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Agenda and minutes

Contact: Oliver Harrison 

No. Item


Apologies and introductions


Apologies were received from Cllrs Clark, Davies and Dudd


Minutes of last meeting pdf icon PDF 186 KB


Amend minutes:

Mary Prior was in attendance.

Item 5: Change Wessex Water to Bristol Water

Minutes agreed as true record.


Declarations of interest




Public Forum


Downs for People introduced their public statement, quoting from the downs act that the park should be open and unenclosed and for public resort. Using it as a car park is contrary to this principle. Downs committee should not subsidise zoo for parking at low cost. Annual fee should be £100k.


The Lord Mayor thanked the authors for their statement and stated negotiations with the zoo were ongoing but on a commercial basis so cannot be made public. Providing best value for the Downs was a high priority.


Cycle Sunday

Vicky Craknell introduced her public statement, thanking the committee for extending the route. Event was well attended by a variety of people including children, elderly and even the disabled using mobility aids. Promoting leisure cycling rather than commuter cycling. Have doubts over the viability of the planned seven sister’s cycling loop and whether families will use it due to location. Would prefer to do shared use cycle path Stoke Road to Lockleaze or improve cycling around Sea Walls.


The Lord Mayor thanked Vicky for arranging the event and making it a success. The Seven Sister’s Loop is an ongoing issue for the Place and Movement group, but was being pursued as funding was available for it.  


Cllr Abraham suggested that the event could be brought to different parks across the city, especially to communities distant from the Downs.



Matters Arising from Events and Finance Group pdf icon PDF 43 KB


Cllr Alexander gave an update on the Blackboy Hill urinal. Temporary closure may be needed due to anti-social behaviour. Difficulty is that the urinal is a heritage building. Request a mandate to deal with at the next finance committee. Currently the urinal is being cleaned once a day, but further action may be needed.


Committee agreed to delegate the matter to the finance group with Cllr Alexander as lead.


Downs Management Report pdf icon PDF 89 KB


Maintenance Update


Key points are very dry recent weather conditions. Good subsequent rains meant good surface. Had to deal with frequent traveller encampments. Tour of Britain, Cycle Sunday, Lets Rock events in rapid succession. Redressing ground to make good for football pitches. Some health and safety issues to improve fencing and dissuade suicides. 40m stretch of fencing at the observatory needs improving. Looking at suitable companies now, will bring costing to finance group. Some railings need repair, BCC surveyors are looking at this. Downs dressing rooms were vandalised. With the end of summer holidays so should be fewer incidents.


Avon Gorge and Downs Wildlife Project Education Programme


Summer 2018 was an even better year than 2017 in terms of public engagement and an increasing variety of schools and playschemes from different areas are coming to visit. We had great feedback from the teachers, one in particular commenting about how children who struggle to engage in the classroom environment come alive and fully engage with our outdoor sessions. The Refugee family project is going really well with the group particularly enjoying taking part in the Peregrine Watch weekend. The Downs challenge project has also been a huge success with the children enjoying a session about peregrines and a spiders and minibeast session as well. The next ‘Brave the dark’ session is all about bats and moths. At the beginning of the school holidays we ran wildlife activities at the Lord Mayor’s ‘At home’ event at the Mansion. We took a display and leaflets to the Downs Festival but were not a very visible location however it was good to speak to an audience unaware of the wildlife of the gorge and Downs. We also ran wildlife craft activities at Cycle Sunday and will be attending the University Fresher’s fair next week to engage new students. Lots of events are planned over the coming months so it will be a busy autumn!


Delegated and Upcoming Events Proposed on The Downs pdf icon PDF 69 KB


Music event on Downs was very successful, but have some learning points. Organisers want to do a two day event next year, will require lots of scrutiny. An alternative event was held at St Mary's church. Tour of Britain was successful, but with smaller numbers this year due to falling on a school day. Some small amount of parking on site, but that was within planning expectations.


Upcoming events: Cycle Sunday needs to be added. Any returning events have permission in principle. If Pride wish to do a proposal, they should present detailed proposal, same for the Lets Rock 2 day. Will circulate upcoming circus tender via email.


Tour of Britain: Members asked for more community outreach. This was promised before by organisers but did not happen. They also asked if it was possible for the route to be more reflective of the city rather than just the suspension bridge.


Finance Report


DC is on target to deliver a balanced budget in 18/19 with some increases in income and expenditure.


Friends of the Downs and Avon Gorge Update pdf icon PDF 47 KB


Jack Penrose has retired from chair of FODAG, Robert Westlake has been elected as new Chair. FODAG has been approached by Groundworks South about a lottery funding grant to be shared between Stoke Park, Blaize and the Downs. Future proofing parks and ‘kick the dust’ programme to encourage young people to volunteer and get involved in friends groups.  


Committee had no knowledge of the proposal and asked Robert to make an approach to Groundworks South and ask them to attend the next Downs Committee in November.  


Any Other Business


Michael Everett was introduced as the leader of a suicide prevention group patrolling the Downs.  They have 20 trained volunteers patrolling the park and prevented a suicide last week. Michael was introduced to Ben Skuse, who is a member of a suicide prevention working group.