Littleborough Civic Trust is a voluntary body affiliated to the national Civic Trust. It was established in 1971 and exists to conserve and enhance the environment of Littleborough.
Its committee and officers are elected at an Annual General Meeting in April, although new members are always welcome.
CHAIRMAN: John Street, Calder Cottage. Tel. 378043
SECRETARY: Iain Gerrard, 2 Pikehouse Cottages. Tel. 377829
TREASURER: Peter Jackson, 8 Chelburn View, Littleborough. Tel. 373112
MEMBERSHIP SECRETARY: Jill Roberts, 34 Brown Street, Littleborough. Tel. 375426
MINUTES SECRETARY: Chris Wilkinson, 3, Fair View, Littleborough. 374020
NEWSLETTER EDITOR: Chris Wilkinson, as above
Judith Schofield, 4, Bottoms, Crag Vale. 01422 885173
Don Pickis, Lightowlers. Tel. 378849.
Betty Pickis, Lightowlers. Tel. 378849.
Anne Lawson, 81 Todmorden Road. Tel.379604.
Rae Street, Calder Cottage. Tel. 378043
Joe Taylor, 136a Market Street, Whitworth. Tel. 344711
Barbara Daveron, 38 James Street. Tel. 378664
The Newsletter is produced four times a year. The views expressed in it do not necessarily reﬂect the views of the Trust. Contributions are welcome and should be sent to the Editor who thanks contributors to this edition. . Copy for the spring edition is required before the 5th March.
Iain Gerrard reports on topics discussed at recent Committee meetings.
An early Newsletter cover.
Note: no pictures, no embellishements. We've improved, haven't we?
But the contents are no less valuable. It's important we remember what we have achieved.
First a small plea. We are compiling copies of past newsletters for the Trust archives, to be held by the Secretary. We have quite a few recent ones, but if any members have older back copies which they no longer wish to keep, don't throw them away; give the Secretary a call.
Rochdale Council is rearranging itself! A Government White Paper, published some months ago, proposed changes in Council structures throughout the country, hopefully leading to greater autonomy of the Districts, but leaving the details of how this should be achieved to local Councils themselves.
We were invited, along with other interested parties, to a preliminary meeting run by Sue Thornton, the Pennines Township Manager, at Littleborough Community Centre. This was so she could outline the changes already made at Council level and make some suggestions of the kind of arrangements which might be set up at local level to give all a greater say in the running of the Township. A further meeting, held last month in Milnrow, developed the proposals further and considered others from the floor. Nothing has yet been decided and no doubt there will be more discussions to come but the gist to date is as follows; ‘Meetings’ (not Committees) would be set up at local level on a regular basis (bimonthly, just pre-Township committee, was proposed), composed of anyone interested enough to attend, to decide upon items which were considered important enough to be discussed by the Township Committee. In other words ‘we‘ would, to some extent at least, decide the Township Committee's agenda. Dates, times and agendas (when these became available) of the public Meetings would be widely publicised (local Paper, etc.).
Township Committees are to have virtually complete authority in all matters delegated to them. Of course the immediate question which springs to mind is; Who decides on which matters are to be delegated? There is much basis for argument and disagreement here and, perhaps cynically, it is felt that many matters the local people will wish to have a say on will not be delegated.
There is of course, already considerable contact with the Pennines Township either through interested individuals attending their meetings or Sue Thornton's strategy of greater accessibility of the Council to members of the public. Potentially the latest moves extend this much further. We shall see.
The North West Regional Assembly, which will be a new stratum of government once it is up and running, has put out a consultation paper on its Regional Planning Guidance Policy options. This will influence future local development plans, such as Rochdale's, and as we know to our cost, local people opposed to an inappropriate planning application often belatedly discover that it is already underpinned by development plan policies.
Various options were proposed in the document and we have responded as follows.
The option we preferred maximises the use of previously developed urban land, with NO Green Belt land release and permitting other greenfield developments only in the most exceptional circumstances. The RPG is intended to cover the next 15 to 20 years and, while of the opinion that no rules should be set in stone, a ‘breathing space‘ of this time-scale is felt necessary to deter and redirect building from spreading effortlessly across the country. All other options gave far too much emphasis on further urbanisation of the region.
Alternative visions were given for the North West in the document. Of the two considered acceptable, the rationale of the first seemed initially the most reasonable. This was to optimise the balance between economic, social and environmental concerns wherever possible. It recognised that some elements of the balance would be harder to achieve than others and that tension exists between the three, but it aimed to develop opportunities for action where mutually compatible. However, in the past when push comes to shove economic considerations have usually weighed more heavily than the other two!
The reasons given for the second ‘vision’ presented a view of society based not only on paid employment and monetary measures of wealth, but on a lifestyle which values nonmaterial aspects of quality of life, such as a sense of community, sense of place, security and health above mere affluence; characterised by community-based economic development, recognising the value of unpaid work, local exchange trading systems, local produce cooperatives and farmer's markets. On balance it was felt that this was the preferred vision.
John Street reports on a workshop he attended which was gathering information for a forthcoming ‘Heritage Strategy for the South Pennines’.
The Birchcliffe Centre
On the 23rd October your Secretary and Chairman attended a day long consultation conference called ‘Celebrating Pennine Partnerships’. A Project Officer has been employed to produce a detailed Strategy for the South Pennines with the aims of conserving the local heritage, developing the area in a sustainable manner, supporting the needs of the local economy and attracting inward investment. The conference had been set up to allow people to state their views before any strategy was finalised. There were close to 100 attendees from a great variety of locations, backgrounds and representing a wide range of interests.
The day was chaired by David Fletcher who some of you will know from the pioneering work he shared from 1968 onwards to revive the fortunes of the Calder Valley and specifically Hebden Bridge, which contributed significantly also to the creation of the Standing Conference of South Pennine Authorities (SCOSPA) and in 1979 the concept of Partnership between the Authorities in our ‘Special Area‘. David illustrated how long it takes to obtain real movement in terms of new ideas; how we have moved from ‘that area‘ which lies between the Yorkshire Dales and Derbyshire to gradually gain a position where we can now fight for global recognition with a story of international importance. It is no longer just wishful thinking to believe that we can consider achieving ‘World Heritage Status’ with all that implies in terms of funding and support of our aims. There is a long way to go and one immediate need was seen as ﬁnding a name to describe the new initiative that would adequately express our unity of purpose in pursuing ambitious targets.
David was followed by an impressive range of speakers picking up his general theme in specific sectors or aspects. Our new project officer, Juliet Grace, introduced herself and encouraged anyone with ideas to contact her directly. A representative from the Countryside Agency described how many of the old ideas had died and had been replaced by a feverish appetite for inventing ‘new wheels’ and trying new ideas. A member of the newly founded Yorkshire Regional Development Agency outlined the substance behind their commitment to words like ‘regeneration’ and ‘sustainability' and the challenge we have throughout the larger part of Britain to stimulate growth and prosperity as wealth clusters ever more dominantly in a limited part of Southern Britain. He went on to outline a very wide range of objectives which were to underpin their efforts. Included were policies to grow business, educate and deliver learning skills, exploit community based re-organisation and use all the physical assets that are around us.
The representative from English Nature spoke boldly on the difficult topic of breaking down the borders that define elements of the Pennines. Emphasising these borders leaves us to feeling that we are ‘on the edge of something‘ whilst she believed that we are the centre and that the opportunity to change is with us now.
It is perhaps worth noting that most speakers were confident they could easily define what we all had in common, but no one produced a formula that described that feeling n (sic) an acceptable name for the endeavour. There was a constant reiteration of the word ‘rural’ which was highlighted by the speaker from the Countiyside Agency. Yet in many ways if we are to gain a special status it must be on the basis of the combination of the open landscape and industrial heritage. To look for one moment at Littleborough, in an analysis of local jobs available we are amazingly dependent on the category ‘manufacture’ which covers 52% of all our local jobs, by comparison the figure for Rochdale Borough is 30% and the national figure is 18.5%. Another aspect that did not get enough emphasis was the importance of co-operation; alongside out nonconformist beliefs, co-operation made a great contribution in driving the engine of our industrial revolution. To achieve out new aims the concept of ‘co- operation’, which incidentally created one of the greatest retail organisations the world has known, must be re-examined.
Predictably there were many references to funding or perhaps the lack of it. Hope was predicted in such developments as Rural Development Regulation and the Common Agricultural Policy; sources were rehearsed and the hope expressed of a more ‘bottom up’ approach to distribution of funds allied to hope from CAP Agenda 2000 developments. The most positive bits seemed to be related to out achieving a new status in the general system of funds distribution.
The later presentations tended to focus on more specific problems. Sue Thornton, a Local Authority Officer, gave a well presented resume of the principles that she adopted in trying to achieve communication with the Pennine Township. There were also heartening presentations of implementations of Village Design Statements and the powerful influence such work can exert on the statutory authorities if they are done with the approval, help and encouragement of the authority in the area. There was an enormously encouraging example of how to set up a Trust which, with the sympathetic co-operation of their Authority, had achieved a whole string of outstanding successes in terms of rescuing buildings through co- operation with the Authority; The two parties see the long term value to their community in preserving the heritage of fine buildings and combine this with a clinical assessment of what must be done to produce the kind of income which will make donors sympathetic with the causes involved. We have therefore in our midst a group, the North West Heritage Group, who can illustrate the path to obtaining grants for millions where many of us have foundered over the need for a few thousand pounds.
Sue Hogg, known for her work in promoting bridleways, spoke with passion for those interested in our area for leisure use, on a horse or a bicycle or on foot. She covered the issues of common land, the laws of access, the danger of the ‘Fortress National Park’ and the growth of prohibitions of one sort of another. Notably she asked everyone to be alert to new legislation that endangers the centuries-old right to walk a footpath which may be seriously compromised by new legislation to create paths as part of ‘managed access’ which threaten the whole basis of our current rights to roam.
Business links spoke of the development of one stop shops for business advice addressing small and medium sized business. All over our Pennine area there are young men and women in position with the knowledge and determination to help in our crusade; they have no magic wand but through co- operation they can support and improve our efforts. At the end of a long morning there was a super example from a young officer from the BTCV (British Trust for Conservation Volunteers) of the impact they achieved at a local level by giving a lead to a number of local communities sited around a piece of derelict woodland and the benevolent results achieved not only for birds and insects but also for a group of human beings.
After lunch we split up into a number of workshops with the declared aim of coming out of each with at least one clearly expressed priority and a sensible summary of any important issues that were raised. All this material will be passed to Juliet Grace who has the bracing job of pulling it all together. It will contribute to our next step in achieving a new status and hopefully a better prospect for all the people who get that feeling of being ‘at home‘ as they look up to the moors, or touch a piece of gritstone or get that strange feeling of being in a very, very old world which is deeply rooted in tradition but is also more than competent to cope with tomorrow and the year 2000. We have a great tradition of co-operation, if we can use it in a modern context we may surprise ourselves about what it is possible to achieve.
In summary it was a good day and the organisers are to be congratulated on their work, there is a long walk ahead but this step was in the right direction.
Juliet Grace, the Strategy Project Officer can be contacted at Pennine Heritage, the Birchcliffe Centre, Hebden Bridge, HX7 8DG.
You'll notice on the renewal form on the inside back page (see bottom of this webpage) that the Trust's membership fees have gone up. The reason is basically an increase in the costs incurred in Trust business. We hope that you too will find it reasonable to pass these costs on via membership fees.
A decision on the application for the wind farm has been delayed until January or February. This was due to the Council appointing consultants to act as technical advisors on the impact of the development, so if you want to comment on the proposal, you still have time!
Friends of Great Hill have submitted a comprehensive reply to the document produced by Renewable Energy Systems and both can be viewed in Littleborough Library.
The application for an access road to the adjacent Hoggs Head Law site by Limers Gate has been refused permission by both Todmorden and Calderdale Councils.
It may also be of interest to note that an application to erect 25 turbines at High Moor in County Durham was refused by the Local Planning Authority, a decision which was upheld on appeal to the Secretary of State and subsequently also by the High Court.
John Street breathes a sigh of relief and offers his appreciation for those who helped give the book a great send off.
Since our 25th Anniversary in 1996 there has been quite a lot written in the Newsletter and elsewhere about ‘the book‘, but it is still something of a shock (relief) to realise that we did complete it as planned and did end up with hardback and paperback editions at a price most people can afford. Comments to date suggest that the book is welcome and valued by our community; a basic reason for the Trust doing things. l like to think it can have a modest place alongside earlier achievements such as our contribution to the restoration of Steanor Bottom Toll Bar, the creation of the Coach House and the formation of Hollingworth Lake Country Park.
Thanks for help in producing the book are due to so many people. There was the book committee, made up of some of our committee strengthened by the experience of George Kelsall and Chris Lord, John Kay with his cheer and optimism in the commercial and sales arrangements and all things financial. We also had Tom Warburton and the help of the Lions - and Allen Booth with his Council connections. Peter Jackson has worked tirelessly to care for the money side of the organisation as well as in the detail of making things happen.
So to the launch on the 27th November and a first class evening at the Coach House. My only regret was that we had to limit the number of people attending for reasons of ﬁre regulations (the event was a sell-out). Our patron, Lord (Joel) Barnett and Lady Barnett attended as did the Mayor and Mayoress and Lorna, our MP. Thanks go to the Coach House and our own launch committee for the fine arrangements, the string quartet for some quality music, the caterers for an excellent buffet and the exhibitors, film and lottery providers.
We still have a job to do in selling the paperback edition and paying back our underwriter, which we are quietly confident in doing.
The writing of the book has introduced us to many people and developed relationships which will be invaluable for our future work. It was particularly nice to see Martha Lord and Archie Bamford at the launch, both over 95 and witnesses to many of the changes catalogued in the book.
Meanwhile, I’d like to wish all our members a very happy millennium break and look forward to some good evenings together in the New Year.
Winter Walks Programme 1999-2000
Sunday 5th December: Healey Stones — Stid Fold — Syke (4.5 miles)
Meet near Syke Chapel (GR899157) at 1.30 pm
Leader: G. Sutcliffe
Sunday 19th December: Canal - Hollingworth Lake - Bib Knowl (5 miles)
Meet at Littleborough station car park at 1.30 pm.
Leader: K. Kiernan
Sunday 2nd January: Calderbrook and Summit (4.5 miles)
Meet at Littleborough station car park at 1.45 pm.
Leader: M. Farrell
Sunday 16th January: Stubley — Clegg Hall - Turnough (5 miles)
Meet at Littleborough station car park at 1.45 pm.
Leader: G. Sutcliffe
Sunday 30th January: Dick Hill — Turf Hill — Higher Ogden(4.75 miles)
Meet at Littleborough station car park at 1.30 pm or Piethorne car park at 2.00 pm.
Leader: J. Taylor
Sunday 13th February: Canal - Grimes - Turn Slack - Stubley (5 miles)
Meet at Littleborough station car park at 1.45 pm.
Leader: K. Kiernan
Sunday 27th February: Stubley - High Lee Slack - Hey Bottom (5 miles)
Meet Littleborough station car park at 1.45 pm.
Leader: J. Taylor
New walkers are always welcome. Come prepared with adequate footwear for muddy conditions, suitable rainwear and, if desired, a small drink or ‘munch’. Please note also that dogs are not allowed on the walks. For further information on any of the walks ring Joe Taylor on 01706 344711.
Editor: Chris Wilkinson
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