Leigh Journal Column: we need to protect our old buildings

CHANGE is constant but it has to work for us rather than always seem to work for outside interests.

We have a small number of great and characterful buildings in our communities that need preservation and sometimes need help in finding new uses. This is especially important when so many new buildings lack character or the quality to last many years.

Rather than having an almost revolutionary approach to buildings where we build ‘em up and knock ‘em down, we need to conserve the best of what we have. This is why I am working with James Grundy, the MP for Leigh, to protect the old Library and Technology buildings in Atherton.

Atherton Community Trust’s campaign to return these grand buildings to ownership by the people is one we both fully support - and it is not just about the buildings themselves.

These currently unused buildings could - and should - be used for a whole variety of groups that would be so important to our community. Atherton Community Trust have plans for a wide range of new uses, from a veteran’s hub to a new youth zone.

As you can imagine, we have hit a problem. Despite coronavirus having such a disruptive impact on our lives, Wigan Council has refused to extend the deadline for the Community Asset Transfer for these buildings. The volunteers and community champions need a little more time but the council will not give it – it is time for them to change their minds and listen to people who actually care about the community.

The Prime Minister came close to dying of coronavirus but, thanks to the skill of doctors and nurses, he pulled through and is on the road to recovery. He should have taken more rest but almost worked himself to death to make sure that Britain’s response to the virus was and is as effective as possible. He knows we have to adapt to difficult times and that is why he has been working so hard.

The plan the Government is delivering, through the NHS, the DWP, our armed forces and local government is working. The new Florence Nightingale hospital has been built in Manchester and the plan to ‘flatten the curve’ is working. This has only happened because we are all playing our part in this national effort.

I know that many people value the daily press briefings that are held in No.10 Downing Street but are less impressed by some of the follow up questions from the political journalists. It is sometimes such a contrast between aspects of the national press and the good work being done by our local press.

The only way we keep our vital local press is if we all support it so make sure you buy a paper and stay informed about everything from what is going on in our communities to how we are coming together to deal with the coronavirus crisis.