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Agenda and minutes

Venue: A Committee Room - City Hall, College Green, Bristol, BS1 5TR. View directions

Contact: Amy Rodwell 

No. Item


Welcome, Introductions and Safety Information


The Chair welcomed everyone to the meeting and noted that there were some items of Chair’s Business to cover.

·       Unfortunately, there was no further update on the governance arrangements, specifically in relation to the Downs Coordinator secondment role.

·       There had been lots of work going on behind the scenes since the last meeting including a site visit to the Downs changing rooms, and setting up two Task & Finish Groups, one on parking and another on buildings assets and infrastructure.



Apologies for absence


There was none.



Declarations of interest

To note and Declarations of Interest raised by Councillors.


There was none.



Memberships for 2022/2023 pdf icon PDF 52 KB

Additional documents:


It was noted that a mistake had been made on the initial report, but this had since been updated and a supplementary report was published online with meeting papers.


It was noted that Jonathon Baker had served on the Committee for 7 years. As per the new Governance arrangements approved at the Committee meeting on 19th October 2022, it states that Members would typically not serve more than six years but on an exceptional basis (and subject to agreement from the whole committee) an individual could serve up to nine years. The Committee voted as to whether Jonathon Baker should continue to serve the Committee for another year which was APPROVED (13 For, 1 Against).


RESOLVED: that the Downs Committee membership for 2022/23 be noted.



Chairing Arrangements pdf icon PDF 50 KB


RESOLVED: that the appointment of Patrick Despard as Master of the Society of Merchant Ventures and Vice-Chair of the Downs Committee be noted.



Retiring Members pdf icon PDF 45 KB


RESOLVED: that the retirement of members of the Downs Committee be noted and a letter thanking them for their past service be sent by the Clerk to the Committee.



Delegations pdf icon PDF 66 KB



The Committee re-established the Events & Finance Sub-Group;

The Committee established a Buildings, Assets and Infrastructure Task & Finish Group;

The Committee established a Parking Task & Finish Group;

The Committee sets up Task and Finish Groups as necessary for other areas of work.



Dates and Times of Future Meetings pdf icon PDF 58 KB


RESOLVED: that Downs Committee meeting dates for 2022/23 be noted.



Minutes of last meeting pdf icon PDF 208 KB


RESOLVED: that the minutes of the last Downs Committee meeting on 19th October be noted.



Action Tracker pdf icon PDF 46 KB


The Chair ran through actions from the previous meeting and updates were provided.


ACTION: Request a briefing from Bristol Zoo Gardens colleagues on planning application development proposals.



Matters Arising From the Events and Finance Group pdf icon PDF 56 KB


David Freed noted an amendment to the Events & Finance Sub-Group minutes on 1st November; Item 1, bullet point 2 – the last sentence to be removed as it was incorrect.



Public Forum pdf icon PDF 243 KB

Up to 30 Minutes is permitted for this item.


To consider items of Public Forum sent to the Downs Committee. Interested parties can submit:


·       A written statement of approximately one side A4 no later than 12pm on Friday 11th November 2022.


·       A maximum of 2 written questions (which will be answered verbally at the meeting) must be received 3 clear working days prior to the meeting.  For this meeting, it means that your question(s) must be received no later than 5pm on Tuesday 8th November 2022.


·       You will have the opportunity to ask one supplementary question arising directly out of each of the original questions or replies.


Please send submissions to Democratic Services at


Please note that your statements and questions will be sent to Committee Members and published on Council’s website prior to meeting.




The following Public Forum questions were received:

1.      Robert Westlake (in person)

2.      Susan Cater (in person)

The Chair provided verbal answers to the questions.

The following Public Forum statements were received and noted by the Committee:

1.      Mark Ashdown (in person)

2.      Susan Carter (in person)

3.      Robert Westlake (in person)

ACTION: Area Parks Supervisor to share existing maps of the Downs in upcoming report to the Downs Committee meeting in January 2023.



Downs Management Report pdf icon PDF 47 KB


The Area Parks Supervisor introduced the Downs Management Report and highlighted key points:

·       This was the last report of a very busy year for the team.

·       The team contended with weather warnings over the summer for storms and extreme heat. The high temperatures meant a high risk of fires on the Downs.

·       There were 2 confirmed fires on the Downs, but no one was harmed.

·       A prolonged warm wet period in the Autumn meant that the grass was growing for longer than usual.

·       An update on winter activity for the team was provided.

·       The Chair asked if the impact of Covid-19 lockdowns were still affecting the usage of the Downs and was advised that usage seemed to be back to normal, although, more people who may have found the space during the lockdowns may be continuing to visit.



Downs Education Report pdf icon PDF 93 KB


The Learning & Engagement Officer for the Avon Gorge & Downs Wildlife Project introduced the report. Discussion points are as follows:


·       The number of events had been reduced since the Biodiversity Education Manager had resigned but various activities were still taking place such as guided walks and wonder talks.

·       The Learning & Engagement Officer’s contract was due to end when the Education Programme finished in October 2022 but as the Biodiversity Education Manager had resigned, the contact was extended until December 2022.

·       A Member suggested that the programme engages with disadvantaged children and care leavers in the city. It was noted that as part of the programme, they were already trying to target deprived areas of the city and offering free transport to the Downs, although this was only an option for a limited number of schools due to lack of funding.


ACTION: Learning & Engagement Officer to circulate the Education Programme’s Development Plan and provide list of schools who engage.


The Committee thanked the Learning & Engagement Officer for their hard work on continuing the Education Programme.



Events Report pdf icon PDF 72 KB


It was noted that the Events Officer could not attend the meeting to present the events report, but the Area Parks Supervisor provided a brief update.

The team were looking at finding replacements for gaps in the event schedule for 2023 and that they were trying to come up with a system to progress smaller events on the Downs.


The Chair asked Committee members to raise any ideas for events on the Downs ahead of the next meeting in January where this would be discussed in more detail.



Finance Report pdf icon PDF 93 KB


It was noted that the Finance Officer could not attend the meeting to present the finance report.


The Chair noted that there was a £76k deficit which the Committee needed to work on reducing over the coming years.



Any Other Business


The Area Parks Supervisor noted that there had been a request for further gas pipeline works to take place on the Downs which required the Committee’s approval. Maps showing the location were shared on screen and it was noted that this would be charged at a further £17k and contractors would be responsible for reinstating the ground once the work was complete. The work requires installing a two story structure and would be in place from May 2023-December 2024.


Members raised concerns around installing gas pipelines in a climate emergency, but the Area Parks Supervisor advised that this was to replace old infrastructure.


Members were cautious about an increased compound size and asked that a further briefing be brought to the next meeting in January.


ACTION: Area Parks Manager to provide a further briefing for Committee Members on the gas pipeline works at the next Committee meeting.