GLAMORGAN HERITAGE COAST ADVISORY GROUP
Minutes of a meeting held on 11th September, 2015.
Present: Councillor Mrs. A.J. Preston (Chairman); Councillors L. Burnett, R.F. Curtis, Mrs. V.M. Hartrey and C.J. Williams (Vale of Glamorgan Council), Ms. G. Barter (Natural Resources Wales), Mr. B. Acott (Friends of the Glamorgan Heritage Coast), Mr. J. Golunski (Dunraven Estates), Mr. R. McLaggan (Merthyr Mawr Estates) and Mrs. H. March (Friends of the Glamorgan Heritage Coast).
(a) Apologies for Absence –
These were received from Councillors R.P. Thomas (Vice-Chairman), J. Drysdale and G. Davies (Bridgend County Borough Council).
(b) Minutes –
AGREED – T H A T the minutes of the meeting held on 17th April, 2015 be agreed as a correct record subject to it being noted that with regard to 8(g) the officer from Natural Resources Wales was Mr. R. Facey, and that the work being carried out with the National Botanic Gardens of Wales related to the rare Shoredock.
With regard to the recommendation for the Vale of Glamorgan Tourist Association to be represented on the Advisory Group, the Democratic Services Officer advised that the report was scheduled for the next Council meeting on 28th September, 2015 and, if approved, the invitation would be extended in time for the next meeting of the Group.
(c) Announcement -
The Chairman took the opportunity to advise Members that she had recently forwarded a congratulatory card to Mr. Paul Dunn, the previous ranger, on behalf of the Group thanking him for his work on the Glamorgan Heritage Coast for the Vale Council and wishing him all the best in his retirement. This was echoed by all present.
(d) Presentation by the Site Ranger, Mr. Paul Lock: Achievements and Issues Since the Last Meeting –
Mr. Paul Lock commenced his presentation by advising of the new staffing structure that had been put in place which allowed for flexible working between a number of sites with staff working together as one unit. Staff not only welcomed the opportunity to work on different sites and gain knowledge of the various areas involved but also welcomed the networking opportunity afforded as a direct result of the flexible approach.
In referring, to the number of schools visiting the Heritage Coast, the team would be developing new activities for the future example, den building, bug hunting etc. This was considered to be the best use of the resources available in that the number of schools wishing to undertake rock pooling, etc. was dependent upon the tides. The expansion of the activities into the woodland would create more diverse opportunities for schools. Mr. Lock then provided Members with a PowerPoint presentation which depicted a number of photographic slides of the Heritage Coast.
During consideration of the verbal update, Mr. Lock advised that with regard to the number of activities on the Coast, the team were grateful to the volunteers who assisted with the upkeep of the gardens. Lloyds Bank had also arranged for volunteers to assist with a number of projects and had provided a donation which was utilised on the coast. The team was also looking into the opportunity of grant funding for ponds in parks and looking at opportunities for further improving signage.
The Chairman took the opportunity to congratulate the team and the Friends on the postcards that were available for sale which were, in her view, excellently priced and provided outstanding pictures of the area.
It was subsequently
AGREED – T H A T the report of the Site Ranger and the suggested future activities be noted.
(e) Future Plans for the Glamorgan Heritage Coast and New Establishment for Countryside Services –
Mr. Steve Pickering, Team Leader Countryside Services, also took the opportunity to thank Mr. P. Dunn for his 37 years’ service to the Council and the Heritage Coast and the knowledge that he had passed on over the years to the team. Mr. Pickering advised of Paul Lock’s appointment as the new Site Ranger and Helen Mills as the Area Ranger for the Vale of Glamorgan, whose role would include co-ordinating the Volunteer Programmes across the Countryside Service sites.
In referring to the restructuring that had taken place, he stated that previously most of the staff had been isolated at satellite sites with little or no interaction. The approach had now been changed to a more fluid one with the purpose of sharing good working practices across both Country Parks within the Vale and on the Heritage Coast, the feedback to date from all staff being a positive one. In looking to the future as Team Leader, he would be exploring external funding / grant opportunities with a view to assisting to refurbish the centre and to make it a focal point for tourism and local people to visit. The Creative Rural Communities could assist in this regard and they had also been instrumental in obtaining funding for the provision of storage units at the back of the Heritage Coast Centre for a number of pieces of equipment.
It was hoped that the restored slipway would be completed by Spring 2016. The Legal department was dealing with an issue in relation to the summerhouse footpath with Members being kept informed as appropriate. Following a question from a Member as to whether the slipway would be able to be used by the public and whether there would a charge, the Group was informed that slipway would be open to the public with no fee being charged.
Ms. Natasha Davies, Senior Economic Development Officer also present at the meeting, advised that one of her roles would be to work with businesses in the area to provide further job opportunities through development of coast based commercial activities.
Following a query as to the use of drones on the beach, Mr. Pickering advised that he believed Natural resources Wales had been surveying the coast.
AGREED – T H A T Mr. Pickering be thanked for his verbal update and the opportunities to explore further funding noted.
(f) Verbal Update on Current Issues by the Operational Manager for Regeneration –
The Operational Manager for Regeneration referred to further funding from Welsh Government for Creative Rural Communities which had been extended for a further five years. The Department would also be looking to further identify job opportunities within the tourism sector through some aspects of the funding.
Following a query, the Operational Manager confirmed that private businesses would be able to potentially access some of the funding and the team would work with local businesses and communities to support them in making applications. Officers were currently considering the options available in order to make applications, with Welsh Government expecting any applications for funding to be supported by Creative Rural Communities. The Operational Manager advised all present to approach the Creative Rural Communities team direct for further advice if required. A Member queried funding opportunities, for example for solar panels, with the Operational Manager advising that the Creative Rural Communities Programme had funded an energy audit of the centre in the past but no funding was yet identified to implement changes.
Councillor Burnett, also a Cabinet Member with the Vale of Glamorgan, advised that although the Country Parks and the Heritage Coast services were not statutory services they were considerable assets to the Vale and, in light of the significant financial constraints facing the Council, it was imperative that the parks and coast were protected for the communities and all opportunities for investment pursued. It was noted that filming at such locations was a valuable income source. Councillor Burnet further stated that she welcomed the positive comments that the new structure was working well which she considered was a positive step for the future.
Following consideration of the report it was subsequently
AGREED – T H A T the funding opportunities as outlined above be welcomed.
(g) Matters to be Raised by Bridgend County Borough Council –
Following apologies for the meeting from Councillor G. Davies, there were no matters for discussion.
(h) Matters to be Raised by Natural Resources Wales –
In referring to the query regarding the drone survey, Ms. Barter advised that although she was not aware of the work being undertaken, she would endeavour to find out any information and report back to the next meeting.
Ms. Barter took the opportunity to thank the Heritage Coast Team for all their hard work, referring in particular to the conservation work undertaken at Cwm Mawr. She also advised of the new telephone numbers for the Natural Resources Wales offices at Cardiff and Swansea, which were to be prefixed by area code 03000.
(i) Matters to be Raised by the Friends of Glamorgan Heritage Coast –
Mr. Acott informed the Group that the Friends were unable to maintain the Seawatch building and they had notified the Prince of Wales of the situation in view of the fact that the building had been handed over to the Friends Group some time ago. The Friends had also written to a number of organisations to ascertain any interest. They were awaiting a reply from the Sea Cadets and were to discuss options with Atlantic College. A further update would be presented to the next meeting of the Heritage Coast Advisory Group.
At the end of the meeting, Mr. R. McLaggan raised his concerns at the document for consultation that was currently being undertaken by Welsh Government regarding the Rights of Way system. Mr. McLaggan advised that the consultation referred as an option to “unfettered access by the public” to all land in Wales. This, he considered, would be an issue that landowners could “struggle with” in respect of the potential for misbehaviour on the Heritage Coast that could ensue. He stated that to date landowners worked with Local Authorities and provided access on a number of areas of their land, but to advocate unfettered access he felt could be a major issue with considerable financial implications. A number of Members of the Group concurred with Mr. McLaggan’s view, being aware that a number of landowners already encouraged public access and had supported access on their land for some time. The Group was informed that the Council would shortly be responding to the consultation. The Operational Manager advised that the consultation was to be considered at the next meeting of the Local Access Forum for comments and that he would consider all views raised when drafting the Council’s response.
In closing the meeting, the Chairman made a request for a seat to be erected within the Castle gardens on the incline where the hedge started, in order for people to be able to rest a while before walking on further. Mr. Golunski (Dunraven Estates) agreed to consider the request at his next meeting with the landowners.
(j) Date of Next Meeting –
The date of the next meeting was confirmed as 15th April, 2016.