Wigan Borough Environment & Heritage Network Meeting
10.30 a.m. Monday 8th March 2010 at Tudor House, Hindley

Present-John O'Neill (Greenheart Partnership Board), David Wilson, David Shallcross & Tony Bishop (Leigh Ornithological Society), Jackie Roberts (Bridleways), Joe Taylor (Billinge History/Heritage Society) Geoff Jones (Astley Green Colliery Museum), Thomas Price & Peter Taylor (Wigan Civic Trust), Mary Pennington (Wigan Archaeology Society, Glenys McClellan & Marge Harrop (Leigh Family History Society), Ken Barston (Stubshaw Cross Residents Group), Vincent France (ETNA), Richard Sivill (Atherton Heritage), Jan Johnson (Hesketh Meadows Action Group), Colin and Maria Ives (Transition Town Wigan) Rachel Bryant (Wigan Heritage Services)


Apologies-Simon Martin (Lancashire Local History Federation), Jenny Tunney (Wigan MBC conservation dept), Avis Freeman (Leigh Soroptimists), Tom Glover & Brain Parr (Discovery Group), Nigel Morley (Wigan Finescale Railway Modellers), Carol Tyldesley (WL&CT), Ann Rampling (Town Green Residents Association), Peter Goodwin (Mirabilis Media),


John O'Neill opened the meeting by welcoming those present noted apologies and made the following announcements:

At the meeting, 19th April, Mark Champion from The Lancs. Wildlife Trust will give a presentation on the development of the Borough's wetlands. The May meeting will include the AGM and will be moved forward to May 24 due to the bank holiday falling on the allotted date.

Mike Mathews Town Centre Manger: spoke briefly about the 10 Town Centres and the three priority Town Centres of Wigan, Ashton and Leigh then concentrated on Wigan Town Centre.

Over recent times the perceived 'town centre' is the 'market place' area whereas it used to be the old market square area. To change this situation requires a link to be established to the Mesnes Park and surrounds. This market place area, the only place in town possible to stage 'events', is experiencing a lot of complex problems at the moment and a team of consultants have been engaged to develop proposals. The problem of vacant shop premises is another worry. The Future Jobs Programme has provided training for up to 15 town rangers but maybe 10 achieving standard is a reasonable expectation, 5 for Wigan, 3 for Leigh and 2 for Ashton. These rangers could make a lot of difference to the town centres by enforcing litter by-laws and providing advise and info to vistors. A new Town Centre Map is being developed and the Environment & Heritage Network is invited to suggest heritage sites that could be included on maps to be displayed in the town.
Minutes of the last meeting - true and accurate, passed

Matters arising:

A meeting was held on 18th February between Environment & Heritage Network and the Bio-Diversity Partnership to establish a community forum, which would represent member group's views on the development of the Greenheart Regional Park. The proposal was agreed and that the Environment & Heritage Network and the Bio-Diversity Partnership would nominate five members each to this forum. Dave Wilson offered to be one for E&HN. Members are asked to consider his offer and chose the other four at the next meeting.

Concerning the proposed land purchase at Lightshaw Meadows: a meeting was held on the 16th February between the project partners and representatives of local birding groups. A modified scheme was presented and all parties agreed that: this scheme as acceptable and would enhance the area, discussions regarding management would continue and a working group would be established to continue dialogue between interested parties.

The £3000 grant from Awards for All has been allocated to assist seven new groups to start, for webpage training and for equipment. Geoff Jones at Astley Green Colliery Museum is looking after a digital projector purchased for the use of member groups. It is agreed that groups using the projector take responsibility for it whilst it is in their possession.


The Visit to Haigh Hall:

Over 20 members attended the visit Monday 1st March, taking part in a guided tour of the Hall and the surrounding parkland. Everyone agreed that is was a worthwhile day and already suggestions about the future viability of the Hall and parkland have been received. These were tabled. A discussion regarding the future of Haigh Hall took place and members were requested to email in suggestions so that they can be compiled and forwarded to Stuart Murray, the officer in charge for consideration.
Members Reports:

Due to the time, it was agreed to skip this agenda item. Member groups were asked to email in such digital reports as they wished to be included in the minutes.

Astley Green Colliery Museum Report.

Contractor Groundwork on the narrow gauge railway Phase 1 extension is almost complete and very soon the hard work for our members will commence. Already many of the sleepers have been prepared and track laying will start. This is no mean feat as each rail is 18 feet long and weighs in at 60 pounds weight per yard. As we can't operate on a single rail, multiply by two! Don't forget the hardwood sleepers either; they weigh in at about 3 stones each. We need 8 of those to every track panel. Now where did I leave that Bullworker?
We should be fitter than butcher's dogs by the time we have laid the first quarter of a mile.

A recent brighter Borough's Grant has enabled two sections of overgrown land to be cleared and landscaped. Thanks go to Cllr. Brendan Bowen for assistance in achieving the grant.

We have asked for estimates from four structural engineering firms to ascertain what needs attention on the mine Headgear as an immediate issue and what is required to preserve and conserve the tower for the next twenty to thirty years. The estimate includes costs for this and also attention to the brick collar that the headgear is located on.
90% of the survey cost will hopefully be paid for by the local landfill project panel whom, when approached have made favourable encouraging remarks.

The Headgear, like the Winding Engine and its building, is Grade 2 listed and classified by English Heritage as an Ancient Monument, but that guarantees absolutely nothing! The Headgear is also to be listed on English Heritage's Buildings at Risk Register this year.

School visits are increasing in number and frequency and a St. Helens school has visited us twice this year so far. On the first visit the pupils made a film about coal mining and I and two other volunteers have been invited to the premier. No mention has been made yet about any possible Oscar nominations.

Work on restoring the Winding Engine is continuing apace, and a compressed air line has been set up to operate many other display items on site.


Any Other Business:

With the shift towards 'commissioning' as opposed to 'grant funding' as the principal method for third sector organisations to receive operating capitol, the members were asked if their individual organisations were experiencing difficulties when seeking funds. The next round of Heritage Service's Curating in the Community grant funding will be available from April 2010 but there seems to be very little funding opportunities out there for members groups.
Next Meeting:
April 19th at Tudor House 10.30 a.m