“That old chestnut” many may say having read the title of this piece!
It’s all quiet on the Western Front as the saying goes after planning permission was granted earlier this year and works due to start in the Autumn. A Village Green Application had been lodged beforehand which was unsuccessful on the grounds of defining the locality which the said piece of land is situated, which poses the question is it a village green or not regardless of such technicalities?
The latest issue arising is the funding shortfall of £2.8 million from the North West Development Agency in which one of the three benefactors to the cause of a boys & girls club on this site, Dave Whelan, has refuted the idea that they could fill the funding gap and is seemingly reliant on the local authority and outside bodies coming up with the cash. The original idea being so honourable as it is, doesn’t this throw in to question the intentions of the frontrunners and their apparent immortalisation of the kids of today having nothing to do? This shortfall would be proven as pocket money to such people.
Having been involved with much email traffic in respect to the proposals (and some not), the Freedom of Information Act has proven a handy tool for some people who have uncovered many contradictions from the inception of the idea back in 2007 up until the present day, which doesn’t look good for us as a town and how we deal with such things. An example being the Martin Kimber document (now not at Wigan Council) which seemed to lambast the proposers as rushing to get the deal through and also the site selection proving inappropriate which would throw up allsorts of difficulties. Mr. Kimber has been proven right but the stance of the planning authority had alarmingly changed since the departure of Martin. I would sum up the whole process by reading the following: - www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/politics/7955561/A-Government-ruse-thats-nothing-short-of-an-insultation.html
It is expected that Wigan Council are to fund staff wages and the like at £400,000 annually and rising each year. In the current climate it just doesn’t seem possible that this can be made to happen with 850 council employees under threat with job losses and severe nationwide cuts even to the smallest of schemes.
I have happily put myself on record in full support of the proposals but elsewhere would be more appropriate looking at the dereliction of the town. Wigan needs a boys & girls club but the footprint must be on a smaller scale, having planned this on the Bolton model, let us not forget it took Bolton decades to get themselves in to such a prime position and we seem to take the attitude that this could happen overnight for Wigan too.
We all know the children of today are completely different, glued to their PC’s and hand computers, but let’s test the water and get the club built in a realistic position and see how we go.
To finish off with the field, I happened to read through some of the old Wigan Corporation minute books around the time they purchased the land and was surprised at just how desperate the authorities of the time were to purchase church lands regardless of long term plan. It had been mooted at the time that a new town hall could be situated here, but that was shelved. The Corporation went to a great deal of cost to level the field in to the beautiful surface it had retained over the decades until the archaeological digging spoiled this for good. Now all we have left is an uneven surface.
I ask myself many times over why the authorities have chosen not to make much more use of the field owing to its supreme central location. Mesnes High had wrapped up in 1989 and so the field at this time should have had a masterplan and how to utilise this best for years to come. Saturday/Sunday football, Silcock’s back in to the town centre, firework displays, agricultural shows and much more. Why the defence of “sacred land” for so many years and then let it go at the drop of a hat?
Were missing out here. Let’s make use of this field and stop dumbing it down, painting a picture in the mind of the passer by who endlessly get to see drinking and the like taking place. I for one dream of Wiganers descending from all corners to attend events smack bang in the middle of the town.