A Letter from Nantwich

February 2010                                                             

It's better news for the riverside project

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Not a sparkling picture, taken on a sunless winter day, but this view of the River Weaver looking from the site of the old mill might have been among the last for the town after funding was axed. The bank was tidied and the path laid for better access in the area by Nantwich Riverside Project. Cheshire East Council has said it would maintain such work, but what of future plans?

THE scare that all the hard work that has been put into Nantwich's Riverside might be lost because of spending cuts by the new Cheshire East Council seems to have gone away. That's because a new organisation has been set up with the hope of taking over the work - with the same Project Leader.  

   The three-year Nantwich Riverside Project has just come to an end. It had been "funded externally" (that is, not by the new local authority) but the new administration for this half of Cheshire decided it couldn't replace the money which had been stopped.

   Just after I had read of the axe falling, in The Nantwich Chronicle (January 27), I received news about Greenspaces South Cheshire which will shortly become a CIC (that's "a Community Interest Company") which could save the day. They haven't got the money either but are appealing to bodies which have in order to finance their work.

   Jeff Stubbs (Chairman of Nantwich Civic Society) was alarmed at the news of the funding axe and went along to "an informal meeting of similarly concerned locals" only to find himself Chairman of Greenspaces.

   He later told me: "At present, Greenspaces is lobbying Cheshire East Council to find some funding to set up this new community group, as a legacy - and to enable it to start up as a going concern.

   "The anticipated sources of funding in future will be the grants we intend to draw in for specific projects throughout South Cheshire (basically the old Crewe and Nantwich area). It is this area that has been left out of any provision of a Countryside Ranger - there are lots east of the M6. The one in the Crewe area was transferred to somewhere else in Cheshire East. No funding is in place for a replacement.

   "There are no plans or system in place for any more work on the riverside or for other similar projects in our area. I felt this was alarming and so decided to get involved to try to persuade Cheshire East Council to change their plans to abandon funding - and the people of Nantwich."

   Nantwich Town Council have been told of the situation and Jeff is to address them at their meeting on February 8.

 

I HAVE been given sight of an information sheet prepared for a meeting of the Nantwich Local

 

Area Partnership last month which included the hopeful comment: "We shall build upon the success of the Riverside Project; use our experience and skills to do similar work and to explore new ways of working with and empowering people in the area on environmental improvements and facilities."

    It went on: "We aim to deliver work on behalf of funding agencies, local government, voluntary and similar groups providing hands-on experiences for schools, students, families, offenders and many other individuals. We will re-invest any profits into the community to secure a high social return."

   A group of 10 to 12 people "with experience of environmental and community matters in the local area, in the public, private and voluntary sectors" have set up Greenspaces. 

   Why? "With the recent demise of the Nantwich Riverside Project through a lack of new funds, it brought a realisation that there would be no environmental projects carried out in future in South Cheshire - unless we did something ourselves within our community to help," said the information sheet. 

   As well as the initial members, and Jeff as Chairman, the new group would have a familiar face as Project Manager.

   James Thompson, who held a part-time job with the same title with Crewe and Nantwich Borough Council when the excellent work in the River Weaver Valley took place under the Nantwich Riverside Project, is all set to take on a similar role.

   After Cheshire East Council took over the running of half of the old county of Cheshire on April 1, 2009, worries began to emerge that the project wouldn't be financed under the new authority. Fears that proved to be well founded.

   The formation of Greenspaces will "quickly enable us to develop and implement a variety of projects in South Cheshire," says the information sheet. "We shall be open and transparent about our dealings with funders and communities and listen to suggestions from them."

   Greenspaces is asking local authorities and bodies for ideas for projects and "help with legacy / seed corn funding principally for set-up administration costs, a part-time project manager, planning / scoping

time and bidding for specific projects."  

 

Footpath signs in the Riverside area

 

WHEN The Chronicle broke the news of the funding cuts, Jeff Stubbs, in his role as the Civic Society's Chairman, was quoted as saying: "We are deeply troubled by the fact that the good work delivered by the Riverside Project is not only coming to an end, but that its energy and achievements are now in jeopardy."

   One of the projects that would be lost by the funding cuts is a hydro-electric scheme in the mill race - the often fast-flowing water in a channel at the Waterlode side of the river which was once the overflow area for the river when it was not running through the mill to

turn the grinding stones. This was to provide electric power for events on Mill Island.     

   A Cheshire East Council spokesman was quoted by the Chronicle as saying: "The Nantwich Riverside Project was externally funded. This funding has now ceased and as a result the (hydroelectric) project has been concluded. Cheshire East Council will, however, continue the maintenance of the existing facilities."  

   Hopefully, the new Greenspaces project will be able to bring the project to fruition. See what happened to the project by visiting the Greenspaces index

l "Externally funded" is believed to mean by the old Crewe and Nantwich Borough Council.

Greenspaces index | Tales from the Riverside | Letters from Nantwich index

 

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