We apologise for the lack of newsletters so far this year and assure you that the committee is still working hard on Friends (FORCH) matters.


The subject of the application in this press notice, was the former Grant Arms bowling green. It is directly behind the Hall and only about 7 yards away from the building.

12 mature trees on land adjacent to green were destroyed first, over the weekend of 19th – 20th January 2013. These trees were protected because, along with the green itself, they were within the Ramsbottom Town Centre Conservation Area. The green’s owners pleaded guilty to chopping down the trees at Bury Magistrates Court in September. They were fined £8000 and must also pay costs of £1145. (More details were published in a Bury Times report on 2nd October.) Some of the resulting debris remains on the neglected site. (See piture below)


The committee objected formally on behalf of our group to the above proposal. Following advice that as many members of the public as possible should write letters of objection, every effort was made in the time available to contact members, Hall users, the Hall’s neighbours, the Ramsbottom Business Group, local councillors, our MP and noted local figures to raise awareness and understanding of the likely implications of this planning application.

The application was withdrawn before it was considered by the planning committee. 263 objections to the proposal included FORCH members’ letters and a petition was submitted by nearby residents. Thank you to members whose letters were among those responses and our apologies, once again, if you did not receive a message from us.

FURTHER APPLICATIONS with proposals for this site are very likely.



The Chairman, Steve Treadgold welcomed 39 members and guests, thanking everybody for attending on a very frosty evening.   There were 23 apologies.


2012 was a year of consolidation for our group.  Following the work of previous years, (when FORCH played its part in Bury Council’s extensive refurbishment of the Hall’s interior), small but important improvements were achieved.  FORCH bought extra lighting for the stage and for social functions such as discos.  Also, by obtaining a Township Forum grant, we helped to have the Hall’s original cast iron lamppost restored.  It stands as a heritage feature in the garden area which now provides an excellent facility for weddings and other functions.

Subjects of the committee’s discussions included the Civic Hall’s upper floor and how cost effectively it could be brought back into use.  Local ideas are being considered and FORCH, looking at several options, is working on an approach that could get some work done in 2013.  The committee raised with the Council problems with the car park and uncertainties about the Hall’s immediate surroundings. Recently the Friends’ partnership agreement with Bury Council was revised, laying the foundation for going forward in a planned way and moving the emphasis on to becoming a strategic group.

The Friends arepleased to have worked together with Ramsbottom Rotary and Ramsbottom Soroptimists to organise a most successful ‘Seniors’ Christmas Luncheon’ at the Hall.


Acting Treasurer,Eddie Jones reported FORCH’s funds to be in a tolerable state.  The statement of accounts was presented to the meeting along with the properly audited balance sheet.  FORCH is about to provide funds as our agreed contribution to help to support the grant which was received for the Hall’s internal refurbishment.

The treasurerexplained that we have insurance to cover our activities eg gardening and events.  As a Company Limited by Guarantee members are not personally responsible but the FORCH insurance is needed where we might be accused of neglect.


Elected to serve onthe committee were: Steve Treadgold (Chairman), Eddie Jones (Vice-chairman and Treasurer), Janet Smith (Secretary) and committee members Diana Ashworth, Sheila Magnall and Stuart Rothwell.


A presentation by Eddie Jones. Using photographs covering the period 2010 – 12, Eddie explained briefly how the garden and courtyard areas were transformed into attractive spaces.  The newly erected lamppost and its unveiling on 7th December 2012 by the Mayor of Bury, Cllr Joan Grimshaw, Honorary President of FORCH were also shown.  Eddie paid tribute to the work of the Alpine Garden Society, the Hawkshaw Flower Club, Speakeasy and Bury Council and to the support of Marshalls.  FORCH recently made small donations to the three hall user groups to enable further garden work.


llr Jane Lewis (Bury Council’s CabinetMember for Leisure, Tourism and Culture):

Cllr Lewis had been asked to attend by the Mayor, whose apologies she conveyed to the meeting.

Bury Council’s four civic suites have required a subsidy over the years.  The suites are assets to the community and the Council is not looking for closures but the subsidy needs to be reduced substantially.  During 2012 Price Waterhouse Coopers carried out a review into how to make the venues more sustainable and the facilities needed to increase revenue and their value to the community.  Ramsbottom Civic Hall is the most used and most profitable of the venues and FORCH is the most active Friends group.  Cllr Lewis would like that activity to continue through an improved partnership between FORCH and the Council.

Neil Long (Bury Council’s Director of Operations):

Cllr Lewis’s statement about FORCH’s partnership agreement with Bury Council was endorsed. Work is well under way to progress that agreement.  The Hall’s future is through community run self-management and there will be Council support towards that position.  There is no plan to just hand the facility over as the Council will continue to support the self-management group.

FORCH’s aspirations with regard to bringing the Hall’s upper floor into use depend on a demand from the wider community (rather than from businesses) to be demonstrated to potential funders and the Council.  However, both business and community groups need to participate in the Hall’s future and it is hoped that this will move forward.  Members of FORCH can be ambassadors for the venue in these difficult times and Hall events can be supported through members’ contacts.

Neil then welcomed Samantha Williams, the new Hall Manager, and her fresh ideas for making the venue more sustainable.  He also paid tribute to the previous manager, Mike Court, for his success in seeing the project through so far.


Achieving charitablestatus has not been ruled out but the Charity Commission’s rules have changed.   The FORCH committee works with the Council’s External Funding and Projects Officer to look at funding and grants but progress with the upper floor might involve work being done cost effectively through FORCH.  Grant funders would require FORCH to have been given a mandate from its members to proceed to self-management.

Asked whether thepresent committee was capable of self-management, the Treasurer explained that from its early days the committee has actively sought trustees with relevant skills. During 2012 this important matter was discussed with Council officers and with the Director of Bury Met for ideas on how progress might be made.

The Chairman then requested endorsement from members for the committee to go forward on a pathway of considering self-management as an option to manage the Hall.  A vote was taken and the mandate was agreed.

Ramsbottom Civic Hall Facilities


An important date for your diary: 7 pm, 20th February 2014


It has been vital to the success of FORCH that attendance at the AGMs has always been good. (The present committee promise not to embarrass people at the meeting about joining the committee!)


As agreed at the General Meeting of June 18th 2007. 


1.    The name of the group shall be Friends of Ramsbottom Civic Hall



2.     The OBJECTS of the group are to:


 2.1     Promote membership to anyone wishing to join the Friends group.


2..2    To help to support the hall as a key element in the local community.


2.3     To help to create a culture of appropriate use and care for the hall, encouraging a positive attitude and sense of ownership


2.4    To help to promote and develop the hall, maximising its success as a valuable community resource


2.5    To create and maintain a working partnership among the Friends, Bury MBC and staff of the hall and users with a view to securing its long term sustainability and to remain within the ownership of Bury MBC


2.6    To aim for charity status to maximise outside support for public use of the hall.


2.7     Be non-party political.


2.8     Provide regular information to members.


2.9     Publicise Friends of Ramsbottom Civic Hall and community events at the hall through local media and providing addition to the www.ramsbottom.net website.


2.10    Regularly consult all members.



3.    Membership of the group shall be open to all.


4.    A record of all members will be kept by the Committee in a membership register and updated prior to the Annual General Meeting. Each new member shall be provided with a copy of the Constitution when they join.

(A full version may be obtained by contacting the secretary on 01706 823658.)