Wigan Borough Environment & Heritage Network
Welcomes and Apologies:
Present - John O'Neill (Greenheart Partnership Board), Peter Goodwin (Mirabilis Media), Richard Sivill (Atherton Heritage); Geoff Jones (Astley Green Colliery Museum); Mary Pennington (Wigan Archaeology Society); Jackie Roberts (Bridleways), Tom Price (Wigan Civic Trust), Gordon Winnard (Lancashire Irish Heritage Centre), Vincent France (Atherton), Neil Forshaw (George Formby Society), Tony Bishop (Leigh Ornithological Society); Jan Johnson & Ed Thwaite (Hesketh Meadows Action Group); Vince Price (Atherton); Carol Tyldesley (Heritage Services), Glenys McClellan & Margaret Harrop (Leigh & District Family History Society); Simon Martin (Lancashire Local History Federation); Avis Freeman (ETNA); Ed Ellis (Training2All); Joe Taylor (Billinge History/Heritage Society)
Apologies: Ken Barston (Stubshaw Cross Residents Group); David Shallcross & Dave Wilson (Leigh Ornithological Society); Brain Parr & Tom Glover (Discovery Group); Peter Taylor (Wigan Civic Trust); Ray Hutchinson (Wigan Parish Church);
Carol Tyldesley and John O'Neil distributed various documents including the January Events & Exhibitions Guide and the latest edition of Past Forward (which includes an advert for E&H Network on page 27). Carol asked for articles to be contributed from our members.
Minutes of the meeting 27 September: Accepted as true and accurate.
The Oxford Archaeology booklet about Roman Wigan will be published soon and be made available to schools and the general public.
The Lightshaw Meadows development is progressing well and a copy of the management plan has been forwarded.
Money is coming in for a replacement statue for the Boar War Memorial.
Due to inclement weather only five members attended the meeting scheduled 20th December so no business was conducted. Peter Goodwin showed three clips of the Heritage DVD so far completed. The final version will probably extend to 90 minuets and we will arrange for a gala night at a suitable venue.
Our Branch Library- the Future:
Due to a cut of £1.1 million in government funding to our library services, a public consultation is underway and a questionnaire is available online and at all library branches. Questionnaires were distributed at the meeting and a discussion held as to the position of libraries as focal centers for their communities.
Carol Tyldesley reported that the theme of the last subgroup meeting was Big Society, what it might mean, and the upcoming Cultural Olympiad - minutes are available on request.
Any Other Business:
The Greenheart Community Forum met January 20. The terms of reference were agreed upon, a presentation was given by a group of young people working at Amberswood with Groundwork; reports on improvements to access along the Leeds & Liverpool canal and an update on work at Three Sisters were presented, and a marketing strategy for Greenheart discussed. The longer more detailed DVD by Peter Goodwin about Greenheart is an option. Meetings of t he Greenheart Community Forum will be held quarterly.
How Do We Participate in Borough-Wide Decision-Making?
The rest of the meeting was given over to a lengthy discussion about how E&H Network members are able to participate in decision-making under the present system of community engagement via the Township Forums and the LSP/Thematic Partnership architecture.
The Township Forum structure is threatened internally by general malcontent and externally due to the large cuts in the Council's budget.
There is no mechanism in place to bring community representation into the LSP/Thematic Partnership architecture.
CVS has recently proposed that they facilitate a 'Voluntary Sector Assembly' to address these problems. It was noted that the Community Empowerment Programme, facilitated by CVS, to establish sustainable community networks and a mechanism to bring community representatives into the LSP/Thematic Partnership architecture, cost somewhere in the region of £3 million with few discernable outcomes.
E&H Network members who attended consultations at Hindley and the DW Stadium agreed that they were presented with a preconceived agenda and found the concept of a 'Voluntary Sector Assembly' inappropriate.
It was agreed the E&H Network can provide community representation to the Environment and Cultural Partnerships and that the many vacant positions could be fulfilled by advertising for interested parties and the relevant Partnerships vetting for suitable candidates.
Some of the members are engaged in Township Forums, some have been previously been engaged and dropped out.
It was agreed that the Township Forums do not function as a mechanism to bring the community into the decision-making process because they are 'top-down' and run by officers who, having to justify their positions, control the entire agenda and make meaningful interaction between the electorate and the elected practically impossible.
It was suggested that the Township Forum programme be abandoned and the model now in place in Standish and Orrell be promoted - that is: that ward-wide 'neighbourhood development forums', duly constituted, all-inclusive, managed by the community, should be encouraged to form across the Borough. The North West Community Activists Network could provide infrastructure support at no cost. Should these develop, there is the potential for twenty-five constitutionally elected community representatives, twenty-five ward Councillors and others deemed appropriate, using the Council Chambers, on a cycle to be determined, to further genuine community engagement.
The chair and the secretary will speak to cabinet and report back.
Next Meeting 14th March