History of the original Ashton Community Forum
The foundations of the Ashton Community Forum as a community association were created in January 1997 when members of Ashton and Golborne Labour Party Branch decided to create a non-political forum to work on issues to improve Ashton town centre and surrounds. With the support of local people putting community development before party politics a group was formed and a range of issues was tackled. In January 1999 the members of this Town Centre Group agreed to reform it under a new constitution as the Ashton Community Forum – an independent, non-political community association meeting regularly to promote discussion on matters affecting the town. Together with the Council and local organisations the Forum then worked to improve Ashton town centre and surrounds and organise activities to benefit the whole community.
Over the years members of the Forum achieved much to enhance Ashton, including the provision of recycling facilities; litter campaigns; road signs and markings; Xmas tree; Millennium Ash Tree; Awards for All project with local schools; flower baskets; Xmas lights; pedestrian crossings on Gerard Street and Bolton Road; speed markings on local roads; environmental work on Ashton Heath and Skitters Wood; additional litter bins on Gerard Street; town centre notice board; input to the Borough’s Cycling Strategy, Police Liaison Committee and Transport Committee; Forum website; local Festivals in 2001, 2002 and 2003; and direct liaison with police, local councillors, Metro officers, town centre co-ordinator and local businesses.
In its years of existence the Forum raised almost £15,000, allocated to local activities, in addition to securing funds directed to community projects via Wigan MBC Brighter Boroughs scheme with the aid of local Labour councillors. Most importantly, the Forum created dialogue between members and groups interested in the town, and fostered the general raising of awareness of local issues and the facts underlying them.
In the latter stages of the Forum pressures from members of a political organisation calling itself the ‘Community Action Party’ combined with a breakaway campaigning group adopting the name ‘Friends of Ashton’ led to a decline in its activities, and, in the absence of members willing to take office, the Chair, Jack Sudworth, proposed its dissolution, which was agreed at the sixth annual general meeting held on 27th January 2004. This ended seven years of regular monthly meetings open to all people of Ashton, allowing the free sharing of information and participation in the development of the town. Hard to create, easy to destroy.
Founder members and elected Officers 1999-2004.