Court tours get coun­cil back­ing

The Gazette (Derwent Valley) - - NEWS - DAMIAN BESTER

MONTHLY tours of the coun­cil-owned sec­tion of the Wil­low Court his­toric site could start as soon as next month fol­low­ing a nearunan­i­mous de­ci­sion at the Der­went Val­ley Coun­cil’s July meet­ing.

In the same week as it was an­nounced that the site had been re­fused en­try on the Na­tional Her­itage List, the coun­cil del­e­gated con­trol of tours, themed events and in­ter­net com­mu­ni­ca­tions to the Friends of Wil­low Court spe­cial com­mit­tee.

Ratepay­ers will fund the cost of por­ta­ble toi­lets and site clean-ups be­fore each tour, in­clud­ing mow­ing and weed­ing.

The Friends of Wil­low Court com­mit­tee will as­sist with clean-ups and will op­er­ate a book­ing and pay­ment sys­tem as well as set­ting up a Face­book page and web­site for pro­mo­tional pur­poses.

The com­mit­tee has also been granted per­mis­sion to con­duct tours on de­mand.

In a re­port to the meet­ing, re­gional de­vel­op­ment of­fi­cer Jess Dal­las said the Friends of Wil­low Court had par­tic­i­pated in a num­ber of events at Wil­low Court since 2012 and had pro­vided tours for var­i­ous groups and in­di­vid­u­als.

“Friends of Wil­low Court have un­der­taken re­search and train­ing in or­der to make cer­tain that the in­for­ma­tion they pro­vide is pro­fes­sional, his­tor­i­cally ac­cu­rate and based on con­tem­po­rary tour prac­tices,” Ms Dal­las said.

Friends of Wil­low Court chair­man and re­cently elected coun­cil­lor Anne Salt pro­vided the coun­cil with a writ­ten pro­posal re­quest­ing ap­proval to op­er­ate a Face­book page and web­site to ad­ver­tise its events.

The Face­book page and web­site were ap­proved at staff level, and Ms Dal­las rec­om­mended that coun­cil­lors ap- prove the re­quest to run tours and spe­cial events.

She said dis­cus­sions would be held to en­sure the Friends of Wil­low Court com­mit­tee’s ac­cess to the site did not clash with other ac­tiv­i­ties pre­vi­ously ap­proved by the coun­cil.

“[The] Friends of Wil­low Court have re­quested that the coun­cil pro­vide some sup­port for the pro­posed events,” Ms Dal­las said in her re­port.

“This in­cludes clean-up of wards, gen­eral ground main­te­nance, and the pro­vi­sion of por­taloos and ta­bles and chairs.

“If en­dorsed by the coun­cil the costs as­so­ci­ated with the pro­vi­sion of these re­quests can be ac­com­mo­dated within the coun­cil’s bud­get al­lo­ca­tion to Wil­low Court.”

Dur­ing the meet­ing, Cr Salt said she had de­clared an in­ter­est in the mat­ter but it was not a pe­cu­niary in­ter­est and she would not be leav­ing the room. She re­mained silent dur­ing the brief dis­cus­sion that fol­lowed and ab­stained from vot­ing, which is recorded as a “no” vote.

Cr Frank Pearce serves as the coun­cil rep­re­sen­ta­tive on the Friends of Wil­low Court com­mit­tee and said it had been pro­vid­ing tours on an ad hoc ba­sis for some time.

He said there would need to be a dis­cus­sion about the cost of ac­cess to the site.

Deputy Mayor Ben Shaw said the pro­posal was a great step for­ward for the Friends of Wil­low Court but pointed out that other in­ter­ested par­ties had been re­quired to pay for ac­cess ac­cord­ing to the es­tab­lished sched­ule of fees and this should ap­ply to the Friends of Wil­low Court as well.

Coun­cil­lors voted 7-1 in favour of the rec­om­men­da­tion, in­clud­ing an ad­di­tional clause that the com­mit­tee be re­quired to pay for site ac­cess in ac­cor­dance with the fee sched­ule.

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