Wigan Borough Environment & Heritage Network

Meeting minutes

Monday 5 October 2020, 10:30am, via Zoom

David Shallcross (DS), Leigh Ornithological Society, also Chowbent Chapel
Joe Taylor (JT), Billinge Historic Society, (Chair)
Glenys McClellan (GM), Leigh Family History Society
Julie Hotchkiss (JH), Extinction Rebellion, Wigan
Peter Taylor (PT), Wigan Civic Trust
Richard McDonald (RD) Wigan Council
Julie Clarke, Communities (JC), Wigan Council
Mandy Wellens-Bray (MWB), Billinge/Orrell Transition Town

Kerrell Walley (KW), Climate Change Programme Manager, Wigan Council
Adrain D’Arcy (AD), CRESS
Lydia Helsby (LH), Minutes Secretary, Wigan Civic Trust
Estelle Worthington, Friends of the Earth
Avis Freeman, Leigh Soroptomists
Alex Miller, Archivist, Wigan Council

Introductions and welcome from Chair

Minutes of last meeting: Amendments – add Julie Hotchkiss to the list of Apologies, amend Lord Linford to Lord Craword. Once these amendents made, proposed correct by Joe Taylor, seconded by Peter Taylor, agreed by all.

Matters arising: none

Due to Kerrell not being available and group not communicating what we wanted covered on the agenda to Wigan Council, there was no one to speak on Air Quality, Biodivsersity or Fuel Poverty and no Climate Change Strategy update. Action – to raise (via Kerrell) that we would like the relevant officer to speak to us on the latest air quality data/report, similarly an appropriate officer to report on Council’s Biodiversity Plan and for Kerrell or her representative to give us an update on the Council’s Climate Change strategy and implementation.

Heritage RM gave a report on the launch of the Historic Environment Strategy, which was last Wednesday, 30/09/20, the webinar didn’t work due to technical problems, so would be done this Wednesday, 07/10/20 via MS Teams rather than webinar format. The Strategy states that the historic environment means nothing if the buildings and spaces are not used and appreciated by the public, so the emphasis is on usage, even if this means new, adapted usage. There were health benefits of living in an historic area. From a sustainability perspective it is much to stay with an existing building and all its embodied carbon, than build another from scratch. Also the materials used in historic buildings, e.g. wood and stone, last well, and are more recyclable.

The Council is aiming to take a more proactive approach, enforcing building improvements rather than wait until buildings become a liability. The Council will support community groups to prepare bids to funding organisations for restoration or maintenance of historic sites. RM mentioned that because of COVID-19 restrictions, hard copies were not going to be printed, even though the document had been laid out for printing. It was requested that individual copies be printed and posted out to specific individuals – e.g a member of this group who did not use online facilities. RM said he would see what was possible.

Round table

DS described that Leigh Ornithological Society was celebrating its 50th Anniversary this year and had won the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service. He was able to show the beautiful crystal ornament, which would be awarded at a virtual event. The Lord Lieutenant of Lancashire offered to attend in person when possible to hold an Open Day, probably next year.

No meetings at Pennington Flash.

Chowbent Chapell requires urgent work – it is 350 years old, but worship is still happening, observing social distancing measures.

JH described the Extinction Rebellion very concerned about the impact the construction of High Speed raid (HS2) was having – they would be clearing 108 ancient woodlands, and these were irreplaceable, it was not enough to simply plant replacement trees, as all the other plants, fungus and insects, would be lost. Therefore there were lots of actions being done, but because of COVID-19 restrictions much of the protest had to be online.

JC described that the Community Investment Fund had now all been allocated.

She also reported that Wigan had had a tremendous number of people volunteering to help, and that volunteers and organisations needing volunteers with the right interests and skills were being matched through Wigan Borough Community Partnership, and she urged members to direct people to their website: www.wbcommunitypartnership.org

King Street Development’s initial partnership board had met and they would be engaging with stakeholders over the next 6 months.

Another consultation was underway at the site of proposed new housing on the Pemberton Colliery site. The Consultation was all online, and was only for 2 weeks, closing on 14th October. They had leafletted the 2000 nearest properties, put ads in local newspapers and informed ward Councillors. Responses to: newhomesforpemberton.co.uk

JT The Environment and Heritage Network manage a small memorial garden, but were pleased that a local group Making Orrell Brighter had taken ownership and had a roster for caring for the site.

MWB – she had come today because she was very interested with what was on the agenda – and that we should ensure that the Council know we want to talk about this. She described that due to COVID-19 she had been unable to open Rebel Flower Farm until next spring, but was working on it herself.

She is also helping people deal with grief, which many people are experiencing currently, using work of Joanna Mercy, either personal or in groups.

GM reported that nothing was happening with the Family History Society due to the libraries being shut, but they were keeping in touch online and with virtual conferences such as the Really Useful Show by the Federation of Family Historians for £5.

PT was just sending a newsletter to keep members in touch.

RM raised concern about structures such as historic stocks which were in a small number of locations, e.g. Windy Arbour. They technically belong to the Council, but there is no plan for their maintenance and obviously quite a low priority. He wondered if a borough-wide scheme could be developed for their upkeep – to call out for interest. GM said that Brighter Futures were looking after the ones at Lowton St Lukes.


JH said she could deliver a 30 minute presentation on Climate Change to interested groups. She had recently done this for Wigan U3A. JT asked if she could do it for the next meeting but JH said she couldn’t commit because waiting for surgery.

Next Meeting: 2nd November 2020, 10:30am via Zoom