Newsletter front page

Gargoyle

Front page image (above). Can you name where it is?
Photograph: Iain S Gerrard

Talking Points


Wind Turbines

The Chairman has written some thoughts on so-called wind ‘farms’ elsewhere in the newsletter but I would like to add my own.

The South Pennines area is once again under threat from industrialisation, potentially on a scale unseen since the 19th Century. Much is written and said about the need to find alternative sources of energy to those presently used and which are adding daily to the deterioration of our environment.

Whether or not the situation is as bad as some people would have us believe we would be foolish to dismiss the possible consequences of carrying on as normal. Indeed everyone I speak to who is against the wind turbines proposed for Scout Moor and Knowl Hill seem to be more aware of both sides of the argument than those who blindly accept that these structures are the only way forward.

Sketch of wind turbines

When we became the most industrialised nation on earth during the 19th Century and also the richest we achieved all this at a price. We devastated large tracts of our ‘green and pleasant land’ and are still only just recovering from this. Do we want to go down that road again and particularly for a purpose which, while laudable, can not be achieved by present methods and technology. Wind turbines and particularly onshore wind turbines are at present not particularly efficient or able to achieve a reasonable regularity of output.

The one described above will have a realistic output of perhaps 18 Megawatts and not the rated output it is given of 65 Megawatts. You would need many hundreds of similar sized wind turbine ‘farms’ or thousands of individual turbines to enable the complete and permanent shut-down of even one conventional power station.

Some people actually say they like the appearance of these units. I wonder what they would think of them if they were to spread over all of the South Pennines as far and further than the ld see. They and you would not be able to travel anywhere without them being visible. Not exactly a sight that tourists would flock to see, I think.

The argument for them is that we have to do something. This surely cannot be the ‘something’.

Incidentally I read an article recently in a scientific journal, which said that the ice caps on Mars were melting at such a rate that they would have vanished within the next 20 to 100 years if they continued. If this is another example of global warming, how did we manage that?

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Gale Mill site

Earlier in the summer this property came before the Planning Committee for permission to change its use from an industrial site to a housing development.

The arguments put before them by the owners of the site were that after attempting to sell the site for nearly a year for industrial use, and failing, the buildings had become impossible to sell due to vandalism.

The recommendation to the Committee by the Rochdale Development Agency and the Planners was to refuse the application.

As we are heartily sick of the continuing, seemingly unstoppable tide of new housing in our town, all without any thought to a necessary increase in infrastructure now so desperately needed; and as we would like to see some increase in industrial activity in the town it came as a shock to have our own Councillors reject the advice of both the Rochdale Development Agency and the Planners and to grant the application.

One was even heard to say: “It will only mean a few more cars anyway.”! This comment in particular was a kick in the face to us as it was often the very argument given by supplicants to previous developments. Clearly the additional developments collectively add up to a great deal more cars! The daily traffic jam to the Motorway and Rochdale as people commute to school and work is testament to this.

Although only a personal opinion I wonder if the vandalism would have occurred had the site been properly secured and had the owners not felt that after a suitable period they would be able to sell the site for what is probably easily the best price: to a housing developer!?

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Local Schools

Rochdale Education Department continues to press on with its intentions to reduce the number of schools within the Borough as a whole. Its assessment of the situation is based, some would say quite reasonably, on the number of school children needing places in the foreseeable future.

However if the reduction in requirements for places, as laid out by the Authority, is extrapolated forward we will not need any schools at all in 10 or 20 years, yet we are expected to take these statistics seriously! No attempt is made to explain whether the present ‘decline’ is a consequence of normal movement of populations and might well be just a temporary ‘blip’ for the present period. Once schools have been lost it is incredibly difficult to open them again. Just look at the present problem in Littleborough with regard to our undoubted need of a secondary school within the borough.

Littleborough has had a number of new families coming to live here for the first time filling all the new houses which have been built. Many of these have or will soon have young children. These children will, on present trends as foreseen by the Authority, have to travel further and further to get to their schools. All at a time when the roads are becoming unmanageable with regard to traffic congestion, particularly at the peak periods, and when it appears to be less and less safe to allow children to travel on their own.

No account is taken by the Education authority of the need for communities to have their schools within those communities. I have complained of a lack of joined-up thinking in the past. Well, this is another case of just that. The Education chiefs are probably doing their best within their remit – their limited remit! It is a best which simply isn’t good enough. There are five major settlement areas or communities within Littleborough, each of which needs its own junior/primary school. Clearly it isn’t reasonable to expect each of these to also have its own secondary education centre, but Littleborough town most certainly should have one. In addition there is a clear requirement to provide, preferably intimately connected to such a centre, further facilities of a general sporting nature. these would include a gym, baths, playing fields (we already have the latter but for how long with the present attitude?) sports facilities, youth clubs etc. which would be available for use outside normal school hours by the general public.

These needs are often outside the strict educational requirements of the area but are not outside the overall requirements of a community or communities.

The younger people find it difficult to connect with the area in which they were born and brought up when they have to travel outside to be educated and remain outside it if they wish to use the amenities listed above. It goes without saying that older members of society also would wish to enjoy access to these as well.

There is a serious need for our Councillors (our representatives expected to represent us and our wishes) to get their act together and stop taking dictums from the officers who, as described above, are unable within the confines of their individual concerns to properly solve societies problems. Nothing is set in stone. If decisions are made by our Authority or indeed by the National Government they can be unmade if they are seen to be inadequate or not working. Many decisions so made are somewhat general in nature. What might suit areas in the south east won’t necessarily suit our area and what may be seen as satisfactory in Rochdale may be seen differently here in Littleborough.

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Local Footpath Network

Footpath up to Sladen Mill

A sunny track up to Sladen Mill

Photograph: Iain Spencer Gerrard

As many local people will already know an Access programme was carried out in the Spring of this year by the Local Authority.

The programme of work covered the area between the A58 in the South and Littleborough Summit in the North and from Calderbrook Road in the West and the Castle area of Blackstone Edge in the East. In all 25 paths were included in the programme and these paths covered a distance of approximately 3.4 miles (5.5 kilometres).

The work was designed to open up routes to specific areas such as the Pennine Bridleway, the Pennine Way and the moorland around Littleborough. It is also hoped that this work will offer better routes to the recently re-opened Rochdale Canal.

In carrying out this work 25 new stiles were constructed together with 11 steps and 3 kissing gates as well as a new bridge. A total of 1800 square metres of overgrown vegetation was removed and included approximately 80 cubic metres of debris and soil.

A total of 900 metres of paths were resurfaced and 25 timber waymark posts were placed at strategic points at the junction of paths. In total 400 waymark discs were used.

In another programme of work that was carried out last Autumn a total of 77 Public Footpath or Bridleway signs were located at points where paths left a metalled road in the Littleborough area.

The Right of Way from the end of Sale Street, passing the park, has been resurfaced with tarmac and the drains were also cleared and jetted.

At the moment work is being carried out on the Pennine Bridleway between the A58 and Chelburn reservoir.

This work constitutes a major improvement to our area opening up many paths that had become blocked, overgrown or disused. We often complain when we are unhappy with our Council so it is a real pleasure to say something nice for a change! The Local Authority is to be congratulated upon the work done which appears to be of a high standard.

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Canal Street Site

This last summer we attempted to begin the creation of a flower meadow in the town centre.

The idea is that it will bring a pleasant touch of the countryside to the urban area and offer a nice contrast to the more formal green area of Hare Hill Park. But……there’s more to this than we imagined.

We arranged with the Council department responsible for managing this site to leave it uncut until the flowers and grasses had seeded. The intention was that we would then get a local farmer to come down in early August and cut the grass and, just as importantly from our point of view, bale it and remove it for fodder.

The Council did as we asked... literally! We had to ask them to trim the existing pathways in June as these were becoming impassable. This was our fault as we should have realised what would happen. Unfortunately the Council used chemicals to kill the grass on either side of the paths, something we abhor and which results in lines of horrible brown dead grass. We’ve asked them not to do that again and they seemed genuinely surprised when we suggested using a strimmer!…as though this was a novel idea.

Our attempts to get a local farmer failed. I thought at first we had left it too late to ask, but the main – stated – objection appeared to be that their machinery was too big to use on the field. One of the last farmers we asked gave what was probably a much more significant factor: he said the grass would be unusable as fodder because of the dog poo.

Sketch of flowers in grass

We do not want to stop dog walkers from using this area, indeed it is ideal for such a purpose, but we clearly have an immense task ahead of us to persuade them to pick up after their dogs and take it home. We had to ask the Council finally to come back and do the work. This they did willingly but unfortunately, again, they left the grass lying where it had fallen. Along came the lame-brains and set the field on fire necessitating the fire brigade to be called out!

We are hopeful for better results next year and want to have some decent signs erected announcing what the area is: Littleborough Flower Meadow, and asking that dogs be cleaned up after. If we are successful in this we might then get a farmer to help out. We also thought that local children might be invited to come along and help with the ‘hay-making’.

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Motorways - road widening - tolls?

At a recent meeting of the Highways Agency Regional Environmental Committee, professional opinion, expressed in simple terms, was that any attempt to build a way out of motorway congestion was not a realistic option; extra lanes soon fill with extra traffic and to lay down extra lanes wither within existing boundaries or alongside would be hugely expensive. Making better use of the asset already in place was a matter of common economic sense. Better traffic control measures at access points, the use of the ‘hard shoulder’ as a fourth lane and some element of road charging could be looked for in the future.

Sketch of cars

The Chairman however admitted that any proposals put forward by the Highways Agency could be accepted or rejected by the Minister according to their likely political impact.

From the nature of the policy news release about the future of motorways, it seems that we are in for the good old English compromise, a bit of each. Some road widening, the M25 in particular, and some control measures, the latter perhaps being too controversial for the motorist and road hauliers to be introduced wholesale at present. I imagine that we will end up being satisfied with neither part of the policy.

Don Pickis

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Trees

PLANT A TREE IN 2003

(AND YOU MAY PLANT SOME MORE IN 2004)

Cartoon of two people planting trees

We hope to plant more trees this autumn in Tree Planting Week, the last in November. During the spring we began replacing the line of Manchester poplars at the Cricket Ground, owned by Fothergill’s, near the Rochdale Canal at Green Vale.

Long time members of the Civic Trust will know that the Manchester poplar was planted extensively in Littleborough (mainly we think by the Beautiful Littleborough Society in the early years of the 20th century). It was planted because it withstood the severe industrial pollution there was in Littleborough then (but no black spot on the roses then!) and grew quickly into a ‘forest’ size tree. Sadly it only has a limited life – say 70 years – before it begins to die back and can be blown over in gales. So we are trying to replace them. The first ‘forest’ trees we have planted as replacements have been horse chestnuts, which Iain and Elaine Gerrard and myself grew from seeds, i.e. conkers. Although we will not live to see the trees mature, we were glad to find suitable planting spots. And of course sites are always a difficulty. So that is where our members can help us. Let us know if you know a good site. It doesn’t have to be suitable for a chestnut, but could be a site for a lime, a birch or an alder.

Extract on the horse chestnut from Richard Mabey’s ‘Flora Britannica’:

“Horse chestnut Latin name ‘aesculus hippocastanum’.
For a tree which is still a greenhorn in this country, (it was introduced in the late sixteenth century), the horsechestnut has made a huge contribution to popular culture. It produces ‘sticky’ buds for vases in February and exquisite candelabras of blossom in May. The ‘spreading chestnut tree’ has been a symbol of village peacefulness, as well as the theme of music-hall songs and a 1930’s dance craze. Chestnut is one of the commonest components of street names (56 in the London A to Z alone.”

Is there one in Littleborough?

The name seems to have been longstanding and the horse part may simply indicate something common, as with ‘dog’ in dog-rose, and a chestnut distinct from the sweet chestnut which produces the familiar nut for food.

‘Everyone should plant one tree once in their lifetime’ Geoffrey Smith - the much missed Yorkshire gardener.

Rae Street

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Wind powered generating stations

"Windfarms”

The announcement on the 14th July 2003 of the proposed ‘massive’ programme of establishing offshore generating stations around our coastline focuses attention on a number of issues. These are not merely the æsthetic and ecological impact on the immediate location, but of basic importance to cost effectiveness are the economic aspects of this particular form of alternative energy.

Cartoon of teacher at blackboard

Though wind comes free the costs of installing turbines and their commercial viability merit closer scrutiny.

Costs can only be met and ‘profits’ derived from increased charges for our electricity.

Only 30% of the installed megawattage can ever be delivered since the acceptable wind speed lies between fairly close limits. At wind speeds above about 55 m.p.h. turbine blades have to be feathered and stopped to avoid damage to the equipment. Alternative sources of power must be held ready to cover for wind generated input whenever turbines are shut down for any reason.

At the same time as the announcement of the offshore programme, a concerted effort is being mounted to push through a number of land-based ‘windfarm’ applications in the South Pennines. These are likely to be over 50 megawatts of ‘installed’ output thereby qualifying for approval or otherwise by the Secretary of State following local consultation only.

A current application to build a 65-megawatt generating station between Knowl Hill and Scout Moor above Rochdale and Rossendale would straddle the ‘Rossendale Way’ and a location of ecological importance in an area of ‘high landscape value’.

Generations of walkers and ramblers have valued and enjoyed the wilderness areas, particularly in the South Pennines, where moorland has provided refreshment and relief from the pressures of the conurbations. Why, you may ask should we lose that precious asset to a new industrialised landscape? mittee meeting on those nights.

Sketch: Telegraph poles

Elsewhere there is a notice of the next one in January and I mention it here just to ask if any member has anyone in mind that they would like to suggest we invite to future meetings.

We would be happy to consider any suggestion; though preferably a speaker would be able to speak on local issues. But this doesn't really matter as long as the subject is interesting and relevant in some way to our raison d'être. You know who to contact!

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The housing boom problem

The Housing Boom is proving to be a mixed blessing for the Canals. As I wrote in the October 2002 issue of the Rochdale Canal Society's 'Newsletter' ("Some ideas for new link canals”) there is the possibility of new canals being built in East Manchester (now known as 'New Islington') simply because property developers, planners and architects now realise that a house near or overlooking a canal, river or dock is worth about 20% more than a similar property elsewhere.

Photograph: Canal Boat 'Amber Rose' approaching Rock Nook

Approaching Rock Nook Mill

Photograph: Iain S. Gerrard

Housing is the fashionable money-spinner which is commanding ever-rising prices. There is a danger that developers with available capital will prefer to build luxury homes and ‘our’ Canal has already attracted quite enough riparian housing developments. What has happened on the River Thames is an amplification of what happens elsewhere, therefore it is relevant to the Rochdale Canal.

The Thames Guardian of Winter 2001 said (p. 11) that over the past twenty years thirty two Thames boat yards have had to close because their owners have made a lot of money selling their sites to housing developers. This underlines the seriousness of the problem, we may never get any marinas or boatyards on our Rochdale Canal.

Another alarming trend on the River Thames is the decline in the number of holiday hire boats. About 25 years ago there were 1000 hire boats on the River, now there are only 200. If, on Britain's most heavily used amenity waterway, such trends are evident what hope is there of attracting new boat businesses to our newly opened Canal?

To persuade the authorities that the millions of pounds of expenditure on restoring the Rochdale Canal has been worthwhile, it has to be ensured that the Canal is a success as an amenity. The most obvious first step would be to persuade the Inland Waterways Association to stage a National Waterways Festival somewhere along the Canal, though the water supply would have to be improved. So this should be investigated for possible sites for a National Rally.

The Canal needs to become an internationally recognised tourist destination. We should consider writing articles about the Canal for foreign waterway journals and travel magazines. Private sector developers might then be attracted to invest in boat yards, marinas and other businesses to cater for the boater. I believe there are lucrative commercial opportunities here for a realistic business investment with satisfactory returns. Last March I had expected that there would have been at least one or two planning applications to establish riparian businesses. Feeling very concerned I wrote to the local papers in early March 2002, and included these comments:

"All canalside landowners, especially local authorities, who have the option to sell land for ... boating-related developments, will naturally want the best price they can get. With house prices so high, housing development is much more profitable, and apparently a canalside location on a newly opened canal can add 20% to the value of property. So people like to live near the Canal, and the outstanding amenity value of it is now fully appreciated. How ironic then that the amenity value of the Canal could consequently become downgraded since preference for housing development could eclipse the establishment of facilities for boating!

I hope the local authority planners will fully understand this problem and consequently they will be willing to suppress housing development along the Canal and give preference to marinas, yacht basins, boat repair yards, etc. which are so badly needed"

Edited versions of this letter appeared in the Rochdale Observer, Hebden Bridge Times, Oldham Evening Chronicle and the Manchester Evening News.

At the National Waterways Festival at Huddersfield on August Bank Holiday 2002 I discussed these matters with Tim Coghlan, who represents inland waterway commercial interests on the Yacht Harbour Association. Tim is Managing Director of Braunston Marina, so he is someone whose opinion on these topics deserves respect. He expressed a desire to see various potential sites on the Rochdale Canal, and a willingness to contribute any useful suggestions. I asked him if he could give his views as to what a modern marina should be like that had a profitable future. The following nine points summarise his idea of a viable marina:

  1. the total area of the site should be 10 acres, including 5 acres of water;
  2. this creates capacity for 200 boats;
  3. the site should offer every facility that the boating public, the canal user and even the angler might need;
  4. a facility of this size should employ about 60 people, some of whom are sub-contracted to run their own small businesses on the site;
  5. ideally the local authority or British Waterways - who are more likely to have the necessary capital – should construct the purpose-built marina infrastructure in consultation with a potential concessionaire;
  6. a suitable private sector concessionaire should be contracted to manage the site. Private sector management is preferable because the management team is more likely to be committed to working outside normal hours if necessary;
  7. many customers can be expected to spend the weekend at the marina using their boats as floating weekend cottages, being on the edge of superb countryside, Durn site lends itself to this role;
  8. providing 10 acres of the site can be set aside for a marina, the rest of the site can be used for housing perhaps where some marina staff can be accommodated. Occupants can keep an eye on the yard to help curb vandalism;
  9. the whole enterprise should make an annual profit of at least £200,000.

It has now become routine that, after British Waterways has completed a canal restoration project, the local authorities are invited to compile a "Canal Corridor Regeneration Strategy" in order to clarify where all the facilities that the boater needs should be located - from water taps to yacht basins. In my library I have half a dozen of these concerned with the Kennet and Avon Waterway. The first draft of the joint report for the Rochdale Canal was issued in September 2002 and is vastly superior to any of the Kennet & Avon reports, though regrettably it hardly mentions the hero of the long-running saga - the Rochdale Canal Society. The publication of the first draft was followed by a public consultation process to which many Rochdale Canal Society members have made useful contributions.

I am uncritical of nearly all of this excellent report, though the amount of land allowed for marina and boatyard development corresponded with my anticipated fears. I shall restrict my comments to Durn and Castleton-Trub sites.

Photograph: The Rochdale Canal at Durn looking norht

The canal at Durn looking north.
Any development would take place along the far side.

Photograph: Iain S. Gerrard

Castleton-Trub site: The suggested boatyard here occupies a site of about 4.57 acres, it appears to be squeezed in as an afterthought into a site of about 17.3 acres. Road access to the site is poor. The urban setting does not make it an ideal location for spending a weekend. However, there are excellent shopping facilities, a nearby railway station, a frequent bus service, and access to the M62 motorway.

Durn site: In many ways this is an ideally situated site, adjacent to a main road, bus route, railway station and excellent shops. Also there are extensive views of the distant moors with the Pennine Way a mile away.

The report suggests squeezing into this 7.5 acre site 2.5 acres of housing and 5 acres of marina. The housing should be sited elsewhere to be replaced by hard standing including an area for manoeuvring crane and H.G.V. lorries, car park and gas cylinder compound. To correspond to Tim Coghlan's ideal size of site 2.5 acres of adjacent meadowland should be added to the site to make the project more viable. Wearing a different hat I am on the Littleborough Design Statement. I am disappointed with the vague and whimsical proposals for this site, suggested by the Littleborough Design Statement.

The idea, so commonly floated, and energetically pursued by the local authorities, is that ‘an element of housing' will beef up the profitability of the whole project. It is short-sighted to think only of what is profitable for the developer, while what is more important in this special case is to Present economic circumstances dictate that for a developer, the capital cost of establishing a marina can no longer be regarded as a commercial investment (vis-à-vis housing), but it should be an absolutely necessary part of any revived canal for it to be adapted to its new function as an amenity. I hope members of this Society and the Rochdale Canal Society, can persuade Rochdale and Oldham Councils to treat the problem of providing marinas and boatyards with the sympathy that this internationally recognised Canal deserves, conscious of the difficult problems involved which I have tried to explain.

Nicholas Hammond

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Littleborough in Bloom

From little acorns can mighty oak trees grow…..

So …. the Civic Trust arranges a talk by Marlene Storah of Todmorden in Bloom and from this a number of Littleborough people start a new group and call themselves Littleborough in Bloom. They take advice from Malcolm Giles who was then working for R.M.B.C. in the Parks and Events section. (He was also responsible in part for the Rochdale in Bloom competition which is run by the Rochdale Authority every year). He suggests they enter the North West in Bloom competition in the Small Town section. That was the beginning.

Our first event was a clean-up weekend in the centre of Littleborough, around the War Memorial and down into the Station Car Park. Assisted by a substantial number of like-minded members of the community we managed to make a big difference to both areas and also planted a ‘host of golden daffodils’ in the memorial gardens. Whilst in the station car park a bus shelter was found lurking in the undergrowth. This along with over 60 bags of rubbish was removed by the Council Parks Department very promptly on the following Monday before it could be ‘redistributed’.

We then decided we had to obtain some funding to allow us to buy tools for both gardening and cleaning. We applied to the Township Fund and received a grant of £1217. This was only half of the figure we had requested as we had included for printing and stationary facilities to allow us to advertise our group and its events. These had to be shelved for the time being.

Following this we began to look for sponsorship and donations from local businesses. One of the items we wanted to undertake was to refurbish the benches in the memorial gardens and the notice board on Church Street. We approached Akzo Nobel Chemicals who very generously paid for both. It may be our imagination but since completing this work both the benches and the board appear to have been used more by local people.

We undertook a second clean-up weekend at the end of March. This time at Ebor Street by the Arches; a daunting test for anyone who knew what was there before we started. We found a lovely garden under all the brambles and though we had been told it was there, it still became our ‘secret garden’. This actually happened on the weekend when England won the Rugby Union Grand Slam and two of our members still can’t believe they actually missed this historic sporting event in favour of digging over a garden which doesn’t even belong to them!

Alongside this garden ‘make-over’ we undertook the painting of the railings on the bridge over the river. We spent £31.00 on this and it was obviously money well spent as one passer-by some days later was heard to say what a difference new railings made! In our write up for our newsletter in April, the headline for this item was ‘The Bridge of Littleborough County’. However the ‘County’ was very cold that day and the four members who did this job had trouble flexing their fingers for a while after.

On the previous day (Good Friday) we had a stall outside the Visitors’ Centre at Hollingworth Lake. We sold plants which we had potted up from our own and friends’ gardens and bird boxes which our Chairman had made from wood re-cycled from his workplace and we had a ‘lucky-dip’ bran tub for children (astonishingly a lot of them didn’t know how to use it and had to be told what to do). We raised £224.54 and had such a wonderful day that we hope to make it an annual event.

By this time we had entered the North West in Bloom competition and started to plan where and what we were going to put in our two main areas: Ebor Street and the Memorial Gardens. In between we were meeting weekly and walking round Littleborough trying to decide where we would take the judges.

Littleborough in Bloom committee being photographed by the Rochdale Observer

The Committee on Judgement Day with Observer photographer

Photograph: Iain S Gerrard

The end of May saw the Committee and some volunteers start work proper on the memorial gardens with a good tidy up. We were wondering how we might get the grass cut when a knight in shining armour turned up (Nicky from Glorious Lawns) and offered to do it for free. In less than three quarters of an hour the lawn looked much better and by the end of the day when the new planting had been completed the whole area was greatly improved. Weary bodies went home for a rest before starting on Ebor Street the following day. We were left in no doubt of the impact the gardens were making following that day. Passers-by made many favourable comments and from the amount of money thrown into our collecting bucket we knew we had done a good job. Some were heard to grumble at the rain but we were more than happy with it as it saved us having to lift buckets of water from the river (Janet did the paddling) to water the new plants.

We were asked by R.M.B.C. to join in the launch of Rochdale in Bloom 2003. We were given much praise for the enthusiasm and energy we were putting into LiB and eventually won the Mayor’s Environment Award.

We were kept busy in the run-up to North West in Bloom with constant watering (our rain dances didn’t work!) and planning our route for the competition judges. We had received a donation, through one of our members, for Littleborough Primary School to buy tubs and plants which the children would look after but would loan to us for a display in the Square on judgement day. The children so enjoyed going to Gordon Riggs with us and then planting up the tubs that they decided to start their own gardening club. We enlisted the help of residents in Hare Hill Court and managed to obtain ‘throw away’ plants from B & Q and Focus DIY which were then planted around the garden at Hare Hill Court and looked after by the residents.

Judging day was the 8th July. We gave our two judges a buffet lunch and then took them round our circuit, passing the allotments adjacent to Hare Hill Court where we have our name down for a plot when available. It was a lovely summer’s day and we felt we had made a reasonable impression on the judges. We had to wait six weeks before we heard we had not won any award this time. However the judges had been impressed with the beauty of our area and our achievements in such a short space of time. Their first words on the report were: “Littleborough, a first entry, but what a splendid first entry.”

All involved have thoroughly enjoyed the tidying and beautifying of central Littleborough and intend to continue. We are now entering into the winter planting phase of the year, with bulbs also going in for the spring, all in preparation for our entry for North West in Bloom 2004.

Be aware that we are always on the look out for more volunteers because we wish to do more next year. Businesses will again be approached for donations and sponsorship for bigger projects. You will be able to catch up with us on our Xmas table when Father Christmas visits. We have all sorts of goodies suitable for presents but more would be welcome (hint!).

We are constantly, through our advertising, thanking everyone who helps us but without that initial talk by Marlene this may never have got under way. Thanks everyone and we hope you continue to enjoy our work.

Elaine Gerrard

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It's that bird again!

Sketch of a bird

Up here in the Pennines where Southerners still think of us as hurrying to‘th’ mill in our clogs and shawls, we already have more open, green space than most people and the C. R. O. W. Act has given us a little more but not much.

Our Common Land, which means most of our moorland hilltops, still retains its ancient rights including our right to walk freely there for peaceful recreation. Our Access Areas, Conservation Areas and Nature Reserves remain for our quiet enjoyment but unfortunately our urban areas are losing out.

Many footpaths and alleys which link our urban streets are under threat because “they aid and abet crime”. Manchester has applied to the Secretary of State for 25 separate areas to be designated as places where orders can be made to close paths. Rochdale has already sneaked in some individual closures and is planning more.

These footpaths are ancient rights of way leading to parks, playgrounds, churches, schools and shops. If properly maintained and lit they can be used in perfect safety. The more people walk them, the safer the householders will be along the way. Burglars and rapists, after all, constitute only a small percentage of the population and they don’t enjoy company. What is it about our local and national councils that makes them want to oppose us rather than oblige us?

Look out for the Planning Applications for closures and say, “No”. Stand up for simple common-sense in this increasingly mad world of ours.

Picture: Blackstone Edge moors

Betty Taylor

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Editor: Iain Spencer Gerrard