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Warrington named the worst place in Britain for culture

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It doesn't matter if they read it, if they refuse to do anything about it. When was the last time a councillor went into bat for the people of Warrington against the general approach of the council? All we ever get, as Steve Parish has done here, is endless criticism for not just blindly accepting whatever they say and do. And any chance that arises to raise concerns is stage managed or just ignored completely.

 

I basically agree with what you say grey-man but I would change the wording "general approach of the council" to "senior officers of the council and their handful of staunch supporters".

With regard to heritage protection, development or any major decisions in this town there doesn't seem to be any difference whichever political party is in power at the Town Hall.

These decisions seem to be made by the senior officers. Why I don't know. Perhaps Councillors don't have the level of skills needed or enough confidence in their own abilities to manage major projects themselves?

Perhaps it's easier to just sit back and let the senior officers manage things?

 

The "staunch supporters" are the glory seeking few who wait, hoping to take the credit for completed projects. However they seem blind to the fact that it is they and all the other town councillors who will ultimately take the can for the cock-ups! (and it seems to me there are some major ones in the making!)

 

What I really can't understand is the choice of senior officers. It would seem to me to be far more intelligent and logical to employ senior officers whose talents, aims and aspirations matched those of the people of Warrington! Then our councillor's would not only get the glory they seem so ardently to seek but also the admiration and respect of the townspeople they are elected to represent.

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Well I agree with all that. It still beggars belief, to me, that they appointed Andy Farrell fresh from a High Court appearance for a quite remarkable case of disregard for planning law and a track record of kowtowing to developers and stomping all over the heritage of a place like Chester, never mind Warrington. The last man on Earth you would expect to reclaim trust in the planning function, and so it has proved. We need councillors to go head to head with people like this, not allow them free rein to do as they please while councillors continue to attack the residents of the town and refuse to ask questions about some very dubious events and decisions. 

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I have decided to let the 485 members of the Facebook group 'Warrington Cavaillé-Coll Organ' know what is going on here in Warrington with regard to Heritage Matters.

Many of these members have an interest in  the Parr Hall organ, especially in the way it is being neglected, and in the uncertainty about its future.

They are from many Countries other than the UK.

This is what I have said -

 

'Some of us, here in Warrington, are becoming more than a little frustrated with the planning of a forthcoming meeting to discuss Heritage Matters, in response to the RSA's mis-informed survey, in which this town was named 'The worse place in Britrain for culture'.
Both Sara Hilton - Head of Heritage Lottery Fund North West, and Jonathan Schifferes, this report's author, will be present, but the choice of venue, and the manner in which tickets have been allocated lead us to believe that there has been a 'vetting' strategy.
Unfortunately, I am only one of many who cannot get a ticket.'

 

This group is an Open group, so non-members have the opportunity to read the postings.
 

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Sha - I sent you a private message on this forum yesterday, which I don't think you've read.

The open envelope on the top line here should show 1.

Thanks, Hill Cliffe walker. Iv'e just read it and replied.

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Well I agree with all that. It still beggars belief, to me, that they appointed Andy Farrell fresh from a High Court appearance for a quite remarkable case of disregard for planning law and a track record of kowtowing to developers and stomping all over the heritage of a place like Chester, never mind Warrington. The last man on Earth you would expect to reclaim trust in the planning function, and so it has proved. We need councillors to go head to head with people like this, not allow them free rein to do as they please while councillors continue to attack the residents of the town and refuse to ask questions about some very dubious events and decisions. 

 

Exactly! grey-man.

Andy Farrell's track record from the Chester Sheaf................

http://thechestersheaf.blogspot.co.uk/2007/11/so-farewell-then-andy-farrell.html

 

At the time of Warrington's employing him all this was common knowledge - so WHY was he even considered as a candidate for the post?

And considering the blunders since his employment in Warrington WHY is he still employed? 

perhaps our 50+ borough councillors could give us an answer?

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What are the chances? They had the opportunity to give a senior employee a public shoeing when the last head of planning broke the law in quite spectacular fashion and then refused to help even the extremely well managed and narrow inquiry set up to ask the wrong questions.What was the response from councillors? Only one spoke out and that was Bob Barr who was the nominal head of the planning department that had spent its weekends systematically destroying the entire planning record. And who did he have a go at? Was it the employees who had broken the law? No. It was the people of Warrington.

 

Andy Farrell knows he's bullet proof. He's the man who referred to the decision not to convert Walton Hall into a crappy hotel in return for buttons as 'disappointing'. Did any councillor speak out about that? Did any councillor ask why the sell off was recommended to them on the basis of accounts that were entirely fictitious? Wasn't it the people of Warrington who ensured that at least this one piece of Warrington's heritage wasn't sold off for development? I know some councillors attached themselves to the campaign like remoras when it had gathered momentum, but is there one example in living memory of a councillor actively and publicly squaring up to challenge some of the remarkable activities of council employees?   

 

It's like on this thread. I have a lot of time for Steve Parish. I appreciate him trying to engage with people and I get it that he's a thoroughly decent and intelligent man. Yet he's on here blindly accepting 'it just fell over' as the explanation for the latest listed building standing in the way of somebody making money that just happens to suffer from some unaccountable disaster. He wouldn't accept it if a four year old told him 'It was like that when I found it', but when it's a property developer, the whole council just looks the other way. Why does it always have to be ineffectual gobshites on a messageboard that ask the obvious questions? Why won't councillors do the things they were elected to do?    

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I Why does it always have to be ineffectual gobshites on a messageboard that ask the obvious questions? Why won't councillors do the things they were elected to do?    

 

I wouldn't say you were ineffectual Grey_man :)

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Remember the saying/song "money is the root of all evil" it especially applies to some members of the Council!.

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nearly 20 hours and this (mis)quotation has not been spotted by the pedants. :roll:  (well apart from one and i am not going to correct it) :wink:

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nearly 20 hours and this (mis)quotation has not been spotted by the pedants. :roll:  (well apart from one and i am not going to correct it) :wink:

 

"Satisfaction on knowing unique information comes from not owning but the sharing of".

 

James Pendlebury 1802 - 1907 Aide de camp to Sir Robert Simplkin of Daresbury.

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nearly 20 hours and this (mis)quotation has not been spotted by the pedants. :roll:  (well apart from one and i am not going to correct it) :wink:

 

It's one of those everybody knows and lets go, isn't it? Like the one by Voltaire.

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Who could possibly say Warrington is short of culture when last evening at the Odeon there was a televised live showing of the National Theatre's production of Hamlet starring Benedict Cumberbatch, a quite brilliant production which has been well-reviewed.

There were 6 people present.

 

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Who could possibly say Warrington is short of culture when last evening at the Odeon there was a televised live showing of the National Theatre's production of Hamlet starring Benedict Cumberbatch, a quite brilliant production which has been well-reviewed.

There were 6 people present.

 

That many?.... you do surprise me

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Who could possibly say Warrington is short of culture when last evening at the Odeon there was a televised live showing of the National Theatre's production of Hamlet starring Benedict Cumberbatch, a quite brilliant production which has been well-reviewed.

There were 6 people present.

So, not short of culture, just short of cultured people then :wink:

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So, not short of culture, just short of cultured people then :wink:

 

So not short of cultured people. Just short of the sort of middle-brow arrivistes who would rock up to an Odeon to see a live broadcast of a play because they've heard of Bendybatch Cumberdick.  

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What are the chances? They had the opportunity to give a senior employee a public shoeing when the last head of planning broke the law in quite spectacular fashion and then refused to help even the extremely well managed and narrow inquiry set up to ask the wrong questions.What was the response from councillors? Only one spoke out and that was Bob Barr who was the nominal head of the planning department that had spent its weekends systematically destroying the entire planning record. And who did he have a go at? Was it the employees who had broken the law? No. It was the people of Warrington.

 

Andy Farrell knows he's bullet proof. He's the man who referred to the decision not to convert Walton Hall into a crappy hotel in return for buttons as 'disappointing'. Did any councillor speak out about that? Did any councillor ask why the sell off was recommended to them on the basis of accounts that were entirely fictitious? Wasn't it the people of Warrington who ensured that at least this one piece of Warrington's heritage wasn't sold off for development? I know some councillors attached themselves to the campaign like remoras when it had gathered momentum, but is there one example in living memory of a councillor actively and publicly squaring up to challenge some of the remarkable activities of council employees?

 

The "extremely well managed and narrow inquiry" about the planning records was by the Ombudsman who found the Council had been guilty of maladministration. No idea what Bob Barr said, but apart from a bit of politicking (it happened under the Lib Dem/Tory watch / the staff who did it had been appointed by Labour) the response from most councillors was contrition, as the Exec Member told the Council, "We do have to accept responsibility corporately as a council. We cannot say ‘it wasn’t me guv’. We have to be big enough to say it was wrong. As a council we apologised, the ombudsman told us to apologise.”

 

As for Walton Hall, the hotel scheme was politically a disaster for the Lib Dem/Tory administration. Labour "called in" the decision for scrutiny, and in the picture I can see the Labour leader and three people who were elected Labour councillors in 2011.

http://www.warringtonguardian.co.uk/news/8218952.Walton_Hall_campaigners_out_in_force_against_hotel_plan/

 

What would have happened if the developers hadn't pulled out of the scheme is arguable, but the original hotel scheme was certainly opposed, and some credit would be nice for what's happened at Walton Hall under Labour, with the glasshouses saved, an extension to improve its use as a venue, and ancillary buildings to get a new lease of life: http://www.warringtonguardian.co.uk/news/where_i_live/13835335.Funding_bid_boost_for_Walton_Hall_and_Gardens/

 

Perhaps it should be said that if Walton Gardens and Hall were offered to us today, we'd turn it down as we couldn't afford the maintenance.

 

The reason is not hard to fathom, I quote Bill Bryson, 20 years after his "Notes from a Small Island", how he “really, really hates this age of austerity. This is the sixth richest country in the world. We can afford to have things. When I first came here this country was much poorer, but much better looked after. Roundabouts had flowerbeds in them and things like that. There is this mania that we can’t afford things, which is not true. If we could afford it then we can certainly afford it now and as a society we can afford to put some geraniums in a planter. And if government really can’t afford to meet its bills then it should tax us more. It shouldn’t be cutting all the time and diminishing the quality of life for everybody. Many people can afford to pay more in taxes or in fees and I would rather we spent more freely and taxed more freely.”

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Perhaps it should be said that if Walton Gardens and Hall were offered to us today, we'd turn it down as we couldn't afford the maintenance.

 

 

The demise of the Walton Estate

The death of Lord Daresbury in 1938 left the family owing £500,000 in death duties. This, together with the atmosphere of uncertainty preceding World War Two, led to the sale of the estate by auction in 1941. Much of the farmland was bought by the existing tenants, whilst the council purchased the hall and what is now the park and municipal golf course for £19,000.

The gardens were opened to the public in May 1945.

 

In 1868-70 the house was extended and offices were added by the Lancaster architect, Paley and Austin

The extension included a new wing with a tower, containing a billiards room and rooms for guests, and a new entrance on the east front.

After being allowed to fall into disrepair, most of Paley and Austin's extension was demolished in about 1990, but the tower was retained.

 

Walton Hall and Gardens redeveloment

'We've been busy at Walton hall and gardens over the last 18 months with new developments in the shape of:

  • a new extension completed using carved sandstone
  • a new courtyard that can be used for events and wedding parties
  • a resurfaced events car park complete with disabled parking
  • new public toilets and baby change facility near the entrance to the zoo
  • a new footbridge for access to the eastern greens on Walton golf course

With further improvements for the children's playground and the crazy golf course this autumn/winter we're not resting on our laurels!

As if that wasn't enough we have just found out that Walton hall and gardens has secured substantial funding from the National Lottery via the Heritage Lottery Fund for restorative work on the historic conservatory and stable buildings!

This has been a joint effort and we have to thank our partners Myerscough College, Walton Lea Partnership and the Friends of Walton Estate in helping us secure the winning bid.

An important part of the project will be to re-open the conservatory area to visitors to Walton. Part of the main conservatory will be a public space where visitors can learn about the horticultural heritage of the site and see development and training work being undertaken.'

There was a time when the hothouses and greenhouses supplied floral decoration for all civic events.

'Perhaps it should be said that if Walton Gardens and Hall were offered today, we'd turn it down as we couldn't afford the maintenance.'

Without the Heritage Lottery Fund's generosity, the greenhouses would have become non-existent in time.

(The same could be said of the conservatory of the Grappenhall Heys Walled Garden, but for the HLF grant.)

 

The Parr Hall and the site on which it stands was presented to the Borough on the 26th September 1895, by J. Charlton Parr Esquire, of Grappenhall Heyes.

http://openplaques.org/plaques/8282

 

The Cavaille-Coll Organ.  The efforts of Alderman A. Bennett JP, Dr. M. Darby, W.H. Payton and T. Tanner,  were pivotal in persuading the County Borough Council of Warrington to make the purchase to replace the existing organ, at a cost of £2,000.

 

Walton Hall and Gardens, the Grappenhall Heyes Walled Garden, the Parr Hall and historic organ within, were all once the product of wealth that had been acquired through the enterprise of forward thinking business men.

 

Today, the townspeople of Warrington are able to enjoy all of these assets, which must be preserved for the enjoyment of future generations.

 

It is to be hoped that the Warrington Borough Council Executive and Culture Warrington can be just as forward thinking, when the future of Heritage and Culture in the Town is debated at the planned meeting in the Museum on Saturday, 21st November, 2015.

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Steve, you're confusing the Ombudsman's investigation (at the behest of a resident, obviously) with the subsequent council inquiry. The Ombudsman pointed out that council employees had broken the law, one which they were fully aware of. Also pointed out that the destruction, which took weeks of staff time, involved the systematic removal of the information needed to make the record functional leaving behind worthless files that could give the impression that nothing had happened. All of this happening at the behest of the head of planning shortly before his retirement. Most remarkably there was no record of the destruction in memos, emails, notes or meeting minutes.  

 

The council inquiry that followed was an object lesson in whitewash simply because it didn't ask the question 'why', did not tell the man responsible that he would either respond to the inquiry or the police and came to the quite remarkable conclusion that it was all just a big mistake. You'd have to be an idiot not to smell a rat, even on the basis that there was no record of the decision in any council communications and meetings. If it was all a terrible mistake by a 'rogue employee', why was there no record and why did the planning department keep it covered up for four years until it was flushed out by a resident's actions? 

 

By the way, 'contrition' is not enough when you've broken the law. And how contrite was the council exactly? It appointed Andy Farrell who had knowingly allowed an entire industrial plant to be built without permission or environmental certification and was roundly loathed in Chester, as we all know.

 

As for Walton Hall and Gardens, nobody at the council deserves credit because it was residents who stopped the sale going ahead, not least by pointing out it's not really the council's to sell and the case for the sale was built on very dodgy accounts. Has any councillor ever asked any questions about some of the numbers that found their way into that business case? And just why did Andy Farrell call the non sale 'disappointing'? Nobody else thought so. 

 

That is always a rhetorical question. The councillors we elect to represent us holding law breaking employees to account? The very idea!     

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One other thing I should have raised (yet again) from the Ombudsman's report is that at least one council employee ignored police advice that a Warrington family was at serious risk of coming to physical harm as a result of the planning dispute that prompted the investigation. That is in the Ombudsman's report. Isn't that amazing? People in the planning department were willing to allow Warringtonians to come to harm so they could continue to cover up for something. Has any councillor ever spoken out about that? How about Bob Barr who could have chosen his magazine interview to highlight this appalling situation but instead chose (and still does) to complain about people raising the issue of the law breaking planning team. 

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