RMNF 2016 – A view from the Chair
11th December 2016

What a truly remarkable year!

Who could have thought that such a small group of people could have achieved so much. The year seems to have passed so quickly but here are a few of our highlights.

  • February – RMNF granted charitable status. First neighbourhood forum to achieve this in its own right.
  • March – We attained designated status with Rochdale Council.
  • April – Bank account opened. Another door opened to help the Forum make a difference.
  • May – Members of the Forum supported the Whitworth Skyline Walk, which passed through our Forum area.
  • June and July – A busy time planning our launch event and an approach from the BBC to be a part of their Black History of Britain series.
  • August – Started with a village clean up, grass cutting, hedge trimming and litter picking from the Moor.
    • 14th August – The big one. Our launch event – what a brilliant day. Great to see all the planning come together with the whole community getting involved with the BBC filming and featuring the Cotton Famine Road in their series ‘A Black History of Britain’.
  • September – Two of the Forum Trustees went on a Trustee Training course. As a result of this training our structure was slightly modified and two more Trustees were sought.
  • October – AGM time and two more Trustees appointed. Several forum members attended the Scout Moor Windfarm Extension Public Inquiry at Bacup and presented their views for consideration. The decision of the Secretary of State is expected early 2017.
  • November – The Cotton Famine Road features in episode 3 of the BBC2 series ‘Black and British – A Forgotten History’. Rochdale people can be proud of the story, which explained the history of the Cotton Famine Road and its links to the abolition of slavery. There were some fantastic shots of our area, the Cotton Famine Road and our launch event. Credit goes to the Forum members who were involved in the programme too. Very positive publicity for Rochdale. During this month our Forum also took up membership of the Open Spaces Society.
  • December – Our very first RMNF calendar is produced. Well done to Liz Rutherford and Bill Taylor for creating the calendar which shows off our area in a very positive way and puts a few bob into the bank account as well! This all helps to fund other activities that cannot be covered by grants etc.

In addition to the above throughout the year there have been many meetings, support given to other Forums, loads of paperwork, radio interviews and TV appearances. Our website has been revamped and we now have Facebook and Twitter on board.

Already for 2017 we have a very healthy ‘to do’ list of ideas to discuss.

This includes:

  • Do we buy the disused telephone box in Lanehead for £1 and house a defibrillator in it?
  • Promote improved signage for Catley Lane Head that will request careful and considerate driving.
  • Quiet lane status.
  • Riding facilities for the disabled.
  • A display to promote the positives of our area.
  • A follow up community event in August 2017 following the success of our launch event this year.

Thanks are due to several organisations that have helped us get this far:

  • Groundwork and Rochdale Council for the grants they have provided to help our Forum. We have an excellent and improving relationship with Rochdale Council who appears to respect our desire to tackle some of the issues in our area.
  • Greater Manchester Police who are funding the signage for Catley Lane Head.

The big one for 2017.

The big one for 2017 is to produce a Neighbourhood Plan for our area that will reflect the views of the people who either live, work or regularly pursue leisure activities (walking, horse riding, cycling, fishing, ornithology etc.) in our area. The basic idea is to set a vision and define a policy for our area for the next 20 years. This is no easy task!

The driving force behind us getting this far is our Secretary, Alan Rawsterne. He took early retirement this year and thought that creating RMNF would be a good, constructive and positive way to improve our area and to occupy some of his spare time. He now says he had more spare time at work! Keep up the impetus please Al, and thanks.

This is your Forum, where your membership and ideas can clearly be seen to be making a difference. Please encourage others to join and keep those ideas flowing. We can’t promise to do everything but will do our best to do what we can.

Thank you and well done to everyone who has helped get the Forum this far.

Finally, may I take this opportunity, on behalf of myself and the Trustees of RMNF, to wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Andy Meek
RMNF Chair