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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.


Following requests for improvements, new sound equipment has been installed by Bury Council.


In February 2014 Paddle Ltd resubmitted their 2013 planning application to erect a block of flats for retirement housing on this piece of land close behind the Civic Hall.

The FORCH committee objected formally on behalf of our group to this proposal, which was for an almost identical development to the one submitted in June 2013 This time over 150 objections, including those recorded as petitions, were received. Just before the May meeting of the planning committee, Paddle Ltd once again withdrew their application.

Ever since the illegal removal of 12 mature trees in January 2013 debris has remained on the neglected green which is now infested with invasive weeds, including ragwort. (You will remember that the owners pleaded guilty at Bury Magistrates Court to chopping down the trees and were fined.) Again, we urge FORCH members to ‘have their say’ if there are any more planning proposals for the bowling green site.


Our Civic Hall garden has been part ofthe entry by Incredible Edible Ramsbottom in the Royal Horticultural Society’s competition for a North West in Bloom award. Displays on view included the ones at Ramsbottom Station, Memorial Gardens and Market Place. Plots at The Eagle and Child, The Hearth of the Ram, Nuttall Park and Ramsbottom Fire Station were also judged.  Our committee had been delighted when Incredible Edible’s Chair Person (and member of our Friends group) Lynn Leyland-Mather asked FORCH Vice-Chairman Eddie Jones to take part. Judging would focus on the alpine garden which was already looking well, but the invitation provided an incentive to carry out some serious weeding, mainly on the other Civic Hall plots.

On 29 July, as Chair of the Alpine Garden Society’s East Lancashire group (Hall users), Eddie was on hand in the Hall garden to welcome the judges. One of the four key aims of the RHS competition is to encourage community involvement and he was able to explain to the judges about FORCH and the different community inputs into the garden. The judges gave no indication of how well things went but, as Lynn said, it is heartening to witness people getting together to make Ramsbottom look so good.


On the 14th July 2014 FORCH submitted an application for external funding to build on the progress that has been made to provide an attractive extra facility at the Hall. If the bid is successful more hard landscaping and planting will hide an ugly fence and make the high garden beds easier to manage.




Eddie Jones welcomed 45 members, including our Honorary President, the Mayor of Bury, Councillor Sharon Briggs and guests, thanking everybody for attending. There were 15 apologies.

Explaining that, alongside official business, there would be contributions from representatives of three hall user groups who had been invited to speak, Eddie then introduced our first speaker:

JULIE LOMAS has been instructing line dance classes for 20 years at Bury’s civic venues and has been trying out live country music events at Ramsbottom Civic Hall. Also, she had recently chosen the Hall as the venue for her 50th birthday party. She confirmed that with its large dance floor and car parking the venue has everything she needs for her classes. (Squeezing bands on to the small stage was difficult and she suggested that this could be remedied by making extra demountable staging available.)

Julie expressed her appreciation of the work of hall staff and council officers, reserving the highest praise for the Hall Manager, Samantha Williams. She also said she is grateful for the advice she had received from Bury Venues staff about the use of social media (Facebook, Twitter), now part of their own marketing strategy.


During 2013 the committee continued their work helping towards the success of Ramsbottom Civic Hall. The FORCH committee now has few members so it is not possible for social events to be organised. However, a FORCH Seniors’ Christmas Luncheon with nearly 100 guests from the local community had taken place. The event was made possible by Charles Walton (Bury Venues), the Rotary Club of Ramsbottom, Ramsbottom Soroptomists , Peel Lions and the band Lite Music all playing important parts in the arrangements and/or on the day.

With the realities of financial and economic situation there are still serious concerns about the Hall’s future. Another dilemma is what will happen to the former bowling green close by. A planning application for 34 flats on the site has been withdrawn so it is hoped there will be a way forward that will not be detrimental to the Hall’s viability.


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.


Elected to serve on the committee were: Steve Treadgold (Chairman), Eddie Jones (Vice-chairman and Treasurer), Janet Smith (Secretary) and committee members Sheila Magnall and Stuart Rothwell. Efforts to increase committee membership will continue as there were no other proposals. We are pleased to announce, however, that Dorothy Gunther has now joined the FORCH committee.

SAMANTHA McLAREN (representing the staff of Ramsbottom Children’s Centre)

Samantha explained that the Centre, completed in 2011, is very important as a hub for Ramsbottom’s young families to find support and activities. Many families are new to our town and the Centre has been so successful that activity sessions are now held in the Civic Hall. Without the extra space Centre staff would have been in a quandary – the previous week 34 young children and parents had attended the Hall session.

Samantha is confident that the children, when they grow up, will want to continue to use their beautiful Civic Hall.

STUART ROTHWELL (FORCH committee member for Ramsbottom Business Group)

The Business Group now has 70 to 80 members and has been working with Bury Council for the past 7 years. Earlier this year their efforts were recognised when Ramsbottom was the runner up for the title of Best High Street in the UK and other boroughs have been approaching the group for advice and help with events. The group recognise cuts in Council support have had to be made but is keen to improve on the present level of communication with Council officers.

Stuart has supported Ramsbottom Civic Hall which he has often used for business functions. Other Business Group members also bring business into the Hall, which is widely valued, so Stuart hopes that the Business Group’s use of the venue will increase.

NEIL LONG (Bury Council’s Director of Operations):

During 2013 the momentum for the development of Ramsbottom Civic Hall shifted. Previously the focus was on self-management but this had changed with the appointment of Samantha Williams. As Hall Manager she is showing 100% commitment and along with Charles Walton (Head of Civic Halls and Catering) and the Council and she will continue to build on FORCH’s support and share information.

There has also been a change in the Council’s management structure. Management of the civic venues will stay with Neil Long and the team but will be associated with the Department of Adult Care Services which includes public health. Along with this change, in the following months there will be opportunities.

On 19th February the Council budget was set for 2014 - 15 and the financial situation at Ramsbottom Civic Hall is good but 2015 – 16 and 2016 – 17 will see significant cuts, much bigger than before. The Hall’s management team are rising to this challenge and looking to invest, especially in the marketing of the civic venues and also in creating an image that will appeal to eg 18 to 30 year olds. Ramsbottom Civic Hall’s joint marketing plan will be adopted soon, reaching out to the whole community for regular events as well as weddings and parties. Information about events at the Hall can be found online or in Bury Council’s What’s on Guide which is available at libraries, civic venues and elsewhere.

External funding is to be sought by FORCH in association with the Council’s External Funding and Projects Officer. The proposed project is for the creation of a smart, sustainable background and spill-out area in the garden which is accessed from the Hall’s Holcombe Room through the existing French windows.

Ramsbottom Civic Hall Facilities



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.)