In March 2021 Bury Council appointed consultants to draw up plans to ensure Ramsbottom continues to flourish as a main visitor destination over the next 10 to 15 years.
“The plan will provide a strategy to guide a series of town centre initiatives aimed at maintaining its vibrancy and attractiveness.”
I have had the opportunity to be briefed on phase one of the plan and remain concerned that Bury Council’s ambition for the town is limited and does not reflect the transformative vision for change that is being seen with the successful Levelling Up Fund bids for Bury and Radcliffe.
At present the plan proposes potential changes to parking, green spaces within the town centre, amendments to street layouts and pedestrian zones but does not go far enough.
We must prioritise the purchase and renovation of the Co-op Theatre, a unique, nationally significant heritage asset. As Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Northern Culture, we are currently producing a report highlighting how historic, cultural institutions can be the catalyst, not only as fantastic venues for the arts, but create jobs, encourage tourism, support local business and provide a welcoming atmosphere to deliver services for some of the most vulnerable in our community.
The members of Ramsbottom Co-op Hall Heritage Trust are doing a fantastic job, working tirelessly to bring this historic gem back to life and I will continue to support them in every way I can.
Ramsbottom has obvious challenges related to traffic, congestion, parking but we must be ambitious and invest for the long term. Bury Council should provide sufficient funding to support the Civic Hall and have a plan to maximise every part of this community asset, working closely with the brilliant Friends of Ramsbottom Civic hall. We must upgrade civic owned sporting facilities and look at a range of measures to support local independent traders on the high street and rejuvenate the market.
I will continue to lobby organisations like the Theatres Trust, English Heritage and the Arts to financially support local residents’ vision for their town and utilise any government funding pot, working with Bury Council to improve facilities for young people and those who need front line services brought closer to where they live.
I have rarely been to a place where civic pride shines as bright as it does in Ramsbottom. In the spirit of co-operation, I agree with Councillor O’Brien when he says, “The centres that remain successful will be those that have a diverse range of visitor and leisure attractions, modern workplaces and a reconfigured and varied retail experience.”
It is our duty to deliver, and the Ramsbottom Place Management Plan will be a crucial part of this.