Wigan Borough Environment & Heritage Network Meeting10.30 a.m. June 27th at Tudor House.

Present:

Mary Pennington (Wigan Archaeology Society), Avis Freeman (Leigh Soroptimists), Neil Forshaw (George Formby Society), Glenys McClellan (Leigh Family History Society), Richard Sivill (Atherton Heritage), John O’Neill (Greenheart), Joe Taylor (Billinge History Society), Tom Price (Civic Trust), Bob Bruce (Astley Green Colliery), Ken Barston (Stubshaw Cross Residents Group)

Apologies:
Lynda Jackson (Wigan MBC), Peter Fleetwood (Save Wigan), Peter Goodwin (Tradition Films), Michael Caine, Dave Wilson (Leigh Ornithological Society), Alex Miller (Wigan MBC), David Shallcross (Leigh Ornithological Society), Eileen (Beta Internet Café)

Avis welcomed Bob Bruce who has replaced Geoff Jones as representative for Astley Green Colliery. Geoff has a degenerative medical condition that will keep him from attending future meetings. All present signed a ‘thinking of you’ card.

Avis will check if a future visit to Dam House is feasible.

Minutes of the last meeting: Accepted as a true record.

Matters Arising:

Alex has received the first tranche of funding to upgrade Leigh archives.

Planning the way forward:

The rest of the meeting was a general discussion concerning the future direction of the Network.

Since the Local Area Agreement format for Local Authority funding was abolished, together with the duty to involve, the community engagement infrastructure whereby residents fed into the Local Authority decision making process has become superfluous. The Environment & Heritage Network was part of that infrastructure.

Ken raised concerns about the adverse effects of the reduction in funding for council are having on all community groups due to the large reduction of staff able to communicate and interact with the public. He spoke about Wigan In Bloom and how council staff volunteers help in that regard.

John’s opinion was that we should try to establish better links with relevant officers, especially in planning since the environment is always a consideration, now that the Cultural Partnership is all but finished. He suggested we try to get Ian Rowan to a future meeting.

There are cabinet members responsible for both the environment and for heritage. Perhaps links could be established with them.

There was some talk about fracking and the fact that licences are available for all Wigan Borough to be fracked. The was a well-attended anti-fracking meeting in Standish recently, there will be one in Leigh 28th June and one at Sunshine House July 4th.

It was decided that we try to get someone knowledgeable about fracking to speak at a future meeting.

The question of whether or not the Network can make any positive contribution to Council’s decision-making process is uncertain. It was decided that Avis should write to Donna Hall requesting a meeting where members of the Network can discuss this issue with her. Avis will draft the letter then it will be circulated to Network members for comment and approval before posting.

Members Reports:

As time was pressing, members are requested to email in reports they with to be included in the minutes.

Mary Pennington distributed the latest Archaeology Society newsletters.

Avis thanked everyone for attending and closed the meeting.

Next Meeting: August 8th at the Discovery Room.