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'Ron Dawber' Picture

In response to Andrew’s thought provoking article below, I had a look at the WiganWorld website and browsed some of the images of Scholes. I’m originally from Ashton, so my knowledge of Scholes is limited and i struggle to relate to areas of modern Wigan, let alone from 40 years ago.

You’ll see i picked out an image of a bus stopping outside what looks like a pub with a handful of people outside. Again, i don’t really know where this photo is and i certainly don’t know any of the people in it, but the image haunted me. Quite why, I don’t know, but it left me feeling rather sad and mournful. In particular, i looked at the little child hand in hand with a dutiful parent. Clearly it seems, I’m not the only one who feels this as ‘Dorothys’ comments echo the way i feel. “Good Times” she writes. Was this a Wigan in happier times? If so, what’s gone wrong?

Modern Wigan is a busy, bustling place with people hurriedly getting their shopping done to ‘beat the rush’ or ‘nipping out for a quick sandwich’ or ‘grabbing a coffee.’ We have a greater disposable income than ever before, with every mod-con we wish, but we collectively seem more unhappy than ever. We’re dissatisfied with our lives and feel that they lack something. Yet, when you look at the picture of Scholes, you know that that child was probably content with its lot. The clothing of the other people suggests that the weather might not have been the warmest, but the child is in short trousers. And why do we think that the child was content with its lot – well probably because most of us can relate to it : when you were this age, your legs were made of asbestos and immune to the cold – wearing short trousers was fine. What is a task for the parent is a bit of an adventure for the child and if they play their cards right, they might come back with a quarter of acid drops.

What’s all this got to do with SaveWigan? Well, the photos trigger the memories of Dorothy and others, but sadly the photos and memories are all that’s left. When Scholes was bulldozed, there could not have been the foresight that the Internet would come along and people would be able to browse these images. Fortunately, some people had the foresight to ‘preserve’ Wigan with photography, but not everything was so fortunate. I googled “Three Sisters” and looked through 67 pages of results – not one featured an image of a coal tip. Why is an image of a slag heap so important? Well, what i judge as important or just interesting might not be what you feel, but the important thing is that we do what we can to value what we have, whether its bricks and mortar, a way of life; or as Dorothy puts it, “Good Times.”
Miles Gladson

Posted by Andrew Lomax on 8th February 2011 at 09:56
Written with passion and I can relate to everything you said although I wasn't there. Unexplainable I know, I relate better to the "existance" we all have nowadays where people are generally unhappy, how true. I'd swap good health and money for community spirit around people "content with their lot".

Posted by Brian Parr on 21st February 2011 at 19:37
The Holy Trinity of green, open, space in Wigan are the Haigh Plantations, Mesnes Park and Mesnes Field; modern building developments on these valued locations have the capacity to malign the rural views we so much enjoy, detract from the town's precious Conservation acreage and compromise the pleasing architectural style of the present site structures.

This is apparent for the Mesnes Conservation Area, where in the past few years a hideous extension to the listed Linacre Centre Building and a proposed youth club on the Mesnes Field, have plumbed the depths of town centre planning capability and Conservation management by virtue of the reckless, insensitive and morally deficient Wigan Council.

Below is a recent letter to government ministers requesting additional protection for designated Conservation Areas, which are increasingly under threat from developments of contentious merit.

FAO:- Rt. Hon. Caroline Spelman MP - Environment Minister.
cc. Rt. Hon. Eric Pickles MP - Communities Minister.

Dear Caroline,
Given the Government's consultation exercise on the potential of tracts of United Kingdom forests and woodlands being transferred into the private domain has now concluded with an informed decision to preserve these in full public control, could you kindly concur, in your role as Environment Minister, that the same principle is no less compelling for designated Conservation Areas in urban locations, which constructively help to strategically balance developed and rural aspects of our towns, cities and villages?

Accordingly, can you kindly liaise with the honourable Communities Minister, Eric Pickles, MP, to draft protocol immediately protecting current Conservation Areas from building developments and specifically stipulate that regeneration must be undertaken on vacant brown field, or derelict sites, in order to sustain precious green belt land, especially in highly-developed locations, so that the quality of life for residents in these areas is maintained both prior to (and after) the introduction of the Government's proposed Neighbourhood Empowerment Scheme. Hence providing a Conservation safety net to prevent lost opportunity!

A salient case is the proposal to build a ground-breaking youth club in Wigan town centre on the Mesnes Field Conservation Area, where despite strong opposition by local groups and individuals most notably Wigan Civic Trust, the New Labour controlled Council led by Lord Peter Smith, are pressing ahead with plans to build on the Conservation Area, when vacant town sites abound and the planned enterprise, which is currently stalled through lack of public funding, will cost the local tax-payers around 800,000 pounds over the proposed 5 year economic austerity period. We hope Eric and yourself can intervene in your capacities as Ministers of State and stop this unnecessary and diabolical ruination of the treasured amenity green space in the heart of Wigan town centre? Thank you for your assistance.

Brian Parr

Posted by Andrew Lomax on 29th March 2011 at 12:43
'Time and the City' is a very thought provoking documentary directed and voiced by Terence Davies and his memories of post war Liverpool and the destruction of inner city communities for high rise flats.

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