10th ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING – 21st May 2018


Twenty three members were welcomed, including the Mayor of Bury, Councillor Jane Black, and guests, and were thanked for attending.  There were eighteen apologies for absence.


MINUTES OF THE 2017 AGM: accepted (Proposed Tony Mosedale, seconded Linda de Ruijter)


2017-18 has been a good year with four 2007 founder members of FORCH continuing to serve on the committee.  They are Eddie Jones, who as a member of the East Lancashire Alpine Garden Society is a regular Hall user, Stuart Rothwell representing the Ramsbottom Business Group, Hall user Janet Smith and Steve Treadgold who is now working nearer to home in Ramsbottom.  Committee members Dorothy Gunther and Sheila Magnall who have supported Ramsbottom Civic Hall over many years have both shown interest in continuing.    Julie Lomas is the latest committee recruit and uses the Hall for a number of her dancing classes.

Relationships within the FORCH membership and its committee and between the committee and Bury Council are important to making progress.  Developments at the Hall which were supported by FORCH include the new sign on its front elevation and Bury Council have now provided, in the main hall, a large drop-down screen which, as well as improving users’ presentations, we understand will be popular at parties for eg the projection of photographs and visual material to accompany music.  We are now looking forward to the installation of WiFi at the Hall.

Funding for the Hall garden, obtained by Neil Long, Bury Council’s Assistant Director (Operations), has enabled the Alpine Garden Society to carry out considerable improvements.  There are new plants and materials, including more large stones which were supplied free from Marshalls for FORCH/AGS to collect.  Having cast around for more help, we were delighted when friends from Tesco Ramsbottom’s community team offered their support.  Much good work was done, demonstrating that a community garden is not just an idea.  We are also delighted with the generous donation from local manufacturer Cormar Carpets to help with the provision of the new bar carpet which has been ordered.

After over two years of working with Ramsbottom Heritage Society to forestall Astim’s planning application for a three-storey block of flats on the old bowling green behind the Hall, work began again as the same owner made a new application to redevelop the Grant Arms Hotel which has been closed since the Autumn of 2017.  (Basically, the proposal was to demolish the rear section of the hotel and build flats on that site.)  This application was also seen by the FORCH committee as being a threat to the Hall so a letter of objection was submitted.  The Heritage Society, Historic England, the Ancient Monuments Society and many individual local people were also quick to respond with objections.  The application was refused on 8th March 2018.  In the future we hope the town will benefit from a degree of cooperation between FORCH and other local community groups.



Treasurer, Eddie Jones, presented the statement of accounts and the properly audited balance sheet to the meeting.  FORCH finances are in good shape and the balance has been maintained with more money spent and £2K gained.  With resources available there is the strength to continue our support for initiatives.

Bryan Farlow proposed that the accounts statement be accepted.  The seconder was Joan Flynn.



For the process of the election, the chairmanship was handed over to the Mayor, Worshipful Councillor Jane Black.


Cllr Black introduced the election by expressing her pleasure at being invited to attend the meeting in her first week of engagements as Bury’s Mayor and spoke briefly about her memories of Ramsbottom as a place to visit and enjoy.  Her career as a local government officer had informed her passion for community regeneration and her belief in the importance of the efforts of local people.  In particular, she praised the work of FORCH and the Hall staff.

Proposed Committee members:

Chairman -     Steven Treadgold

Vice Chairman -  Eddie Jones

Secretary -        Janet Smith

Treasurer - Eddie Jones

Committee members - Sheila Magnall, Stuart Rothwell, Dorothy Gunther, Julie Lomas

The proposals for the FORCH committee were accepted.  There were no other proposals.

Eddie Jones pointed out that in twelve months someone else would be needed to take on the position of treasurer.




Sheila Rumford, along with her husband Jack, has been a leader at the weekly tea dance at the Hall for ten years.  The dancers are people in their 70s, 80s and 90s so Mrs Rumford is very concerned that there is no defibrillator in the building.

David Catterall, Service Manager, Bury Council’s Civic Venues, agreed that a defibrillator is needed.  (The defibrillator at the Longfield Suite, also a Bury Venue, had been used for two incidents, one not having ended well, but two weeks later a lady’s life was saved.)  He will work towards getting a defibrillator installed at Ramsbottom.  These machines dictate how to use them and all Hall staff would be trained.

Steve Treadgold pledged FORCH support.  As a senior NHS manager, he was able to tell us that modern defibrillators are becoming more advanced.  He will look into how to buy one via NHS procurement.


The decision for the minimum fee to remain at £2 was supported by Bryan Farlow.


THE NEW HALL SIGNAGE Mr Farlow asked the secretary to pass on his thanks to Neil Long for sanctioning the extra funding that had enabled the new sign to be provided.


It was pointed out that seats are needed in the garden.  (Some seating is available.  Extra seating had been suggested before but was thought to be impractical due to winter storage and maintenance problems.)



Steve Treadgold thanked the committee and Hall staff for their commitment to maintaining the Hall’s high standards.

Nica Jones expressed thanks to the staff for the wonderful welcome that she always received at Ramsbottom Civic Hall.



Jane Lees, Tesco Ramsbottom’s Community Champion who, along with another member of Tesco’s staff Josh Hamer, had helped FORCH with garden maintenance, explained some of the details about how the scheme worked.  Initially it had been administered by Groundwork for outdoor projects only. Now, at the Ramsbottom store, the scheme can now help with any eligible Ramsbottom community project or activity that has the customer vote.


The meeting closed with the following report.

David explained how among Bury Council’s three venues Ramsbottom Civic Hall has proved to lend itself to weddings and celebrations.  Local business is increasing with a lot of repeat business.  Committee member Julie Lomas plays an important part in getting people into the venue. This year there are twenty wedding bookings and this is down to the upkeep of the building and the hard work of the staff, who always pick up on what needs doing and make sure they provide really good customer service.

The partnership with FORCH provides a driving force without which some improvements would not happen:

the new sign was chosen to be in keeping with the building and with Ramsbottom as a town and the garden is fantastic and feedback from brides is that it is one of the main reasons for them booking the venue.

Wi Fi is to be installed with the timing to depend on the workload of the IT staff within the Council and a mirror ball is soon to be provided.

Unfortunately, there is nothing coming forward for the upper floor of the building.  There have been discussions with different groups such as Rammy Men.  Everybody would like to see something happen but upstairs is administered separately from the venue.

David then expressed his appreciation of FORCH’s contribution to the success of Ramsbottom Civic Hall.