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Meeting with CCC at the King’s Hall

[Rosemary Selling was taking proper minutes – this is the condensed version…]

FotD: Cllr Gillian Reuby, Phil Rose, Ros McIntryre, Phil Cheeseman
CCC Outdoor Leisure: Richard Griffiths, Rosemary Selling
CCC Street Scene: Richard Davidson
Kent Wildlife Trust: Fred Booth

1. Richard Griffiths (RG) told us that the Downs Management Plan would now be part of a wider Management Plan for the QE2 Coastal Park. This is unlikely to speed things up.

2. RG said the Plan would be “survey-led”, with the Plan being produced when we know what we’ve got.

3. Fred Booth (FB) pointed out that in parallel with the fieldwork, desk research would also be useful, particularly in well-documented areas like ornithology (check Kent Ornithological Society).

4. FB’s Survey will run from April-August, the results are expected in September.

5. The Kent Mammal Group (KMG) would help with a survey from September onwards. The necessary training would be provided at Wildwood.

6. RG expects the Plan to be drafted in late Autumn/Winter 2011, issued for consultation Spring 2012, and signed off Summer 2012.

7. Serco’s contract up for renewal in 2013, but is being reviewed currently.

8. In October 2009, there was a pot of £14k of S106 developers’ contributions ear-marked for the Downs. The cost of the KWT survey and “signage” leaves us with £10k.

9. Community Payback “volunteers” widely praised for their work weeding the paths and clearing shingle.

10. Litter picking – we now have the necessary sheaf of paperwork to complete before litter-picking. Now we just need to find out what dates our volunteers are available on.

11. The number, location and style of litter bins and dog bins will be discussed at the next PACT/Panel meeting, as will grass cutting and trimming.

12. Shelter. Although the Victorian shelter was covered by CCC’s insurance, it was under-insured. There is a suggestion that the shortfall can be absorbed by rolling it into the QE2 proposal… the Queen’s Shelter, perhaps.


My thoughts:

QE2 status is not a foregone conclusion – the process is ill-defined and involves bidding and public voting. CCC display great confidence that it will be awarded, to the point of making progress on the Downs management plan dependent on it. RG emphasised the the management plan should be “survey-led”, and this seems to him to be reason enough to put practically everything on hold until the Plan is complete.

The S106 Budget: We knew £2k was allocated to the KWT survey, having agreed to it at the FotD launch meeting in Autumn 2010. RG says £2k has been spent on “signs” – presumably the three new information panels, which were a Herne Bay in Bloom initiative. I’m surprised any of “our” S106 went towards these boards. The fact is that we have no control over the S106 Budget, although we are allowed to bid for funding from it on a project by project basis.

Richard Davidson (of CCC Street Scene) said there wouldn’t be any more gang-mowing on the rough Downs this year, as the contract for that area stipulates one cut a year. We would welcome a statement (in writing) to that effect, and a clear understanding that the trimming around the steps (4 times a year) won’t be done with tractors that leave wide swathes scalped. Similarly, we would welcome a written assurance that no grubbing, cutting, pruning or trimming of the blackthorn will happen before the Management Plan is complete.

If you have any thoughts on this, or any suggestions for the agenda of our next meeting with CCC, please add a comment below.

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  1. Amazing how simple it can be to communicate with people and have them understand a certain topic, you made my day.