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Agenda and minutes

Venue: Virtual Meeting - Zoom Committee Meeting with Public Access via YouTube. View directions

Link: Watch Live Webcast

No. Item


Welcome and Introductions


Apologies for absence


Apologies were received from Simon Cooper (MV).


Membership for 2020/21 (Report of the Clerk to the Committee) pdf icon PDF 53 KB


The Downs Committee Membership for 2020/21 was NOTED. It was confirmed that Councillor Paul Goggin (Lab) is replacing Councillor Don Alexander.


Chairing Arrangements (Report of the Clerk to the Committee) pdf icon PDF 48 KB


The appointment of Gillian Camm as Master of the Merchant Venturers and Vice-Chair for Downs Committee 2020/21 was NOTED.


Retiring Members (Report of the Clerk to the Committee) pdf icon PDF 44 KB


RESOLVED The Downs Committee gave a vote of thanks to retiring members of the committee.


ACTION OH to send letter to retiring members thanking them for their past services to Downs Committee.


Dates and Times of Future Meetings - 2021 (Report of the Clerk to the Committee) pdf icon PDF 46 KB


RESOLVED the Downs Committee will meet on the dates indicated in this report.


Delegations (Report of the Clerk to the Committee) pdf icon PDF 53 KB


RESOLVED Events and Finance Sub-Group is re-established. It was NOTED that David Powell and Cllr Paul Goggin are the replacement members on this sub-group. The use of Task and Finish Groups is agreed.


Action Tracker pdf icon PDF 26 KB


The action tracker was NOTED.


ACTION OH update action tracker for next committee meeting.


Minutes of last meeting held on Monday 21st September 2021 pdf icon PDF 292 KB


RESOLVED the minutes of the previous meeting 21 September 2020 were agreed as a correct record.


Summary of the Events and Finance Sub-Group held on 28th October 2020 pdf icon PDF 72 KB


The Events and Finance Sub-Group summary report was NOTED.


Declarations of interest

To note any Declarations of Interest raised by Councillors.


Cllr Kye Dudd declared an interest as a member of the Downs Football League.


Public Forum pdf icon PDF 288 KB

To consider items of Public Forum sent to the Downs Committee.

Interested parties can submit a written statement of approximately

one side of A4 to the Downs Committee by sending it to Democratic

Services by no later than 12pm on Friday 13th November 2020.


Anyone who wishes to present their public forum

statement at the zoom meeting must register their interest by

giving at least two clear working days’ notice prior to the

meeting by 2pm on Thursday 12th November 2020.







FODAG – Update Report

Tim Parnell – Vehicle Dwellers

Giles Drewett – Vehicle Dwellers

Stephen Carroll – Vehicle Dwellers

Chris Hawkins (S) – Vehicle Dwellers

Mike Massey – Vehicle Dwellers

Sharon Baker – Vehicle Dwellers

Jon Craton – Vehicle Dwellers

Pete Vallance – Vehicle Dwellers

Bristol Vehicles for Change – Vehicle Dwellers


Downs Maintenance Report (Ben Skuse) pdf icon PDF 180 KB


Ben Skuse introduced the report and highlighted the following points:

·       This has been a period of very high rainfall, which causes considerable issues for ground management as vehicles are at risk of getting stuck in mud.

·       The report is slightly outdated with regards to football, which is on hold during the second lockdown.

·       We are currently losing grassland to scrub, so this will need to be mowed more intensively in future. 

·       4 new bins and 3 new memorial benches have been bought.

·       Evergreen oak is spreading strongly, which is an invasive species. It is being cut down and used as a food supply by Bristol Zoo.

·       The circus has finished its extended run and due to excellent management of the ground conditions there is little damage.

·       Extension of events into the Watertower Site will require more intensive management.


Discussion Notes:

·       The Evergreen Oaks were planted on the Downs in Victorian times for aesthetic purposes, but they are an invasive species. They are very large, spread fast and present a damage risk to clifftop areas. The leaf drops are acidic and nothing can grow under them when they drop. They can be identified by their more oval leaves and their retention of these leaves during winter.


The Downs Maintenance Report was NOTED.


Events Report (Amanda Sharpe) pdf icon PDF 54 KB


Amanda Sharpe introduced the report and highlighted the following points:

·       Since the last committee, 2 events have been running: Breaking Bread and Circus Montini.

·       Breaking bread had a successful 3 month run and decided to close in November due to worsening weather conditions. The lockdown would have resulted in closure anyway. BB provided employment for the hard pressed hospitality sector so the event has been very positive.

·       The circus had their run extended due to the cancellation of their Bath site. The circus was run successfully despite operating on a reduced capacity due to Covid restrictions.

·       A detailed schedule of proposed events is due to be agreed at the Events and Finance sub-group.


Discussion Notes:

·       The details of potential future restrictions on events are unknown. All event applications being considered are those that can be operated in a Covid secure manner. Organisations are asked to account for social distancing and increased hygiene. All events must be safety compliant and pass BCC, public health and emergency services measures.


The Events Report was NOTED.


Finance Update (Kevin Jay) pdf icon PDF 72 KB


Kevin Jay introduced the report and highlighted the following points:


This is the current financial outturn to end October. There is a substantial deficit in 20/21 caused by Covid disruption to events and hospitality and the estimated costs for judicial review. The deficit can be covered by previous year underspends.


Discussion notes:

·       It was confirmed that the overspend figures have been caused by several different drivers, but the most significant is legal fees related to the judicial review.



Vehicle Dwellers on the Downs (Mark Sperduty) pdf icon PDF 82 KB

(Report to Follow)


Mark Sperduty introduced the report and highlighted the following points:

·       This is a discussion paper to identify possible options to address concerns regarding vehicle dwellers. It makes no recommendations, but about what is possible on highway terms.

·       Single yellow lines and parking restrictions were installed following previous consultations between residents and visitors. Actions taken will have an impact on certain groups.


Discussion notes:

·       Concerns about vehicle dwelling have been raised by local residents in the public forum for this meeting and via local councillors.

·       Any proposed action would need to be examined in detail as it would require funding. The cabinet member for transport and the Mayor’s office would need to be involved in discussions. Any creation of new byelaws would need dedicated legal advice. Any enforcement would also require funding.

·       As vehicle dwellers live on the highway they are technically under the jurisdiction of the council highways department rather than Downs Committee. The committee would need to request that highways act on its behalf.

·       The original restrictions place on these roads needed large amount of consultation and negotiations. There will be a similar requirement for vehicle dwellers.


RESOLVED (unanimous vote FOR) That a Task and Finish group be created for the vehicle dweller issue, organised along similar lines to the parking task and finish group.


Christchurch Green Wildflower Beds pdf icon PDF 212 KB


Councillor Paula O’Rourke highlighted the following points:

·       Local residents have requested more wildflower meadow areas, with an associated reduction in short mown grassland.

·       This has been examined with BCC parks officers. The proposal is to have three swathes of natural grasses on Christchurch Green. There has been a site visit, with BB advising on ecology and best location (e.g. to avoid seeds going into the gorge).

·       The ask is for seed to be purchased and sown, harvested and replanted as part of a community project using hand tools.


Discussion Notes:

·       This site is next to Avon Gorge so we are being careful about any species potentially getting into the gorge. Native species mix, with only wildflowers and no grasses, suitable for limestone soil.

·       Concerns were raised over the height of grass and its position near the highway. Highways should be consulted to ensure that it does not block sightlines.

·       The cost for seed and planting is estimated at £200. POR has a community fund of £500 for the meadow and information boards. It is not clear whether this fund is for the meadow in general or just the boards.  

·       The area is to be maintained by a team of volunteers to remove any ongoing cost element to the project, however there are no formal proposals as yet.

·       BS confirmed that there was no significant ongoing cost apart from the initial planting and that BCC parks could cut the area if required. 

·       Concerns were raised over safety issues of volunteers using hand tools to cut the grasses. However, any volunteer cutters would be supervised properly and this has been done before with appropriate risk assessments.

·       It was confirmed that this seeding could be done in Spring 2021.


RESOLVED a more detailed report with relevant financial data should be presented at the January Downs Committee Meeting.


ACTION POR BS and BB to draft Christchurch Green Wildflower Bed report for next meeting.


Any Other Business


Date of Next Meeting

Subject to approval earlier in the meeting, the next Downs Committee meeting is scheduled to be held at 2pm on Monday 25th January 2021 as a remote zoom meeting.


The next meeting of the Downs Committee is Monday 25 January 2021.


Exempt Item: Bridge Road Toilet Block


RESOLVED (unanimous vote FOR) the recommendations are approved as set out in the report.