Actions speak louder than words in their facelift

 April 2011  |  Update

 

A NANTWICH CIVIC SOCIETY PAGE 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Volunteers hard at work on de-rusting and painting the railings at The Old Biot salt spring on the second day of the town clean-up. Other pictures show staff from Barclays HQ, Knutsford, at work in The Waterlode - and the cleaner war memorial in The Square.                                            Pictures: John Brough

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 days.

   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 preparations.

   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 5.30am.

   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 report 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.

 

   The Old Biot was painted as well as most of the heritage railings adjacent to Welsh Row Bridge.

   There was still some work to finish off, so a small group was due to meet later.

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 tool.

    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.

 

Some statistics from the two-day project

ALL in all, more than 310 hours were worked over the two days! Plus preparation time of around 30 hours in all involving staff from Cheshire East Council, Barclays, local traders, the Civic Society and members of the public.

   Volunteer numbers were: Nantwich Civic Society, 12 in all over both days; three members of the public who responded to publicity; three market traders; and two Town Councillors.

   Barclays HQ, Radbroke Hall, Knutsford, provided 15 for each of two full days plus 25 for half a day.

 

Market traders donate the paint

NANTWICH Market traders have kindly donated paint from their own funds so that Civic Society members can complete the work on the railings and seats near to the Welsh Row bridge.

    A start was  made in early June but recently, Jeff Stubbs put out a call for volunteers - a task that will take only a few hours with three or four volunteers. 

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