The newsletter editor is always pleased to receive contributions to be considered for inclusion. The views expressed in the newsletter do not necessarily reflect official LCT policy or opinion.
It is expected that anyone who wishes to make use of any material from the newsletter will seek the approval of the editor Michael Farrell, 41 Hollingworth Road, Littleborough. Tel. 70154.
Chairwoman: Betty Pickis, Lightowlers, Blackstone Edge. Tel. 78849
Vice Chairman: Roy Prince, 14 Milbury Drive, Tel. 78883.
Secretary: Judith Schofield, 3 Green Clough, Todmorden Road, Littleborough. Tel. 76015
Treasurer: Geoff Sutcliffe, 14 Buckley Terrace, Wardle, Tel. 40369.
Minutes Secretary: Rita Kay, 2, Lodgeville, Rakewood Road. Tel. 79573
Richard Evans, 8 Charles St.
Mike Farrell, 41 Hollingworth Road, Tel. 70154.
Rae Street, Calder Cottage, Tel. 76043.
Pauline Hopkinson, Far Hey Head Farm, Calderbrook.
Alf Tortoiseshell, Sedgmoor, Blackstone Edge Old Road. 79507
Keith Parry, 3, Prospect Street. Tel.79883.
Janet Bell, 9 Salley Street, Calderbrook. 76551
Jill Roberts, 12 Whitfield Brow, Todmorden Road.
Please pass on any suggestions that you have about the Trust and its work to any of the above.
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I am sure all Civic Trust members (and there cannot have been many who did not know him) share our sorrow at the sudden death of Tom Walker at the beginning of the month. Tom served on the Committee from 1977 to 1981, At the beginning of 1982 he resigned wishing, "to leave it to the younger ones" but at the 1984 A.G.M. was persuaded to rejoin: "I’ll see what you’re nattering about these days". Earlier this year he suffered a heart attack but appeared to have made an amazing recovery. At the Coach House Fete this year his deadly aim threatened to strip us bare of coconuts at our stall. Sadly it appears as though that recovery may have been only temporary.
Tom was a popular figure about town. It seems strange to think that we will not see him chatting to someone outside the Post Office from now on. He was very actively involved with Littleborough Conservative Club particularly on the enter-tainments side. He was a prime mover (in both senses) behind the dances we used to hold at the Cricket Club in the 70's. For our Christmas meetings in the Oddfellows Room, Tom and his wife did most of the catering and were generous to an almost uncomfortable extent. He always wanted to give practical help, such as delivering newsletters up Blackstone Edge Old Road and along Todmorden Road. I've a feeling he would have delivered the lot if we'd asked him.
Tom was also a great help in the summer when we were collecting bottles for our...stalls at the Coach House Fete. His friendly manner brought in bottles from people who had no connection with the Civic Trust.
It is always sad to learn of a member's death, particularly one as keen and active for as long a time as Tom. We offer our sympathy to Tom's widow and his sister Mrs. H. Curtis who is also a member of the Trust.
The Secretary's personal view of the Committee and its work.
I have been your Secretary for just over 18 months now and it has struck me that the contents of the majority of the Committee's correspondence and discussions never become apparent; so, in an endeavour to enlighten members, I thought I might attempt to summarise, from the Secretary's point of view, some of that work.
It is somewhat difficult knowing where to begin, but in this newsletter I'll start with what appear to me to be some of the more notable recent events and I hope to give more details of current meetings in later newsletters. Planning matters seem to dominate correspondence and time and of course the most recent action has been to strongly object to the proposed demolition of property in Church Street in the heart of the Conservation Area; and the redevelopment of the site with a second Co-op Supermarket for Littleborough. The Committee has also recently objected to Portakabins’ application for permanent permission for use of land for storage of 'Kabins' - the Committee has welcomed the Planning Authority's condition that this conspicuous piece of land be reinstated to its prior (agricultural) use at the expiration or its temporary permission this August 1985. Also bear in mind that part of Portakabin is up For Sale. We still haven’t received a reply from the Chief Executive as to his view on planning procedure in relation to Mainchem but after seeking planning advice we feel that this may well be a case for the Ombudsman - subject to that awaited reply.
The Footpath Inspector has been extremely prompt in replying and taking action on any problems we have reported and the co-operation here is most appreciated.
Other matters at present include the British Rail land at Station Approach where we persevere despite difficulties about the condition of the poplars on the site; car parking in Littleborough (the Borough Engineer states he will inform us when further progress is made by the Council); the reclamation of the Canal and Stansfield Valley Improvement Scheme - in both instances we have been duly reported. The Planning Deptartment also informs us that residents in the Rakewood Conservation Area and ourselves will be forwarded in the near future preliminary ideas for consultation on minor works within that area.
These are just a sample of the items we have discussed and reported upon in recent months and I feel I must say that despite any imperfections, my main impression of the Committee, (as a relative newcomer myself) is of a group of people willing to give (and at the same time enjoying the giving) their time and energy to try to improve the quality of the environment in Littleborough. At times these efforts may not be obvious but the Committee is there to help - so - if you have any problems or comments - it’s up to you - you have our addresses and telephone numbers - we would love to hear from you - your comments and your opinions are very relevant and do make the Trust's work so much more effective.
This year the Committee determined to embark upon a project, which we hoped would involve as many members as possible, in practical environmental improvement. It seemed logical to consider doing further work in the area in which the Trust had created a small garden some years ago. The garden is on the right as you approach the station and we thought that we might do something to improve the very unsightly piece of land on the left. Of course we could not attempt to tackle the whole of the land between the river and the railway line, but just the piece on top of the rise, near the pavement - a strip starting at about four feet in width and gradually widening out to twenty or so feet.
So that you may see how much effort has to go into matters of this sort and to report on the way that things are going, I would like to go into some detail.
A small sub-committee was formed to see what needed to be done and to attempt to obtain the goodwill of the people who own and use the land. This was in the spring of this year.
Mr. Thomson, the tenant, was eager to see the strip of land improved. We had a meeting on site with a representative of British Rail, the owners of the land, and the signs were that, providing the tenant agreed to what we had in mind, British Rail would raise no objection to our tidying up the area and planting wild flowers.
So far - so good.
When we had had a further careful look at the site, we decided that before we could ask members to become involved in the project, we should a) ensure that there could be no danger from the mature Manchester poplars growing on the land and b) make sure that the boundary fence along the side of the pavement was repaired.
We asked for advice on the poplar trees from the arboricultural officer of the Rochdale M. B. His verdict on the trees was - "The crowns of the trees have become considerably overgrown and potentially dangerous. There are numerous branches carrying a lot of weight which could split and fall on to the road." He recommended that the trees should be made safe as soon as possible.
We met another representative of British Rail on the site and he was told about the expert's report on the trees and asked whether British Rail would attend to the trees. He was also asked if British Rail could reinstate the fence along the edge of the pavement. We were asked to put our requests in writing, so we duly sent off our letter, together with a written report and recommendation from the arboricultural officer.
We have just received a reply from British Rail to the effect, that, if we wish the trees to be made safe, British Rail will do the: work at a cost yet to be decided and to be borne by Littleborough Civic Trust. We are also told that any work done on the fence will be the responsibility of the tenant. To say the least, this is not very encouraging.
Obviously, the matter cannot rest there, but at this stage, one might well ask is British Rail interested in improving its image in Littleborough and, more importantly, is British Rail concerned about, public safety, at Station Approach?.
Five years ago the Council demolished four rows of terraced houses (Rawlinson Street, Carlisle Street and Travis St.), opposite the chip shop and newsagents on Todmorden Road, because they were structurally deficient and infested with vermin. The houses had actually been condemned at least two years previously. The land was then left as an unsightly derelict open space with foot high piles of rubble making it difficult to even park a car there.
Local residents such as Mr. Spence the newsagent and Mrs. A. Hall, who at that time let a meeting room to the then flourishing Littleborough Rambling Club, were appalled at being left with this ghastly mess on their doorstep. Being so near the river and already apparently a home for rats it was a possible health risk.
Their complaints were passed on to the Civic Trust Committee, to which myself and Michael Smithson, the Littleborough Rambling Club Chairman were newly elected in 1981.
The Committee suggested that the Rambling Club take up the matter and Keith Parry offered his services as a consultant. He thought that the site was too large to be just landscaped and suggested a number of useful buildings that could be placed on the site. The Littleborough Rambling Club Committee decided on an old folk’s home and its Treasurer S. Hampton drew up a plan with the home at on end, a small car park for folk using the chip shop or the off license at the other end and a small garden with benches and a central feature commemorating a Littleborough benefactor (Alice Holden and Harry Dearden were the names mentioned) in between.
The plan was sent off to the Borough Planning and Estates Officer, Mr. Pierce. His reply said that the site was unsuitable for an old people's home as they would constantly have to cross Todmorden Road, which was fair enough although there is a private old people's home almost at the traffic lights. What was disappointing was that no other reason was given for rejecting the other two features of the plan. We were tersely told that the land would be roughly landscaped for the time being.
When the Council got round to this work, the 'shopkeepers pressed for a car park and got a tiny, roughly surfaced little patch at the far end at the last minute. It takes the form of a raised bank of trees with two breaches around a grassy hollow. No eyesore certainly but of little amenity value either. The area in the centre is too wet except after a dry spell for anything more than exercising the dog.
Since that time the, parking problem has emerged. If the Planning Application for an old people’s home on the Methodist Church site was granted, I thought the Travis Street site might be a good second option. With the breaches there would be little work to do other than putting a layer of macadam over the topsoil in the centre. You would then have the most aesthetically pleasing car park in the borough. - the "parks for cars" idea championed by our former Chairwoman, Rae Street. With the Rambling Club moribund and its members scattered, I wrote personally to Mr. Pierce putting this idea to him.
Mr. Pierce took some time to reply and one could tell from the reply that he had given the matter some serious consideration and done some investigation on my behalf which was heartening. The land it seems forms part of "the Rochdale Housebuilding Programme and cannot be released without the consent of the Housing Services Committee". Back to square one.! (And what’s going to happen to the trees?).
You might remember that heavy lorries have been the subject of articles in some past £issues of the newsletter. Because of the changes in operator's licensing which came into force in June 1984, it seems to be an appropriate time to bring the subject up once more so as to highlight the measures that have been introduced to curb heavy lorry nuisance.
The Armitage Report of 1980 on "Lorries, People and the Environment" recommended an increase in the maximum permissible laden weight of lorries on U. K. roads. The weight was increased from 32 to 38 tonnes but this concession to the haulage industry was linked with some tightening up of regulations governing lorry depots.
Before a haulage operator can start business, he or she needs an operator's licence in addition to other licences, planning permission etc. that may be required. The operator's licence is applied for from the appropriate licensing area office.
Applicants for licences are required to advertise details of their application. The purpose of the advertisement is to give notice to people living in the locality of a proposed operating centre that, if they believe they have just cause to object, they should intervene before the licence is granted. You might have noticed some of these advertisements in the Rochdale Observer.
The Licensing Authority is supposed to ensure, under the new regulations, that vehicles are operated from locations which cause minimal environmental nuisance and the "Operating Centre" therefore is very important.
Prior to June, 1984, the definition of the Operating Centre was the, place from which the vehicle was normally used. It could under this definition, just be the place from where the driver of the vehicle received his orders. Since June, 1984 the new definition is “the base at which the vehicle is normally kept". The term "normally kept” would usually refer to the place where the vehicle is normally parked when not in use. If the driver takes his vehicle 'home’ each night and parks it in the street or on any piece of land, then that is the place where the vehicle is normally kept and that is the location that must be declared on the licence as the Operating Centre.
The implications of this are obvious. How many people have Operating Centres near their houses? Even more important - how many of them are licensed?
Objections to the granting of '0' Licences - may be made by the Local Authority, the Police and certain Trade Associations or Trade Unions. Representations may also be made by people owning or occupying land near an Operating Centre. A Local Amenity Society cannot object or make representations.
The Operator's Licence, once granted, will come up for renewal, possibly after about five years.
The new regulations were obviously a move in the right direction, but having set off on the right road, the Department of Transport is now looking into the possibility of "reviewing the recent changes in Heavy Goods Vehicle Operating Licensing to examine what might be done to reduce the burden they impose on operators".
Are we about to see a U-turn?
As usual the walks attendances have fluctuated this summer, particularly the full day ones, but things usually pick up in the autumn. The evening walks seem to have been successful this year so we will probably put a couple in next year's programme.
As to the shorter walks to introduce the less hardy walkers of Littleborough to our activities, Roy's walk on Sept. 15th drew no newcomers so it was extended. Richard's walk will probably have taken place by the time you read this, so no conclusions can be drawn.
The 1985 walks programme was compiled by Footpath Group members at meetings earlier this year. We would be delighted to have more members contributing walks and ideas. The winter/spring programme for 1986 will be discussed at a meeting at Harehill Park Council Offices on Tuesday 19th November, (apologies for the error in the last issue) at 8.00pm. please come along.
Sunday, 6th October. Leader - RICHARD EVANS. Meet Square 2.00pm.
A 3 mile walk around Windy Bank and Ealees.
Sunday, 13th October. Leader - JOE TAYLOR. Meet Square at 1.30pm.
Sunday, 27th October. Leader - GEOFF SUTCLIFFE. Meet Lawflat at 1.45pm.
Healey Dell Circular.
Sunday, 10th. November Leader - LINCOLN JACKSON. Meet Square at 1.45pm.
Sunday, 24th. November. Leader - RICHARD EVANS. Meet Hollingworth Lake Visitor Centre at 1.30pm.
Rakewood - Heights Barn - Tunshill - Rakewood.
Sunday, 8th December Leader - ROY PRINCE. Meet Square at 1.30pm.
Lydgate Clough - Chelburn.
Sunday, 22nd December Leader - LINCOLN JACKSON. Meet The King Bill, Shore at 1.45pm.
List of Forthcoming meetings:
October 10th. Mr. D.O'Neill. Todmorden Transport.
November 14th. Mr.C.Harding. The Road to Rome.
December 12th. Mr.R.Kershaw. Great Houses and Gardens.
January 9th. Open Meeting. Society Collection on Show.
RICHARD EVANS. Secretary.
Parliament has given the Countryside Commission a new duty under the Wildlife and Countryside Act - to inform the public of its rights of access to the Countryside. The task, as the Commission sees it, is to increase people's awareness of their rights of access in a way that emphasizes considerate use; the countryside access charter is the result. (The Commission has now produced an informative booklet "Out in the Country" with the Countryside Access Charter on a laminated card. Both can be obtained by sending a stamped addressed 9" x 4" envelope to "Countryside Commission, Publications Despatch Dept. 19/23 Albert Road, Manchester M19 2EQ. It is well worth the price of the stamps (MICHAEL FARRELL)
This Charter applies only to rights of access in England and Wales. Scottish law and tradition are different and there is no statutory registration of footpaths north of the border. A booklet about rights of access in Scotland is available from the Scottish Rights of Way Society.
As long ago as 1978 the Countryside Commission designated the largest area of outstanding natural beauty in the Country. But this designation has yet to be confirmed by the Secretary of State for the Environment. More than six years on this proposal relating to 900 square miles of the North Pennines is to be examined at a public enquiry in October this year. 35 other Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty have been designated without a public enquiry. This will be the first time the Commission's designation has been put to the test in this way.
There is to be a new national nature reserve in the Pevensey Levels in East Sussex; the pastures will continue to be grazed in the traditional manner but access will be by permit only.
Tom Stephenson (the creator of the Pennine Way) and Secretary of the Ramblers’ Association for many years is at the age of 92 writing a book entitled "Right to Roam."
During his 21 years as Secretary of the Ramblers’ Association he was a principal force in achieving the National Parks and Access to the Country¬side Act 1949 and the Countryside Act of 1968. He was a member of the Hobhouse Committee on footpaths and access to the Countryside, and of the National Parks Commission, as he says and I tend to agree that the achievements of the Parks Commit¬tees have been minimal. There are about 100,000 acres in the whole country subject of access agreements and 80,000 of these are in the Peak District.
The Rambling Association are becoming more angry at the attitudes of farmers over public rights of way.
According to Alan Mattingley the Ramblers’ Association Secretary "Farmers are getting away with blue murder, the time has come to crack the whip".
The Ramblers’ Association are sending out increasingly aggressive bulletins. One accused farmers of illegally ploughing up parts of the Wolds Way, "How can we keep to public paths across farm land when they are obliterated? This is the rural equivalent of civil disobedience."
Mattingley believes that the peaceful negotiation approach has failed and he thinks that if there is no progress by Spring in the Rambler's Association three year campaign for a public right of way across Lord Rutherwick’s land at Wychwood Forest in Oxfordshire there may well be the first mass trespass for 50 years.
Keith Parry for the cover design.
Roy Prince for printing the newsletter.
Rochdale Resource Centre for providing facilites
K. Farrell for typing the stencils
All contributors and distributors
Editor: Roy Prince