Agenda and minutes
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Appointment of Co-Chairs for the Municipal Year 2023-24
The Joint Committee agreed to note the appointment of Councillor Briars-Delve as Plymouth’s Co-Chair, and to appoint Councillor Ewert as Cornwall’s Co-Chair, for the municipal year 2023-24.
Declarations of Interest
Members will be asked to make any declarations of interest in respect of items on this agenda.
There were 2 declarations of interest:
The Joint Committee will be asked to confirm that the minutes of the meeting held on 18 November 2022 are a correct record.
Subject to the correction of a grammatical error under item 26, the Joint Committee agreed the minutes of 18 November 2022 as a correct record.
Councillor Pascoe arrived at this time.
Chair's Urgent Business
To receive reports on business, which in the opinion of the Chair, should be brought forward for urgent consideration.
There were no items of Chairs Urgent Business.
Questions from the Public
To receive questions from the public in accordance with the Constitution.
Questions, of no longer than 50 words, can be submitted to the Democratic Support Unit, Plymouth City Council, Ballard House, Plymouth, PL1 3BJ, or email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Any questions must be received at least five clear working days before the date of the meeting.
There were 5 questions received in accordance with the constitution.
Co-opted Member Update
For the Joint Committee to consider the co-option of Mr Pete Smith.
The Joint Committee agreed to defer the co-option of Mr Pete Smith to the next meeting.
The Joint Committee will receive a monitoring report on the revenue budget 2022/23.
Jozef Lewis (Technical Accounting Officer) introduced the Mount Edgcumbe Revenue Outturn Report 2022/23 and highlighted the following points-
a) There had been a £72,000 adverse variation at the conclusion of 2022/23, which had been equally funded by Plymouth and Cornwall Councils;
b) The main cost pressure on the 2022/23 Mount Edgcumbe Country Park budget had been volatile energy markets. Electricity costs for the park had increased 35% in the last year, and 110% in the last 2 years. It had not been possible to contain these cost pressures within the budget;
c) There had also been several one off cost pressures due to required repairs, maintenance, and health and safety, such as the instillation of new fire alarms and extinguishers;
d) So far in quarter one of 2023/24, there was a nil variation to the budget. It was therefore anticipated that the £1 million estimated gross costs to the Mount Edgcumbe Country Park, would be offset by £1 million of gross income. Further updates regarding the financial position of the Park would be brought to the next meeting of the Joint Committee in November 2023;
e) Staff at Mount Edgcumbe Country Park and Plymouth City Council were currently undertaking an in-depth review of the capital plans for the Park.
In response to questions from the Joint Committee, it was reported that –
f) The budget for 2022/23 was seen as ambitious, but achievable. Energy pressures experienced in the previous year had been budgeted for, and income targets for the park had been increased. It was a long-term ambition to establish a repairs and maintenance budget to allow for one off cost pressures, such as those experienced in 2022/23.
g) There had been an unavoidable time lag between the rise of utility costs, and the implementation of proportionate cost increases for tenants and holiday lets across the park. This was an industry wide issue;
h) The Park’s income revenue streams were primarily land holdings and rent, along with parking charges, weddings, holiday lets, and events.
The Joint Committee agreed to:
1. Note the financial position contained within the report, along with the risks, issues and mitigating actions;
2. Note the capital programme.
The Joint Committee will receive an update report on the Park’s activities.
a) The Mount Edgcumbe Country Park (MECP) was a Grade 1 listed landscape of 865 acres, stretching in a narrow coastal strip towards Whitsand Bay. The park contained 17km of coastal strip, 7.5 acres of formal gardens, and 5 ancient monuments, attracting around 250,000 visitors per year, including 8,000 school children. Funding through the National Marine Park Horizons project would allow an updated survey of visitor numbers to be conducted, offering a valuable insight into public engagement with the park;
b) There had been a Deer Park at Mt Edgcumbe since 1515 however, this had fallen into disrepair over the years. Three quarters of the new deer fencing had now been installed, as well as gates to control deer movements in and out of the park. The fencing was on track to be completed ahead of schedule, due to the assistance of Naval recruits from HMS Raleigh. A deer management plan would be included in the overall Mount Edgcumbe County Park Development Plan, due for finalisation in 2024;
c) The MECP had maintained a partnership with the Arts University of Plymouth for a number of years, enabling year 2 students to design and install their artwork in a public space. This year, the park had received 15 works of art, each depicting individual interpretations of Mount Edgcumbe and its history;
d) The MECP employed 3 full time gardeners to maintain 7.5 acres of formal gardens, supplemented by volunteers. While it had been a struggle to recruit and maintain volunteer numbers over the pandemic, this now showed signs of recovery;
e) Heritage Lottery Funding had been secured for beekeeping at the park, with the ambition of reintroducing the native Cornish ‘Black Bee’ as the dominant species on the peninsula. The Beekeeping volunteer group was expanding, and showed promising signs, as well as enabling the park to benefit from local honey sales;
f) While a fire at the park last year had caused significant damage to the meadow near the house, it had now been replanted with wildflowers, offering significant benefits for biodiversity enhancement as well as the ‘Black Bee’ project. The work of MECP staff during the emergency to both protect the public and control the fire was commended. Options were being evaluated for future fire precautions, which included reinitialising the 19th century watering system across the park to improve resistance to climate change;
g) Approximately £1 million had been secured through the National Marine Park Horizons project to restore the MECP Garden Battery. This funding would enable renovation works so that the battery could be reopened to the public, and incorporate a space that told the historic story of Mount Edgcumbe;
h) 2022-23 marked the third year of the new house tour system, which had demonstrated significant benefits for visitor satisfaction, as well as viability. It was also the 3rd year of the Blitz display, and options were being explored for its replacement in 2 years time. A new display on Ginger Beer had been installed in the ... view the full minutes text for item 39.
The Joint Committee will receive an update report from the Friends of Mount Edgcumbe Country Park.
Friend of Mount Edgcumbe Country Park Update-
The Chair, Councillor Briars-Delve, thanked Mr Ged Edgcumbe for his hard work and support during his time as Chair of the Friends of Mount Edgcumbe, and welcomed Alan Drummond to this meeting, as the new Chair of the Friends group.
Alan Drummond then highlighted the following points-
a) The Friends of Mount Edgcumbe worked closely with the Management of the MECP, assisting with activities, events and funding to improve the park for the enjoyment of the public. The Friends had been a charity since 1985, and had now risen to nearly 800 members; the highest level to date. This demonstrated a significant rebound in voluntary capacity since its dramatic fall during the Covid-19 Pandemic;
b) The Friends of Mount Edgcumbe Committee had undergone significant membership change at their AGM, and all former members were thanked for their hard work. While many had stepped down, they remained in strong support of the Friends, and the MECP. While the Friends Committee was now operating at about half capacity, recruitment efforts were ongoing;
c) This year, the Friends had earmarked approximately £90,000 of funds for various projects within the MECP. This included funding plant beds, statue repairs and maintenance, the new children’s play module, as well as park fencing and other refurbishments;
d) The Friends would be assisting as marshals for the Classic Car show event, as well as during the British Fireworks Championships in August;
The Joint Committee thanked Alan Drummond and members of the Friends of Mount Edgcumbe for their valuable dedication to the park, and public, and agreed-
1. To recommend that a card be sent on behalf of this Joint Committee, to thank Mr Ged Edgcumbe and all members of the Friends of Mount Edgcumbe Committee, who had recently stood down;
2. To note the report.
The Joint Committee will receive an update on the National Marine Park.
The Chair, Councillor Briars Delve, left the meeting at this time due to his declaration of an ‘other registerable interest’, as he sat on the Non-Executive Board of the National Marine Park.
Kat Deeney (Head of Environmental Planning) presented an update on the National Marine Park Horizons Project to the Joint Committee, and highlighted the following points-
a) The Mount Edgcumbe Country Park would benefit from funding under the National Marine Park Horizons Project funding bid, to the Heritage Lottery Fund;
b) 10% of the total Heritage Lottery Funding had so far been received, enabling the 2 year development phase to be undertaken. The remaining 90% (£8.6 Billion) would be provided in the ‘delivery phase’ following successful demonstration of a deliverable and effective project plan;
c) During the 2 year development phase, the NMP Horizons team had worked with communities, stakeholders and partners to collate ideas, visions and feedback for the later delivery of the project. The Heritage Lottery Fund sought demonstration of community engagement and testing of these ideas, with the ambition of encouraging a diverse group of people to engage with local heritage;
d) The 2 year development phase had provided key lesson learning and understanding to be attained, so that the later development project could be efficiently and appropriately targeted. This had included encouraging people into the water to try new activities, swimming lessons, archaeology camps, walking programmes, and arts;
e) Barriers to peoples engagement had been identified, which included finance, transport and water confidence. The project would therefore focus on working with communities to overcome these barriers, enabling maximum engagement with the National Marine Park;
f) The NMP Horizons project focussed of 3 major sites: Mount Batten, Tinside, and Mount Edgcumbe. At Mount Edgcumbe, the project would be largely focussed on restoring and reopening the Garden Battery to the public.
g) An Activity Plan was being designed for the delivery phase of the project, which sought to retain the ranger service which had been established, and capitalise on the significant volunteering interest that had been identified during the development phase. A schools programme was proposed to support 30 schools who had barriers to engagement, over a 5 year Period. There would also be a city wide schools programme, including the creation of a digital platform with all the materials to deliver an ocean related curriculum, as well as a teacher training programme;
h) A young people’s programme would also be created to deliver internship, work experience and job opportunities, allowing people to capitalise on their interests that the National Marine Park aimed to inspire and develop;
i) A Swim Safe programme would be initialised to develop water confidence and safety, which would be supplement with a programme of opportunities including snorkelling, diving and coasteering, to enable people to engage with the heritage that they usually would not experience;
j) There would also be a programme focussed on nature restoration of habitats and species, with individual enhancement projects funded by Community Grants, and the corporate Nature Credit ... view the full minutes text for item 41.
For the Joint Committee to review the progress of the tracking log.
The Committee agreed-
1. To note that all existing tracking decisions had been actioned;
2. To note that there had been 2 actions added to the action log following this meeting:
i) To send a ‘Thank You’ card to the Friends of Mount Edgcumbe committee members;
ii) To be provided with a list of schools who regularly engaged with the MECP, and those who faced barriers due to transportation.
To consider passing a resolutionunder Section 100A(4) ofthe Local Government Act1972 to exclude the press and public from the meetingfor the following item of business on the groundsthat it involves the likely disclosure of exempt information asdefined inparagraph 1/2/3 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Act, asamended by the Freedom ofInformation Act 2000.
The Committee agreed to pass a resolutionunder Section 100A(4) of the Local GovernmentAct 1972 to exclude the press and public from the meetingfor the following item of business on the groundsthat it involved the likely disclosure of exempt information asdefined inparagraph 1/2/3 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Act, asamended by the Freedom ofInformation Act 2000.
MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC TO NOTE
that under the law, the Committee is entitled to consider certain items in private. Members of the public will be asked to leave the meeting when such items are discussed.
The Joint Committee discussed-
a) The MECP was now primarily self-funding, and had been set the target of being cost neutral. This was only possible with careful and innovative management to maximise the parks potential revenue, thus increasing commercial sensitivity. All of the MECP’s business plans, new projects and purchases, where qualifying, were approved via the executive decision process within Plymouth City Council, and received approval from relevant officers, departments and cabinet members. A full development plan for the park was being compiled, and would hopefully be completed by 2024;
b) The Committee then discussed: Potential future projects and revenue sources for the park, tenancies, and stewardship programmes.
The Committee agreed to-
1. Request that a part II update is brought to the next meeting of the Joint Committee in November.
(Please note, there is a confidential part to this minute)