Category Archives: People Power

Going forward…

Yesterday’s meeting brought many people together. It was good to see so many folk care about the future of Chadkirk and, in particular, Chadkirk Chapel.

After the meeting it was only possible to talk briefly with some of the many and yet it was encouraging to connect with people who would like to do step up and get involved. It is clear that many of you have expertise that would extend the range of what our little Friends group have been able to do so far.

We meet as a Friends group in different guises for different activities. Sometimes that’s for events, sometimes for gardening, sometimes just for social activities. This week, on Thursday 14th November happens to be the third Thursday of the month, so we will be meeting in Chadkirk Chapel at 1pm. Obviously the future of Chadkirk Chapel will be on the agenda. And there’ll be an opportunity to develop and explore some of the idea that came out of the meeting.

Members new and old, ancient and modern are all invited.
You would be very welcome to join us there.

1pm Chadkirk Chapel
Thursday 14th November
Friends of Chadkirk Meeting

I’ve been ‘doing the blog’ since 2012. I set up a ‘free’ site. At the start there were no adverts. Now there are. So I believe it would be better to change what we do. Maybe stay with wordpress but pay their annual fee for a domain name, so the site is unsullied by ads.

Following on from the great ideas expressed and the enthusiasm shown, new members will be able to offer something that can mean that our future communications and social media connections change for the better.
Let’s find a way to get together.

Perhaps that’s another idea for Thursday’s meeting. Get the ball rolling?

A few questions to answer…

Questions raised include:

1. Do councillors agree that a proper consultation process has been followed by SMBC staff?
2. Does the General Election “purdah” impact on the consultation?
3. Who within SMBC will act as FoC’s contact, and who within the council will have “ownership” of the chapel if museums disengage?
4. Will SMBC continue to meet all operating costs of the building, and continue to allow its use by FoC for community events without charge?
5. Will SMBC support some other form of regular public opening of the chapel if it is no longer staffed as a museum?
6. How will SMBC advertise and publicise Chadkirk on it’s website if it is no longer seen as a museum? How will the public find out about the site and what’s on?
7. Why is past maintenance work incomplete, and what plans exist for future spending on Chadkirk buildings?
8. Please confirm the anticipated closure date, and council willingness to extend any implementation until the many issues regarding future use have been properly resolved and publically confirmed.
9. Agreement to enter in to “Memorandum of Understanding” which defines future roles and responsibilities between different council departments and FoC.

Today’s public meeting…and what to do now

Thank you to everyone who came along to Chadkirk Chapel today and made their voice heard.
Thank you to all those who signed the petition.
Thank you to those who stood up for the future of Chadkirk Chapel. Some folk literally, stood up – there was standing room only as today’s meeting got underway. More than 145 within the building, others at the doorway, listening.

The Chair of the Friends of Chadkirk welcomed everyone and started the meeting by providing an update. He had written to decision makers and raised questions about the future of Chadkirk Chapel. Given the proposals, what information could they provide about the future plans and possibilities? To kick off he went through the questions with any answers he’d been given, as well as outlining the questions where answers and clarifications are still pending. We await with interest the answers to these questions*…

Much seems uncertain.

And while much seems uncertain, what we can be sure of is that Chadkirk Chapel has a special place in the hearts of people far and wide. Many individuals talked of what it meant to them. People described the value of all the amenities and opportunities. Observing the real transformation that has taken place over the years from 1995, when renovation and other projects were initiated, has been a source of immense pleasure and satisfaction. The restoration of the Chapel, the Walled Garden, the programme of steady improvements in the range of Chapel’s art and craft work, investment by the Friends of Chadkirk, including in the sound system and facilities for presentations. There is much here to celebrate.

Nevertheless, we have also seen the way that austerity measures introduced since 2008 mean that there are funding issues. In that context, the consultation includes a statement that the Museums Service seeks to save
£40 000 each year (starting in 2020) by no longer including Chadkirk Chapel in their budget or their responsibilities. Who then has the resources to plug the gap? Or to do a better job with different resources?

It is clear that people want to see Chadkirk and it’s unique Chapel play a greater (and not a lesser) part in the lives of the community. It’s listed status alone almost demands that enough resources are found.**

There are ways to influence decision makers. Here’s a few :

There is the on-line consultation currently underway. (paper copies of the document are available at Chadkirk Chapel) You can make a submission either on-line or in writing. You have until 18th November to make your submission.

There is a petition in Chadkirk Chapel. You can sign this petition. Over 300 people have already signed. In addition there’s an on-line petition.

Raise the issue with local councillors and request consideration at meeting of Werneth Area Committee.

Contact decision makers via consultation@stockport.gov.uk

Funding the future

One participant spoke of her disappointment when she learned that her daughter’s wedding had been held in Chadkirk Chapel, and yet not a penny of fee paid had come to the Friends of Chadkirk or to Chadkirk directly. How much pleasure would it have given to know that the wedding was taking place at Chadkirk and that they were contributing to the support of a treasured part of the local landscape and community and the continued nurturing of this historic site. It seems like an opportunity missed.

So here’s a thought:
What if a % of the wedding fees paid were in future dedicated to go directly and explicitly to the Friends of Chadkirk/Chadkirk Chapel. After all, without the work they do, the money they raise, the garden they maintain, the beautiful west window they commissioned , would people chose to have a wedding at Chadkirk?

Maybe with 1% of the fees they would be able to set up the service, so that the kiosk continues to open at weekends? Perhaps this money could help fund our on-going programme of improvements?
Just a thought…

There’ll be better ideas, other thoughts and possibilities, alternatives that enable thriving rather than shrinkage. What are yours?

There were many people with many ideas about ways forward. Thank you for your ideas. Now let’s take what steps we can to make sure that our voice is heard. Through the democratic process and the engagement of the community there are ways that we can achieve a better outcome. Stronger Together.

** Cambridge Museum Service – person at the meeting who stepped forward and offered support. Please get in touch.

The future of the footpath

2012 Gate and  new path

This ‘new’ footpath was added to the pathways of the Country Park to enable pedestrians to walk from the main car park to the Chapel in safety. For many years there had been concerns that the road was potentially dangerous for walkers, especially children, walkers with their pets and people who were less mobile.

As a way forward, this new footpath was created.

Today, 3rd July, a proposal was published on-line. This proposal will be put to the Werneth Area Committee on 13th July. The elected representatives will be asked to comment on this proposal:

Comment on the proposal to permit equestrian access to route (G to H on the plan) or to retain the route for pedestrians only.

G to H on the map is the ‘new’ footpath.

So permit equestrian access?
or retain the route for pedestrians only?

What do you think?
You have a week to let your councillors know how any change might affect you, so that their comments will reflect the views of current users and the wider community.

The width of the path

The width of the path

the width of the path...is ...

the width of the path…is …

Democracy and change at Chadkirk

Apologies… date of next Werneth Area Committee Meeting in earlier post was incorrect.

Look out for information about any new proposals in the week beginning 6th July.

The information about the meeting on the Stockport website is:

Werneth Area Committee
Monday, 13th July, 2015 6.00 pm

The agenda will be displayed in the week before the meeting

Proposed venue: Dining Room – Woodley Civic Hall

Contact: Damian Eaton (0161 474 3207)

So… what’s new?

We have all been watching to see how any changes to recent proposals are progressing. Local councillors have visited Chadkirk. Any amendments to previous plans are not yet public.

It is unclear when these plans will be announced. However it is clear that locals, visitors and residents will want to study and reflect on the proposals so that they might see how they could affect their use of the area and the unique conservation status of Chadkirk.

It would seem that the best we can do is keep a look out on the Stockport website which notifies us about future meetings. If the itention is to discuss and vote on any proposals at the July meeting, then the plans may be published on the site one week before that.

For those wishing to attend the Werneth Area Committee meeting, the date for your diary is Monday 6th July.

Local democracy

Recent elections have seen a change in the political landscape both locally and nationally. Locally that means that the individual members of the Werneth Area Committee have changed.

For the recently elected councillors, they will be required to make decisions on a range of issues – including the future of Chadkirk Country Park.

The council officer responsible for gathering information and views about recent proposals is in the midst of a consultation process.

It has been decided that given the change in personnel on the committee, there is a need to ensure that councillors learn something of the landscape and views of different user groups so that they can evaluate the plans to rescind the proposal for a bridleway at Chadkirk.

As a result, I understand that the matter is unlikely to come before the first meeting of the Werneth Area Committee since the elections. This means that the matter will not be on the agenda for the meeting on Monday 8th June.

The Chair of the Friends of Chadkirk was informed of this in the last few days. At the time of going to press with this item, there is no information about a new date for the proposal to come before the committee. However, it remains true that elected representatives will be called upon to make a balanced decision in the interests of all local people and users of the Country Park and Estate, as well as the clearly defined conservation goals of Chadkirk.

Democracy in Stockport – latest on the bridleway

Click to access Werneth%20Progress.pdf

It is anticipated that a report will be submitted to the meeting of the Werneth Area Committee on 8 June 2015.

Stockport’s website suggests that the report will be available before the meeting, perhaps a week before the report is considered by the Committee. It seems that the intention is that interested parties, keen to see how any new proposals affect them, will be able to view the report on-line on June 1st. This gives a week to consider and raise questions with local decision makers.

As in the previous meeting, questions can be submitted to the Werneth Area Committee Meeting about any new plans for a bridleway at Chadkirk.

Your favourite footpath?

the start of the path...

There are so many delights at Chadkirk that it seems impossible to pick a favourite. However, for many people, it would be the footpath by the stream. A few steps from the car park, you are soon beside the stream and looking out over fields towards the woods. Although the path is not really suitable for wheelchairs, it is ideal for walkers who need to be on the flat and can just manage a short walk. Alternatively, runners like to use this path as part of their circuit. And for dog walkers it is an opportunity to let dogs run (and paddle!) without fear of traffic.

While many people use this path each day, it’s existence was overlooked in the plans to change Chadkirk by adding a bridleway.These plans proposed the closure of this much loved and well-used footpath.

Although this proposal was initially agreed at Werneth Area Committee meeting, once the local representatives became aware of the planned closure of the footpath and several other significant issues, the plans were halted. The process of consulting local groups has been taking place. Soon the decision to rescind the plan will come before a Werneth Area Committee meeting.

This consultation process means that for users of the path there is an opportunity to express your views. Individuals can also ask questions at the next committee meeting. The meeting is open.

There are many people who visit Chadkirk regularly and who may be unaware of this planning process, so in part, I am writing this to provide information about that process.

In addition, there may be a way to safeguard this footpath from any future threat. This involves the process of having the path dedicated or recorded. This process can take a while…However we have started the ball rolling and will keep you updated about that here.

In the meantime, if you have walked this path regularly, repeatedly, frequently over the years then you might be able to be part of that process by providing a witness statement.

Please get in touch through the comments section of this blog and/or come along to a Friends of Chadkirk meeting.

Friends of Chadkirk Meeting for May: Thursday 7th May at 7-30pm
in Chadkirk Chapel.

Another point of view

Horse riders are in favour of the bridleway and suggest that it will be used to provide access for wheel chair users. So I asked for comments from wheel chair users to get their perspective. A response is published below (with the writer’s permission)

Subject: Bridleways and wheelchairs

Caught your query on wheelchairs and bridleways, re Chadkirk. Your colleague is right, re the undesirable nature of sharing a bridleway and wheeling though piles of ordure. Although dog dirt beats everything for stink, horse poo comes a close second.

The problem seems to be the vast quantity produced by a horse and the fact that dog owners have to pick up from their dogs while there is no law re horses and owners. I often see huge piles on the Middlewood way and sometimes it is hard for a chair to avoid it.

On a bridleway it is not quite so visible either.
It gets squashed flat by hoards of cyclists but lies there for months as a thin layer across the path and whenever it rains it sticks to the wheels of a wheelchair. As the wheels are rotating on a manual wheelchair it comes up to the sleeve cuffs, which are across the wheel when pushing the rims and then, before you know it, your clothes and hands are stinking.

 You are welcome to pass on this email to someone who is looking at the suggestion that horses and wheelchairs are going to be happy sharing.

Oh, and another thing. Horses are often spooked by things they have not seen before. Even if a wheelchair user immediately sits still, on sight of a horse, the horse seems to get very nervous and start stamping and even rearing. It is pretty scary for the wheelchair user that can’t get out of the way of a horse  that is behaving like this and also upsetting and dangerous for a rider that can’t control the horse – mostly young riders.