Tuesday, 20 May 2008

This week we help bring back the bells at Ghyll, lay the ACE foundation stone, remain as vice chair of Barlick Town Council and hand over in Pendle

Monday 12 May
This is the start of our last week as Mayor & Mayoress of Pendle and it doesn't seem like 12 months ago since we started does it? The question that we have been asked many, many times is “are you enjoying your year?” And now that we have now been to over 375 engagements I can answer that it has been most interesting and we have been able to meet lots of fascinating people of all ages.

Tuesday 13 May
It’s been a very warm start to the week and on walking through my fields I found some large mushrooms which I identified later on the internet as St George’s.

Mayflower make a fine showing

Nick, who farms the fields at the back of me put some of his sheep and lambs on to my land. The sheep help keep the grass down and organically fertilise it so that the land is in excellent condition and we get lots of wild spring flowers. It’s a good time to be in this special part of the world as the grass is lush, the trees are showing their new leaves and the hawthorn and elder trees are just ready to show their blossom.
We distributed cards and gifts to the Mayor’s support staff, Jacqui, Neil and Colin who has helped out a lot this year. Also Christine and Carol in the general office who takes the telephone calls and sorts the post. They have all done a great job of ensuring that we get the engagements on time.
In the evening I went into the town hall for the induction meeting of new Pendle councillors, this year there are 13. I can remember over 20 years ago coming into the Town hall for my first time as councillor for a meeting with Colin Simmons, who was the then Town Clerk of Pendle. I know that I had a very steep learning curve and new councillors today will still have to learn quickly.

Wednesday 14 May
Barbara and I went down to ancient St Mary le Ghyll Church, which is on the outskirts of Barnoldswick for me to hand over £1500 for their bell appeal.

The historic St Mary le Ghyll Church

The tower was added in 1524 and has housed 3 bells since 1723. We were met their by Rev John Lancaster, Chris Whale and other bell ringers. The bells have been silent for a while because the bell frame now needs urgent repair. The bell ringers also have plans to increase the present ring of 3 bells to 6 or 8 and have a bell ringing training centre there.
Barbara and I stand on top of the 16th cent. bell tower at St Mary le Ghyll Church

For the press pictures we went up to the bell tower and these appeared in all the local papers. The appeal needs publicity to get the significant amounts of funding that are needed and my cheque will help towards this.

Cheque handover for the Ghyll bells appeal
We then continued up to the top of the tower where we could see a wide area of West Craven and over to Pendle Hill. Afterwards, in the church yard we were surprised to see the horse and carriage that brought us here to Mayoral Sunday around a year ago. They were out on a run out for the magnificent horses - but what a coincidence!

The magnificent horse and carriage arrive to remind us of Mayoral Sunday

In the afternoon we went to the ACE Centre which is zooming up in Nelson. We were there to lay the foundation stone of the exciting new arts, community and enterprise centre. This is another part of the jigsaw of the new Nelson now starting to take shape.

Laying the foundation stone for the new ACE centre in Nelson

Here's what I said;

Can I welcome everyone to Pendle for this special day in its history.

The new ACE centre is the next part of the regeneration of Nelson town centre which includes Number One Market Street, The bus/rail interchange, Wavelengths Inside Spa and the soon to be started remodelling of the high street bringing traffic back into the heart of the town.

The impressive £5m Arts Community & Enterprise Centre will replace the old Silverman Hall and of course the old Civic Hall. This new development replaces what had been a depressing eyesore in the Town Centre for many years.

It will bring lots more people into Nelson in the evening and is set to improve the night time economy.

It will include
Flexible performance space for Theatre, cinema or conferences
Recording studios
Dance and Drama studio
A top class bistro
Function rooms
Office and Studio space to bring lots more new jobs into Nelson.

PEARL the partnership company set up including Pendle Council and Barnfield Construction has done a marvellous job at bringing the project forward so quickly. The high quality of design will do much to help the regeneration of Nelson. It will help to make Nelson once again a vibrant and thriving place to work, shop and play and we can now start to see a great future for the town.

This is the last engagement that I have to do as The Mayor of Pendle, so
It is my extra specially great privilege to lay the foundation stone for the exciting new ACE centre.

Thursday 15 May

On my last day as mayor I nipped into the town hall for an early "wash-up" meeting on last week's Community Volunteers Event. Last Friday we got a two-page coverage in the local press with loads of pictures. We decided that it was a great success and we agreed what we could do to improve and that we would do all we could to make it an annual event.

I picked Barbara up in the afternoon to get back to the Town Hall for the Annual Council Meeting. As usual it was decked out in flowers and there were lots of guests in the public gallery. I start the meeting by calling for nominations for the Mayor and Councillor Beckett proposed Coun. Shelagh Derwent who represents Blacko. The speeches are all humerous but tradition dictates that the new Mayor doesn't hear them as she is still in the Mayor's parlour. The council then votes to accept the new Mayor and she is called in. I then vacate the Mayors seat. The new Mayor makes her declartion of office and tells everyone what she intends to do over the year. I then proposed the new deputy Mayor; my fellow ward councillor Marjorie Adams. Marjorie will then become the Mayor of Pendle in 12 months time.

Here's what I said;

I am pleased to propose Coun Marjorie Adams as deputy Mayor for 2008/9.

She has now represented Coates ward for over 10 years and is well known and respected in Barnoldswick and in Pendle. She also serves on Barnoldswick Town Council and lots of other community bodies.

I have known Coun. Adams for over 5 years and I find her to have a strong community commitment, an ability to tackle difficult jobs and is more than able to handle any situation. All of these attributes will be very useful as Deputy Mayor and when she becomes Mayor in a year’s time.

I shall be able to say a lot more about her next year but I hope that she enjoys her coming year as the Deputy Mayor of Pendle.

Tradition then has it that there is short speeches about the outgoing Mayor; this year it was made by Coun Margaret Bell for the Lib Dems, Coun Iqbal for Labour and Coun Pauline McCormick for Conservative.

I stand up in the council chamber to make my speech

The council then has a vote of thanks for the outgoing Mayor, to which I replied;

It is my great pleasure to be the first to congratulate our brand new mayor Councillor Derwent. I hope that Shelagh and the new Mayoress Ann McGeorge both enjoy their year as much as we have enjoyed ours.

Can I start by thanking my sister Barbara for doing such a splendid job as the Mayoress of Pendle. She has worked tirelessly for the borough and on top of that she has had to put up with me yawning every time that I got into the Mayoral car. She informs me that her Mayoress’s Charity Committee have over the year helped to raise the magnificent amount of £16,500 for our local charities.

Can I thank Jacqui, Neil and Colin, supported by Christine and Carol and not forgetting Pat Hudson who left at Christmas. They have all worked hard over the year, often above and beyond the call of duty, ensuring that we always got to where we needed to be at the right time. Can I also thank other council officers for their valued assistance during the year, in particular, Vaughan Jones and Deborah Carrins in Economic Development, Sue Madigan in communications and Richard Townson who took over the reins when Pat left.

We had decided from the start, that, whenever we could, we would attend events within Pendle and only go to a selected few outside of the Borough. But even so we attended over 375 events, over an extremely busy 12 months. I can’t list everything, but here is a little flavour of some of the things that we did;

I may be the first Mayor to have walked on the roof of the Town Hall and sat in old police cells in full regalia. I also enjoyed going around - Wallace and Grommet style - on a motor bike and sidecar to switch on the Christmas lights across the borough. And have been photographed in the press in lots of other unusual situations including with a giant green preying mantis.

We have probably now seen enough buffets to last us for the rest of our lives, but both Barbara and I have just about managed to keep our waist sizes the same as when we started. A contribution to this is our promotion of walking in Pendle’s wonderful countryside. We started by inviting residents to join us hiking the 45 mile Pendle Way. When we had completed the route, the walkers asked where we should go next, I suggested that we turned around and walk it the other way. Which we duly did.

We have also walked the 13 miles of the scenic Leeds & Liverpool Canal towpath from the Burnley boundary to the Craven boundary, which I can tell you is 28,388 footsteps. Also to promote the Pendle Walking Festival I stood on top of Pendle and our other hills of Boulsworth and Weets, dressed in my suit and with the chains on. The picture that appeared in the Nelson Leader featured me standing by the trig point on top of Pendle.
On one a subsequent visits to one of our Parish Councils, a parish councillor remarked that he had seen the picture in the paper and thought it was disgusting. “Did you see the state of that trig point?”, he said. So, he told me, he had gone up Pendle Hill, shortly after the picture had appeared and given the trig point a new coat of white paint. I subsequently got complaints from walkers on the hill that they couldn’t see the trig point in the mist!

I have tried to do my best to wave the flag for Pendle and my Mayor’s Blog (internet diary) was one way of doing this and has had weekly entries listing everything that we have done. It has now been viewed by well over 500 people. I haven’t managed to count how many times it says Pendle in the text but it must be in the thousands. I was contacted by a Mr Nutter who had viewed my blog from Indian Territories, Tulsa, USA. I replied to him that possibly some of his Nutter ancestors may have been witches and others could have been hung drawn and quartered. I also made contact with another Mayor with exactly the same name as me; Mayor Allan Buck, from Cold Lake, Alberta, Canada. Incidentally, whilst going around our area, I have been told on many occasions that I must be that Allan Buck who was the drummer in The Four Pennies, who had a top of the charts hit with Juliet in the 1960’s. All that I could tell them is that; I can’t play the drums.

This year we held the first Pendle Business Awards at the Fence Gate. It was a great night and very well received by our many successful local businesses. I have also held several business lunches to encourage our up and coming local businesses and have also visited many of their factories and offices. At Christmastime we went around the borough’s town centre buying our presents and encouraging everyone in Pendle to also shop locally.

Last week, we hosted the first Pendle Community Volunteers Awards, to honour the unpaid and unsung heroes, who give their time freely for the community. The ceremony was held here in this chamber and was crammed to the rafters with our community groups.

We have opened up this Town Hall on many occasions and held receptions for many different groups including Friends of the Parks, the local winners of the best kept villages in Lancashire, and lots of schools, youth and senior citizens groups. At one of the school visits, when I asked if they had any questions, one of them pointed at the chains and asked “who polishes the necklace”. And “was I the President of Pendle”? Another youngster asked if that was picture of the Queen, to which I answered “yes, and who is the other picture”, - “Prince Charming” came back the reply.

I am most interested in the regeneration of our towns in Pendle and of course we were very honoured to receive Prince Edward to the opening of the new Number One Market Street here in Nelson. We have also launched lots of other new regeneration projects including of course the new shopping palace; Boundary Mill Store. Last week we opened the new Discover Pendle Centre and this week we laid the foundation stone for the exciting Arts Culture and Entertainment centre in Nelson.

On an extremely cold day, only a few weeks ago, we visited all of the Parks in the boroughs and later held a reception for their successful Friends Groups here at the Town Hall.

We have also joined birthday celebrations for quite a few of our senior citizens, including Hetty who was 100. She said that if she had known that
there was going to be such a fuss being made, she would have gone out for the day.

I have attended meetings of all of the 16 Town and Parish Councils within Pendle to let them know what we were doing. And we have also visited all of our secondary schools and toured the imaginative new Pendle Vale School for the Future development. We have also managed to visit, or invited them here to the Town Hall, many of our primary schools in Pendle.

We visited the House of Lords and had strawberries and cream with their lordships, we had a splendid dinner in the Commons, we had cucumber sandwiches on the lawn at Buckingham Palace and recently we had a St Georges English Tea Party in the cells under the Town Hall. And when we hosted the Mayors Tour of Pendle, where we welcome Mayors from Lancashire and Craven and show them around our borough, instead of a lavish lunch, we stopped off for fish and chips at Kelbrook Chippy.

Now that we have completed our 12 months of office can I on behalf of my sister Barbara and myself, say thank you to everyone for making our year so memorable. And, one last thing, we have cut lots of ribbons during our time in office, almost always with a pair of blunt scissors, so we should like to present our new mayor Shelagh with a brand new pair of sharp scissors so that she doesn’t have the same problem.

Barbara and I were then presented with our Past Mayor of Pendle badges.

The new Mayor of Pendle presents Barbara and I with past Mayor and Mayoress badges

Following this, the meeting adjourns and we all go over to the Silverman Hall for a buffet tea. I hope that this is my last buffet for a long while!

The Annual meeting of Pendle Council then continues at 6.30pm, where who runs the Council is decided. As the Council is now hung or balanced, with 20 Lib Dem, 16 Conservative, 10 Labour, 2 BNP and 1 Independent. After much debate and two adjournments, the council voted 18 to 17 that the Lib Dems continue to run the administration. Lib Dems will hold the Leader of the Council; Coun John David, and all of the places on the Executive, which is the committee that runs Pendle. The leaders of the Conservative and Labour groups had been invited to be on this but declined. The outcome of all that, was that I gained a place on the executive, with responsibility for Economic Development and Tourism. I have many year experience in this area so I was pleased that I will be able to continue my work of improving our town centres and increasing our business and jobs in Pendle. However because the LibDems do not now have a majority, I lost the chairmanship of the Licensing Committee to a Conservative, but will continue to serve on that committee. I also lost my seat on the Standards Committee.

Friday 16 May

Luxury - my first day off in a very long while – and absolutely nothing in my Outlook diary! During the last 12 months I have only taken one week’s holiday and that was last June. So I took the opportunity to do very little, apart from looking what needs doing in the garden, buying a few shirts and stuff at Boundary Mill and watching a bit of rugby league on TV in the evening. Around here we often get interesting aircraft flying past, several times a year we can usually see the Red Arrows going somewhere and today we had an old Dakota airplane which flew low over the house. A fitting end to an interesting week.

And finally another picture of Pendle Hill
showing the lots of walkers on the footpath up the Big End

Sunday, 11 May 2008

This week we hold the first Pendle Community Volunteers Awards, receive the Friends of the Parks groups, visit Primet school and local business

Tuesday 6 May
The days are starting to warm up now and in my fields I have dog violets, primroses, celendine, bluebells, plus of course dandelions and daisies all brightening up the day. I had no Mayoral engagement but I did need to sort out the details for our Community Volunteers Awards on Wednesday.
In the evening it was off to the West Craven Area Committee at 7pm.

Wednesday 7 May
At 2pm it was Dorothy Carthy’s memorial service at St Andrews in Barnoldswick. You may have seen an earlier blog where we had visited Dorothy before she moved up to Scotland to be nearer to her daughter. Sadly soon after moving, Dorothy had a heart attack and died. The service was full of insight into a very strong but friendly woman.
In the evening it was the first Pendle Community Volunteers Awards which I have joined forces with Pendle Community Networks to put on in the Council Chamber. It was a very warm night and we had over 120 people crammed into the Chamber. The event was very well received and we are looking forward to making it annual. We concluded with a buffet in the members Room. I had to stand up for most of the night with the civic chains on which weigh 5lbs so I was a bit tired by 10.00pm, when we finished.

I welcome everyone to the 1st Mayor of Pendle's Community Volunteers Awards

Here's what I said;

On behalf of the Borough of Pendle can I welcome everyone to the first Pendle Community Volunteers Awards. During my term of office as Mayor I have been immensely impressed by the commitment and dedication of our many voluntary groups. All of these groups have many people who give their time freely, day-in, day-out, year-in, year-out. In your many and diverse group and clubs, you don’t ask for any reward, you don’t even ask for any thanks, you just get on doing good for others.

This got me into thinking about how we could recognise and thank the volunteers who work actively to improve their community here in Pendle. We decided that we should pay tribute to Pendle’s unsung heroes and in particularly we wanted to thank the hard working and dedicated unpaid volunteers. So I talked to Pendle Community Network about how we could have an occasion where we would be able to thank you. We therefore decided to hold this first Pendle Community Volunteers Awards and we thought that it was very appropriate that we should hold it here at the Town Hall.

I should like to take this opportunity to thank Pendle Community Network for their support and involvement in the great deal of organisation that has gone into tonight’s event. In particular can I thank Laura Brown and Stephen Smith of
P C N who have done most of the hard work.

Tonight we have 10 categories covering a wide range of roles and skills. I have taken the opportunity to visit many of your clubs, groups and organisations and have been fortunate to meet with many of you, I can tell you that I have been most impressed by all of you. It has been exceedingly difficult for me to decide who will receive these Pendle Community Volunteer Trophies but after long deliberation, we will, this evening, be able to announce the winner in each category. There are no winners or losers tonight, you are all winners. Everyone nominated will be presented with a framed certificate, unfortunately I am only able to choose one from each category to receive the trophy. The impressive trophies for tonight were produced by a local company, Merc Engineering Ltd in Barrowford. I do hope that you all enjoy the Pendle Community Volunteers Awards, that you all have a great night and that I have the opportunity to meet with you later.

The Winners
of the Mayor of Pendle’s Community Volunteer Awards were;

Young Achiever of the Year
Aamir Waris
has won this award for the voluntary work he did organising the Mayor of Pendle’s Charity Dinner. The 16-year old is a student at Marsden Heights Community College. He worked as part of a small group to plan the charity dinner. As the main organiser, his role was to get the group together, arrange meetings and make sure that the event was a success. His main aim was to give something back to the community.

Leader of the Year
Susan Whitehead
has won this award for her voluntary work with Building Bridges.
Over the past five years she has helped deliver the Citizenship Education Programme to pupils in Pendle’s primary and secondary schools.
Very committed and enthusiastic, Susan is described by her peers as: “pleasant, generous and never afraid to take on a challenge!” She is one of Building Bridges’ most dedicated volunteers. She is an independent, self-directed person, who is able to communicate effectively and contribute greatly to the rest of the team.

Volunteer of the Year
Samina Kauser
has been given this award for her many voluntary roles within the Pendle community. Despite fighting a serious illness, Samina has always given 110% to the voluntary work she has been involved with. Her main focus has been youth work, especially as Chair Person of Pendle Youth Action and Whitefield Youth Association. In addition, Samina has worked for the Government on eliminating terrorism and is currently working on a “gang”-related project with a group of teenagers. She is also a representative and spokesperson for Muslim women in Pendle and has promoted their viewpoint in National publications.

Young Volunteer of the Year
Sarah Kelly
has been given this award for the extra curricula activities she is involved with at Fisher More RC High School and in her local parish church of St Peter and Paul in Barrowford. Sarah is actively involved in the Youth St Vincent de Paul Society, including helping to organise the Old People’s Christmas Party. She also helps with the Christmas Parcels project, which gives some Christmas cheer to those less fortunate. Each box is packed with festive foods and delivered to local people. Sarah is often seen fundraising for various youth projects, such as sending young people to Lourdes to help the sick.

Community Organisation of the Year
Pendle Samaritans
has been awarded this accolade for its years of dedication. The Nelson branch was established in May 1973. It was set up by a group of people who recognised the need to support those who were finding life difficult for whatever reason.
This service has been available 24/7 365 days a year, for 35 years. Last year the branch had over 22,000 calls. The volunteers offer confidential, non-judgemental support to anyone who contacts them. They give an average of 16 hours per month of their time to the organisation and every year attend a training course to keep their skills up-to-date and refreshed. You can guarantee there will always be a caring voice and a sympathetic ear at the other end of the phone.

Environment Project of the Year
Colne in Bloom
has been given this award for making Colne a beautiful place to live, work and visit. The group was set up just over five years ago and has approximately 30 members. They are responsible for all the flowers which have been placed in planters, barrels and troughs throughout the town. They plant winter and summer, conduct regular litter-picks and look out for graffiti, fly-tipping, fly-posting and any damage around the town. They involve local primary schools with games, planting and competition. They are the official adopter of Colne Railway Station, having had the statue of Millie created and erected there. They have just secured funding for a water feature in the newly refurbished shopping precinct and have started a “reducing plastic bags” campaign with the shops in Colne.

Play Setting of the Year
Rocking Horse Club - Nelson
has been given this award for its pre-school and after-school services and activities. The Rocking Horse Club is community-based and is the largest not-for-profit childcare and education provider in the North of England. It offers numerous facilities, including a breakfast club, after-school club and holiday club, as well as nursery education, which is available all day, every working day. The club employs over 75 people, of which 70 come from the Pendle area. A total of 466 children are catered for each week and over 50,000 nutritious 2-course meals are provided per year. It is a very popular and well-used nursery.

Community Building of the year
New Road Community Centre in Earby
has won this award for providing a rich and varied programme of events and activities to meet the needs of the local community. The centre seeks to encourage community cohesion by providing an extensive range of activities including, fairs and craft days, Age Concern groups, a Luncheon Club, bingo afternoons, camera and history society meetings, walking groups, environmental projects, theatre and music nights, youth clubs, parent and crèche groups, Duke of Edinburgh projects, table-tennis, trips out to the theatre and its very own amateur dramatics society. It also provides courses in first-aid, computing, Italian, cookery and dancing. There are currently 36 groups that use the centre.

Volunteer Children’s Worker of the Year
Malcolm Shaw
has been given this award for his work with children during his role as Secretary at Thomas Street Bowling Club. He has held this position since 1964 and has dedicated a significant amount of his time to introducing and teaching crown green bowling skills to pupils from local schools. Malcolm organises a whole host of activities, including a Saturday morning club, taster days and a holiday programme. He is also planning on starting up a junior bowling league.

Lifetime Achievement
Margaret Hird
as been given this prestigious award because of the many years she has dedicated to helping people in her local community. Margaret started her commitment to the voluntary sector when she joined St John’s Ambulance in Barrowford as a cadet, caring for the elderly in nursing homes. She then trained in first-aid and home-nursing, gaining her Grand Prior Award in 1957. She then worked as a weekend volunteer at Hartley Hospital, before training in nursing at Blackburn Royal Infirmary. She became Divisional Nursing Officer for St John’s Ambulance and is now a trustee and secretary. She was appointed Community Midwifery Sister in 1965, this is when she started doing voluntary work for social services, caring for three families with special needs. She also cared for pre-school children at her local church crèche and ran a Saturday club for up to 30 children. Margaret is on the Church Council and in 1994 took on the role of Covenant Secretary, which she continues to do today. As a member of the Women’s Fellowship, she organised the syllabus and arranged outings and activities for the members in a bid to improve their lives. In 1999 she was elected onto the committee of Diabetes UK and became treasurer. She is now the local representative. In 2003 she attended a self-management course, which enabled her to help people who were suffering with long-term illnesses. She became a tutor and delivered her own courses – making physical and psychological differences to a lot of people’s lives. Margaret said: “I always remember that either potting plants in a friend’s garden, or planting a smile on someone’s face makes the world a better and brighter place for others and ourselves, and I am so thankful that I have the health to do this.”

The winners join me in the Mayor's Parlour

Thursday 8 May

The new Mayoral car has arrived another black Merc. and we get to use it for our last week in office, so Neil our attendant dressed up smartly for the occasion.

Neil gets ready to take us to our next engagement

I continued with our visits to local companies and today we went to Home Haven in Colne. They produce furniture for John Lewis and the Cotswold Company and we were shown around by Jonathan Hawley.

Jonathan shows us his stylish and comfortable furniture at Home Haven

The company is growing fast producing furniture that has strong design elements. Successful small businesses like these are the job creators of the future.
From there we went to have lunch with John Miller and the directors of Pendle Heritage Trust in the old barn at Barrowford. John gave me a copy of the latest newsletter which I had written an introduction for.

Outside the Heritage Centre barn after lunch

And then on to Daisy Communications in Nelson where we were shown around the rapidly growing company by Tony Dixon, who I have known for many years.

A welcome from Daisy on their monitor

The company employs well over 100 staff and is innovative about how it treats them. Whilst their we presented an award to the employee of the month.

Employee of the Month

Daisy Communications is a massive local success story and they keep winning business awards, including the 2007 Bank of Scotland Entrepreneurs Challenge.

I had a go at trying to ride their unicycle but failed

It is continuing to grow by acquisition and Daisy look to have plenty more in the pipeline.

Tony shows us the impressive working conditions

Friday 9 May
We have been visiting all of the secondary schools in Pendle and today we went to Primet High in Colne.

We try our hand at light refraction

The head; Mrs Walsh showed around the large school and as we normally find, the students look to be enjoying studying there.

I am often mistaken for the drummer of 60's group the Four Pennies
who was also called Allan Buck. So I tried my hand at the drums.

We toured the classrooms and then met up with the head boy and girl and other students for a chat.

We have a chat with students at Primet

Straight form there we went to Earby to launch the Pendle Cycle Festival.

Those bikes at the back cost thousands!

The press were out in force and we had arranged for Barbara’s husband Barry to bring a couple of bikes over foe us. So we joined the racing cyclists and directors of Cottages 4 you, the sponsors for the launch.
In the evening it was back to the Town Hall for a reception for the Friends of the Parks Groups. We had almost 70 there and I complimented them on their community spirit. We finished off with drinks and a buffet in the Members Room.

Friends of the Parks join us in the Council Chamber

Here's what I said;

On behalf of the Borough of Pendle can we welcome you all to the council chamber. Can I introduce Barbara Mitchell, my sister, who is the Mayoress. I am sure that you all know Colin Patten Pendle’s Parks & Recreation Manager, Julie Hibbert, Parks Outreach Officer and of course the Park Keepers. And we also have Coun Ann Kerrigan who has been the executive member for parks and recreation. I have invited you all here tonight because we wanted to give you a little thank you for all of the commitment and hard work that you put into our local parks.

During my term of office I have done my best to highlight our excellent Parks here in Pendle and the significant investments that have been going into them. I have been most impressed with the improvements that are taking place costing millions of pounds. A couple of weeks ago when it was absolutely freezing, it was my great pleasure to tour all of our parks in Pendle.

Alkincotes Park in Colne; which is a wonderfully well kept Park with a rich history.

Heyhead Park in Brierfield; where I was previously a councillor for 12 years, so I knew it well. The excellent bowling green there must have one of the best panoramas in the country

Victoria Park in Barrowford and Nelson; I am told that is has the “Last Elm in Pendle”. Only last week-end we opened the new £150k bridge across the river, with a brass band playing in the new bandstand, which we had also opened last year. Incidentely, opening the band stand was the first civic engagement for me where I had a placard waving Salvation Army man protesting in front of me. I think that they are now happy in their new home.

Barrowford Park; which always well used, particularly on sunny days like this week. And where we planted wild roses in the bog garden. And on my visit I was informed that there were far too many drakes and not enough ducks

Walverden Park in Nelson; “the woodland in the town” with some unique trees and where more investment is going in.

Valley Gardens in Barnoldswick; our smallest park but much used by everyone in the town

Victory Park in Barnoldswick; with new rugby pitches and large pavilion now being built.

Lettcliffe Park also in Barnoldswick; the Boroughs only Country Park with long distance views right up into the Yorkshire Dales. And very windy which is excellent for the kites festival which is held there.

Marsden Park in Nelson; the flagship of Pendle Parks, with refurbished Marsden Hall and lots of other interesting features including the wishing gate which together with a giant green preying mantis we re-opened last year.

Sough Park; where we planted a native silver birch tree by the beck

Ballgrove Park in Colne; with its many wildlife areas and where we were shown how it looked when the largest tannery in Europe was there. I can only guess at how it smelled. Now only a few stones show that it was ever there.

Friends of the Parks; I noted on my visit, were all very friendly and really cared about their own park. I was most impressed by the dedication and commitment of all of the Friends Groups. You all had ownership and were prepared to roll your sleeves up to make improvements to your park.

Park Keepers; who are all young and all very knowledgeable about their parks and they had lots of specialisms which help to improve their areas.

Saturday 10 May
At around 11.30 we arrived to open the new Discover Pendle Centre outside Boundary Mill Store at the end of the M65. The day was warm again and we had Burnley Youth Theatre and a Jazz Band playing. After making a short speech I cut the ribbon to officially open the all ready successful centre.

A pair of sharp scissors for a change!

Here's what I said;

It is my great privilege to open the Discover Pendle Centre at the new Boundary Mill Store, at the end of the M65. Those of us who live and work in Pendle already know what an extra special part of the country this is. With panoramic views of Pendle Hill at every turning, with our award winning villages, our fascinating heritage and with probably the best stretch of canal in the Britain. Pendle has such lots to offer to visitors discovering our area.

Here’s just a few of the things that Pendle Offers;
I have been called the walking Mayor, so let me start with our hundreds of great footpaths, bridle ways and tracks just waiting to be discovered. To help you do that, we have the Pendle Walking Festival starting on August 30th with 9 days of free guided walks for all ages and abilities.

Pendle also has an extremely scenic and multi-awrd winning Leeds & Liverpool canal stretching from Burnley towards Skipton, to walk, bike or boat and with a new marina for around 100 boats at Reedley and with an open day next Sunday.

We have plenty of lovely winding country roads just waiting to be explored on foot, bike, horse, or by car.

We have lots and lots of interesting old pubs and places to eat out in Pendle, in particular bonny Colne on the hill with its many and varied restaurants.

We have great sports and swimming facilities are to be found at Pendle Wavelengths and the new Inside Spa in Nelson. We also have excellent baths and sporting facilities here in Colne and at West Craven

At Colne Muni and the historic Pendle Hippodrome theatre in Colne they perform great shows and musicals. And due to open in Spring of next year is the brand new ACE centre in Nelson. This will offer many leisure facilities including a 200 seat performance arena, recording studios, arts projects, function rooms restaurant and bar.

And not forgetting our wonderful Pendle Hill, which is only just short of being a mountain. It’s a great walk up the hill with panoramic views from the top. You can stand where George Fox had his vision and went on to form the Quakers. And not forgetting the Pendle Witches who’s story carries on to this day, with plenty of their history still for you to discover.

In Pendle we also have many innovative businesses such as Farm House Biscuits who are suppliers to Harrods and Fortnum & Masons. World class aero space such as Rolls Royce, Silentnight – the largest bed producer in Europe and many more successful local business. Our fledgling tourism businesses will also soon begin to benefit from the large investments into Discover Pendle.

So there are lots and lots to do in what I presently call the “hidden gem that is Pendle”. I expect to have to change that to the “gem that is Pendle” when the millions who come to visit Boundary mill also visit the Discover Pendle Centre and see what is available around here and Discover Pendle for themselves.

Opening the new Discover Pendle Centre

I had asked to go for lunch at the new Banny’s Fish & Chip restaurant at Boundary Mill and we were not disappointed. Fish, chips, and mushy peas with a cup of tea. Excellent! This restaurant will I am sure soon be challenging Harry Ramsden’s.

Fish and Chips - lovely!

After lunch we went to Marsden Grange in Nelson to present 80th and 90th birthday greetings and flowers.

Happy Birthday!

In the evening we went to Pendle Hippodrome Theatre in Colne for the Last Night of the Proms performed by the Pendle Youth Orchestra. This event has now been going for many years and supports the Orchestra.

Pendle Youth Orchestra give their best at the Proms

They played music including the Battle of Britain March, Mars the bringer of War, Moondance, Pomp and Circumstance, Sailors Hornpipe, Jerusalem and of course Rule Britannia. A great night and well performed by our young musicians.

And finally, another picture of of our wonderful Pendle Hill on a nice warm and sunny day.

Sunday, 4 May 2008

This week we tour Farmhouse Biscuits, visit local businesses, join Colne Noyna for Charter Dinner, open Victoria Park bridge and go to the polls

Monday 28 April
We went into Nelson to tour Farmhouse Biscuits and were met by its owner Phil McIver. Phil used to be in farming but when times got tough they started selling chickens and farm house baked cakes and biscuits from a market stall. The chickens soon went as did the cakes and they concentrated on biscuits. Over the year Phil has continued to expand the business and is now one of the largest employers in the Borough. They supply biscuits to Harrods and Fortnum & Masons and export all over the world. After getting kitted out in protective gear including hairnet and hat we were shown the mixing of the ingredients and also the lines where the biscuits were baked. Phil also took us around the massive warehouse that they have and where a bull nose Morris van is stored. Afterwards we completed the tour in the shop which has lots and lots of biscuits on sale.
In the evening I continued with the election campaign by canvassing in our Coates ward in Barnoldswick.

Tuesday 29 April
In the morning I visited First Aurora in Brierfield as one of my programme of company visits.

I "give a hand" with the new metal bending machine at First Aurora

They produce stainless steel for lots of catering outlets including MacDonald’s. The council had provided a the company with a grant towards a new metal bending machine.

Now this is more like it, welding - I am the one on the right!

The Lancashire Telegraph photographer Andy turned up and suggested that we had a welding shot. We did this and it went into the paper where I looked like Darth Vader from Star Wars with the protective face mask on.

Style Cafe's impressive new work shop

From there we went to Style Café in Colne. I continue to be amazed by the number and quality of our local businesses and this is another great one. They supply high quality coffee machines across Britain and we had a look round their showrooms and work space.

I wake up and smell the coffee at Style Cafe

The map of where their sales were was shown to me and it shows that London and the South East is where they do best.
I nipped into the office and had a chat with Tom as I haven’t managed to get in for a while.

Colne Noyna Rotary dinner at the Black Bull

In the evening I went to the Black Bull in Gisburn for the 29th Charter anniversary dinner of Rotary Club of Colne Noyna. It was a good meal and some interesting conversations besides having the main speaker poke a bit a fun at me.

Wednesday 30 April
Today I swapped my car and living on a farm I need a 4 wheel drive. A local dealer had been a dead loss in selling me a car and I sometimes wonder where car sales people come from. The outcome of that was that someone recommended another dealer over 40 miles away, and they knew how to treat customers, so I went there. They made the transaction easy and I was soon driving away in my new car.

In the afternoon and evening I delivered leaflets and letters to Coates ward residents. When we do these together they always take a long time. So my legs were aching by the time that I had finished.

Thursday 1st May
Local Election Day - May Day. I was helping manning the polling station just after 8am. “Knocking up” followed where we go round to our supporters to remind them that it is voting day. It was a very long day as the polling stations now open until 10.00pm. After a shower and change of clothes it was off to the count at the sports hall in Colne. As soon as I got in at around 11pm it was obvious that my party the Liberal Democrats were not going to have a good night in Pendle. We have now run the council for several years and were anticipating maybe a few losses. But we lost more than we expected, so whilst we are still the largest group on the council it has now gone to no overall control. It was 2.45am on Friday before I got home at the end of a very long day.

Friday 2 May
Apart from a meeting with Richard and Neil at the town hall to go through our remaining programme of events. Our term of office ends on May 15th at the Annual Council meeting and we have tried to do things different and make a change. From the comments that I get back from people we seemed to have achieved that. The rest of the day was a quite one and after a very busy week I certainly needed it.

Saturday 3 May
At 11am on a warm and sunny day we went to First Class Child Care in Maurice Street, Nelson for their Third Anniversary. We were shown around their impressive facilities for pre-school age children and spent a bit on the cake stall and tombola – which I never win.

Staff and friends at First Class Child Care's 3rd birthday

In the afternoon we opened the new £150,000 bridge at Victoria Park which is in Barrowford and Nelson and this bridge across Pendle Water joins the two together.

Declaring the new bridge at Victoria Park well and truly open

The Water Brass Band was playing in the bandstand when we cut the ribbon to declare the new bridge well and truly open. Whilst having a Slater’s local ice cream we listened to the band playing on this warm day. I reminded the Friends of the Park group that last time I was there only a few weeks ago it was absolutely freezing, so this was much nicer.

Cutting the ribbon with the obligatory blunt scissors

Here is what I said;

Thank you for inviting me here today for the opening of the new bridge at Victoria Park.

The original bridge over Pendle Water was built in the1930s and over many decades thousands of local people had enjoyed walking across it, to be able to get to all parts of Victoria Park. Unfortunately in 2006 it was discovered that the structure was unsafe and a new bridge was required. The old bridge was closed in September 2006.

This impressive and very stylish new bridge spans 56 feet and has a concrete deck carried on an arched steel frame. It weighs 54 tonnes which is 11 tonnes of steel and 41 tonnes of concrete. The steel is know as weathering steel which develops a thin protective coating layer of dark rust that prevents further corrosion. This is good for the environment and saves on future maintenance costs. The technique of using weather steel is new technology and this bridge is the first in Pendle of this type.

There has been an investment of £150,000 for this special bridge. I should like to thank the Friends of the Park, Park keepers, park staff and Councillors for getting the investment and construction into place. So that today we certainly have a beautiful bridge to be proud of.

Recently I was privileged to be shown around our parks by the Friends of the Parks groups together with the park keepers. Here at Victoria I was shown the many improvements and what was being planned for the future. The commitment of the Friends of Victoria Park impressed me and I encourage everyone to support them in every way about caring for your Park.

We also have lots of great parks in all parts of Pendle and with the very large investments going into them in recent years they are improving very quickly. All across Pendle I was most impressed with the new developments and commitment of everyone involved.

It is my great privilege to declare the new Victoria Park Bridge across Pendle Water well and truly open.

And finally, another picture of our wonderful Pendle Hill that has inspired many (including me) over the century's. And you even get one of our other wonders - dry stone walls in the foreground.

Sunday, 27 April 2008

This week we see Blacko, Bradley and Walter Street Schools, hold winners dinners, fly the flag, enjoy Jekyll & Hyde and cut Park High's 50th cake

Monday 21 April
The days are starting to warm up a bit, the swallows have found their way back to my garage and the primroses in my field give out a bright splash of colour.

Summer's on its way
We are busy making arrangements for the Pendle Community Volunteers Awards on May 7th. The awards are for me to be able to pass on the Borough’s thanks the army of volunteer workers who work week in, week out to support their community. I met with our communications team to sort out the PR and then with Pendle Community Networks who are helping organise the event. All of the nominations are now in and we shall soon be deciding the winners to be announced on the night.

Wednesday 23 April

At 9am we went along to Blacko village school to present the chess certificates.
Presentation of the Walton Chess Tournament certificate
We were shown into the school assembly where I asked the children if they knew what the special day was. And they did – St Georges’s Day of course.
We ask Blacko School what the special day is

Back to the Town Hall in Nelson in the afternoon to greet Walter Street School who had come to visit us. As usual I went into the Council Chamber, in my full regalia of gown and chains. I also showed the children how big the Mayors seat is and also how uncomfortable it is.
Walter Street children join me at the Mayor's chair

We showed them the mace which is actually a weapon with which the attendant can defend me if required, although we haven’t used it for that purpose yet. We showed them the Mayors cocked hat, size
7¼“, which is almost 100 years old and is far too big for my head, but perhaps some earlier Mayor’s had bigger heads than me.

Andy - press photographer takes a shot on the roof

Then, we did a bit of a first (probably) as I went onto the Town Hall roof for a photo of me and the flag of St George which we fly on our public buildings.

This is one of Andy's shots with me looking like I am holding the flag pole up

Both press photographers turned up and the weather was fine and sunny so we got a few good shots.

Another of Andy's shots with the flag of St George flying over the Town Hall

We then went down into the basement where we had set out one of the old police cells for a St Georges day English tea party. We had invited members of staff from other countries to join us. So we had people from Jamaica, Greece, New Zealand, Scotland and Pakistan joined us for cucumber sandwiches (with the crust cut off of course) and cream scones with our cups of tea. We all got on splendidly and compared how different parts of the world did things.

Into the old cells for our English high tea

Here’s what I would have said;
Today is St George's Day, which is England’s national day – the perfect opportunity to invite everyone living here to come together and celebrate the country in which we all live.
Today we all lead such busy lives that little of our time is devoted to appreciating our country. That is why St George’s Day, is so important.

It's the one day of the year when the whole of the nation can unite in celebration of England: its past, present and future; its countryside, towns and cities; its rich harvests, thriving industry and commerce – and, most importantly, the people who live in this land - People who live in a caring, tolerant and democratic society, who enjoy freedom of worship and freedom of speech. People who have much to celebrate.

Here are a few facts about St George;
St George was born in Cappadocia Turkey in 280AD, died on 23 April 303AD in Nicomedia Palestine –when he unfortunately lost his head!
The ancient tale tells us that St George had slain the dragon and rescued the princess
The Flag of St George was flown by Walter Raleigh, Francis Drake and by the Pilgrim Fathers when they went to discover America
St George is the Patron Saint of Scouting
Pendle usually flies the flag of St George on all its public buildings

Please enjoy the English tea of cucumber sandwiches and cream scones in these historic police cells where in times past some Nelson miscreants would have spent a bit of time.

And of course Shakespeare wrote; Cry God for Harry, England and St. George!

Thursday 24 April
I attended Reedley Court to support the Council with the appeal against the Shamania Festival event License which as the Licensing Committee we had granted some months back. Barristers where representing both the council and the objectors and being Chairman of Licensing I was there as a witness. However the district judge decided as this was in effect a re-hearing and what had happened at the Committee was not relevant to the day. So I was released, and as the case was scheduled to take around 3 hours I was glad to do other things. I heard later that the judge had still given the go-ahead for the event with a limit on attendees at 1500. This was slightly more than attended last year at 1300.
In the evening we went to see Jekyll and Hyde the musical at Colne’s Hippodrome Theatre. The impressive old theatre is run entirely by volunteers funded by what they take at the box office.

We are greeted at Pendle Hippodrome to see the excellent Jekyll & Hyde

The professional standard show with excellent acting and singing was well received by the audience. I thought that the sound and lighting were excellent and set design outstanding. We had been warned that it could be considered slightly raunchy, but they said that you can’t put of Oklahoma every year! We thoroughly enjoyed it, well done The Pendle Hippodrome Theatre Company.

Friday 25 April
We needed an early start to be at Bradley school in Nelson for their assembly. We always enjoy watching the children getting prizes and certificates for their efforts and we were there to present our chess certificates. Afterwards we were shown around the school which is full and probably needs more space. It is an old style school building with big windows and classrooms.
From there I nipped in to Pendle Community Networks office to agree the winners of the Community Volunteers Awards. I then walked back to the Town Hall and signed over 125 letters which we are sending out to invite the Friends of the Parks to our Reception. Incidentally have you ever tried signing your name lots of times – I can tell you that your signature takes on a life of its own. I once had to sign 2500 individual letters to residents when I was standing for election and had just had my tonsils whipped out so wasn’t feeling in the best of health. I did get elected as it turned out.

Winners Dinners! Pendle Business Award Winners lunch at the Town Hall

Then we had the last of our Business Lunches, at this one I had invited the winners of the Pendle Business Awards. I was going to call it Winners Dinners but decided instead to call it Winners Lunch as I am not sure if they still called it dinner as we used to. It was an excellent lunch and I got everyone to tell us why they started their own businesses. It was most illuminating.

Saturday 26 April
Off to Colne for Rotary’s Stroke Awareness day. I had my blood pressure checked but was busy sorting the photograph out so the reading showed slightly high. I shall have to check it again when I not busy doing stuff.

Blood pressure check up

From there we went down to Park High School for their 50th anniversary. I have been trying to get to as many schools in Pendle as possible but I have been to Park High much more than the others, for different events that they have held.

We join Park High for their 50th birthday

The sports hall was full of present day students, ex-students, staff and ex-staff. I told them that I was wearing the same old Colne Chains of Office that were worn on that day 50 years ago. I also showed them the Birtwhistle Diamond that the Mayoress was wearing.

Cutting the 50th birthday cake which is being distributed to senior citizens

Interestingly I met a gentleman who used to teach at the school and was also the last Mayor of the Borough of Colne, before we all got joined together into Pendle. I asked him if he had had the gas lamps installed outside his house – he did, and was the last Mayor to get them, one of which is now in Colne Library. On an earlier entry in this Blog we have a photograph of it.
In the evening I attended the Burnley & Pendle Music Society to hear the Mather String Quartet at Christ Church in Nelson. The programme included Haydn’s string quartet in C major (The Emperor), Shostakovich’s string quartet No 7 in F sharp minor and Mendelssohn’s string quartet No 2 in A minor. The young musicians - all from the Royal Northern College of Music - told me afterwards that they had enjoyed playing this evening -and it showed. I asked them where they were from and they told me Gloucester, Dublin, Hartlepool and Reykjavic. So I welcomed them to Pendle.

And finally another picture of Pendle Hill - this one taken at night and showing the great whale shape of it.