Bent House Bridge in the Snow

Bent House Bridge in the Snow

Photograph: Iain Spencer Gerrard

  Jill Roberts 1934 – 2008

Jill Roberts

Jill Roberts

Photograph: Iain Spencer Gerrard

Christened Gillian but preferring not to be named after a half pint if her name was foreshortened, Jill was born and bred in Yorkshire; originally from Barnsley, she spent the earlier part of her life there, moving to Bretton Hall, near Wakefield, for her first job on leaving school.

Following this she had a succession of jobs in Darlington, Ruthin, and Manchester, living in Glossop, Broadbottom and Denton during this last phase, before finally settling in Littleborough.

Without dwelling on some unhappy events in her life, these were formative in her character because Jill had the courage to cope with them, helped by the loving support of her mother who was the rock in her life. In the words of Ian, her cousin, "It was never easy, but she managed. It made her independent, at times obstinately so, but it also left her vulnerable, and although she was glad of the help of friends, she could be impulsive and determined to go her own way. Those who knew her well understood this, and I am sure it is why she received such generous help over her last difficult year."

A fervent dog-lover, she was hardly ever seen around the town or out walking without one of her black labradors at her heels.

Although a town dweller she loved the surrounding countryside and particularly that around Littleborough where she was never far from her origins in Yorkshire. She spent many holidays in that county loving the beautiful landscapes of which our neighbouring county has such a rich variety.

My wife and I really only came to know her after we came to live in Littleborough and after we had become members of the Littleborough Civic Trust some ten or more years ago; Jill was here for much longer, of course, and was, I believe, a member of the Civic Trust for more than twenty years.

During this period she was an active member of the Society and a valued member of the committee, providing at all times strong, enduring and well-informed support for its work. She was the membership secretary for approximately the same period of time that I knew her until her recent illness caused her to relinquish the task.

There were times when Jill displayed an acute awareness on behalf of the Trust reminding us that some local environmental issues needed urgent attention; for example the importance of tree planting. To further this work she took a leading role in setting up a tree nursery at Gale with the help of Fothergill and Harvey, whose land it is on and where it still exists, albeit more as a natural spinney these days; still, it wouldn't have existed at all but for the initial hard work done by her and others.

She was keen to maintain the appearance of various places ensuring for instance the clearing of litter and rubbish dumped in the valley between Gale and Handle Hall. More recently she was so upset by the deterioration of a pleasant public footpath between Gale and Fothergill's that she paid a local workman to clear it of weeds and fallen trees.

My wife and I were soon more than just simply acquaintances of her; I have mentioned Jill's dogs and, as we have a couple ourselves, we helped each other out from time to time, she leaving Lottie or Bella with us for the odd week while we would ask her to keep the lid on our two while we went off for the occasional day out.

Her ideas were often noteworthy and she will be remembered for her championing of the now-established Flower Meadow in the centre of Littleborough, not far from her house. She practically organised the funding and the work herself, albeit with continuing encouragement from the Trust.

Jill could be persuasive and, as Russell Johnson, our chairman, recalls: "One of my lasting memories of Jill will always be of her 'persuading' us volunteers to don gloves and wellies to attack the brambles and weeds ready to get the planting started in the Flower Meadow, even borrowing a neighbour's chain saw to cut up fallen branches. But there was always hot coffee and scones waiting for us when we had finished the work."

This meadow will grow and improve over the years and will be monitored by the Trust so that it develops into what she wanted it to be: a green and naturally wild area for the pleasure of walkers – particularly dog walkers – and a quiet harbour from the noise of the nearby town centre.

She was also the instigator and a founder member of a new group, the Friends of Hare Hill Park, for that other green jewel in Littleborough's centre. This group has turned round the run-down park into a vibrant and much-used place. Perhaps the most notable achievement to date is the refurbished bandstand which now enhances the park rather than degrades it. She served on the committee for over four years before handing over to others, although she retained an interest in its efforts and successes throughout.

Before my time here she was a strong supporter of the Littleborough Coach House project, set up to provide Littleborough with an attractive public building with rooms and catering for meetings and social gatherings and, incidentally, saving an ancient structure from disappearing completely.

There will be many more things she has done of which I'm not aware but this list isn't bad.

Her help and advice will be sadly missed and so will she.

Iain Spencer Gerrard


  The Heritage Protection Bill – an Update

The Civic Trust reported recently that this long-awaited Bill, into which they and others put in much work, was among eight dropped from the Queen's Speech in November, to widespread dismay. However, it appears that much of its provisions can be implemented without primary legislation. This is a slightly edited version of their news release.

"But have no doubt", says Culture, Media & Sport Minister Andy Burnham: "the Government is 100% committed to preserving and protecting our precious historic environment? Protecting Heritage is an integral part of the planning system." Civic Trust members may like to remind their local authorities of this in the event of any threats to their local historic environment. The Government have assured English Heritage that the Bill will be revived when the next legislative opportunity arises.

The following is our understanding of the current position on the main aspects of what will and will not be taken forward in the short term.

What has been lost by the dropping of the Bill:

What can be taken forward (among other things) without primary legislation:


Civic Trust Appeals for Funds

The Civic Trust has launched an appeal to members of local societies, such as the Littleborough Civic Trust, for donations to support its work. Recently appointed Civic Trust President Griff Rhys Jones says:

"All over Britain people who love and care about their towns and cities work to take responsibility for something that affects us all – the places where we live. I salute them, respect them and am delighted to be made their president.

"As a member of a civic society, you are already part of a national network of over a quarter of a million people who have pledged their support to making a difference in the places that matter to them. Through the work of your society, you are helping to improve, protect and promote your local environment for the benefit of your own communities.

"The money raised through this fundraising appeal will enable the Civic Trust to provide better support to your civic society and will allow us to recruit policy and campaign staff dedicated to the civic society movement."

However, Littleborough Civic Trust and other Civic Societies (certainly in the North West) have serious reservations about individuals being asked to support the Civic Trust in this way (see Iain Gerrard's Secretary's Notes in this Newsletter).

If you are interested in supporting the appeal, further details can be found at the Civic Trust website:'us/membership'appeal/

Editor's Note: Since the demise of the Civic Trust this link will no longer operate!


Former Akzo Nobel Site

Both I as an individual and we as the Littleborough Civic Trust expressed our concerns in November 2008 to the Rochdale Planning and Regulation Services, regarding what we feel is the misuse of the part of the area of the Akzo Nobel site which is designated Green Belt in the Unitary Development Plan. Any previous use by Akzo Nobel as a temporary car park was never formally agreed to and there is no planning permission for this use and we are concerned that the continual spoilation of the area will result eventually in this fact being lost. The developer was using this land to dump spoil and other materials and to park vehicles on.

We received a very short reply which simply said, "there had been no breach as far as the developers' actions where concerned.'

We felt that this curt reply was less than satisfactory, appearing to offer no protection to the land whatsoever, and we wondered why some pressure cannot be brought upon the developer to first clean up the mess he has made in this area and return it to its Green Belt status and then to ensure that it is not disturbed in the future for purposes of parking cars or any other commercial use.

On 21st January 2009 we finally received a more detailed explanation stating that the situation is as follows:

"Outline planning permission has been granted for the re-development of the Akzo Nobel site with a mix of residential and commercial, (office, food & drink and hotel accommodation), uses, (reference 07/D49551). Under the planning permission, the area to which you are referring is to be turned into an area of public open space, (POS), that is also for use by the Council, (when required), as an events area in connection with the Hollingworth Lake Country Park.

"Within part of this area, a pay and display public parking area for 50 cars is also to be formed primarily for public use, but also as an overspill parking area as required for the proposed new office uses within the main area of the site. There are no buildings to be erected within the area because it lies within the Green Belt.

"It was always recognised that this area would have to be partly regraded and properly drained for use as the POS/events area. The proposed new hard-surfaced car park will be roughly the same size as the previous parking area, but will be formed closer to Hollingworth Road.

"No planning condition was imposed on the planning permission to prevent the use of this area of Green Belt land for the temporary storage of earth or other materials whilst the ground contamination of the overall Akzo site was being remediated. I, (the planner), understand that this area was used for the temporary storage of earth and some other materials, although it is my understanding that it was never used as a 'site compound' as such.

"I, (the planner), visited the site yesterday to check on the current situation. The land has since been levelled off although, of course, it is now currently devoid of any vegetation. I will be contacting the site owners, the Woodford Group, about how the land should now be 'greened up', (until the whole site comes forward for development).

We, the Littleborough Civic Trust, see that what we are left with at the moment is a level but muddy quagmire which has not been properly drained. The only redeeming feature is that they have removed the temporary car park and we feel they should now take this opportunity to return the whole of this land to Green Belt.

We are concerned that the Planning Department considers that a condition to the outline planning consent would be required in order to offer any protection against such degradation. Surely, Green Belt should have automatic protection entailing no further specific requirement to control what seems to us to be such a cavalier misuse of land.

Furthermore, we fervently hope that the Council Planning Committee for the Pennine Townships sees this, as we do, as a cynical attempt to use our Green Belt as a commercial car park for the proposed offices planned to be directly opposite and act accordingly when the site comes forward for development.

Tony Smith


The Toll House: Conservation Officer's Response

In last Spring's Newsletter we reported on discussions we were having with the Littleborough Historical and Archæological Society (LHAS) and the local Planning Department about the origins of the building on the corner of Church Street and Todmorden Road and whether the building was ever used as a toll house. We raised the issue with David Morris, the Conservation Officer for Rochdale. Here is his email to the Secretary in response:

Toll House Blue Plaque

Toll House Blue Plaque

Photograph: Iain Spencer Gerrard

"Dear Iain,

"With the year ending, I am trying to catch up with one or two items that I haven't got around to so far this year. In response to your Spring 2008 Newsletter and the work LHAS were doing on the toll house, you wanted my response.

"The LHAS estimate for the date of the building being "mid to late nineteenth century" is not born out in the building itself. It is built of watershot stonework which was used between 1780 and 1840 and I have not (knowingly) seen a building in watershot after 1850 and only rarely around 1840. The majority seem to have been built between 1800 and 1830, consistent with the date for a toll house.

"The form of the building, with its Georgian vernacular windows and prebyelaw layout strongly suggests the 1820s not the 1850s or 60s. There is a canted corner with a bricked up toll board recess, typical features. The latter is not likely to have been a window, due to its proportions and the fact that the lintel does not line through with those either side, being distinctly lower. Of course, if LHAS are right that Frank Shuttleworth designed it specifically to look like a Toll House, this has little bearing. However, I do wonder why he might do this.

"On balance, the evidence is still with the Toll House in my view.

"That's the best I can do, I'm afraid.

"Kind regards,



Poor Condition of the Path Around Hollingworth Lake

Iain Gerrard sent the following email expressing our concern about the state of this path, despite recent repairs:

"To: Peter Cunningham; Councillor Robert Clegg; Councillor Janet Darnbrough; Councillor Ashley Dearnley; Councillor Peter Evans; Councillor Rosemary Jones; Councillor Pauline Maguire.

"Subject: Path around Hollingworth Lake

"Dear Peter,

"It was reported to the last meeting of the Littleborough Civic Trust that the path from the Beach Hotel passing around the back of Hollingworth Lake, repaired only a year or so ago, was in very poor condition

"The repairs appear to have been carried out in inappropriate materials which are not surviving the pedestrian traffic.

"Rae Street of the Friends of Hollingworth Lake understood that the work had cost in the region of �11000 and it was thought that so much money ought to have been sufficient for the work to have been carried out properly.

"Do you have any thoughts on the matter and is there something that can be done? If it is considered that the contractor has not done the work correctly can he be brought back to site to carry out repairs?

"Considering how important this venue is to the prosperity of Littleborough we don't want to see visitors being reluctant to return because their pleasure was spoilt by inadequate infrastructure, do we?


"Iain S Gerrard (Secretary, Littleborough Civic Trust)"

Iain has received the following reply:

"Dear Sir,

"Firstly I would like to apologise for the delay in responding to you. The reason is that I wanted to have something concrete to report to you concerning progress on this matter as opposed to responding with intentions alone.

"Since Peter Cunningham passed your email on to me I have been in contact with our asset management service explaining that already the work which was commissioned last year is showing significant degeneration and that this is unacceptable in terms of the work undertaken by the contractor. However, I would assert that the damage being done to the surface is by vehicles rather than pedestrians and although we have successfully reduced the vehicle use, due to the legal rights of local landowners, we cannot eliminate it.

"I can confirm that the contractor was back at the site yesterday, filling in the potholes, and also that Countryside Rangers have spent 2 days working on the section near to TS Palatine, improving the camber and drainage and keying in the surface.

"We are not keen on tarmac as a surface for this section for a number of reasons, primarily the atmosphere and ambience of the country park but also because it would encourage further and higher speed vehicular access around the lake, plus the obvious implication of high cost. Tarmac would undoubtedly be a more robust surface but we would rather treat maintenance of the path as a long term and ongoing task, rather than a 'quick fix'.

"For this reason, the Rangers will be tackling a short section each year, working in a similar way to what has been completed recently near to TS Palatine. We are also emphasising to our asset management group and requesting that it is passed on to their contractors that simply filling potholes with clean stone will still result in the stone 'popping out' and that there is a need for it to be keyed in properly.

"I do hope that this information has been useful and that you will see, from the work undertaken, that we take the condition of this track very seriously and will continue to monitor it and maintain it within the resources we have available.

"Yours sincerely

"Andrew Whitehead
    Environmental Management Development Manager
        Rochdale Metropolitan Borough Council "


Secretary's Notes

External Shutters to Shops in the Town Cenre

The situation described in the last newsletter has now become substantially worse.

Having refused one application to have external shutters fitted to a shop, we understand that the Township Planning Committee decided that they would allow another, thinking that the Regulatory Committee at Rochdale, which had to approve it also, would refuse it. They didn't!

Not only is this sort of woolly thinking giving a completely wrong impression of the integrity of the councillors and an abrogation of their duty, it is adding to the existing confusion in shopkeepers' minds. Unable to stand by their rightly-held beliefs, that the shutters are simply not the way forward, the Councillors have now left the whole approach to this issue in limbo.

The understandably offended applicant who suffered a refusal is now taking the matter to appeal.

We could easily end up with the desire to improve the town centre's appearance utterly in ruins.


Lime Trees in Maden Square

We were pleased to note recently that the application to place tree preservation orders on these trees has been approved. However as mentioned in the last newsletter this is too late to save them from the cropping back of all the small branches which adorned the trunks and which, a natural occurrence on lime trees, added to the greenness in the town centre. This work may have been done under the supervision of our Borough Arboriculturist but his main concern will have been to ensure no permanent damage was done to the trees rather than with the æsthetics of their appearance.


Joint Services Centre and the Carnegie Library

The idea that the Library should remain at the Carnegie building adjacent to Hare Hill House has gained in strength and not only with the Trust. The Friends of Hare Hill Park are also of the opinion that keeping it in its present place is probably the best option.

Following the last meeting of the Joint Services Centre Advisory Group, which had been addressed by the Head of Libraries, Sheila Sfrijan, we arranged for her to come to our last meeting in February and speak to us to explain why she felt a move to the Joint Services Centre was in the best interests of both the library service and Littleborough.

She outlined the need for improved services at the library saying that it would not be used. She felt that the library service needed to move with the times offering much more than simply lending books, although that would remain the core objective of the service. She pointed out that in the two years prior to the refurbishment of the Library in 2006 the number of visitors had been 35000 and 33000 per annum respectively, but following the necessary closure while the repairs were carried out these figures had not recovered and the annual numbers for 2007 and 2008 had only been about 22000.

Basically there was a need for more space than could be obtained at the present location, an increase from 215 square metres to about 400 square metres in the proposed new premises. In addition the new Centre would provide extra rooms, not specifically allocated to the library but available to all those using the Centre on an ad hoc basis. This increase would accommodate extra computer terminals, a toy room with storage and improved provision for when the schools visited the library.

She said that she feared for the future of not only the Littleborough library but for the library service as a whole unless these sorts of changes could be made. The extra space offered by the Joint Services Centre would allow for all this and more. The present allocation of two qualified staff could not be increased but the joint administrative staff at the new centre would be available to, say, stamp out new book borrowings and take in returns.

It was pointed out to her that when the House became available there would be a large amount of space into which the library service could expand and that there could be additional rooms which could be used on an ad hoc basis similar to the proposal at the Joint Services Centre. Additional staff of any kind would not necessarily be needed as there was an intention to introduce selfstamping of books being borrowed. Asked about the problems in regard of the lack of parking spaces proposed for the new centre, Sheila pointed out that this was a problem all over the Borough.

The suggestion that Hare Hill House and the Carnegie Library gave a far superior venue with its connections with the Park in which it sat was accepted but Sheila said that parents complained that the position was 'out of the way' and there was a drop off in winter due to the dark nights. This latter was countered by an involved member of the audience who said that since the new skate board facility had opened, the area saw far more youths in the immediate vicinity of the park and yet there had been if anything a reduction in youth nuisance; it was also pointed out that the pathway from the main road and the car park could be better lit to accommodate parents' concerns should the library remain where it was. It was felt to be unreasonable to claim the library was isolated when the Joint Services Centre was even further from the town centre.

She was asked if these alternative proposals had been considered by the library service and Sheila admitted that they had not; she agreed to take our remarks back to the officers involved.


Civic Trust Appeal

As noted earlier in the Newsletter, an appeal is being sent out to all members of all civic societies for them to subscribe an annual amount in order to help the Civic Trust to maintain its services.

There has been much discussion not only within our committee on this, but in the committee of the North West Association of Civic Trust Societies. It is generally felt that this is not the way to get money into the Trust's coffers and there is concern that the services offered leave quite a lot to be desired.

The Trust was set up in the late fifties in order to give local people the opportunity and the voice to approve or otherwise of changes in their town centres. Unfortunately although many local civic societies sprang up in the ensuing years, the national body somehow failed to either make or maintain contact with them at a local level; the National Civic Trust has remained a somewhat distant organisation with little meaning to the average society.

Unlike other similar groups, such as the Campaign to Protect of Rural England, it has never been an individual membership-based organisation, albeit it does have about a thousand individual members, mainly registering whole societies and groups for which it charges an annual fee.

So. Why does it need money?

Always somewhat short of the readies, although it has some sponsorship from business in addition to the registration fees, it has more recently relied on the cash from operating such as the Green Flag Awards to boost its revenues. It has now lost the control of these awards and with it the money which came with it.

Generally speaking we are of the view that it is putting the cart before the horse, asking for a cash injection from members, before developing a good model to which those members can subscribe. Individuals and groups have the right to ask: "What are you doing for me?"

There is an element of the chicken and the egg here. We think the national body should be far more powerful and influential on a national scale. This need is particularly important with the government, in order to argue the case as we see it, when daft proposals are made from London which affect the planning system and indeed our very way of life at times.

But to do this they need to have a good professional publicity officer who will continually keep the Trust's name in the media limelight. They also need a professional person to go out and get sponsorship on a much grander scale and possibly lobby the government itself for money; after all the government funds such bodies as the Council for the Built Environment and English Heritage. Such people would need to be paid and they presumably don't come cheap.

However there needs to be shown a firm intention to move in this direction before there is any hope that the Trust can bring in enough money from appeals to the membership.

It is of course up to the members themselves as to whether they respond to the appeal but the committee are dubious of its ability to achieve anything useful.

Iain Spencer Gerrard


  Littleborough Civic Trust's Comments on the Local Development Framework

Iain Gerrard has sent the Littleborough Civic Trust's comments regarding the latest consultation on the broad approaches suggested for the Borough for the future. The text of his letter is as follows:


We can only make comments on this for Littleborough.

There has been too much housing development in Littleborough which has taken place without forethought, driven by what we see as carelessly applied government pressure, which while trying to create a sufficient housing base for the country as a whole, has taken little or no account of the needs of individual localities.

We feel that there should be a moratorium, within Littleborough at least, on any large housing proposals for the foreseeable future, until such time as a satisfactory infrastructure has been built or rebuilt to satisfy the current level of housing. The required infrastructure must include an increase in the level of businesses and retail shops, increased opportunities for local schools (including a high school) and the creation of some forms of entertainment. Improvements to the roadways cannot be achieved by fiddling with various junctions or increasing the road widths; the present roads need to be kept pretty much as they are to protect the overall environment, in appearance, noise, vehicle pollution and pedestrian safety and there is no room for additional roads as was once proposed in the recent past.

Despite the above comments there is one exception where it would be seen as acceptable to create a number of affordable houses in the town to accommodate local people who are struggling to own houses of their own. These would need to be of a one or two bedroom design, a size which has had almost no provision in any of the recent developments, which have been almost exclusively three, four or more bedroom types, attractive to and affordable only by out-of-towners who owe no allegiance to the locality. An influx of such people can be accommodated on a reasonable scale but the numbers over the last ten years or more have been anything but that. One exception to the larger size of dwellings has been in apartment blocks where some have been one- or two- bedroom units, but these are considered as unsuitable for the area and almost useless for families, indeed they add to the feeling that Littleborough is in danger of becoming a dormitory town attracting short stay tenants who will never put down any real roots.

The government inspired idea that so-called brown-field sites be given over to housing has had foreseeable consequences which were as detrimental as the original reason for recommending this was laudable. Designed to ensure that otherwise disused sites would be used for housing in preference to green field sites, it has led to the relatively few remaining sites in Littleborough, which might have been redeveloped for some form of industry given help, to be used up. Any possible introduction of new industry would now find it difficult to find somewhere to build without going onto green belt land.

We think it is important that Rochdale does not try to include the outlying districts as just parts of the Rochdale Borough, rather than to see them as individual towns and villages in their own right, which have their own identities and differences which we would like to see maintained. Each must be treated separately and each will have its own individual needs which may not be satisfied by an overreaching Rochdale-wide strategy. There has been a noticeable lack of consideration along these lines in the past and this has led towards the destruction of local communities, particularly those which were already under huge stresses from the loss of traditional job bases.

Climate change issues must not be allowed to lead to the destruction of the 'rural beauty' (Wera Hobsons' words!) of our nearby moorland. The quite disastrous policies of this government to force through the imposition of wind turbines, such as those on Scout Moor, must be resisted at all levels and this includes building into the Local Development Framework whatever safeguards against such developments that can legally be formulated.

The question of accessibility of shops, jobs and entertainment centres would be answered by creating or enhancing existing ones at a local level i.e. within each community. Centralisation is a failed policy leading to a lack of local facilities and worse, pollution from otherwise unnecessary car journeys. We accept that certain types of shops and entertainment can only be successful when serving large populations i.e. opera houses, symphony orchestras etc. While these would be uneconomical locally, the tendency in the past to situate shop types and entertainments in larger 'centres' which could be provided locally while being economically successful, should be curtailed.

Economy. While thought desirable by Rochdale Borough, the Kingsway Business Park is considered by some hereabouts to be likely to attract whatever economic development that might be willing to relocate or start up in this area, to the detriment of the 'outlying' districts such as Littleborough. It may well be that it will be a success from the point of view of Rochdale as a whole but it should not be promoted at the exclusion of other areas requiring developmental help. Littleborough is not an ideal location for many types of economic development being distant from the artery of the motorway and having roads unsuitable for heavy vehicles above a certain size. We believe however that it could be attractive to some smaller businesses or larger businesses which provide services or manufacture small products requiring no large vehicle movements, if for no other reason that it is attractive visually and can offer easy access to leisure pursuits in the adjacent countryside, while working and living here.

Housing. Already referred to above, we believe the government's insistence on 400 houses per year (or whatever the latest figure is) without defining in more detail where these are needed in the country as a whole or defining what type of houses are needed is unhelpful. We are also of the view that without some form of regulation the provision of new housing can not be left to developers and the free market who invariably build to suit their own profits.

Reference is made to the age and unsuitability of much of the present housing stock. We do not disagree with this but would be concerned with any wholesale destruction of such housing without first appraising its suitability for conversion to bring it up to present standards. One area we feel needs special protection is the very centre of Littleborough with its quaint arrangement of streets and alleys, interesting backwaters and intimate small areas. The street pattern has grown over a long period of time and represents the very essence of Littleborough. We would like to think that it can be protected from unsympathetic redevelopment.

Quality of Place. This is a worthwhile issue to promote or retain, but there can not be a quality of place if the area is covered with more and more housing estates. Each estate filling with people coming to the area because they like living close to the countryside and enjoy overlooking green fields, only to find that these views are soon lost to further housing development which then attracts people coming to the area because they like living... ad nauseam!

This is a problem created by government demands which override much of the ability of local planners to control development in a manner suitable for the area.

Climate Change. The comments on the renewable energy are disputable. The energy produced by the Scout Moor wind turbines is at a cost which we feel is not worth the benefits, if any. Variable in production, the amount of energy produced is significantly below the claimed potential of the turbines and is usually found to be little more than a quarter of this. Further development along similar lines will deface the moorlands over which so much is made in the Quality of Place section. This form of renewable energy is not acceptable in that we can't have it both ways: if the scenery is valuable then it needs protection from such industrial development.

Transport. We have serious doubts over the long term benefits of Metrolink. Instead of concentrating on greater ways and means for people to leave the Rochdale area each day we feel efforts to attract work to the area would in the long term be of greater benefit. Metrolink is unlikely to bring people to the area (other than returning home in the evening) until the issues of desirability are addressed; desirability to live, work, be schooled in and be entertained here rather than elsewhere. This is likely to affect Littleborough significantly. The issues of pollution and poor air quality, some two thirds of which is attributable to road traffic, seem to be forgotten amidst the eagerness for a Metrolink connection. One thing which never seems to be addressed is where the cars will park which people drive to the station and then leave all day; there is nowhere that these could be accommodated in this town without first flattening large areas of it.

We are of the view that public transport will never replace the private car. It may alleviate the problem to some extent, although with the projections for future car ownership we have seen this is in considerable doubt and we feel that the answer lies in reducing the need, and therefore the desire, to use the car at all, particularly for commuting. This is one of the reasons that we are so keen to promote the idea of communities; places where most of what people require are reasonably close to hand.

The Rochdale Canal may present opportunities for attractive developments which benefit from being close or adjacent to a waterway, but it will never be a major source of development in itself until such issues as the supply of water and the ridiculous importance given to a miserable water weed are overcome. It has achieved the undesirable characteristic of a canal to be avoided by many boaters, even if they could use it between its many closures.

Green Infrastructure. There are conflicting demands being made on much of the various areas and these require resolution. As stated above the Rochdale Canal can not serve its proper modern function as a tourist attraction and resort if it is to be permanently hamstrung by the lack of a decent water source to carry it through all conditions and the restrictions imposed by the protection afforded to insignificant water weed.

We understand that this weed is not unique to this area but is rare in the United Kingdom while being reasonably common elsewhere in Europe. Its protection is based upon casual 'let's see if this works' figures and decisions made at the time of the canal's reopening and which are not based on any scientifically proven formula or consideration. These early decisions have never been followed up to 'see if it works' and remain like a millstone around further development of the canal's potential. The weed is given more importance than the need to open the canal up to greater use by boats. A degree of compromise is necessary; the weed could be protected to a greater extent physically by 'fencing off' strips of canal along the edge without creating bottlenecks any worse than exist already. The canal is barely capable of description as a 'wide canal' in parts so maintaining its full original width could be compromised if this allowed many more boat movements.

The lack of water which is fundamental to the working of the canal for boats is not being addressed by British Waterways which while being charged with the maintenance of the canal is working reactively to problems rather than proactively via a proper maintenance schedule. This attitude is crippling attempts locally to create a marina in Littleborough which would greatly add to the leisure appeal hereabouts and increase the economic returns to the area, not to mention creating a few jobs.

People and Community. References to community infrastructure appear to exclude places of entertainment (as against recreation). The need for a theatre, either amateur or professional, is possibly greater than would be apparent to the casual observer.

The Townships. As a matter of fact we would question the land areas attributed to the four townships. The figure of 22% for the Pennines did not appear to us to be correct and this would seem to be borne out by looking at the adjacent map where the Pennines area is shown as close to that of the Rochdale Township, while Heywood – also described as having 22% of the total land area – is clearly barely half the size. This may appear to be a niggle but if it is an incorrect set of figures for this fact then it opens up the possibility that less easily checked figures in the table may also be incorrect.

Pennines. Also as a matter of fact the reference to Hollingworth Lake being 'near' Littleborough needs clarification as it is in fact 'in' Littleborough.

It is good to see that the need for small, affordable housing in Littleborough is recognised because, as stated earlier, the supply of such housing has been conspicuous by its absence in the housing boom of the last ten or more years.


Editor: Brian Walker