bags on the fence (the PC is providing free bags as part of a
village campaign to reduce dog fouling).
9. Green Flag and management plan
Because Watchhouse Hill received over 70% last year and has
achieved the award for two years in a row, there will be no official
judging day this year – but a ‘mystery shop’ instead. We have no
idea when the judges will do this. Katie is organising for back-
edging along the paths again.
The existing management plan needs to be reviewed and a new
one written to cover the period 2013-2017. Katie will liaise with
Arthur and Maggi over this.
10. Review of action plan
All the activities carried out within the action plan will be reviewed
as part of the management plan review.
11. Temporary boundary fence
The landowner was within his rights to put up a barbed wire
fence along the boundary with the hospital – there is no law that
prevents this. NSC pointed out the risks to the landowner, who
promptly replaced the wire with normal wire.
12. Diamond Jubilee and Beacon
There will be a beacon on the hill on Monday 4 June, which has
been registered with the Queens Jubilee Beacon website. The
bonfire is being organised by the friends group (who have sent
the paper work to the NSC events team) as part of a wider event
organised by the Pill and District Children and Young Peoples
Partnership.
The turf is being cut back and saved so that it can be put back
after the bonfire to reduce damage.
Arthur and Dave are organising materials. Carl has agreed to
transport pallets.
13. Next grass cuts
Katie will raise an order to Dave for cutting the orchard grass and
mowing paths through the main field to be done ASAP.
14. Woodland management
David reported that Arthur and he have carried out coppicing
work in area D1 and near Margin 2 and removed 2 oaks and
some silver birches near the river outflow. There is still more to
be done.
It was agreed that this work would be continued in October after
the bird nesting season – to prevent disturbance to birds and
other wildlife in general.
15. AOB
Mini street games festival, Saturday 2 June is being organised by NSC Active Lifestyles Team to tie in with the Pill Rag. There will be multi-sports in the MUGA and
Yoga and Zumba on the grass.
Bristol’s Biggest Bike Ride, Sunday 17 June
Katie has let them know that now the chicane barrier has
been widened cyclists should be able to get through without
dismounting. They may still want to remove a section of the
fence.
16. Wildlife surveys
Giles Morris is carrying out a bird survey again this year. Maggi
will be doing the flora and amphibian surveys shortly.
17. Date of next meeting
Tuesday 4 September 2012, 10am
____________________________________________
7 February 2012, 10am Pill Resource Centre
1. Present
Cllr Don Davies
Arthur Taylor (part)
Maggi Stowers
David Parker
Peter Milner
Katie Spencer
2. Apologies
Cllr Carl Francis-Pester
3. Minutes of the previous meeting
Agreed as correct
4. Matters arising
Trees : There is an oak tree with possible failing branches overhanging
the weld mesh fence. Katie will ask Tree Officer to assess.
Young oak trees by the river out flow require thinning to promote
good specimens.
5. Jubilee
A beacon to celebrate the Queens Jubilee on 3 June was
discussed. Branches from the felled oak could be burnt during the
day. Katie thought that as long as it was risk assessed and wasn’t
a large bonfire there should not be a problem but expressed
concern about damage to the grass. This will be discussed more
at the next FoWH meeting and Maggi will liaise with Katie to
agree on a way forward.
7. Future Governance
It was agreed at the last meeting that John Flannigan was going
to speak to James Foster who was going to make contact with
the PC. Cllr Davies said that he had not heard anything yet. Katie KS
to investigate.
The issue of the S106 account was raised. Katie will find out
the remaining balance and information on expenditure for the
next meeting. Legally the S106 money can only be spent on
8. Disabled access
It was agreed that the existing chicane barriers be adjusted to
accommodate mobility scooters. A ‘K’ barrier was discussed
but was not considered the best option as it is more costly and
motorcycles could easily access the hill from the car park end. It
would also not allow access for horses.
9. Wheels project
A permanent stake park is being built in Clevedon and Cllr
Davies suggested that a similar project could be implemented on
Watchhouse Hill as consultation has revealed that this is what the
youths would like to see. The consensus was against tarmacking
anymore of the site as it is being managed as a natural site rather
than a park. The Inspire rangers also supervise skate/BMX ramps
from the play pod on the MUGA.
Developing a permanent skate park in the unused end of the car
park has previously been discussed but this idea was dropped
due to opposition from residents. This area could still be a
possibility.
Arthur said he is keeping the pressure on the docks for a possible
BMX park and will report back at the next meeting.
The area by the hospital could be used as an ‘unofficial’ area until
it is developed.
10. Cycle path drainage channel and drainage along new path
The new drainage is working well apart from one small section
that may require attention. Further up there is a section which
is very boggy and water has been running across the path and
freezing causing a hazard.
Maggi mentioned that a drain may be needed for the new
path that is being installed as water running across may cause
erosion. It was agreed that the path should be installed first and
then the drainage assessed. Katie will check the professional
opinion of the contractor.
Katie and Maggi to have a site visit to look at these after the
meeting.
11. Tree thefts
There were no tree thefts. These were holes left for planting replacement trees!
12. Horse riding
There have been lots of complaints about people riding on the
cycle path verge and onto the main field area.
This is causing damage to the ground, especially during wet
weather.
Katie explained that in the first instance NSC would try to
accommodate horse riders by allowing permissive access on
paths where it is appropriate as there are not many bridleways they can use.
It was agreed that letters would be written to liveries in the area
explaining that there is no bridleway and we do not have to allow
access, but that we do not wish to exclude horses altogether and
so we allow horse riders permissive access on the cycle path,
reiterating the damage that horse riding on the grass during wet
weather causes. Maggi will draft the letter and send to Katie.
Maggi will also draft a similar article to go in the Pill Paper to raise MS
awareness.
Katie will get quotes for some permanent signs to go up.
13. Dog mess
Maggi has been spray painting dog mess and has written a letter
to the Pill Paper regarding the diseases that can be contracted
from dog mess, along with putting up more signs and offering
bags to people.
Katie will see if Environmental Protection can target the hill in
2012. The site was patrolled in 2011 but no one was caught not
picking up.
The Parish Council are taking a village campaign forward to
reduce dog fouling. Arthur will report back at the next meeting.
14. AOB
Katie will check if the NSC Play Rangers are still inspecting the
MUGA.
A roundhouse is still being considered as a project by the Pill and
District Children and Young Peoples Partnership. This will be
discussed at the next meeting.
The fence along the boundary with 1 Watchhouse Road has been
repaired by SB Fencing.
Katie will get quote for new section of drainage channel and get
the contractor to look at the small section that does not seem to
be working properly. Need to assess cost effectiveness of new
drainage and if water running across the path here is an ongoing
issue when it rains. If it only happens very occasionally then other
options could be considered such as salt grit.
Katie will discuss the new path and drainage issue with the
contractor.
15. Date of next meeting
Tuesday 8 May 2012, 10am Pill Resource Centre
_________________________________________

Tuesday 11 August 2009, 2pm, Pill Resource Centre

Present

 Cllr Nan Kirsen, Maggi Stowers, Arthur Taylor, David Parker, Brian Heaton
 
Esme Gilling, Susan Stangroom

1. Apologies

Cllr Carl Francis-Pester

Peter Milner, Friends of Watchhouse Hill

Claire Courtier, Ranger

2. Minutes of the previous meeting

Agreed as correct.

3. Matters arising

Picnic tables

David suggested that the logs resulting from proposed felling/pruning of ash tree could be used to make picnic tables.

Encroachment

No progress on this. Maggi to write to Carl Francis-Pester to try to expedite the matter.

Check list sheets

Still not done.

Interpretation boards

Esme had spoken to Chris Richards about historical information for the boards. Chris thought Maggi had a huge amount of knowledge, sufficient for the boards, which he would be happy to expand upon if necessary. Maggi thought there could be some confusion with Dorothy Baker. John Rich was named as also being very knowledgeable. Old photos of the site had gone to auction and ended up with Cllr Mrs Kirsen who had sent them to the Somerset Records Office at Taunton.

Esme had contacted Bob Smisson to see if he was interested in looking at the archaeology of the hill. He is liaising with Peter Milner.

Youth shelter

This has now been installed.

 4. Green Flag feedback

The site failed to get the Green Flag for the second year running. The site itself appeared to impress the judges and the management plan and supporting documentation was the reason it failed. Arthur had re-drafted the management plan and the marketing strategy to make it site-specific. The plan would be circulated for comments. Health and Safety issues were specifically raised and the need for a clear risk management system. Cllr Mrs Kirsen suggested looking at the risk management system in place for Abbots Pool which had been awarded the Green Flag. There also needs to be a facility for updating the plan on an annual basis, to provide a “paper trail” to detail how things have been dealt with. Site signage should give a contact telephone number and an emergency number for out-of-hours.

Maggi was unhappy about the reference to a park. The site is not a park but a public open space. Susan said that a number of different classifications had been given to the Council’s open spaces, to include community parks, formal parks, etc. Esme to forward relevant guidance notes to Arthur. Cllr Mrs Kirsen suggested preparing a leaflet for next year’s judges with photos and information on the activities that have taken place over the year.

5. Orchard cutting/grazing

Susan attended the meeting to give her opinion on the best time for grass cutting of the various fields. The orchard has always presented problems with all the trees making the use of machinery difficult. Susan suggested there may be potential for storing arisings on site as small compost heaps. Esme had spoken to David Smith about the possibility of grazing and David had said he would be prepared to consider grazing some young calves next year before the apples fall. This idea was considered impractical due to lack of water, and concerns about public access into a relatively small space with livestock. Susan said that the orchard is not species-rich but the tall structure of the grass is of relevance, giving habitat for grasshoppers and brown butterflies. Introducing Yellow rattle (being parasitic) would reduce the amount of grass to be cut. Brian had tried this without success. Cllr Mrs Kirsen remembered the site being cut every 2 weeks in the past. After much discussion it was decided that the orchard would be cut in late April/May with the cutter height set at 3-4”, mid-August and November, with the arisings to be removed after the first cut and November cut. The uncut margin would be more beneficial to wildlife if it linked to other wildlife habitats such as the woodland, so the uncut margin (5m width) would from now on be moved to the woodland fringe. The existing margin would be removed by one third in August, one third in November and the remaining third in the spring.

 6. Grass cutting regime

Susan had walked the site quickly in the morning to consider the best grass cutting regime for the various sections. In order to provide habitat for voles in the main field it would need to be cut once in July. Chris Sperring is the local authority on birds of prey and can advise further on this. A late haycut would be beneficial for allowing plants to set seed and for grasshoppers.

The banks are good for feeding birds and butterflies. In order to leave berries for the birds it would be best if the banks (B1 – B5) are flailed once every 3 years, during October to January, on a rotational basis with the arisings left. For this purpose B1 and B2 will be classed as one area (B1) and B4 and B5 as one area.

Susan noted that the slope alongside the river, by the bench and the viewing point, had potential for grassland restoration (a good growth of knapweed was noted). Scrub needs to be managed on this bank.

 7. Drainage channels

The pea gravel in the drainage channels has not worked. The stone has been strewn across the path and needs to be swept back. A working party is needed to do this. A suggestion was brought to the meeting that a length of terram be pegged over the channels with sand on top and grass seeded in the sand. Esme to consult with a Council drainage engineer.

8. Signage

No update as Peter not at meeting.

9. Football pitch

Esme had spoken to Chris Ashcroft, Senior Valuer in the Valuation Section, concerning the Parish’s wish to take on the bookings of the pitch. There will need to be a formal application – send a letter to him. Some form of licence would need to be drawn up and a fee agreed. A storage container on site would need either a licence or lease (depending on the permanence of the structure).

10. Any other business

Fire

A fire had been started of the cut grass on the hill. David Parker had managed to put it out before the fire brigade arrived.

Proposed development

Maggi told the group of a proposal to build houses on the other side of the river at Shirehampton which would affect the view from the hill. There will be full public consultation next January and it was suggested that there should be representation from the group to see how it would affect us.

Apple pickers

Brian is still looking for these. David said they are sometimes available from Lidl quite cheaply and he would buy some (6 needed) if possible.

Volunteer day

Claire had passed on the message that she would be happy to organise a volunteer day at the end of the summer with the Friends group to carry out any tasks required. Maggi said that a gardening day is in the diary. Sarah Vincent is running an event (Teddy Bears Picnic) on the hill on 1 September. Maggi will contact Sarah to see if she is advertising the event.

 11. Date of next meeting

Tuesday 17 November 09, 2pm, Resource Centre (Note)

 

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