Green Management Meeting Output Print


Hilton Parish Meeting Held on 14 January 2008 in The Chapel to Discuss Management of the Green

Present: Cllrs Wright (Chairman), Barradell Stott and Shardlow, 26 residents and Mr Thomas, Clerk.


The Chairman thanked residents for attending and explained that the Parish Council owned The Green and was responsible for its management in consultation with the Common Rights Owners, property owners and other interest groups. She explained that Hilton had changed over the years and had moved from a largely agricultural community to predominantly a dormitory village. Management of the Green needed to evolve to meet the changing needs of the village. The Parish Council was required to meet a number of often contradictory requirements including legislature and safety considerations as well as meeting the amenity requirements of residents and within it’s budget.

She explained that the aim of the meeting was to inform the village of the current management philosophy and to consult with residents so as to identify need for change. The meeting was not intended to be executive, but opinions expressed would be evaluated in the formulation of future management decisions.

Item 1. Parking on the Green.

The Chairman stated that the legal position, as understood by the Parish Council, was that temporary and occasional parking was allowed within 15 meters of the highway but that the Council had recourse to civil action if this damaged the Green. In practice this would be difficult to enforce as each case would need to be addressed in law on an individual basis. This was impractical for the Council who had therefore adopted a policy of discouragement by liaising with local businesses and interest groups, by the erection of signs and latterly a pilot scheme using earth banks as well as stakes and ropes. However, the use of stakes and ropes had not been successful for appearance and maintenance reasons and would be abandoned when the grass took hold on the earth banks later this Spring. A number of residents felt that the stakes were very unsightly. Mr Carter stated that part of the raised bank had been destroyed by lorries entering Monach Farm and other farm vehicles and suggested that the bank would need to be more substantial to be successful. Peter Burton suggested that parking along the verges should be allowed to help people to continue to enjoy the “best village green in the county” and urged the Council not to impede the rights of residents to use the green. 

Mr Salem stated that the most errant parking was exhibited by clients of Monach Farm and that when the stakes were removed, parking on the verge of Wraggs Row would recommence. Mrs Randall responded stating that Monach Farm did everything possible to urge clients to use the dedicated business car park and hoped that the imminent completion of the new Clare Cottage would further improve matters.. She also stated that many of the cars parked along Wraggs Row were not connected to the business of the Farm. Replying to a question from Mr Salem regarding the Council’s view of the use of the Car Park at the Village Hall, the Chairman said that it was for the use of anyone visiting the Green, the Maze, the Church as well as the Village Hall. The Council considered that parking enforcement was impractical. Mr Salem stated that the extension of the car park had been an expensive exercise for residents and was not for business use. He believed that a number of events in the Village Hall had been affected by unauthorized parking by clients of Monach Farm. Mrs Fordham, speaking on behalf of the Village Hall Committee, said there had only been one incident of that nature in recent years and that the Committee felt that the car park was for the use of all. Mr Dyke Price reminded everyone that the object of the meeting was to address generic problems and not to resolve individual problems.

Item2. Grass Cutting on the Green.

The Chairman explained that the Green had originally been used to graze cattle and that a number of plant regimes had been established by this practice, each with distinct characteristics. The Council’s management of the Green attempted to perpetuate these regimes whilst preserving appearance and availability for amenity. Some of the Green was cut for hay by Mr Richards at no cost or profit to either the Council or the CRO. The remainder of the Green was cut by a blend of residents, the cricket club and the Contractor, but all are required to work under the direction of the Council’s management plan. 

In 2007, the regime for cutting the football pitch was amended and this change had drawn adverse comment from the CRO who felt that the move threatened the cowslip population. The new regime was to cut alternative halves of the pitch in successive years. This was supported by DC Bates who said it was a useful amenity for youngsters. However Dr Way suggested that the new regime would eventually lead to a reduction in the numbers of cowslips over time. Mr Burton believed it should be possible to retime the cutting so as to avoid damage. Mr Dyke Price asked that the Council return to its previous cutting regime so that whole Green grew as one. Dr Salem asked that the Council retain some form of goal kicking facility to help prevent youngsters kicking balls against the pavilion.

It was also suggested that hay should be cut as late as possible but it was recognized that this would reduce the value of the crop and render it uneconomical to cut. A resident stated that the long vegetation on the apex of the Green opposite the Maze could be a sight hazard for vehicles turning into the Fenstanton Road from Wraggs Row in the weeks leading up to cutting. The Council stated that this area had been cut by the Contractor in 2007 and believed that this should not be a problem for the future.

Item 3. Ditch and Borders Maintenance.

The Chairman explained that ditch maintenance work for 2008 had already contracted and that work had already started. Mr Garnett explained that the ditches along the High Street had a direct impact on flooding at Hilton Hall and Cooke’s Cottage and needed to be well maintained. Mr Dempster stressed the need to do even more work to keep ditches clear of vegetation and suggested that more preventative work to eliminate species such as ash would be of benefit. Mr Burton, drawing on his professional experience, pointed out that the two main ditches draining the village ie the main ditch over the Green and the other along the B1040 were the responsibility of HDC and that both needed attention downstream of the village. He also stated that, in his view, the ditch outside Punch’s Grove needed work to deepen the bottom. Cllr Stott advised the meeting that previously, village ditches had mainly been maintained by residents and farmers but this practice was now obsolete as was the practice of working parties. For the future, it was likely that the majority of work would need to be funded by the Precept. He also explained that the current maintenance regime adopted by the Parish Council was more extensive than suggested by HDC and that ditch sides were cut twice as frequently as recommended.

Item4.. Pond Maintenance.

The Chairman explained that the ponds required clearing on an 8-10 years cycle. The Council intended to clean all the ponds over the coming two years with funds drawn from reserves. A specification for the work had been drawn up and the Council would shortly seek to select a contractor by competitive tender. Mr Burton suggested that grants for pond clearance may be available from the East of England Development Agency. Mr Garnett asked the Council to examine whether the shrubs along the northern side of Reeve Ditch have a long-term detrimental impact on the bank. DC Bates stressed the need to also clean culverts in the village. Mr Carter recommended that the Council take action to kill off the bulrushes in the cross roads pond which had got out of hand. Cllr Stott explained that the bulrushes were an effective suppressant of the foul smelling blanket weed which had previously blighted that pond. He agreed to examine whether an “island” of bulrush within the pond might be a compromise. Mrs Norton asked the Council to ensure that the utility companies were made aware of the various culverts throughout the village to prevent a recent occurrence when the water company cut through a culvert under the B1040.

Mr Carter highlighted that the grids leading out of the ponds at the crossroads often became fouled with debris which appeared to impede water flow. There was considerable discussion about the merits of the grids and their positioning as well as the adequacy of the various culverts. The Clerk was asked to discuss the cleaning regime with the village handyman to ensure that debris was removed promptly. DC Bates recommended that the Council should revisit the reports produced in the wake of the 2001 floods to assess whether updates were required to the recommendations. 

Item 5. Tree Maintenance
The Chairman explained that the trees on the Green are managed in an attempt to preserve the traditional look of the village. Trees are culled as necessary and are lopped or removed when safety is a concern. New trees are planted to replace those lost. The Chairman stated that the big beech on the corner of the High Street was weak and would be felled shortly as a safety measure. Mr Carter recommended that the stump be retained to prevent lorries cutting the corner. He also highlighted the willow near the crossroads pond was beginning to split and should be examined for safety. Dr Way said that the intrusion of blackthorn was beginning to be a problem and Mrs Randall said she would be prepared to cut it if the Council would meet costs. Mr Burton stressed need to ensure that branches along the access to the Wilderness be lopped to allow farm traffic to pass without obstruction.
Item 6. Agricultural Vehicles Crossing the Green

Mr Burton explained that he had a right of way across the Green and that this was enshrined in a number of documents. Mr Dempster and Slayer advised that Mr Burton’s vehicles had damaged the Green outside the Manor Farm entrance and that the tarmac surface of the adopted road in front of the Old Bakehouse was in a terrible condition. Mr Burton responded by saying that his vehicles often had to swing onto the Green to avoid cars parked outside the Old Bakehouse. Mr Dyke Price asked why farm vehicles needed to drive completely off the track when transiting the Wilderness. Both Mrs Randall and Mr Burton denied that their vehicles were at fault but Mr Burton suggested that overhanging branches sometimes caused vehicles to swerve off the track. DC Bates suggested that the Council should consider repairing the track. Mrs Randall advised that recently, a number of quad bikes had been seen speeding over parts of the Wilderness.

Item 7. Discussion of Council’s Financial Approach and Costs for Maintenance

The Chairman explained that the majority of maintenance on the Green was financed from the Precept taking up between a third and a half according to the work needed. The Council had agreed to increase the Precept broadly in line with Council Tax and that calls for additional maintenance may result in a disproportionate rise in the Precept. Mr Burton again reminded the meeting of the possible availability of funding from the East of England Development Agency.

Any Other Business

There was no any other business.

J A Thomas Clerk to the Parish Council 15 January 2007
Last Updated on Friday, 07 November 2008 21:41