Agenda Item No.
GLAMORGAN HERITAGE COAST ADVISORY GROUP
Minutes of a meeting held on 12th September, 2014.
Present: Councillors R.F. Curtis, Mrs. V.M. Hartrey and Mrs. A.J. Preston.
Also present: Mrs. H. March, N. Sharp (Natural Resources Wales), B. Acott (Friends of Glamorgan Heritage Coast), Councillor A. Morgan (One Voice Wales) and Councillor G. Davies (Bridgend County Borough Council).
(a) Appointment of Chairman -
AGREED - T H A T Councillor Mrs. A.J. Preston be appointed Chairman for the current municipal year.
(b) Appointment of Vice-Chairman -
AGREED - T H A T Councillor Mrs. V.M. Hartrey be appointed Vice-Chairman for the current municipal year.
(c) Apologies for Absence -
These were received from Councillors J. Drysdale, R.P. Thomas and E. Williams, Mr. J. Golunski (Dunraven Estates), Mr. R. Perons (Crown Estates) and Ms. G.M. Barter (Natural Resources Wales).
Prior to the consideration of the minutes, Councillor Curtis, Cabinet Member for Environment and Visible Services, asked that the Group to support a recommendation to Cabinet to ban the use of Chinese Lanterns in the Vale of Glamorgan.
AGREED - T H A T a recommendation be put to Cabinet that the use of Chinese Lanterns be banned in the Vale of Glamorgan.
Reason for Recommendation
Due to the detrimental effects on the environment and wildlife in the Vale of Glamorgan.
(d) Minutes -
AGREED - T H A T the minutes of the meeting held on 4th April, 2014 be agreed as a correct record subject to the following amendments:
The cycle route in Bridgend County Borough ran from Coney Beach, not Coney Island.
(e) Presentation by Principal Ranger, Mr. Paul Dunn - Achievements and Issues Since the Last Meeting -
The Principal Ranger, Mr. Paul Dunn, provided Members with a PowerPoint presentation which included photographs that had been taken since the last meeting of the Group in April 2014. The photographs had been taken after the winter storms and one of the main issues in those five months had been the loss of sand from beaches, he advised that this was highly unusual and that the sand had not returned to the beaches. A Member advised that there had been a similar issue at Barry Island, however, the sand had returned to these beaches. A representative asked whether there had been any dredging at Nash Bank that could possibly have contributed to the loss of sand and Mr. Dunn advised that no dredging had occurred, however, there had been some serious dredging in the past which could have had a knock-on effect.
Mr. Dunn informed that Group that the weather had been generally warm and sunny, however, the Wales Coastal Path had suffered during the winter storms. The Glamorgan Heritage Coast team had hosted an event commemorating the second anniversary of the opening of the Wales Coastal Path which involved walks across the Dunraven stretch of the Coastal Path and Mr. Rob Thomas, Director of Development Services and Mr. John Griffiths, AM, Culture and Sport Minister joined walkers on the Wales Coastal Path.
Mr. Dunn had led a number of walks through Creative Rural Communities and informed the Group that they had been trying to make visitors aware that they need to understand the tides along the Glamorgan Heritage Coast when taking beach walks.
The Rural Walks Initiative facilitated via the Cowbridge Rural Team had now been way-marked, which included, amongst others, routes around Llantwit Major and Cowbridge.
Mr. Dunn informed the Group that it had been a good growing year therefore many of the footpaths had become overgrown and staff and volunteers had used hand tools to clear the footpaths. The volunteer numbers included staff from Lloyds Bank and a large number of work experience pupils with the worst areas being those where there had been significant growth of blackthorn. The Colhuw path had been cleared and it had been discovered that it was a habitat for Harvest Mice with large amounts of Rank Grass and Thistle.
School groups had visited the coast this summer and it was advised that they needed to be smaller in number due to staff shortages; however, in the five months since the last meeting of the Group they had welcomed some 40 school groups from a variety of areas including Gloucester and Bath. The Bunk House had also been well used and parents, helpers and teachers also found the groups extremely informative.
Mr. Dunn further informed the Group that the Sumalia organism had been found along the coast, which was very special and this confirmed the link between beaches and the offshore sand banks. There had also been large numbers of Hermit Crabs and dragonflies and a Member stated that they had seen a Hobby near East Aberthaw which was feeding off the dragonflies.
Mr. Dunn advised that they had struggled to keep up with the maintenance of the gardens due to staffing issues, and the amount of work involved, particularly due to the good growing season. A large number of groups had attended to assist with the maintenance of the gardens, however, they had experienced issues with individuals camping in the gardens and leaving litter. Successful visits to the gardens from Community schemes, including special schools, had also taken place.
Mr. Dunn advised that the Dunraven Estate had spent a lot of money to move the pebbles from Southerndown Beach and the problem with littering continued, with many visitors leaving a lot of litter on the beaches.
There had been a number of rock falls during the previous five months in which had involved members of the public, including a vehicle slipping onto the beach and people being cut off, however, there had been no fatalities. Mr. Dunn informed the Group that these rock falls illustrated the dangers of the Glamorgan Heritage Coastline and confirmed that it was an extremely mobile coastline.
There had been a number of litter picking events along the Ogmore River with littering being an ongoing issue as it came in with the tide and progressed down the river system. Mr. Dunn informed the Group that they had some excellent volunteer groups; including Lloyds Bank and that the Glamorgan Heritage Coast was now a supplier of a volunteer experience. Lloyds Bank had donated £300 to the Glamorgan Heritage Coast and was a very good source of volunteers; this was further confirmed by the representative from Natural Resources Wales who advised that Lloyd’s Bank had also been in contact with them to supply volunteers. Mr. Dunn advised that regular volunteers assisted with maintenance issues and repaired damage caused by vandalism.
Mr. Dunn thanked Councillor Curtis for the nest boxes he had donated after the last meeting and showed the Group photographs of the installed boxes which Barn Owls had used for nesting. He further informed the Group that the tractors used to manage the SSI areas had been half paid for by the Waterloo Foundation and were excellent.
It had been a good year for horseflies, and High Brown Fritillary Butterflies and due to the effective management of these areas of the coast other species had thrived, including Purple Orchids, Small Fritillary Butterfly, Adders and Yellow Hammers. Butterfly conservation walks had been extremely successful with people coming from as far away as Kent in search of the High Brown Fritillary Butterfly, with Mr. Dunn confirming that although numbers had dropped off slightly this year, they remained very high.
It had been a good year for wildlife and there had been thousands of Purple Orchids along the coast at Monknash and also Juburis Thistle which were a speciality in the area. Hard grazing had meant there had been a raft of areas for Choughs to feed and Peregrine Falcons had also thrived with a number of pairs along the coast doing extremely well.
Mr. Dunn informed the Group that a Shore Crab had been recorded at Leys Beach, Aberthaw, which was the first of its kind and that this type of species could potentially cause a great deal of damage to the native crab population. Despite extensive searches they had been unsuccessful in locating the Shore Crab and the Group was informed that there was a hot water outlet from Aberthaw which could have been responsible for this species being found in the area.
Numerous volunteer groups had carried out maintenance and management work such as cutting back overgrown vegetation and management of the area near Wick known as Monks Wood. Large numbers of volunteer groups had worked on the Dunraven Estate gardens to install new hedges and volunteers were never turned down, however, these groups needed to be properly planned.
Mr. Dunn informed the Group that a long-standing member of staff, Belinda Greenfield, had recently passed away which was a great loss to the Glamorgan Heritage Coast Team. She was a magnificent individual, particularly with regards to her dealings with the public and had been a great source of information and had been a great servant to the Glamorgan Heritage Coast. He further informed the Group that he had arranged team building events, such as a charity bike ride from Holyhead to Cardiff and a walk for MacMillan Cancer Support which helped to bring the team closer together.
The Chairman informed the Group that a large number of people had attended Belinda’s funeral and Mr. Dunn had given a moving tribute. She had also written to Belinda’s husband on behalf of the Glamorgan Heritage Coast Advisory Group.
The Chairman also thanked Councillor Curtis for the Kestrel boxes and advised that she regularly visited the Dunraven Estates Garden and was extremely impressed with how quickly the pebbles had been moved from the beaches after the storms. In response, Mr. Dunn advised that there was a major problem involved with removing the polystyrene which needed to be done by hand prior to the clearance of the pebbles, and a combination of a Spring tide and strong winds meant this had occurred three times this year. Mrs. March informed the Group that the Llantwit Major beach had also been cleared extremely quickly.
Following discussion of the volunteering that had been carried out by Lloyds Bank it was agreed that a letter of thanks be sent to Lloyds Bank on behalf of the Group for the money and volunteers supplied.
A Member advised the Group that key species such as Choughs were thriving and they had completed a tour of the public toilets in the western side of the Vale of Glamorgan and confirmed that the Llantwit Major public toilets were to be refurbished.
Following the presentation it was
(1) T H A T the presentation be noted.
(2) T H A T a letter of thanks be sent to Lloyds Bank for the money and volunteers supplied to the Glamorgan Heritage Coast and Dunraven Estates Gardens.
Reasons for recommendations
(1) To apprise the Group of the recent achievements and issues of the Glamorgan Heritage Coast Team.
(2) To thank Lloyds Bank for their support of the Glamorgan Heritage Coast.
(f) Verbal Update on Current Issues - Mr. Bob Guy, Operational Manager (Countryside and Economic Projects) -
The Operational Manager (Countryside and Economic Projects) apprised the Group with regards to the Rural Development Plan and advised that in the current plan, £700,000 had been allocated for the Glamorgan Heritage Coast which included the upkeep of the gardens, the Interpretation Strategy and the upgrade of the new reception area at the Glamorgan Heritage Coast Centre. He further informed the Group that some of these monies would go towards assisting local tourist businesses in the Vale of Glamorgan e.g. the Perfect Pitch campsites. The current Rural Development Plan was coming to an end in December 2014 and a report would be going to Cabinet in October, 2014 to consider the strategy for the future RDP. It was hoped that the plan would be endorsed by Cabinet and that £250,000 match funding would be allocated from Cabinet with £150,000 being allocated from the Department’s budget.
The Countryside and Rural Development Department had been successful in the first round of the Coastal Communities bids and that the second tier of the Interpretation Strategy would now be taken forward. An officer had been allocated to further develop the coastal activities and capital had been allocated to refurbish the storage centre to rent out for such activities. It was hoped that, if the Coastal Communities bid was successful, the slipway at Dunraven could be refurbished. The second stage of the Creative Community bid was currently being prepared by the Rural Regeneration Team.
The Group was apprised of the latest developments with regards to the Countryside Service restructure and since the last meeting it had progressed to the formal consultation stage which had recently ended and staff suggestions and comments were currently being collated.
The creation of a single Countryside Team under a single Countryside Manager was proposed which would increase the flexibility between sites. However, it was also proposed that a lead Ranger post would remain for each site
In line with the Rural Development Plan the Department was looking to address activities in which the private sector could take the lead. There would be a focus on income generation, with a new two year post of Commercial Opportunities Officer proposed, which would focus on developing partnerships with the private sector. After two years the funding for this post would contribute to the savings needed for the Department.
The Group was informed that the Authority was required to make £32 million worth of savings over the next three years, which was an enormous challenge, and much of the savings would need to be found from the service areas outside of Education and Social Services. The Department was also endeavouring to establish links with tourism to improve the economy of the area.
A refurbished reception area at the Glamorgan Heritage Coast Centre would ensure that better information and advice was available to the public and an extended service could be provided, however, there would not be a Sea Watch Assistant in the proposed new structure and the Department would need to look at what support they could offer in place of this. Mr. Guy confirmed that he had received the representations from the Friends of the Glamorgan Heritage Coast Association with regards to the Countryside restructure and in particular the future of the Sea Watch Centre.
Mr. Acott asked if there was a timescale for the implementation of the proposals at the Sea Watch Centre and in response was advised that further work was required as part of the consultation process and the Friends of the Glamorgan Heritage Coast would be kept apprised accordingly. Mr. Acott advised that he would arrange a meeting of the Trustees of the Sea Watch Centre in order to discuss this matter.
Views were expressed that a Principal Ranger in each area would be beneficial to the service. Members of the Friends of the Glamorgan Heritage Coast expressed concern with regard to the future of the Sea Watch Centre and that options to promote the Centre should be investigated. Mr. Guy stated that if there was a commercially viable opportunity for the Centre it would be addressed.
The Chairman thanks Mr Guy for the updated and Mr Dunn for the work he had undertaken across the Glamorgan Heritage Coast.
Following the update and discussion of the same it was
AGREED – T H A T the update be noted.
(g) Matters Raised by Bridgend County Borough Council -
The representative from Bridgend County Borough Council informed the Group that there had been storm damage to both Rest Bay and Newton areas and the Welsh Government had provided money for footpath repairs. A major golf tournament had taken place in Porthcawl and productive links had also been made in the area to promote the walking and cycling routes in the area.
The representative from Bridgend County Borough Council expressed the view that in light of the many changes taking place across local authorities, it would be beneficial if an officer, at operational level, could be requested as point of contact between Bridgend County Borough Council and the Vale of Glamorgan Council. Furthermore, he advised that since the Newton Management Group had been disbanded there had not been a replacement for this group. A Management Group had been also been established for the Porthcawl area and expressed the view that the Newton and Rest Bay areas had something special to sell and should look at ways of maintaining the areas. The representative from One Voice Wales stated that they agreed that Bridgend County Borough Council needed a strong contact within the Vale of Glamorgan Council.
AGREED - T H A T an appropriate officer from the Vale of Glamorgan Council be requested to be a point of contact for Bridgend County Borough Council for Glamorgan Heritage Coast management issues of mutual concern to both authorities.
Reason for recommendation
To provide Bridgend County Borough Council with a point of contact within the Vale of Glamorgan Council for these issues.
(h) Matters Raised by Natural Resources Wales -
The representative from Natural Resources Wales informed the Group that they appreciated the work carried out by the Glamorgan Heritage Coast team and had recently attended one of the circular walks and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Mr. Dunn stated that the team had been extremely fortunate to have the support of Natural Resources Wales.
(i) Matters Raised by the Friends of Glamorgan Heritage Coast -
The Chairman of the Friends of Glamorgan Heritage Coast asked to be kept apprised with regards to the Sea Watch Centre as it would influence their future plans for the Centre. He further informed the Group that they had recently held wildlife groups with St. Athan Primary School and confirmed that these groups were regularly on the timetable for the school and the school had also recently been visited by a Polish school group.
(j) Date of Next Meeting -
AGREED - T H A T the next meeting of the Group take place on 17th April, 2015.
The Operational Manager (Countryside and Economic Projects) informed the Group that he would request that a presentation be made to the Group by Creative Rural Communities at the meeting in April 2015.