Wigan Borough Environment & Heritage Network

Meeting minutes

10.30 a.m. 4th November 2013 Museum of Wigan Life


Glenys McClellan (Leigh Family History Society), Geoff Jones (Astley Green Colliery Museum), Peter Goodwin (Tradition Films), Joe Taylor (Billinge History Society), Avis Freeman (Leigh Soroptimists), Jackie Roberts (Bridleways), Richard Sivill (Atherton Heritage), Jan Johnston (LENDF), Neil Forshaw (George Formby Society), Mary Pennington (Wigan Archaeology Society), Allan Roberts (Wigan RSPB), Peter Taylor (Civic Trust), Lynda Jackson (Museum of Wigan Life).

Welcome and Apologies:
Marge Harrop (Leigh Family History Society), Dave Wilson, David Shallcross & Tony Bishop (Leigh Ornithological Society), Tom Price (Civic Trust), Ken Barston (Stubshaw Cross Residents Group), Mandy Wellans-Bray (Orrell-Billinge Transition Town Group) Kath Godfrey (Conservation Volunteers),

Avis Freeman chaired and welcomed everyone to the meeting

Minutes of the last meeting: True and accurate.

Matters arising: None

Report on meeting with Donna Hall:

Avis and other members had a long discussion with the new CEO on the 4th of September as to the role the Network now plays in the Council's governance structure. She was attentive and interested in what we had to say as, prior to this meeting, she had limited knowledge about the Network. Kath explained the difficulties we can have penetrating the levels of bureaucracy to make headway with important projects and Donna requested we have a subsequent meeting with one of her senior officers, James Winterbottom.

Joe met with James Winterbottom 17th September:

Due to recent changes in policy directives from government, Council now operates differently. They have, for example, initiated a Community Investment Fund for groups and organisations, potentially able to provide services, to apply to. One of our member groups, Billinge& Orrell Transition Group, have successfully applied for £90K over three years to develop a care-farm catering to people with disabilities and a large-scale community farm, run on permaculture principals, to provide organic vegetables and fruit for the wider community.

James requested the opportunity to come to today's meeting to outline the Council's proposals to all the Network's members. At short notice he was required to attend a cabinet meeting today and asked if he could have another meeting with Joe ASAP. Joe will see James 13th November and report back to members immediately after that meeting.

Richard spoke about concerns in Atherton, including the proposed guided busway, that have resulted in an application to form a parish council.

Geoff spoke about the importance of mills, mining and engineering to the Wigan story and wondered who will continue to champion the Borough's heritage when we are gone.

Jan spoke about the good work motivated by the Can Cook organisation in Liverpool. http://www.cancook.co.uk/home/

John outlined the work done over the years by the 'In Bloom' project, which took 15 years to put in place.

Geoff reported on the Tourism Strategy, something that the Network could support and provide valuable input to.

Glenys spoke about how the Borough's archives would have been stored in the Cheshire salt mines were it not because of the influence of the Family History Society.

When asked how the Network could support her, Lynda suggested a 'friends' group that could apply to various funding pots.

Members' reports:

Geoff Jones provided this digital report:

Since the last report we have been busy in ridding the site of Japanese Knotweed. What a job! The 'Victorian gentleman' who imported this stuff from Japan should have had serious things done to him.
Also we continue to attract school pupils, some as ever, have never seen a piece of coal but all want to take a piece home with them. Rumour has it that their coach drivers are having coal fires installed in their houses so they can burn the stuff the kids leave behind.
Track laying for the first phase of our narrow gauge railway is complete but the results of a fine summer has meant that we need to rid the track of weeds. Hopefully, with the Rail Inspector's approval we should be running a miners' train for visitors next summer. First of course, we have to build two platforms, a level crossing and put together a safety case. This entails convincing the Inspector that we are not running trains at 125 m.p.h having locomotives with a top speed of 12 m.p.h. Anyone with a decent pushbike will have no trouble in overtaking the train but it will mean a meaningful ride for the public. Also risk assessments and maintenance regimes will no doubt enter into the equation.
We have dialogue with the H.L.F. rep for the Manchester area (Rebecca Mason) and having put the feelers out in the local community we are seeking a joint project with them, in small financial terms to get our 'feet in the door'. The real challenge then comes when we seek half a million pounds to restore the Headgear (Mine Tower to the uninitiated).
The Winding Engine is finally coming into full operation and once established we intend to operate in once a month on the first Sunday thereof.

Other business:

Peter informed the meeting that there is an event at Bickershaw Labour Club on the 24th of November when he will be showing one of his videos.

Future meetings:

The next meeting, subject to confirmation, to be at the Museum of Wigan Life, 10.30, January 27th.