Tag Archives: people power

Democracy at work

Last night, a meeting of Friends in the Chapel, Chadkirk.
Representatives from Stockport MBC and Solutions SK(SSK) came to talk with Friends of Chadkirk . They provided some further information about the current proposals.
The minutes of the meetings will be available when the Friends of Chadkirk get together in January 2013.

In the meantime…for those who love Chadkirk and the many visitors who were unable to be at the meeting but care what happens, here’s a bit of a summary:

‘the plans will not impact on the occupancy of the house’
matters relating to specific individuals: unable ‘to go into this issue’

Proposed changes across the borough:
3 Senior Ranger posts to go (including the current postholder at Chadkirk)
All Rangers move across to SolutionsSK

In place of 3 Senior Rangers the proposal is that there will be 2 new posts
*Countryside Officer
*An additional Greenspace Project Officer

The planning timescale – some key dates

22 November Greenspace Forum AGM

12 December staffing issues to be agreed
17 December proposals considered and decisions made by the council

January 2013 consultation about the client specification for management and development of Chadkirk

Look out for this client specification to be circulated in mid January.
This will itemise what is to be expected from the organisation looking after Chadkirk. The Head of Public Realm Service will draw up the spec and then if/when SolutionsSK does the work they are responsible for delivering according to that specification.

There is likely to be a 2 week period for consideration and feedback on this spec.

The person in charge of the Public Realm invited people to communicate directly with her via email. There is an exercise to capture and collate comments.

While currently we benefit from having a Senior Ranger on site, the way things unfold will depend upon a clearly identified person to go to for issues big and small that affect the people and environment of Chadkirk.

There will be a team that manages Greenspaces throughout the borough and is responsible to the Head of the Public Realm Service. The actual work of maintaining footpaths, litter, ecological diversity, group activities with the public? Well, most of that looks likely to be done by Solutions SKstaff. Then again, the Chapel remains under another umbrella…the fabric of the building falling under Estates and the day to day running under Culture Recreation Museums.

The work done by the volunteers will continue. As belt tightening continues, there is evidence that this work might become more important. For example: last night there was the suggestion that funds raised by Friends of Chadkirk be used for commissioning maps for people who visit Chadkirik. There is a belief that groups such as Friends of Chadkirk may be able to attract funds from sources not available to the local authority.

Politicians, planners and administrators are looking at more radical ways to organise local greenspaces. But that’s a post for another day.

Have your say: Your Big Idea

What’s your big idea?
Here’s mine:


Wouldn’t it be good to see the Resident Senior Ranger have an enhanced role?
We could think about using the current Resident Senior Ranger’s skills and expertise to develop community links and the local environment. It is easy to see how this might benefit health, education and well being as well as the achievement of environmental goals.

Click on the link below.

Your Big Idea.

Here’s the link to the Proud of Stockport page again:

Proud of Stockport Awards 2013.

There’s a new category: Our Place.
Do you know anyone who has made Our Place a better place to be?
Closing date: 26 October 2012

Your Big Idea

Your Big Idea.

Thanks to Gill for her feedback.
For those who want to have their say, this is a better link.

Over 250 visits to the site in the last two weeks.
Many may be wanting to use this tool for communicating with Stockport MBC.
Fingers crossed this link makes it easier…

Your Big Idea.

Short sighted or forward looking?

A comment from a resident:

I am sure there will be few areas within the council that are not subject to change and re-organisation. This is where the problem lies.
I have been a resident near Chadkirk Country Park for more than 10 years and have seen many improvements to the Estate. When I first moved to the area, having only lived several miles away, I did not know it even existed. The estate, at the time had a tenant living in the house; the farm and surrounding fields were, to put it politely ‘un-kept’. Shortly after the tenant had moved out we were given an Estate Manager.

With the tenacity of the Estate Manager, John Rowland, we have overcome many problems and I say this as a ‘we’ because John has become very much part of the community, not just working the estate and seeing his position as merely a job but more of a vocation.
He is an integral part of the Estate; well liked and over the years has gained the respect of both visitors and resident alike. He has a holistic approach to Estate Management, involving all of the people who visit the Estate, offering help and advice, always having time to chat about future plans projects, wildlife etc. Some of the issues that have been overcome include: vandalism, arson, antisocial behaviour, fly tipping and dangerous dogs to name a few.

As already mentioned I have seen many improvements over the past 10 years, the Estate now is a Safe Environment – people feel safe, many people walk on their own especially ladies, one lady I met said she felt safer walking around the Estate than walking through Romiley.
The Estate has been awarded Green Flag Standard, the grounds and paths are well kept, wide enough to cycle and access for the disabled making the Estate a fully inclusive area. The increase in wildlife this could be due to several reasons – natural and man-made habitats, attracting rare birds, butterflies, moths and reptiles. I have also noticed over the years a massive increase in the number of people who visit the Estate. Many come from all over Cheshire, Lancashire and surrounding areas, so the Estate is obviously appealing to the wider community.
Also over the past 10 years the Estate has been designated a Local Nature Reserve, some parts have Conservation Area status, the whole estate is in a ten year Higher Level Stewardship agreement managed by English Nature (awarded for what has been achieved and the vision for the future) and two of the fields (Chapel & Wild Flower Meadow) have just been designated SBIs (Site of Biological Importance).

Without having a permanent resident on the Estate, with a vested interest in the up-keep of the Estate this would soon fall into disrepair, ruining all the hard work and monies the council has already put into place to make Chadkirk Estate a pleasurable place to visit. In short it will end up costing the council more money to correct/fix or pay for added security.
I feel it would be short sighted of the council to make drastic changes to this gem. It is truly a jewel in Stockport’s Crown and we need to fight to save it, for all to enjoy.

Proud of Stockport? Proud of Chadkirk

Do you know someone who makes you Proud of Stockport? Is there someone who goes out of their way to make our borough a special place? Then nominate them for an award in our 2013 citizen awards by going to http://www.stockport.gov.uk/proudofstockport

I’m proud of Chadkirk.
I love the place.
I love the space.
And I love the care that has gone into it.
And I am immensely thankful that this special place benefits from the custodianship of John Rowland.

As Senior Ranger, he brings a unique set of skills and expertise.

Perhaps you too have benefited in some small way from the work he does with such cheer and generosity?

I have been involved with Friends of Chadkirk for a few months.
Even so, in that time, there has been a chance to see enough of the work of the resident Senior Ranger to be able to guess at the impact of his loss. The photos on the blog illustrate some his involvement with the local community. There’s all the evening meetings. Setting up the the pond dipping through his contacts with the Cheshire Active Naturalists. Liaising with SKMBC representatives to organise the meeting down by the river after the Bridge opening.

It was his daily presence that enabled a watchful eye to be kept on external contractors. Whether bridge building or hedge cutting, it can be that some one who cares passionately about Chadkirk will help steer activity towards the best outcome for the local community.Together with Alan, a member of the Ranger service, who plays a valuable role in the daily management of the Country Park, they make an effective team.

The renovation of the Walled Garden is a community enterprise illustrating the merits of co-operation between local authority and volunteers: it is the resident Senior Ranger who is on hand to manage that process. He knows which tasks to attend to, has the expertise to advise on planting schemes and ensures that the practical aspects of the job are set up when volunteers arrive to garden on task days.

Beyond that, his daily presence and diligent, cheerful vigilance can be seen in many smaller actions. Ever noticed how litter free Chadkirk is? In part that’s thanks to John. Daily he picks up litter. Daily he cleans the toilets at the car park. And as the need arises he talks with the people who visit the Country Park. Sometimes this involves a timely intervention, when a few rowdies might be upto mischief. Often it involves responding to an alarm in the middle of the night. It might be that wildlife set it off but he will not take that chance. By keeping careful watch, he safeguards Chadkirk for the rest of us.

If you have attended an event at Chadkirk, whether it is the Chadkirk Festival or the Bird Box Building, those who simply enjoy a daily walk, and those who like to sit and take in the beauty of the herbaceous borders, you will have seen and benefited from the work that John does.

Of course he might do more. But then he has a number of other parks, including Bramhall, in his job description. I’d like to see his role at Chadkirk expand. I’d like to see schools and other users benefit from his skills and unique local knowledge.

In the meantime, there are proposals that might see the days of a resident Senior Ranger in Chadkirk come to an end. And come to an end soon. The consultation exercise has begun.

Have your say. The invitation is out. A chance to influence decision makers.
Have your say…

Do you know someone who makes you Proud of Stockport? Is there someone who goes out of their way to make our borough a special place? Then nominate them for an award in our 2013 citizen awards by going to http://www.stockport.gov.uk/proudofstockport

Closing date: 26 October

Here’s the link to the Proud of Stockport page again:

Proud of Stockport Awards 2013.

There’s a new category: Our Place.
Do you know anyone who has made Our Place a better place to be?

Proud of Stockport Awards 2013.

Your Big Idea.

People power

Belt tightening and cost cutting. Front page news.
You can get the details on this from the local press and elsewhere.

I’m here to celebrate Chadkirk.
Nevertheless there is an awareness that Chadkirk sits in this context.
And in the current climate, the situation may have an impact on Chadkirk.

Friends of Chadkirk are meeting to discuss proposals from the Museums and Cultural Attractions branch of the local government. Along with other groups they have been invited to meetings at Staircase House on October 9th and 10th. Consultation. At Chadkirk, the Chapel falls in their bailliewick.

For many of the users of Chadkirk there is also an awareness that there may be changes afoot that will affect the wider environment. Those who walk round Chadkirk daily, or visit it regularly value it’s beauty, the open spaces, the fresh air. Like me they find it uplifting, energising and beneficial for body, mind and spirit. Chadkirk Country Park.

Chadkirk Country Park is managed by a different branch of local government: Greenspaces.
It seems reasonable to expect that changes are afoot here too.

Given the appeal from Stockport for members of the public to have their say, there is a temptation to wonder about the way the decision making process works. Nevertheless it must also be true that a silence will be seen as a chance to make cuts where people have not expressed any view.

There are a number of possibilities.
On line (see link below).
Letters can be written and left for councillors at the local library.
Appointments can be made to meet with local representatives to enquire and express an interest.

Stockport Council – Stockport Council Home Page.


Friends of Chadkirk plan to meet next week to discuss the proposals.
Date and time to follow.
Please come along.

Chadkirk Bridge Portrait Bench

At the September meeting of the Friends of Chadkirk there was a packed agenda.
More of which later.

One thing that was clear was that we weren’t clear… about the plans for the Portrait Bench. So…..a chain of emails later and this is an update from Sustrans:

the vote for the shortlisted characters is still open for on line voting through the SMBC (once on the council site search for Connect2 Project) where I believe both the details of each shortlisted candidate are available along with their current standings in the poll.  I am not sure of the exact deadline for the vote to close, but this will need to be shortly, so any encouragement to your blog audience should be to vote as soon as possible.
The final decision will be made by the Connect2 Project steering group under the chairmanship of Councillor Wright.  While Sustrans will be funding the bench as a part of the project we do not take part in the final decision as we wish the vote to reflect local opinions rather than our own. Our role is really just to set the parameters for what we require in order to produce the cut steel figures.
Peter Green
Area Manager Greater Manchester

This message is reproduced with the kind permission of Peter Green.

For those who may not have been following the Portrait Bench Poll, there are a couple of previous postings and a brief discussion of candidates.

1st October word from Sustrans:
For your information, the on-line voting finished last Friday and I’m currently waiting for confirmation of the results from our Communications Section”

Portrait bench

Visitors to Chadkirk are enjoying the new Chadkirk Bridge. It has opened up possibilities, not just for cyclists but for walkers and riders, with many of them looping over the bridge and following new pathways.

There are a number of small developments planned for the near future including the installation of a Portrait Bench on the Marple side of the Chadkirk Bridge.
Here’s the link to the poll about the Portrait Bench to be erected on the Marple side of the new Chadkirk Bridge.

Stockport Council – Connect2.

This is part of the commitment which Sustrans made when they attracted lottery funding for the project.

Down by the river

In the gentle evening, a group gathered by the river. As joggers, cyclists and dog walkers passed over Chadkirk Bridge, the group listened with interest.

Since 2007 Paul Griffiths has been involved in the project to build a bridge at Chadkirk. As Project Manager he was able to share his experience and his detailed knowledge of the site. Given his engineering expertise, you’d expect that he would be able to talk enthusiastically about the structure and it’s design. In addition there were many other aspects of the site that came out in the discussion.

The bridge design had been chosen by members of the public when residents in adjacent areas were polled and asked to select a design from a short list of three. Planners had been surprised when the cable stay bridge (similar to, though smaller than, the bridge seen from M60 near Sale Water Park) was rejected. For every vote cast for the cable stay design there were 7 residents who voted for the current bridge design.

A further consultation is taking place about the plans for a Portrait Bench near to the bridge. This is part of Sustrans’ commitment. Visitors to the Chadkirk Festival who stopped by the Sustrans stall were able to have their say on the characters who feature in the Portrait Bench.

For more information about the Sustrans Portrait benches (including images)

The Portrait Bench | Sustrans.

In the coming weeks the Connect2 project team will be posting information on-line for a poll about the local contenders for the Chadkirk Portrait Bench. While Padiham plumped for their famous local witches, we have a more saintly possibility: St. Chad. Also attracting local support: Douglas Tattersall. He was the inspiration and driving force behind the decision to buy Etherow and Chadkirk for the people of Stockport.

The river played a key role in the siting of the mill at Chadkirk. Evidence of this can be seen below Chadkirk Bridge; the weir and the stone tunnels are structures designed to feed water to the mill. Information boards around Chadkirk tell some of the story. A new board will be placed near the bridge and add more to complete the picture.

In the twenty first century, the river’s contribution to the local economy continues. A few hundred metres downstream is the recently installed Archimedes Screw, generating hydro-electric power.

BBC News – Weir screws generate electricity for Stockport homes.