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Agenda and minutes

Shropshire Hills AONB Partnership
Thursday, 25th June, 2015 9.30 am

Venue: Snailbeach Village Hall, SY5 0NX. View directions

Contact: Tim Ward  Committee Officer

Items
No. Item

1.

Welcome and Apologies for Absence

To receive apologies for absence

Minutes:

1.1    The Chair welcomed Jo Jury (DEFRA), Rhona Goddard (Butterfly Conservation), Donna Tavernor (Forestry Commission), Andy Evans (Head of Economic Growth & Prosperity, Shropshire Council) and Alison Jones (Clun Catchment Officer AONB Partnership) to the meeting.

 

1.2         Apologies for absence were received from:

 

Caroline Bedell (CLA), Pete Carty (National Trust), Sarah Bury (CPRE), Harriet Carty (Individual Member), Lee Chapman (South Shropshire Tourism), Hilary Claytonsmith  (Town/Parish Council Representative), Carol Griffiths (NFU), Geoff Grimes (Shropshire Tourism), Gill Hamer (Marches LEP), Deb Hughes (Shropshire Council), Cllr. Heather Kidd (Shropshire Council), Bill Klemperer (English Heritage), Marc Liebrecht (ICF), Fiona Pidduck (Individual Member), Leo Smith (Upper Onny Wildlife Group / Shropshire Ornithological Society), Elizabeth Thomas (Individual Member).

 

2.

Note of the last meeting pdf icon PDF 110 KB

The note of the meeting held on 17 March 2015 is attached for approval

Minutes:

2.1       The note of the last meeting held on 17 March 2015 had been circulated.

 

2.2       RESOLVED:-

That the note of the last meeting be confirmed as a correct record.

 

3.

AONB Partnership Activity Update pdf icon PDF 66 KB

This paper provides members with a summary update of recent activity of the AONB Partnership staff team, and a staffing update.

Minutes:

3.1       Members received the report of the AONB Partnership Manager which provided an update of recent activity.

 

3.2       The AONB Partnership Manager advised members that 14 grants totalling £25,300 had been awarded from the Shropshire Hills AONB Conservation Fund, and drew their attention to the appendix to the report which listed the projects.  He reminded the meeting that funding for the scheme was made up from the subscriptions to the Friends of the Shropshire Hills AONB, together with contributions from the Jean Jackson Charitable Trust and the Millichope Foundation.

 

3.3       The AONB Partnership Manager advised members that a consultation was in progress regarding changes to streamline the administration of the Sustainable Business Scheme, to include a two year membership and pledge rather than annual renewal.

 

3.4       The AONB Partnership Manager informed members that the Partnership Team were currently working with partners to develop potential new projects including:

·           Involvement in feasibility work for a landscape-scale conservation project focused on the Long Mynd and Stiperstones area.

·           Input into proposals by the Foundation for Common Land for a possible national project on upland commons, with activity in the Shropshire Hills AONB and four other areas.

·           Discussions with Woodland Trust and other partners about the possible development of new woodland project work, e.g. supporting woodland social enterprises, and encouraging management of PAWS (Plantations on Ancient Woodland Sites).

 

3.5      The AONB Partnership Manager advised the meeting that further discussions had taken place regarding the possible relocation of the office to Church Stretton.  Shropshire Council was continuing with proposals for relocating the library, though this was now subject to a legal challenge.  In the event of the AONB Partnership team being able to relocate to the library premises, the team were also developing a proposal for the AONB Partnership to manage the Visitor Information Centre (VIC) in the same building, on a commissioned basis with financial support from Shropshire Council, and using volunteers to assist in staffing the facility.  Dr Dormor enquired whether the VIC would occupy the same area as currently.  The AONB Partnership Manager said that the current space would be used, and commented that an advantage of this proposal was that the VIC would be able to operate in situ with minimal set-up costs, rather than alternatives of relocating the VIC.

 

4.

LEADER 2015 - 20 pdf icon PDF 17 KB

Report to Follow

Minutes:

4.1      Members received a report which outlined the proposed changes in governance arrangements for the 2015-20 Natural Growth LEADER programme.

 

4.2       The Chair commented that the proposals comprised a fundamental change in the governance of the LEADER programme, and asked the AONB Partnership Manager to give a little more background.

 

4.3       The AONB Partnership Manager briefly outlined discussions held during the transition year in 2014, which after much deliberation, had led to the bid submitted in September 2014 based on the benefits of integrating AONB and LEADER functions, and with the Partnership again acting as the LEADER Local Action Group (LAG).  This bid had received formal support from Shropshire Council as accountable body and from the Marches Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).  In November 2014 a letter had been received from Defra indicating that the bid had been successful, subject to confirmation by contract.  A competing bid for the area based on the AONB Partnership not being the LAG had been rejected.

 

4.4       The AONB Partnership Manager went on to say that at the end of April 2015, local Defra officers had first raised issues regarding proposed governance arrangements for the southern Shropshire programme, and indicating that key aspects of the proposals as set out in the bid would no longer be acceptable.  For example, the AONB Partnership was now considered to be an ‘interest group’, and since the grant decision making panel could not comprise of more than 49% from any single interest group, that the proposed structure where members of the Approvals Panel would become members of the AONB Partnership would not now conform to this rule.  While Defra would allow an option where the Partnership remained as the LAG, the Panel must be independent of it.  Partnership representatives felt that in this scenario the Partnership would not be truly acting as a LAG in the manner intended, and would lay itself open to risk from decisions made in its name over which it had little control.  Further, Defra’s guidance that the AONB Partnership’s conservation remit could now be considered a ‘conflict of interest’ made the Partnership’s role potentially much more difficult, especially since clear written guidance on this topic was not forthcoming.  The second option, to separate the governance of the LEADER and AONB functions and make the new Panel into the LAG was therefore, with reluctance, favoured.  The subsequent decision of Shropshire Council to take the LEADER Programme Manager in-house had not been expected.

 

4.5       Ms Jury advised the meeting that the LDS submission had been robust and good, but a recent interpretation around conflicts of interest had required changes.  There was an issue of perception and a need for consistency over the whole of the country.  She added that other Local Action Groups were having to address the same issues.

 

4.6       The Chair then asked the Head of Economic Growth and Prosperity to inform the Partnership about the Council’s proposed change to the staffing arrangements.  The Head of Economic Growth and Prosperity said that the AONB’s  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.

5.

AONB Partnership Biennial Membership Review pdf icon PDF 44 KB

This paper provides information to inform the biennial membership review for the Partnership, and seeks decisions on the extent of review desired.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

5.1       Members received the report of the AONB Partnership Manager which provided them with information about the biennial membership review.

 

5.2       The AONB Partnership Manager advised members that the Partnership’s Terms of Reference provided for a biennial review of membership, which included appointments to the Individual Member seats and a review of the organisational seats.  He reminded members that it had been agreed that the current review would also include direct applications for the Town & Parish Council seats rather than SALC appointing the representatives.

 

5.3       It was agreed that the number of seats in the various categories should remain the same, and that the three non-statutory organisations with the lowest attendance should be invited to reapply for their seats on the Partnership.

 

6.

Proposed Charitable Organisation pdf icon PDF 52 KB

This paper provides members with an update on progress to establish the Shropshire Hills AONB Conservation Fund as a charity, and invites any volunteers to come forward for the voluntary trustee roles.

 

Minutes:

6.1       Members received the report of the AONB Partnership Manager which provided an update on progress to establish the Shropshire Hills AONB Conservation Fund as a charity.

 

6.2       The AONB Partnership Manager advised the meeting that a draft Constitution had been prepared and that it was proposed that the initial charity trustees be recruited to enable them to be involved in developing the final version of the Constitution.  He added that it was proposed that four or five trustees would be initially recruited with the additional seats filled once the charity was established and registered with the Charity Commission.  He then outlined the required skills and aptitudes for trustees and asked that if anyone was interested in volunteering to be a Trustee to let him know by email by 10 July 2015.

 

7.

River Clun Recovery Project

To receive a presentation on the River Clun Recovery Project

Minutes:

7.1       It was agreed that due to lack of time the presentation would be deferred to a future meeting.

 

8.

Date of next meeting

Members are advised that the next meeting will be held on Tuesday 17 November 2015

Minutes:

8.1    The AONB Partnership Manager reminded members that the next meeting of the Partnership would be held on Tuesday 17 November 2015.

 

 

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