NEWSLETTER AUTUMN 2013
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.
A NEW THREAT TO RAMSBOTTOM CIVIC HALL
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 PLANNING APPLICATION
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The application was withdrawn before it was considered by the planning committee. 263 objections to the proposal included FORCH members’ letters and a petition was submitted by nearby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 5TH FRIENDS’
ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING(24/1/13)
The Chairman, Steve
Treadgold welcomed 39 members and guests, thanking everybody for attending on a
very frosty evening. There were 23
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
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.
ELECTION OF COMMITTEE
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.
THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE CIVIC HALL GARDEN
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.
SECURING THE FUTURE OF THE CIVIC SUITES
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
Neil Long (Bury Council’s Director of
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.
FUTURE PROSPECTS AND
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.
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