PANGBOURNE PARISH COUNCIL REVIEW OF BYELAWS
Pangbourne Parish Council would like to thank everyone who has responded so far on the possible revision of the Byelaws affecting Pangbourne River Meadows, Recreation Ground and Chiltern Walk; every single one of these will be taken into account.
It is clear that the community care very much and feel very deeply about what makes Pangbourne special.
The areas covered by the existing Byelaws are shown in the maps at the bottom of this page. They do not apply to the National Trust area beyond the Parish Council meadows (identified by the National Trust signage).
It is important to clarify that the proposal to consider any form of revisions is at any early stage and no decisions have been made. A thorough review of proposals, feedback and any potential amendments will take some time. Whatever the end result, the Byelaws must be proportionate and reasonable and there is a clearly defined legal process to follow should any changes ultimately be proposed. This may mean no change, some change or anything in between. The views of the community are essential as part of this review and all responses will be taken into consideration as part of the process. A proposal to make amendments should only go forward where there is support from the community. Indeed, the Council would welcome offers of assistance from anyone in the community who wished to join a working group for this purpose. Any residents wishing to be part of such a working group should contact the Clerk.
Pangbourne Parish Council took the decision to revisit and review the Byelaws when it became apparent that they had not been updated since 1999, despite a review in 2013 following a spate of anti-social behaviour at that time.
The events of the Covid-19 Pandemic placed considerable strain on the River Meadows, Pangbourne Recreation Ground and to a lesser extent the other open spaces owned by the Parish Council.
Littering and anti-social behaviour are two of the major concerns for these areas, however damage from barbecues, noise, unauthorised vehicle access, the openness of the area and gates and security are also areas to note. There were instances of motorbikes being ridden at speed on the meadows at busy times and large groups with cycles and cars. Wonderful though it is to see people enjoying the spaces, the sheer volume of people using these open spaces for a wide variety of purposes as lockdown eased last year placed further pressure on the areas with so many people picnicking, canoeing, walking, cycling, fishing, mooring, boating, enjoying ballgames, holding exercise classes and enjoying the area at the same time.
The purpose of reviewing the Byelaws was to examine how use of the areas has changed over time and whether a revision, update or amendment would give better guidance to all and ensure that all these activities could co-exist for the enjoyment of everyone. It was also to help improve security following on from two encampments in recent years (both through open gates), drug dealing, violence, fights and anti-social behaviour as well as various unauthorised vehicles entering the meadows.
Much of the feedback received to date has concerned littering. The Parish Council has attempted to address this by taking on a new Open Spaces Warden in late 2019 who did an amazing job last year clearing mountains of waste. We also doubled the waste collections on site. In addition to the much-valued assistance of dog walkers in collecting rubbish, Councillors and Staff also routinely helped clear the area. Unfortunately, the River Meadows are covered by covenants which mean that the area should be kept largely “in a natural state” and which prevents the positioning of waste bins on the actual meadow itself. During busy periods, refuse sacks are handed to large groups and hung on fence posts and gates to help reduce littering.
Feedback has also focussed on anti-social behaviour which the Parish Council has attempted to address, and it has worked with the Neighbourhood Police Team to request additional patrols throughout the past year and to arrange a mounted patrol at the height of the summer. In addition, gates, security and fences have been reviewed and a major undertaking has been the installation of CCTV to the area. Last year’s arson at the playground resulted in the partial loss of this amenity for several months and there have been numerous incidents of anti-social behaviour at both locations which have been reported and dealt with.
The Parish Council continues to operate the public conveniences at the Recreation Ground and has been working to improve the quality of these facilities, including extending opening hours two years ago and better monitoring of their cleanliness.
In relation to the review of the Byelaws, as mentioned this is very much still a consultation, however just to address a few of the matters raised in your feedback:
- There is no change to the Byelaw relating to barbecues which are already prohibited on safety and environmental grounds.
- There is no change to Byelaws relating to excessive noise (including music). Last year for example there was an issue with very loud anti-social music being played, an incident with which the police assisted.
- The proposals strengthen provisions to prevent “encampments”
- The Byelaws propose several new safety, environmental and ecological measures not previously mentioned such as prohibiting the release of sky lanterns, killing and injuring animals and wildlife and tampering with life-saving equipment.
- We are informed that fishing was previously prohibited in the area immediately adjacent to the bridge and by the concrete launch, with identifying yellow marker posts which have been lost with time. The Council are considering that this is formalised again in order to prevent fishing lines, swimmers and water sports competing for this space and give space for everyone. It should be noted that this is the end of the Meadows where swimming and water activities at the Adventure Dolphin Centre occurs. It is proposed that a specific area for fishing (potentially including marked up fishing “stations or posts”) is reserved towards the quieter section of the meadows by the longer grass and before the area reserved for moorings. This would then be a “no mooring area”.
This is a proposal and views are welcomed.
- Security, gates and fences. Much of the feedback has mentioned anti-social behaviour. It is the primary responsibility of a landowner to secure their land. This is important not only after dark but also during the day when unauthorised vehicles, motorcycles and so forth attempt to access the meadows and recreation ground. The wooden bollards and wooden gates installed a few years ago have assisted with this, however it did not prevent two encampments nor the sheer volume of vehicles in the area last summer. It is important to note, that the Byelaws are not intended to interfere with any right of way existing over the land. Views on how to improve the security of the meadows and recreation ground are very much welcomed as this is a persistent issue for the Parish Council.
- Proposals relating to the use of ball games, kite flying and so forth do NOT prohibit these activities but rather relate to preventing “danger” or “reasonable annoyance to others” or “excluding persons not playing ball games from use of that part”. They also relate to causing damage. A proposal relating to hard cricket balls was included, however this is for consideration and consultation as with all of the above.
- There is no change to Byelaws relating to climbing trees.
- The existing Byelaws make no reference to dogs at all. There is no reference to fouling. Since the last revision in 1999 there have been changes to the way dog control and dog fouling is monitored. It is right that any update of the Byelaws includes the matter of fouling. Proposals relating to dog control itself are more difficult. Please be assured that all views on this have been heard and recorded.
If you have any comments on these proposals, please contact us.