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Warrington named the worst place in Britain for culture

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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. 

Some gangsterism in the middle of the night as I recall, wasn't paint thrown over the complainants house?

No, they never did get to the bottom of that one, in spite of some CCTV pictures of the offender.

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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. 

What you have to realise is that when people with the views and mindset of the forums most prolific poster can become leader of the Council,  how can they judge others good character when their own is so Obviously  lacking.

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Did anyone (who managed to get tickets of course) go to the Heritage event at the museum today?  Was it good and how many people were there ?

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Did anyone (who managed to get tickets of course) go to the Heritage event at the museum today?  Was it good and how many people were there ?

 

Yes I did and I went and the lecture room at the museum was very full. There were talks from the various invited speakers such as the Heritage Lottery Fund and the guy who wrote the original article as well as those from Culture Warrington including Jan Souness and Janice Hayes.

 

Also present were members of the Historical society and various other groups such as Save the Warrington Transporter Bridge, Lymm Heritage Society and the masonic lodge

 

A good day which ran from 10am to about 4pm

 

Many items were mentioned including the organ in the town hall and the ongoing works in Bridge Street as well as plans revealed for the future potential to extend the museum to occupy the whole building once the new library has opened in the Bridge Street development There are plans to knock down the 1970's extension to the museum and replace it with a larger and more fit-for-purpose one and to relocate the entrance onto museum street to create easier access

 

All in all a good day which highlighted many of the plans and dreams for the town, but there was always the shadow of the budget restraints and future cuts which will no doubt scupper most of them

 

The Council were invited to attend; most notably Mike Hannon and Andy Farrell.... no one from the council turned up which just about shows the level of interest they actually have. I am surprised that Mike Hannon didn't show up as there were free biscuits and drinks available.... but he was there for the official opening of the Mr Smiths exhibition the previous evening which was also good!

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So it wasn't, in your opinion, packed full of Councillors and council yes men as the conspiracy theorists on here would have us believe???

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So it wasn't, in your opinion, packed full of Councillors and council yes men as the conspiracy theorists on here would have us believe???

 

Not at all.... it was quite devoid of such people... the ones that were there had a vested interest in the preservation of many areas of the culture and heritage of the town; which was nice

 

The chap who wrote the article did explain some of the reasoning behind his findings such as using the official data on canals which classed the likes of the Sankey Canal as being non-navigable and so didn't appear on his lists of data to use

 

He did however carry out a further calculation (but only on Warrington) which then included most of the points that were raised after his article went to press and it raised Warringtons position by about 54 places. However if the same characteristics were applied across the board, others would raise too obviously

 

One thing I didn't know was that Warringtons masonic records include the first written listing showing someone being made a freemason.... :)

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As I imagined it would be Baz,  I would have liked to have got a ticket but as you say the place was packed with heritage groups and concerned citizens and devoid of Council influence, not exactly what the tin foil hat brigade were hoping to hear. I hope something constructive was taken away from the meeting regarding how best to improve the towns care and promotion of its heritage.  I think a huge trick was missed when they knocked down Rylands, Firth Longford Wire etc.  they could have stipulated that any developers provide a building to house a museum to our once famous wire industry.

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As I imagined it would be Baz,  I would have liked to have got a ticket but as you say the place was packed with heritage groups and concerned citizens and devoid of Council influence, not exactly what the tin foil hat brigade were hoping to hear. I hope something constructive was taken away from the meeting regarding how best to improve the towns care and promotion of its heritage.  I think a huge trick was missed when they knocked down Rylands, Firth Longford Wire etc.  they could have stipulated that any developers provide a building to house a museum to our once famous wire industry.

 

Indeed... The town has been completely cleansed of any references to any of the industrial past apart from a few hard to find items such as the archway from the Firth Wire Company which is in Bank Park and a few steel roof beams from the old Cockhedge Mill which are part of the roof structure of the Cockhedge Centre

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The Agenda I think will be merely to promote Warrington as the 'Cultural icon of the North' to prevent any damage being done by the RSA report to present or future funding applications.

I doubt any criticism of WBC will be allowed and suspect the list of attendees will be vetted to ensure the desired outcome of the meeting.

PJ. is this post that you are referring to as 'the conspiracy theorists' ?

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If so PJ, how did you manage to transform it to mean this?

So it wasn't, in your opinion, packed full of Councillors and council yes men as the conspiracy theorists on here would have us believe???

 

Not at all.... it was quite devoid of such people... the ones that were there had a vested interest in the preservation of many areas of the culture and

 

heritage of the town; which was nice..........................................

 

Note that Baz has confirmed that .........."the ones that were there had a vested interest in the preservation of many areas of the culture and heritage of the town; which was nice......."

 

So apart from Johnathon Schifferes and Sara Hilton the guest speakers, talks were given by Janice Hayes & Jan Souness, Culture Warrington and a number of different groups (re their individual projects).

Yes all "very nice".

Which reflects the agenda as I supposed it to be......" to promote Warrington as the 'Cultural icon of the North' to prevent any damage being done by the RSA report to present or future funding applications".

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Janice Hayes was actually quite critical of the council in some ways; particularly they way they have handled things in the past and the fact that there was an invitation extended to them to provide representation in the form of Mike Hannon etc. to attend.... and the lady from the Transporter bridge group also said that if the council who own the thing didn't put something into the preservation, she would rather it be blown up after its 100th anniversary than have it fall down through neglect

 

Many people there; especially James from the historical society (and indeed myself) were very critical of the council and they way they have allowed buildings such as the old Grammar school to fall into such a state of disrepair that they "have" to be demolished on safety grounds. I pointed out that they were allowing the same to happen to the old cabinet works and water tower and having walked past it at lunch time, I was actually quite incredulous that the place now has no glass in the windows and the elements are now being allowed to pour in through the holes, which will only serve to fast forward it into a perilous state. Lots of mention were also given to the "accidents" that seem to occur with any building, listed or of local importance, that happens to get in the way of a particular development and the meagre investigations and fines that are dished out when something does happen

 

There was little pandering for funding I can assure you, more at the moment a need to take stock of what we have and to make sure what we do have isn't allowed to deteriorate any further

 

I will say it again though, it was an absolute bloody disgrace that the council didn't send anyone to the meeting, but not to be unexpected I suppose; especially given their track record

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Thanks for the update and info Baz.  It sounds like it was a really interesting day and that a lot was covered.  I wish I had been able to go and hear it all but from the sounds of it places were filled by people who were perhaps better suited and could maybe give better input and make a difference than the likes of me.  That's fair enough though :D

As for the council not sending anyone despite invites being sent yes that's pretty disgraceful.  Thinking about it though maybe a councilor or two being there could have detracted from discussions and the flow so maybe it was a blessing in disguise that they didn't actually go.   I've seen that happen before where simply because they are invited and attended (probably against their will) they suddenly become the centre of peoples attention and as lone representatives for the council they can't really say much or do anything anyway which has any substance other than take up valuable time that could be better spent on other discussions that do actually lead somewhere.  

Their presence can of course lead to some rather heated and excitable exchanges of words though which can be very entertaining indeed :wink:

Did the organisers give any indication as to when the next planned event like this will be ?

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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? 

.........

 

The problem with the Council inquiry is that - unless there's evidence of complicity that the Ombudsman hadn't unearthed - it was just inquiring into the same stuff as covered by the Ombudsman, and the conclusion was the same. Your post itself gives the salient facts. And you have highlighted the problem: "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." "If it was all a terrible mistake by a 'rogue employee', why was there no record..."

It's not remarkable really - if you know you're acting unlawfully, would you make a record of the fact?

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As for the council not sending anyone despite invites being sent yes that's pretty disgraceful.  Thinking about it though maybe a councilor or two being there could have detracted from discussions and the flow so maybe it was a blessing in disguise that they didn't actually go.   I've seen that happen before where simply because they are invited and attended (probably against their will) they suddenly become the centre of peoples attention and as lone representatives for the council they can't really say much or do anything anyway which has any substance other than take up valuable time that could be better spent on other discussions that do actually lead somewhere.  

 

Their presence can of course lead to some rather heated and excitable exchanges of words though which can be very entertaining indeed :wink:

 

Did the organisers give any indication as to when the next planned event like this will be ?

 

Can't win, can we? I was going to go till you all said it would be stuffed with councillors....

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Fair point Steve but I was sort of sticking up for you all in a roundabout way when it comes to things like this as you can't really do much on your own other than offer a few words of support..but with not much clout behind them :(

Can't believe you didn't go just because of what had been said on here though, surely you have more backbone and are thicker skinned than that now :wink:

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The problem with the Council inquiry is that - unless there's evidence of complicity that the Ombudsman hadn't unearthed - it was just inquiring into the same stuff as covered by the Ombudsman, and the conclusion was the same. Your post itself gives the salient facts. And you have highlighted the problem: "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." "If it was all a terrible mistake by a 'rogue employee', why was there no record..."

It's not remarkable really - if you know you're acting unlawfully, would you make a record of the fact?

 

The problem with the Council inquiry is that - unless there's evidence of complicity that the Ombudsman hadn't unearthed - it was just inquiring into the same stuff as covered by the Ombudsman, and the conclusion was the same. Your post itself gives the salient facts. And you have highlighted the problem: "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." "If it was all a terrible mistake by a 'rogue employee', why was there no record..."

It's not remarkable really - if you know you're acting unlawfully, would you make a record of the fact?

 

You're making my point for me now, Steve. The reason the council inquiry covered the same ground as the Ombudsman's is because that's what the council wanted. It didn't want to publicly address the problematic issue of 'why'. Either the council already knew the answer to that question or suspected it or simply didn't want to know. Meanwhile the people responsible - it wasn't the work of one man - should all have been sacked for gross misconduct, including those who covered it up for four years and especially those who decided that covering up for lawbreaking was a greater priority than the safety of residents. If you want cultural change, these things should be addressed head on. And if council employees don't feel encouraged to whistleblow, as was surely the case here, those responsible for deterring honest people from coming forward should also go, right up to CEO level.

 

Instead, the whole thing was addressed in the usual doublespeak of 'lessons learned' while you were busy appointing a man to head up the team who had just appeared from his own High Court case involving an illegal planning issue. I'm not one for conspiracies but you as an organisation did everything you could to cock things up by trying to make sure your dirty linen wasn't aired in public before appointing the last man on Earth capable of restoring faith in the planning department. The pattern is always the same. The council lives in its own little bubble and when the outside world intrudes, as it did in this case, you all just turn on the people of the town. 

 

Meanwhile, we live on while developers are allowed to run riot over the town's proud heritage while the council bleats about how unfair it is that it is criticised for flattening the place to make way for retail parks and flats. 

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So Steve, what is going on with the Cabinet works and water tower?  What exactly happened with the Old Grammar School?  I imagine avoiding questions like this were more the reason you bottled out of going.  Incidentally, if you were able to go and didn't you did a resident out of a ticket for an event which was seriously oversubscribed.

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It gives me no joy at all to read the reports of the Heritage Matters meeting from the two who were there - namely Bazj and Sha.

 

As I write this comment, I am listening the the recently produced CD recording of the 1870 Cavaillé-Coll Organ in the Parr Hall. This has brought together two separate recordings onto one disc - selected items from Roger Fisher's 1984 LP recording, and the whole of his programme of music in the first half of the 2011 Recital to commemorate the Birth of Aristide Cavaillé-Coll.

 

This CD can be regarded as an Historical recording in more ways than one, and is an example of this unique instrument's ability to produce the music of the French composers whose music is on the disc, as well as the sounds and tones which were present when it was first played by these composers in the organ builder's demonstration hall in Paris.

 

Unless the Warrington Borough Council are prepared to apply for Heritage Lottery Funding for this organ, it's deterioration will continue, which will result in not only a loss to this town - but also to the whole fo the organ world.

 

There are few intruments of this calibre remaining in original or near original condition in the World,

and we have one of them !!

 

I make no apology for the length of this comment, and those of you are prepared to read it will then appreciate the significance of the organ in the Parr Hall. I hope that the Warrington Councillors who read this forum no longer regard this topic as something to be put 'on the radar' for future consideration. This is the time for them to do something about this valuable and historic instrument, which looks as though it was purpose built for the Parr Hall, that is, when it can be seen, and is not concealed behind the black drapes.

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Is it just me who likes the organ less and less the more boring dry posts that Hill Cliffe Walker makes about it.  Is there anything there that you haven't posted several times already.

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Take heart Grey man and Hill Cliffe walker the days of WBC, council officers and developers running riot over our Town's heritage may be nearer an end than you think! 

The recent attempts to paper over cracks is not likely to succeed and it seems that before long these cracks will widen into ravines and reveal one unholy mess! 

 

The Heritage index is far more important than has been reported and has significant implications. All good news for true heritage supporters!
 

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Seems the TV cameras were out again in the Town centre on Saturday night recording the local culture. 

Hope you had your hoody on then Robbo... wouldn't want you being identified as a rabble rouser :)

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