Wigan Borough Environment & Heritage Network

Meeting minutes

Monday 21st July 2008 at Wigan History Shop

Present - John O'Neill (Chair, Greenheart Partnership Board) Joe Taylor (Billinge History & Heritage Society), Norma Ackers (Independent Local Historian), Clare Brennan (Over 50's Forum), Neil Forshaw (George Formby Society), Tom Glover (Wigan Archaeological Society), Peter Guy (Gin Pit Village), John Hill (Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust), Tom Price (Chair, Wigan Civic Trust), Zenno Vattev (Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust), Renata Marcondes (Language and Culture Student Sao Paulo University), Louise Haigh (CVS), John Vare, Loraine King, Jason Kennedy & Matt Stockwell (Wigan MBC)

Apologies - Max Finney (Over 50's), Brian Parr (Wigan Archaeological Society), Rev Ray Hutchinson (Wigan Parish Church), Carol Littler (Local History Researcher), Philip Butler (Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust), Anthony Grimshaw (Wigan Civic Trust), David Lythgoe (Friends Of Wigan Heritage), Gerry Maudsley (George Formby Society), Glenys McLennan & Margery Harrop (Leigh and District Family History Society), Barbara Rhodes (Aspull and Haigh Heritage Society) Peter Taylor (Wigan Civic Trust), Tony Hilton (NW Catholic History Society), Nigel Morley (Wigan Finescale Railway Modellers)

1.0. Welcome

1.1. John O'Neill welcomed everyone to the meeting and stated that he would keep to each agenda items allocated time slot.

2.0. Apologies

2.1. Apologies were noted and recorded

3.0. Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) Priority Area / Heritage Strategy Consultation (Regeneration in the Borough) John Vare and Matt Stockwell (Economic Regeneration Office)

3.1. John Vare gave a presentation following on from the one given at the recent Heritage Sub-Group meeting, relating to the HLF's decision to make Wigan a priority area and to designate a development officer to assist with funding applications. He said that HLF were keen to help develop three major Heritage related funding applications and would give support to any number of smaller initiatives from organisations, groups or individuals.

John explained that this initiative would have a major impact on Wigan's Heritage in the near future. He reported that there were several agencies operating within the Local Governance Architecture that had a direct input into the Borough's Heritage standing, including Environmental Services and WLCT. John concluded by saying that there was a definite need for the effort to be co-ordinated.

3.2. John O'Neill said that he would approach the concerned agencies and ask that a co-ordinated strategy be developed, possible via the Heritage Sub-Group. He also expressed that there was a need for the Borough's Heritage Vision to be re-visited and that the Heritage Network needed to be involved at all levels with Heritage related matters throughout the Borough.

Action: John O'Neill to approach agencies concerned with Heritage issues and ask that a co-ordinated strategy be developed via the Heritage Sub-Group. John to report back at next meeting

3.3. John O'Neill noted that there was no clear lead on the proposed Heritage consultancy. He suggested that a letter be sent to the heads of relevant departments requesting a mechanism to develop the Borough's Culture and Heritage.

3.4. John Hill suggested that John O'Neill and Joe Taylor meet to discuss the composition of the letter. He went on to say that he would write to those not present at the meeting, regarding the priority of Heritage projects to be set out in the new Heritage Strategy.

Action: John O'Neill and Joe Taylor to meet regarding information letter to department heads. John Hill to send out consultation request to those not present at meeting, regarding priority of Heritage projects for the new Heritage Strategy. All to report back at next meeting

3.5. Jason Kennedy mentioned about the ongoing development of the Local Development Framework (replacing the Borough's Unitary Development Plan) and the need to bring key players together to discus the built environment and heritage aspects.

4.0. Minutes of the last Meeting.

4.1. A few minor changes to the minutes were suggested and Joe stated that he would carry out this task. He also said that once this was done, the amended version would be displayed again on the Wigan Heritage website. Otherwise the group accepted the minutes as a true and accurate record.

5.0. Matters Arising.

5.1. None.

6.0. Heritage Network links to the Local Area Agreement LAA

6.1. John O'Neill explained that the (LAA) was a contractual agreement between Central and Local Government to deliver the services required by the residents of the Borough. He said that is was the function of the Local Strategic Partnership (LSP), comprising of the local authority, the major services providers and the community, to make the strategic decisions relating to this service delivery. John said that Wigan LSP has four thematic partnerships, one of which concerns issues relating to culture, the economy, the environment and housing.

He went on to say that there was also a Heritage Sub Group related to this thematic partnership and that the Heritage Network had representation on the Culture, Economy, Environmental and Housing thematic partnership and on the Heritage Sub Group. John O'Neill requested that John Hill acquire the LAA Summary Brief issued by Simon Dale earlier this year and forward it to Joe, to post on the Heritage Network web-site. John agreed to carry out the task.

Action: John Hill acquire the LAA Summary Brief issued by Simon Dale earlier this year and forward it to Joe to post on the Heritage Network web-site

7.0. Heritage Network links to Greenheart Project

7.1. John O'Neill informed the group about the project. He reported that it was a vast regeneration project that would take 10-15 years to complete. John said that it would have a major impact on the lives of those residing in the properties adjoining it, which included some of the most deprived areas of the Borough. He went on to say that It would become Greater Manchester's premier Regional Park that would provide a diverse range of recreational facilities and ecological habitats within a high quality countryside setting for the benefit of all Wigan's residents and the wider area.

John stated that the project included within its boundaries, High Hall, Wigan Flashes, the Bickershaw Country Park development, Leigh Sports Village, the Three Sisters and Pennington Flash. He also said that other objectives included in the Greenheart Project were to 'reflect and celebrate the Heritage and History of the local area'. John also spoke about the need for a co-ordinated approach, involving the people who live in and around the boundaries of the project and that the Heritage Network could play a great part in that process.

7.2. Jason Kennedy asked if a Cultural Mapping exercise could be considered for some time in the near future. John said that the issue could be discussed at the next meeting.

Action: Cultural Mapping Exercise discussion relating the Greenheart project to be agenda item at next meeting

7.3. John O'Neill reported that Wigan Pier Theatre Company were applying for funding relating to the inclusion of children in the Cultural aspects of their work in the Leigh area. He said that this would be a good opportunity for the communities in and around the Greenheart Project to get involved. John proposed that the Heritage Network support the application. The group agreed to support it.

8.0. Members News:

8.1. Tom Glover (Archaeology Society) reported on the dig at Wigan Hall site, histori chome of the rectors of Wigan. He explained that a second resistivity survey had produced interesting results and the site would require excavation. Tom updated on his recent trip to a former coalmine in Belgium and shared about former coalmines in Europe being converted into Heritage Centres.

8.2. Tom Price (Civic Trust) showed the group the memorial plaque for Fred Ashcroft. He explained that it would be mounted in the History Shop after its renovation and that he would take care of the plaque in the interim period. Joe Taylor said that he would sort out the invoice.

Action: Joe Taylor to deal with payment issues relating to Fred Halcroft Plaque

8.3. Jason Kennedy (Conservation Officer) spoke about the Heritage White Paper and about how it was the Council's duty to produce a record of the Borough's heritage and that it would be a big job. He went on to update about the BLINT (Buildings of Local Interest) list and said that it was still ongoing until mid August this year. He reported that there would be an annual review of the project after this date.

8.4. Neil Forshaw (George Formby Society) reported about the recent convention at the Savoy Hotel in Blackpool and stated that the society was looking to hold to hold a convention in Wigan next year.

8.5. Clare Brennan (Over 50's Forum) reported that an independent film producer, Zara Hayes, who is interested in a project based on George Orwell's book, 'The Road To Wigan Pier', had contacted her and that the Forum are working with her to secure funding to create a film revisiting "The Road" and talking to people from Wigan of today. It will be very positive and would be shown in Europe as well as UK. It could have a massive impact for the perceived image of Wigan.

Zara is also looking for people who might have links to Orwell as well as personal archive of the time. It is 70 years since the book was published and there still might be people alive who have some connection to the author. Orwell's books are available at http://etext.library.adelaide.edu.au/o/orwell/george/ in electronic format, without charge, including his collected essays.

8.6. Loraine King (Wigan MBC) reported that the Pennington Conservation Area draft report was out for consultation until the end of August and that she has also had early talks with HLF about the restoration for Haigh Windmill.

8.7. Joe Taylor (Billinge History/Heritage Society) reported that Richard Donald Lewis was to soon reprint the book' The Billingers'. He explained that his Society had provided lots of photographs for the new edition. Joe shared that he had recently spoken to Mr Lewis about the possibility of the Heritage Network publishing and distributing the book on his behalf, so that the network could use the income generated to become sustainable. Joe said that he plans to speak very soon with the head of Councils Printing Department and will report back next meeting.

Action: Joe Taylor to meet with head of the Councils Print Section to discuss costings on print of book. Issue to be discussed for consideration as agenda item at next meeting

8.8. Other members present had nothing to report.

9.0. Any Other Business

9.1. John O'Neill shared about the success of the Wigan Borough in Bloom project. He also shared about the restoration of the gardens at Haigh Hall and said that they should be open to the public in August this year.

9.2. Zenno Vattev (Funding Officer Cultural Voluntary Sector) reminded everyone that he was available to help anyone; individuals or groups, with funding applications relating to Heritage projects.

9.3. Clare Brennan emphasised the wisdom of initially contacting Encompass the Borough's peak community body, for anyone wishing to make contact with the wider Wigan community.

10.0. Time date of next meeting Monday 1st September 2008 Venue to be arranged.