Decision details

Future Management and operation of Chantry Wood Campsite

Decision Maker: Community Executive Advisory Board, Executive

Decision status: Recommendations Approved

Is Key decision?: Yes

Is subject to call in?: No

Purpose:

To report the outcome consultation and agree on future use.

Decision:

Decision:

 

(1)   That the Chantry Wood Campsite continues in its current form with increased fees as set out in “Option B2” of the report submitted to the Executive.

 

(2)   That the Council continues to engage with forest school operators to explore options to increase outdoor education whilst maintaining a camping facility.

Reason:

To implement arrangements at the campsite that respond to the views expressed during the consultation that protects the natural environment and reduces the operational cost to the Council.

 

Options considered and rejected by the Leader of the Council:

            Option B1 Basic facilities run by GBC

Option B3 Basic Facilities – run by volunteers

Option B4 Basic facilities – run by forest school

 

Details of any conflict of interest declared by the Leader and any dispensation granted:

None

 

Details of any written submissions received and considered by the Leader from other members of the Executive, councillors, public or officers:

 

Cllr Patrick Sheard (non-Exec member):

Given the latest strictures from HMG over the last few days, I don’t feel it appropriate to take any decision at this current point in time.

 

Cllr Deborah Seabrook (non-Exec member):

EAB asked for the possibility of providing improved disabled facilities be investigated. Whilst the consultation had not revealed a great demand, that may be because respondents were self-selecting and it does not appear any attempt was made to ask disabled people if they were interested in using the site or what they would need to be able to do so. It may well be that any adaptations necessary would go far beyond ‘reasonable adjustment’ and hence be unachievable/ affordable. However, it would be good to see this point considered.

 

Leader’s response:

We are deferring consideration of access improvements as the camp site can’t be booked now and we will look at this when we are in a position to use it, when we know if the Forest School are interested and we will also review the booking system when the IT is in place.

 

Cllr George Potter (non-Exec member):

An issue that residents have raised with me is that the booking system for the campsite is likely to be a major contributory factor to its low usage.

At present all bookings must be made a year in advance and there is no online calendar to show the availability of the campsite. There is also no deposit required for making a booking.

This effectively encourages people to make speculative bookings well in advance and then to simply cancel, or not show up, for bookings that they no longer want or need. The resultant booking vacancies aren't filled, however, because others who wish to book the site have no way of knowing that these vacancies exist.

Indeed, residents have told me that when calling to make booking enquiries staff have declined to tell them what dates are available and instead residents have resorted to asking about each calendar date in turn until they get to one to which the answer is "it's available".

If charges are going to increase then a priority must be to get a better booking system that encourages, rather than discourages, use of the campsite.

Additionally, I would strongly support the prioritisation of rebuild/adaptations to the toilet blocks to make them more disabled accessible. This should be prioritised ahead of works such as the refurbishment of the barn interior as, at present, the interior is predominantly used by the parks department for storage and is rarely used by public bookings.

Finally, residents have reported a belief that the campsite appears to periodically be used for internal corporate bookings by GBC. If this is indeed the case it should be the case that these bookings are cross-charged appropriately so that this usage is accurately recorded in figures which purport to show the usage of the campsite.

 

Leader’s response:

 

a)    Corona Virus:

The campsite is currently shut due to Corona Virus as we cannot provide basic sanitation and gatherings are discouraged as per government advice.

b)    The Booking system:

A new online booking system is planned as part of the Future Guildford project. This could show a bookings calendar and include a deposit payment.

c)     Level of usage:

The level of usage is determined by the single party booking, not the booking system. This is due to the current toilet system. The water infrastructure in the area would require upgrading in order to address this. This was considered in the Executive Report in 8 January 2019. The public consultation established that there is no public support for this scale of investment.

d)    Staff not being able to say what vacancies are available:

In the winter we have maintained a waiting list as booking dates were not confirmed pending this decision on the future operation.

In order to avoid any confusion, we neither offered nor confirmed that bookings on specific dates are available.

e)    More accessible toilets:

Full disabled access cannot be achieved, as this would depend on water pressure availability. The water infrastructure in the area would require upgrading in order to address this. The public consultation established that there is no public support for this scale of investment. Some improvements can be delivered. The scope would determine the time required to address Green Belt/ Building regulations. Due to the nature of the surrounding site the current requirement for disabled access is low. A balance would need to be struck between effort and outcome, as the measures that are possible to be delivered within the current constraints may not be sufficient to provide greater accessibility.

f)      It is correct the campsite is occasionally booked for internal use. Cross charging would impact on the cost of other Council services, for example the Play Rangers.

 

Report author: Hendryk Jurk

Publication date: 26/03/2020

Date of decision: 24/03/2020

Decided at meeting: 24/03/2020 - Executive

Accompanying Documents: