Venue: Woodley Town Council
Contact: Neil Carr Democratic Services Officer
Election of Chairman
To elect a Chairman for the 2018/19 Conference.
Kay Gilder was elected as Chairman of the Conference for 2018/19.
To receive any apologies for absence.
Apologies for absence were received from Laura Blumenthal.
Declarations of Interest
To consider any declarations of interest.
There were no declarations of interest.
To confirm the Minutes of the Meeting held on 11 December 2017.
The Minutes of the meeting of the Conference held on 11 December 2017 were confirmed as correct record and signed by the Chairman.
To consider progress relating to the Highwood Management Plan in 2018/19 and any matters arising.
Simon Bartlam, Countryside Operations Officer, introduced the Countryside Service report, set out on Agenda page 7. The report gave details of the activities carried out during the year in accordance with the Highwood Management Plan.
The report included details and analysis of the following issues:
· the installation of four welcome signs to the site entrances, funded through the Highwood access improvement scheme.
· the 5-8m strip of land on the side of the woodland would not be transferring from Cala Homes. Cala Homes would manage the land through a separate management company.
· progress was being made in closing unofficial access points to the site.
· the heathland scraping work had been successful with new heather coming through.
· progress on general work including cutting back footpaths, strimming and removing hung-up trees.
· dealing with one illegal encampment on the site.
· a small amount of fly tipping on the site and no issues with fires in spite of the hot summer.
· Bulmershe Pond – still waiting for the University to progress the transfer.
· no reported problems with cyclists – however, members were aware of a handful of issues over the year. It was felt that problems were most likely during school run times.
· two possible incidents of encroachment investigated – turned out to be on Cala Homes land – encroachment onto the ditch line.
· 65 volunteer workdays (excluding Friends visits).
· there remained £18,635 in access improvement money which could be used for additional path surfacing in 2019/20.
· the ditch towards Earley station had a number of blockages.
· the maturity of the woodland combined with drier weather suggested a move to more frequent inspections – twice per annum.
· Website – there had been little progress due to the continued secondment of a member of staff.
· a walker had fainted on site and it was felt that one or two additional log benches would be useful for walkers who needed to rest.
1) the Countryside Service report be noted;
2) the Countryside Service team be thanked for their ongoing work to support and improve the Highwood site;
3) Alison Swaddle use her University contacts to chase progress on the Bulmershe Pond transfer;
4) Countryside Service staff attend the site to monitor any issues with cyclists during school run hours;
5) Simon Bartlam investigate any legal/enforcement/signage issues relating to controlling the behaviour of cyclists on the site;
6) Simon Bartlam monitor any potential encroachment issues on the site;
7) the residual access improvement monies be used to fund additional pathway surfacing;
8) Simon Bartlam investigate the reported blockages in the ditch leading to Earley station;
9) routine tree/footpath inspections be increased to twice yearly;
10) Woodley Town Council and the WBC Communications team be asked for assistance on developing webpages for Highwood.
Report from the Friends of Highwood
To consider a report from the Friends of Highwood.
Freda Pattison gave an update from the Friends of Highwood group. The Friends continue to support the Countryside Service by patrolling the site every day, litter picking and reporting back on new issues.
Freda highlighted the issue of dog walkers not removing dog waste from the site. This was felt to be a national issue, but could be monitored locally to ensure the correct level of bins, signage, etc.
1) Simon Bartlem monitor any ongoing issues relating to dog waste on the site;
2) the Friends of Highwood be thanked for their continuing efforts to support and maintain the Highwood site.