Sketch of Hare Hill Road

View down Hare Hill Road

Massive Expansion of UK Airports? Massive increases in air travel?

It’s very easy to miss the really big issues but by the time you read this the consultation process for responding to proposals for expanding airports in the United Kingdom will be over and done with.

Pressure groups of various kinds and members of the public will have had the “opportunity” to make their views known. I suppose it’s true that most of us only get involved in controversial issues when they affect us directly or land in our own back garden - literally to judge by some of the scenarios set out for Heathrow and the villages lying in the open rural area between Rugby and Coventry for instance.

Cartoon sketch of plane

Harmondsworth the Domesday Village one mile down the road from the Heathrow perimeter would disappear if a further runway is approved, as would the villages of King’s Newham and Church Lawford in Warwickshire just off the Fosse Way, if the green light is given for a totally new Midlands Airport.

From the evidence of the pressure being generated by the National Consultation exercise it appears that a powerful movement towards an expansion of air traffic has been mounted by the government. This proposed expansion would be extremely costly in terms of land taken, infrastructure required and the down grading of the environment arising from the loss of natural habitat and the pollution of air and water, in particular near the sites chosen.

The proposal for a completely new Midlands Airport between Coventry and Rugby gives a graphic illustration of the amount of damage that the environment in that area would suffer from this 20th/21st century type of resource-hungry industrial development.

Next Spring the government will probably announce its biggest airport expansion since the sixties showing how it intends to meet a national demand for air travel for the 500 million passengers forecast for 2030. However, it seems increasingly likely that any significant expansion of air travel and its attendant infrastructure will prove especially uneconomic coming as it might at the time when airlines are under increasing threat from terrorism and its violent expression.

The most important element in the expected growth in air travel would be tourism probably the most vulnerable part of the western economy and therefore targeted by terrorists aiming to destabilise it. Since the 11th of September 2001 incidents and the bombing of Bali, there is an understandable significant loss of confidence among air travellers particularly among tourists and holidaymakers.

Airport authorities and those responsible for security will have enough to do safeguarding the day to day business of the existing network without taking on further risks.

Maintaining the “status quo” must be the preferred option.

Oh Yes! One other thing. With pension schemes being cut back or cut out altogether, with equity returns an unreliable basis for future income, where will the affluent leisure class of passengers of 2030 and onwards come from?

Don Pickis

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Friends of Hare Hill Park

-- to whom we wish a happy and positive New Year!

Hare Hill House from accross the park

Following their open meeting in November to report progress in the campaign to re-instate the Bandstand, promising developments have occurred which may take the work forward substantially and more rapidly than expected. Money from a New Opportunities Fund could be made available for the Pennines Township to allow for improvements to be made to the park, as well as providing for a Bandstand refurbishment scheme. To include an improved approach to a significant feature could make a restored Bandstand the focus of a view from the entrance to the park from Sale Street.

A decision in principle will, it is hoped, have been made by the Pennines Townships Committee under the heading ‘Transforming Your Space’, on the 16th of January 2003. Friends of Hare Hill Park have our wholehearted support for all that they are doing and intend to do to restore one of Littleborough’s most important assets to its former glory.

They are particularly concerned to hear from members of the public their views about what materials should be used in the Bandstand restoration scheme.

Anyone wishing to become actively involved in the work should contact: Gill Brierley, Chairwoman on 07106 376121 or Helen Kelsall, Secretary on 01706 378597.

Don Pickis

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Thinking Points


Tree Planting

Although our meeting with the representative of Arriva trains went on as planned and the result of the discussion was not unfavourable Rae Street has suggested that the position for a new tree at the entrance to the Railway Car Park is just too vulnerable. Suggestions for other sites would be welcome, but of course this is a longstanding request for ideas anyhow! The site needs to be perhaps less open to vandalism than most, simply because the intention is to have a fairly mature tree planted and this would be reasonably expensive, so we don’t want to be too cavalier as to its position.

Other planting has been a little delayed because our chief planting organiser Rae Street has had an unfortunate accident and has been going about for the last two months with her arm in a sling. She is now pretty much recovered and I understand it is her intention to organise the next session before the end of the winter season. Please contact her if you’re interested in a little spadework.

In the meantime some oak trees which were from acorns originally potted by Judith Schofield and which passed to me have now been planted alongside Bent House Lock. Two or three similarly acquired Scotch Pines will, hopefully, be finding a permanent resting place just below the Summit Lock on the ‘offside’ of the canal before the winter is out. Although these are not great planting occasions every little helps!

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Planning

A recent application by one of the big banks to change the fascia design to their premises in Church Street was felt to be less than suitable. We wrote to object on the grounds that it was out of keeping with the area, which is part of out Central Conservation Area, and to request that the bank be asked to think again. It was felt that a standardised design had been presented by the bank and which it presumably intended to use everywhere without respect for the individual location. We have not yet had a decision but are hopeful.

An application to build new houses on a site at Frederick and Wardle Street was revised in part at least because of our plea that the designs should more reflect the character of the surrounding buildings. This was satisfying, in that it is an indication that we can have some impact on applications. We felt the need however to point out that further development of dwellings in this town, of the size proposed, is continuing to exacerbate the imbalance, presently concerning us, between the addition of new house building and the existing lack of infrastructure suitable to support the increasing population; nor does it in any way contribute to the need for 'affordable housing'.

This is not to imply that the planners are not aware of these problems or are wilfully ignoring them. They are simply hamstrung by planning regulations imposed nationally and which are incapable of addressing such problems. The affordable housing which should be so important locally doesn’t even come as part of the deal unless the site is of a sufficient size. In other words we have to have umpteen ‘non-affordable’ houses for every one that is affordable. Ludicrous!

Every extra house of this nature, bringing with it as it will young families, will further burden the road structure as additional journeys are made to travel out of town to work, to shop and to attend the schools which we haven’t got.

The railway viaduct has been ‘under attack’ recently. As probably the most prominent important structure we have, we feel that it should not just be protected from further corporate vandalism and damage but repaired and returned to its former glory. We objected to additional signage from the Highways Department, which was intended to warn oncoming traffic to avoid using the main road arch if the vehicle exceeded a certain height. The present signage is a mess and we feel it should be removed and replaced with reasonably sized signs at the roadside on the approach roads. Thankfully the application was turned down.

Viaduct from Canal Street junction

Another application followed closely on the heels of the above to strengthen the main road archway. This was in the form of a grid of steel bars which would be recessed into the arch brickwork in grooves cut into it. It was described in the application as ‘non-damaging’. We were directed to view another bridge over the canal in Rochdale which had already had such work done on it. The process requires that grooves over an inch wide and in a grid pattern are cut into the brickwork and subsequently filled with grout after the insertion of the steel rods. The viaduct’s main arch has brickwork of a skewed pattern which is an extremely important element of its attractiveness and the process would have totally destroyed this. Bear in mind this is a listed structure!

We successfully objected to this obtaining help from both English Heritage, the Civic Trust and the Council’s conservation officer. To imagine that our town and its heritage is in good hands is to believe in flying pigs and constant vigilance is required. A second scheme has now been proposed which is much less obvious in its impact on the viaduct and which could include some repairs to the damaged stonework of the arch and a general clean up of the stonework.

Still with the railway, the new Railway Network company (replacement of Railtrack) applied for permission to replace a brick wall, removed during works to the up-platform at the station, with a black metal fence to be set into a new stone wall. While liking the use of stone here the fence, required for security reasons (understandably!), was likely to be an eyesore removing any value of the use of stone for the wall. An objection by us has resulted in a modification to this so that the wall will be in front of the fence.

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Town Design Statement

The public meeting promised for the 13th November was arranged and held and was undoubtedly a success. If anything it was better than the meeting last May when the official launch of the project took place. Presentations were made on behalf of all the various groups who are contributing to this effort along with displays of their work and their ideas.

These displays were re-erected in the Coach House for the month of January and this represented the absolute last chance when comments and ideas from anyone who has not already contributed could be made and which will be taken into consideration. Councillor Sultan Ali, the Deputy Mayor, attended and became extremely interested in what we were doing, praising the efforts so far in a small closing speech. Needless to say the buffet and wine, all free, went down very well.

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Pennines Community Development Trust

This is an enterprise which is being set up by the Authority initially but which will eventually be run by the local people. Sue Thornton, our Township Manager(ess) gave a succinct account of what it is and what it might achieve. Much of the hard work that has gone into it so far is down to Sue Thornton herself.

If I have it right, the Trust will be made up of local businesses, societies and individuals who are prepared to help and be members of it. Quite literally everyone in the Pennines Township is eligible for membership. The object is that, as a limited company, not-for-profit organisation and independent from the Council, it will be in a position to apply for and manage funds from a variety of sources to carry out works required around the Pennines Township. These sources are simply not available to the Local Authority.

At present a Steering Committee composed in part of local people exists but this will be disbanded when, at a public meeting sometime towards the middle of this year the Trust will be set up and a ‘Board of Directors’ voted for.

Further details can be obtained from Sue herself. The concept is interesting and we’ll try to keep you informed but look out for a public announcement in a few months about the all-important meeting.

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Littleborough Civic Trust meetings

In an attempt to widen the scope and attractiveness of our meetings both to members and the general public it has been decided to advertise them more broadly and that one in three should be an overtly public meeting with a speaker.

The list of dates for 2003 is given on another page.

The meeting on the 8 January was attended by about 20 people to hear Marlene Storah give her experiences in Todmorden where considerable energy has been expended to make the town a contender in the Britain in Bloom competition. The result of this particular evening’s entertainment was the setting up of an organisation here called Littleborough in Bloom. If you would like more information or are interested in being involved contact the secretary Elaine Gerrard on 01706 377829.

The next talk will be in April when it is hoped we will have someone to cover the role of S.C.O.S.P.A., the Standing Committee of South Pennine Authorities. For those of you who do not know of this organisation (of which Rochdale M.B.C. is a member!) come along and be informed.

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NWACTS

I attended a meeting of the above in January.

I confess I had been unaware previously that some local councils have been recruited into the Civic Trust in the past. It was not known by anyone at the meeting if any are presently so in our N W area. I also learnt that the Civic Trust now employs a person: Hannah Mummery, who is to target this matter in the future, presumably chasing new ‘recruits’.

Peter Colley of the Cumbria Federation of Civic Societies has begun an exercise to ask for details of all the Conservation Areas known within the NW area. He has sent out a letter to all the Councils in the area and had a reply of 60% so far. Apparently he has discovered that English Heritage is doing a similar thing with an assessment and listing of the Heritage environment of the NW although there is no evidence of them making any enquiries he knows of. Theirs is to be part of a national report: “The State of the Historical Environment Report”. It should be updated yearly and therefore get better with time. Yorkshire area has already carried out a similar exercise but it was not known by whom. During the discussion on Conservation areas it was said that the initial identification of an area deserving designation should be followed by a detailed appraisal of all the buildings – their history and who lived there/worked there – which areas were in poor condition and what problems needed addressing. It struck me that we probably had not had this done with our Central Conservation Area. As soon as we are able we intend to enquire further on this matter with regard to our own four Conservation areas.

A rather pointed tale was given about one lady who, in her particular area, had enquired of the local estate agents whether they were aware of the existing conservation areas in their area, there extent and boundaries: not one had had any knowledge! This apparently is not untypical but doesn’t help prospective purchasers to consider or understand their responsibilities as property owners within any such Conservation areas. I wondered what the result of a similar survey within Littleborough might be!

There is to be a new structure of registration fees to the national body from April 2004. This is to take account of the desperate need for funds of the National Civic Trust and to help to cover the costs of the nine regional associations – a cost which the national body has apparently agreed to in principal. There will be a once only levy on each registered society in April 2003 as an interim measure.

Iain Gerrard

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Where King Coal still reigns

On my third visit to New Zealand I achieved a lifelong ambition but returned home after two months down under somewhat perplexed.

My ambition was to travel on the TranzAlpine Express, a spectacular 4 hr 25 min coast-to-coast train journey between Christchurch and Greymouth. The highlight of which, as it traversed the Southern Alps between Arthur's Pass and Otira, was the 5 miles, 25 chains, 12 feet long Otira tunnel, which when opened in 1923 was the longest railway tunnel in the British Empire. The TranzAlpine which is billed as one of the six great railway journeys in the world is unfortunately in dire straits.

Photograph: TranzAlpine train at Springfield Rail Station - Southern Alps beyond.

TranzAlpine at Springfield Rail Station - Southern Alps beyond.

Allen Holt

Constant changes of ownership/losing money hand over fist/and some say threatened with closure- the reason COAL!

On the West Coast of New Zealand's South Island there are extensive Coal Measures of high quality fuel, the bulk of which is exported to India and Korea. Unfortunately there is no deep water anchorage on the West Coast so the coal travels across country by train to Christchurch Harbour at Lyttelton. The problem is that over its entire length the line is single-track, as a result the highly profitable coal trains have right of way over the loss making TranzAlpine. This had a dramatic effect on the TranzAlpine timetable, on a really bad day it can be up to two hours late, but was on time when I made the trip. When I suggested the problem could be resolved by converting the line to double-track I was lectured at length. They said they couldn't afford to do it when the line was built, and most certainly cannot afford it now.

While touring around the coalfield area at Reefton, I was surprised to see smoke billowing from some of the house chimneys. It reminded me of Littleborough during the pre-1950s, the only difference was the smoke, it was a greyish white, the coal being much cleaner than ours.

Still in the same area is a small township called Westport, which we were told has more beds in hotels than in private houses! It also has the highest incidence of unemployment in the whole of New Zealand. We were taken on a tour of the place by our coach driver who had been brought up there as a lad - it proved to be a revelation.

In some of the back streets the houses were unkempt with peeling paint, rusting ironwork, and general untidiness was widespread. When I proffered the word "squalor" I was rebuked with " ... The West Coasters are a race apart; they are free spirits who do things their own way and always have done, they choose to live like that." Added to which the young in Westport do not work because they can make more money growing cannabis in their parent's back gardens!

All of which is at variance with New Zealand's otherwise unblemished record on environmental issues. It has a Clean Air Act which is struggling somewhat, for although natural gas is now widely available many people still heat their homes by wood burners of every conceivable design. Central heating and double-glazing are not used. Its Town and Country Planning Act has been revised to prevent the urban sprawl of cities, and like everywhere else is trying to come to terms with a car owning society.

Photograph: TranzAlpine in Arthurs' Pass

Tranzalpine in Arthurs' Pass

Road widening schemes are underway throughout the country, where thanks to Uncle Sam all Kiwi motorways are designated State Highways.

The country prides itself on the fact that well over 90% of electricity is generated in Hydroelectric Power Stations. Electricity can be distributed between the two islands through the National Grid via an undersea power cable. Its stance on Nuclear Energy is, of course, well known world-wide and no nuclear powered ship is allowed to enter New Zealand waters. Much to the annoyance of the Americans, under whose umbrella New Zealand now shelters since Great Britain joined the European Economic Community.

Some of its rulings on conservation are, to say the least, unusual if not bizarre - Wild Lupins growing on a TranzAlpine railway embankment are to be uprooted because they are not indigenous flora. I was told this was on the recommendation of our famous botanist David Bellamy.

If I, a mere tourist, was made privy to such startling misdemeanours committed by some of the inhabitants in New Zealand's coalfields, it must therefore be assumed that the authorities also know. It is that which prompted me to say I was perplexed; I still am.

Newsletter readers should not be put off by this diatribe, for the coalfields, and the antics of a few of its inhabitants form only a tiny part of New Zealand. Which, as everyone knows is a very beautiful country, an ideal holiday venue. However, It is not a place I would choose to reside in permanently - but that's another story.

Allen Holt

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The Rochdale Unitary Development Plan Review – A Personal View

I do feel that this plan is already out of date. It appears to be working to the rules of 1995 or even earlier with regard to green issues.

The North West Regional Guidance figures for housing requirements have been lowered by the Secretary of State by 15% and Rochdale's total is now one of the lowest in the North West. Urban regeneration should be a priority issue. Whatever is good in Rochdale Town centre or the surrounding villages of Milnrow, Wardle, Littleborough, Norden etc., should be preserved. The Urban Boundary needs drawing very tightly round presently built-up areas and putting any remaining undeveloped land into the Green Belt, thus containing the ugly urban sprawl.

The revised guidance in PPG3 recommends greater density in housing, greater use of local materials, i.e.: stone, and greater care taken with siting. It defines 'brown field' sites as previously developed areas within the Urban Boundary. This completely excludes places such as Rainshore Mill, Healey Hall Mills and other similar industrial relicts in rural settings. Common sense shows that these sites are part of the countryside and should be 'washed over' by the Green Belt. It would be criminal to advertise the beauties of Healey Dell, for instance, as a tourist attraction and then destroy the Nature Reserve by building in it.

We have a frightening amount of industrial disease in the Northwest resulting from the manufacturing of asbestos and its products, textiles & manmade fibres, quarrying and mining. The chemical industries that are largely replacing them produce carcinogens, landfill tipping of our rubbish produces methane and increases the heavy traffic on the roads. Our only defence against these evils is cleaner air, better water quality, more efficient and environmentally friendly waste disposal and recycling and careful guarding of remaining open green space.

Now that we have realised the damage that superstores and shopping malls have done to our village high streets and community life, every thing possible should be done, even to reducing the business rate, for small shops and local markets. These are accessible to everyone and not just to car owners. Where banks and building societies have closed, local Post Offices are now essential.

This government professes to support a reduction in car ownership. This will never come about until we have an integrated public transport system. At the moment, neither buses nor trains provide a reliable substitute. Perhaps we could give them a hand by not building any more major roads or motorways and cutting down the congestion on the town by building container transfer stations outside the residential areas. It might keep enormous Heavy Goods Vehicles from jamming up narrow lanes and back streets.

Ordinary people (as opposed to MPs civil servants and "Kings of Industry") need a firm commitment from this U. D. Plan to improve the quality, not quantity, of their lives by considering the smaller annoyances as well as the wider issues. Vandalism, rubbish, graffiti, dog dirt, smoke, smells, broken pavements, pot holed roads, blocked drains, missing footbridges, blocked footpaths, no toilet facilities and underfunding of all worthwhile public services, discouragement of volunteers and the general feeling that nobody is listening - these are the things that matter to us.

Betty Taylor

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Littleborough Town Design Statement

DECEMBER 2002 NEWSLETTER NUMBER 5

A review of the progress so far.

The resources needed to create a Town Design Statement were in place early in 2002. We invited everyone living or working in Littleborough to a Launch Meeting on the 8th May 2002. 130 people attended. Most ‘signed up’ to help create a community view on the design future of our town.

The willingness to participate was strong, but it was obvious that such a wide scale activity would need considerable support. We had to ensure that the work involved was fun to do, and that the results would make a formal T.D.S. With eight groups established there was a possibility of overlap which could lead to wasted effort, but regular informal meetings between the coordinators, to compare notes on progress, techniques and ideas, backed by a monthly review, worked well in 2002.

In all groups there was a commitment to involve a wide cross section of the community. It has been important to run one or more events where our key resource, the community, had a chance to meet, see some of the interim results, talk seriously for a period about the ‘new Littleborough’, see the selection of photographs we had collected and enjoy the odd quirky challenge so there was always a bit of fun somewhere on the horizon. In doing the work, we found many more people in Littleborough who were willing to help and they now exceed 400.

At the end of 2002 the bulk of the fieldwork has been completed and we are starting to collect the material for the final text of the T.D.S. It has been agreed with our sponsors that the finish date is extended to the end of June 2003 (i.e. draft and design of the T.D.S complete and contractual material on heritage available).

As we start to write up the results some of the key issues are:

Sketch: Shops on Hare Hill Road

Gateway Concept

The deposit Unitary Development Plan for Rochdale proposes that the opportunities for countryside recreation will be extended by the provision of visitor facilities in appropriate locations. These are called ‘recreational gateways’ between our urban areas and the countryside. There will be provision of basic facilities such as toilets and car parks, along with an emphasis on access for all, appropriate conservation programmes etc. The Gateway status would undoubtedly help development in Littleborough.

The same gateway concept is also strongly supported in the Draft Report on how our Authority (and Oldham) should develop their part in the overall Canal Corridor Regeneration Strategy. In the area between Clegg Hall and Summit and including Hollingworth Lake Country Park the report proposes a set of initiatives achieving regeneration through further extension of Leisure and Tourism activities. This initiative is loosely focussed on the potential offered by the re-opening of the canal but which (if the draft is accepted) can be the basis for a major re-generation effort which includes Littleborough as its focus but spreads to Wardle, Hollingworth Lake, Clegg Hall and our share of the Pennines. In the report the consultants describe the Gateway Concept as, a holistic tool i.e. providing something better than the simple sum of its parts.

Existing development briefs.

Another encouraging aspect is that at Durn and Ealees we have development controlled by two important documents already created by our own Rochdale Planning Department. Each makes recommendations in a Special Programme Guidance document providing extra detail on how the areas should be developed to give more detailed planning direction, adding to the general rules in the Rochdale U.D.P. This level of documentation is the planning equivalent of what our community hopes to achieve with the recognition of our T.D.S.

Durn and Ealees share a long history and are physically connected through their location alongside the Rochdale Canal. Durn is a few hundred yards north east of the Ealees site. Much of the land in both areas is ‘under-used’ but they are of great importance to any further commercial or tourist based development both in Littleborough and as part of the overall Regeneration Plan for the area focussing on the ‘gateway concept’. Some of each area is privately owned; some is public property. Regardless of ownership, parts are rundown or semi-derelict while others have active concerns. For the most part, businesses are carried on in buildings that have survived from an earlier era and in recent years they have received only basic maintenance. It is encouraging that a recent survey by English Heritage recognised a very strong architectural character to the whole area that should be preserved.

In summary: the plan for the Canal Corridor exists as a comprehensive draft, written by consultants and not yet accepted by their clients. The Ealees Brief is up to date and is being actively pursued. The Durn Brief is seen by the planning department as needing considerable update or re-writing. The T.D.S will not be effective before mid 2003.

All this pinpoints the serious nature of what we must achieve in the next 12 months as a community and the great chance we have to make a meaningful contribution.

We look forward to an exciting and eventful New Year. With the detailed recommendations available and with our local knowledge this is where our Interest Groups will be able to make a strong contribution through the T.D.S.

John Street

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Littleborough in Bloom

Photograph: Roses

At the first of Littleborough Civic Trust’s ‘new style’ meetings on January 8th Marlene Storah, a founder member of ‘Todmorden in Bloom’, told of her experiences in her town over the last three years or so.

We have thought for some time that it would be a worthwhile undertaking for Littleborough to work towards a similar objective and would help expand the pride we already feel for our town.

There was a good attendance at the meeting and such was the interest generated that a number of those there agreed to meet the following week to discuss forming an appropriate association.

We met the following Wednesday and after agreeing to call ourselves Littleborough In Bloom, a chairwoman, secretary and treasurer (with, as yet, no funds to look after) were agreed on. We then went on to ask what we wanted to achieve which broadly was for Littleborough to be tidier and more beautiful. We are very fortunate to have such lovely landscapes around us but we felt there are areas where a bit of colour and less rubbish would make a world of difference.

To this end we decided to ‘go in at the deep end’ and enter the North West In Bloom competition.

We already have information from R.M.B.C. in the person of Malcolm Giles (Parks and Events Manager) who has been very helpful and will continue to be so. He may even be able to help us in getting some funding. We of course will have to seek funds from everywhere and anywhere and intend to leave no stone unturned. Initial approaches to various companies in the area have begun and Malcolm Giles has made many suggestions on this point. We shall be seeking help from everyone and any offers of help can be directed to me as Secretary. It is not going to be an easy task but the rewards could be astonishing.

Just imagine the centre of Littleborough ablaze with colour from hanging baskets or planters, a new noticeboard with colourful shrubs around, repainted seats around the war memorial with the flower beds well attended and planted. We would like to see the areas on both sides of the station planted up with shrubs and flowers also along with a tidying up of the arches under the viaduct and, where feasible, landscaped. In addition we would like to persuade some shops to have a form of wall-climbing plants and the council and private companies to tidy and plant up the derelict plots they own.

The main requirement will be that the people of Littleborough join in with enthusiasm and in the belief that it is all achievable. Without a commitment from you all our attempts will be useless.

I will keep you informed through this magazine on how we are progressing and we hope that in addition we will get some mention in the Rochdale Observer, so look out for reports.

Elaine Gerrard

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Allen Booth (1950-2002)

Allen & Karen Booth

Allen & Karen Booth

Words are always inadequate to express our sense of shock and loss when we lose a loved one or close friend. The following thoughts and memories have helped me come to terms with Allen’s death. I hope they will be of comfort to Allen’s loved ones and friends all over Littleborough and beyond.

Born and bred in Littleborough Allen valued the community he grew up and lived in, the church where he worshipped, St. Barnabas, the friends and neighbours at Shore and the wider community of Littleborough. Aware how much he had gained from it, Allen it seems made it a guiding principle in his life to serve and support that community. He made a realistic and generous assessment of what he could put in, in a practical way, hence Allen’s involvement in politics, his support for the work of the Civic Trust and his work as a lay reader at St. Barnabas and his ultimate intention of being ordained.

Allen well understood that the key to success in any organisation, most of all in politics, is to listen to people and the concerns they express and to try to take positive action to meet those needs and concerns. Those who worked with Allen on planning issues relating to Littleborough were soon aware of his concern at the shrinking of Littleborough’s industrial base in the 80s and 90s in particular the importance of locally based employment to the stability of a community is something Allen took seriously. Behind this concern lay the greater problem of communities coming to rely more and more heavily, in some instances almost exclusively on working miles away from home with the increasing need for people to commute with all the personal stress and pressure on the infrastructure this entails.

To see Allen at his best, as an effective councillor who knew his own neighbourhood, listened to what people said and took note of their ideas was a revelation. I recall the public meeting held at the Community School in the early 90s. The occasion was to consider a number of one-way traffic schemes proposed to ease movement on Hare Hill Road and Victoria Street and to avoid gridlock on the ‘quieter’ streets on the west side of Hare Hill Road.

As many readers will know Littleborough has been beset with one-way traffic schemes, most of them totally unrealistic, for the last 30 years. Now it was decision time: to come up with something that would work. Allen chaired the meeting took advice and questions, comments and criticism from the assembled company most of whom would be directly affected by any decision made that night.

In a series of good humoured writes and rewrites Allen set out the scheme we now have in 90 minutes. At the end of the evening we all knew that though it couldn’t please everybody it was the best scheme we could get out of the road system we have. That was democracy at work, at its best. Allen set us a good example to follow in so many ways.

Thank you Allen for that.

Don Pickis


 

Editor: Iain Spencer Gerrard