Wigan Borough Environment & Heritage Network Meeting
10.30 a.m. Monday 14th December 2009 at Tudor House, Hindley

Present-John O'Neill (Greenheart Partnership Board), David Wilson (Bickershaw Conservation Group), Jackie Roberts (Bridleways), Joe Taylor (Billinge History/Heritage Society) Geoff Jones (Astley Green Colliery Museum), A.J. Smith (County Bird Recorder), Thomas Price & Peter Taylor (Wigan Civic Trust), Avis Freeman (Leigh Soroptimists), Mary Pennington (Wigan Archaeological Society), Carol Tyldesley (WL&CT), Jenny Tunney (MBC conservation dept), Brian Parr (Discovery Group), Jan Johnson (Hesketh Meadows Action Group), Peter Goodwin (Mirabilis Media), Vincent France (ETNA), Ann Rampling (Town Green Residents Association)

In Attendance: Stuart Murray (WL&CT) Martin Purcell (Greenheart Project)

Apologies-Simon Martin (Lancashire Local History Federation), Marge Harrop & Glenys McClellan (Leigh Family History Society), Tom Glover (Discovery Group), Ken Barston (Stubshaw Cross Residents Group), Dave Smallcross (Leigh Ornithological Society), Richard Sivil (Atherton Heritage),

John O'Neill opened the meeting by welcoming those present and noting apologies.

Presentation by Stuart Murray on Haigh Hall towards a Sustainable Future:

Stuart began his talk by summarising the current position at Haigh Hall, its heritage assets, attractions (the hall, stables, plantations and listed structures) and the 'at risk' register. He outlined where the Trust wants to go with regards to modernising the attractions, securing the heritage assets and becoming more sustainable. Future opportunities include new uses for the Hall, events and activities within the grounds and managing different parts of the grounds in other ways. He explained the 'strategic fit' within the Local Strategic Partnership and the Greenheart Project and Haigh Hall's status as one of the principal parks in the borough. He asked for Network members' views.

It was agreed that we should arrange a time and place for a 'workshop' event and that the Hall would be the best venue.

Action: John O'Neill & Stuart Murray to arrange a 'workshop' event for Network members to discuss Haigh Hall some time in the upcoming year.

Minutes of the last meeting - true and accurate, passed

Matters arising:

The £3000 from Awards for All, to help new groups, was discussed.

Jan Johnson spoke about the Hesketh Meadows Action Group
Tom Price spoke about the Friends of Wigan Pier Quarter Group
Brain Parr asked that any funding not yet allocated be given to the Discover Group for equipment.

It was decided that the Hesketh Meadows Action Group and the Discover Group's requests be deferred until the next meeting and that the Friends of Wigan Pier Quarter be allocated £300 start-up money.

Peter Goodwin reported on the conclusion of the Heritage Project DVD and distributed copies of the DVD to members.

The visit to Astley Green Colliery Museum was successful and those attending thoroughly enjoyed the visit

The author of 'The Billingers' held launch events in six libraries, two schools and the local Parish Hall.
So far the books have been selling well.


Martin Purcell gave an update on the Greenheart Regional Park:

This is a major project for the borough and will take some fifteen years or more to complete. Martin reported on progress with communication and marketing, describing how the website will go live Monday December 14 (today). A signage audit is planned, as are brochures, leaflets and a short promotional film. A Draft Access Strategy is being developed to connect local communities with the project. Members of E&H Network and the Biodiversity Partnership are invited to a presentation at the Town Hall, 6.00 for 6.30 - 8.30 January 14th.

Concerning the Visitor Facilities:

Haigh Hall and Country Park - a council led workgroup is developing a master plan to look at woodland management, underutilised land and the grade 2 listed Hall.

Haigh Windmill (grade 2 listed) - £50,000 has been allocated towards maintenance as this building is of significant heritage value to the borough.

Pennington Country Park - No progress due to uncertainty regarding the future of the golf course.

The Rushes - A shortfall in funding allocated to the National Coalfield Programme is a major worry. The current master plan is seen to be too golf oriented. Funding for infrastructure and site preparation at Bickershaw South has been approved and has now commenced.

Concern was expressed that if the golf course was scaled down to 9 holes, it might not attract users or competitions. The delay in implementing the golf course also means that the current golf course at Pennington Flash, which it will replace, cannot be converted into extended nature reserve.

Wigan Flashes - Work has started on landscaping and security of land adjacent to the access road into Westwood Park. A funding bid to the 'Setting the Scene of Growth' has been made and a Biffaward submission for habitat management is under consideration.

Amberswood - An outline Local Nature Reserve proposal has been produced to conserve the most important habitats of the site and an application to Natural England has been made for a Higher Level Stewardship grant.

Kirkless - The study area has been extended and the map updated with proposals developed to include Heritage, Wildlife and Community Aspects.

Three Sisters Wetland Reserve - A grasslands action plan is being developed to consider grazing as a means to manage the wetland. Infrastructure, interpretation and stock proof fencing have been included in the Big Lottery Fund 'Communities into Greenheart' bid.

Lightshaw/Arbram Flashes - A bid to acquire and restore 18 hectares, 13 of which are SSSI, at Lightshaw Meadows has been submitted by Red Rose Forest to Heritage Lottery Fund. Community Forests North West has exchanged contracts with the landowner and has 12 months to secure the required funding. The Network has provided an 'in principal' support letter but has informed the funding body that the birding fraternity is opposed to a proposed footpath into the site that could irrecoverable damage the habitat and that the matter needs to resolved.

Footbridge over the Leeds & Liverpool Canal - Construction costs developed by British Waterways have been included in the Access to Nature 'Communities into Greenheart' bid.

Link between Wigan Flashes and Pennington - Bamfurlong and Plank Lane - The area from Dover Loch to Bamforlong Bridge is being considered for bridleway and towpath surface upgrading. Rights of Way funding could be available.

Bridgewater Canal Trust - Ramps and towpath improvements from Butts Bridge to Marsland Green will be undertaken with a funding contribution form the Local Transport Plan and a bid to Sustrans for Links to Schools funding

Conservation of Willow Tit - 25K funding has been secured from SITA Trust for work to be undertaken in Low Hall and Wigan Flashes.

Members Reports:
Members present gave verbal reports about their many and varied activities.
Ken Barston provided this written report:
Since the last meeting our Group held its second history night on 23 November which was well attended (over 60 people turned out on a very rainy evening). We had over 100 photographs of Stubshaw Cross on display together with memorabilia of yesteryear (old local glass bottles, children's clogs, clay pipes, tops and whips, piggy game and Edwardian and Victorian ladies dresses etc. Also on laptops we had census data from 1841 and 1881 for anyone to trace their ancestors. Everyone seemed to enjoy the event at Stubshaw Cross Labour Club.

We also now have for sale a calendar of old Stubshaw Cross and a history booklet and DVD of the heritage of our village. The calendar is priced at £3 and the history booklet including DVD is £4. The two can be purchased together for £5. Any group interested in these can buy them in units of 10 at a further discount of 10%. My telephone number is 01942 272605.
Any Other Business:
Ann Rampling's group is noting walks in their area of Ashton and asked other members to connect her if they knew about walks that would be suitable for inclusion in a booklet produced by WL&CT
Next Meeting:
January 25th at Tudor House 10.30 a.m