WE HAD decided, after the
disappointing and worrying findings of our Town Centre Streetscape Audit, to
take some positive action to help to keep Nantwich a great place to live, shop,
visit, do business and work in.
Members of the Civic
Society teamed up with a number of local people inspired by the Nantwich
Chronicle's news article a couple of weeks earlier, together with a large team
of Barclays staff from the Knutsford Radbroke Hall HQ on their community work
We were joined by two town
councillors and even several busy market traders, who all realised that a clean,
cared-for town is good for business.
From the outset, we were
supported by Cheshire East Council (CEC). All the equipment, materials, tools -
even the water bowser - were kindly
supplied by Cheshire East's friendly and
efficient Streetscape Team, to whom we owe a great deal for their unstinting
support - not only on these two days but over the many weeks during all the
The Regeneration Team gave early help, behind the scenes
co-ordination and encouragement.
We started 23 in all, en masse, on the Wednesday
morning, using as our base, the White Horse pub yard, courtesy of the new
landlord, Todd, and then sweeping, cleaning seats and street furniture in Town
Square -including washing down the Cenotaph (right) - before moving on to the areas
around the Church, Castle Street, Market Street, High Street, Pepper Street,
Beam Street and surrounding areas.
Our team of cleaners
tackled the seating areas around the historic Old Biot salt spring on
Waterlode and prepared, for painting, the area and the heritage railings
adjacent to Welsh Row Bridge and near Mill Island.
In the afternoon, the 15
members of Barclays staff were joined by an even bigger contingent of 25 on a
team-building exercise, some from Ireland, far-flung parts of the UK and three
members of staff from Germany, flown in that day - but not especially for this!
In less than three hours
they had cleared the riverside of creeper weeds and accumulated leaves to allow
a clear view of the River Weaver along Waterlode to Welsh Row. They collected 70
bags of rubbish, weeds and assorted creepers! It was taken away the following
morning by CEC Streetscape staff just after
Barclays also donated £350
worth of plants and shrubs, which, under the direction of Nantwich in Bloom's
Doug Butterill, enhanced the flowerbeds in Oat Market and Swine Market.
We received many compliments
from passers by on both days and assurances had to be given to one or two
passers-by that we were not taking anyone's jobs away. We have reached the
parts that normal cleaning and maintenance doesn't usually reach.
WHEN Nantwich Civic Society
carried out a survey on the state of the town centre, they were less than
pleased with what they found. And, in a
they told those they held responsible just what they thought. But they didn't
leave it to the "powers-that-be" to bring the town up to scratch. They set to
themselves - wih the help of others - and gave the town a clean-up.
Here, Civic Society chairman Jeff Stubbs tells what happened on April 7 and 8.
Our work is additional to the usual maintenance
that can be done. This is, in no small measure, a wonderful example of
community spirit and teamwork in action. We hope to learn from our experiences
and repeat it again.
ON Friday, mostly different
volunteers attended from Barclays together with some of the previous day’s Civic
Society members, market traders and others. After watering the previous day’s
newly-planted beds at Oat Market / Swine Market, we moved our cleaning
operations further out from the centre along Beam Street, Snow Hill, and Market
Street. The flowerbed in front of the Civic Hall was weeded and hoed.
Observations and pointers for future
THERE is a lot of goodwill and
real help from many members of societies, organisations and the, as yet,
uninvolved public to do community work in their own environment.
This two-day event has
started off a series of action-based volunteer events in future. Already,
Barclays have agreed to another two days work along Nantwich Riverside in June.
Other members of
the public and our society have asked to work again – and soon.
We found during our
work that, whilst we did make a difference to the appearance of many parts of
the town centre, we shall be fighting an ever-harder battle over the forthcoming
years due to the high degree of wear and tear on the streets, paths, fixtures
and many buildings.
We were working on
materials, pavings, surfaces and street furniture that were clearly worn out.
The current pedestrianisation was done over 30 years ago and its layout and
detailing is in part dangerous (e.g. the chamfered footway kerb edges on High
Street), as well as being littered with depressions / puddles and cracks from
utility repairs and HGV damage.
The overall appearance
and environmental standard is unsuitable in the 21st Century for an
important historic market town like Nantwich.
The town performs very well
in a commercial sense, but this is no time to rest on laurels. Stiff competition
is threatening Nantwich and it will only retain its position and vibrancy by
getting ahead of the game by presenting the town as a unique, very pleasant
heritage centre with high standards of both public and private realms of
maintenance and investment.
It has the highest number of
listed buildings of any town in Cheshire East (and the former Cheshire
County Council, apart from the
City of Chester) as well as a lovely river and walks running through the centre.
Other towns can only envy this set of
natural and historic amenities, yet we do not exploit them enough as a marketing
We found a
surprisingly high number of private shop fronts, service areas and forecourts
that were, quite frankly, awful.
Is there a way to promote
better standards of private-realm care as well?
It has got to the point
where just trying to “make do and mend” is reaping decreasing rewards for the
council’s and community’s effort and expense.
This historic town needs
significant investment in its public spaces and private buildings if it is to
remain attractive to future generations of shoppers and investors.
A Regeneration Plan needs
to be commenced, using the impending (this year) Conservation Area Review as a
springboard. The Nantwich Town Plan, due to be commenced by Nantwich Town
Council after May’s elections should include this as a main issue for debate.
We should preserve and maintain the listed buildings and conservation area but
seek ways of
funding replacement of pedestrianised areas with top quality materials and
street furniture. It will take time, but doing nothing is not an option for the
future of Nantwich.
We intend to finish off
what we have started, organising a regular programme of volunteer
events for our town’s environment.
l On behalf of Nantwich Civic
Society, I would like to thank everyone who has helped, sponsored or just
appreciated our efforts.