Saturday, 7 October 2017

No more Towers in time for Christmas, folks …

SORRY folks. No more models of Darwen Tower in time for your Christmas shopping!

The Friends of Darwen Tower had written a placatory, chatty letter to Darwen Town Council leader Roy Davies who had complained about some of the rough old models which they had abandoned being cleaned up and sold to eager Darweners. The FoDT had also forked out over £1,000 to get some more to sell.

All the models were sold within three hours and a wish-list of would-be purchasers quickly built up. The FoDT had hoped to knock out another 30 or 40 in time for the festive season. The whole town was looking forward to the chance of buying one.

So, to avoid prolonging the row with DTC – or at least with the new Coalition of LibDems and Tories led by Roy Davies and Kevin Connor – the Friends wrote suggesting that they spend their modest profit on sales of around £1,000 (less extensive work on cleaning, sanding, filling and painting) towards getting some more models made.

They also looked ahead to the Tower being cleaned and repointed – it needs it – and perhaps floodlit with an LED system.

The matter was discussed in the parish council's secretive "Part 2" meeting a few days ago and the Coalition pushed through a decision which has effectively knocked the Friends' idea of more models on the head.
The [edited] minute reads: Following reports of Towers being sold, the Friends of Darwen Tower had asked if the money from these towers could be used towards casting a further quantity to sell at Christmas, also to use funds to … repoint and maintain and light the tower.
The Coalition, who have their eyes on the modest profit, "agreed that no other casts can be made without the permission of the town council." And they are also flexing their muscles and asking for a financial action plan for the other "requests" (repointing and lighting).
The FoDT appear to be keeping a low profile after offering something of an olive branch. I'm told they will certainly not be going cap in hand to the parish council seeking permission to use the mould which the Friends discovered in a dark corner of a small foundry over Accy way. It had been there for over five years and would probably have been thrown out in a matter of weeks. And what plans the voluntary group have for the Tower will be discussed with the borough council and officers, not the parish council.
So, sorry, everyone. A small group of Friends and supporters had worked hard on the batch of models and everyone who was lucky enough to get one was thrilled. Will there be any more? Not now, I'm afraid. 
HARRY NUTTALL

Saturday, 30 September 2017

Towers, treatment, trouble

DARWEN parish council meet on Tuesday night - I think - to decide how to pursue the Friends of Darwen Tower for having the temerity to flog about 20 models of the Tower which the council had abandoned some five years ago and left to gather dust and grime in the garage of a former councillor. They also flogged another 25 which the FODT's new chairman Harold Heys paid for out of his own pocked. He told me. "Apparently the group had been trying to sort out the bank account for three years. It was time we got a move on. We're non-political. The council should try it." I say Tuesday, but I'm not sure. And neither is anybody else I've spoken to. The item isn't on the council agenda, which seem to be handed out like Platinum credit cards but I'm told it's probably a cunning plot to keep the row under the radar. It will probably be heard in the secretive Part 2 when Press and Public are barred (an occasional Telegraph hack and, say, two or three kids who see this as the height of political sophistication. Bless!). Criticism isn't welcome and always gets short shift.
The FoDT were thinking of paying for another dollop of Towers. And then just the rubbing down, filling, polishing, and painting to do. Harold was bowled over in the initial rush and the models all went inside three hours. But it was a helluva lot of work and the slagging from Roy Davies has zeroed enthusiasm all around. * Walkers had reported that the state of the much-loved 120-year-old Tower was a concern and several local folk and groups immediately offered to help if it became necessary. Money, time, experience and graft were all on the table in just a couple of days. * BwD Council have the final say but they don't have any money or they might have spent a few quid on a few flowers in the local parks. I won't even mention the state of the old cemetery. Perhaps next time. I'm told the last item on tomorrow's meeting is a gathering of The Parks Committee! Might last, what, 20 seconds… * Once the row dies down and the lawyers disappear into their offices the FoDT might find some renewed enthusiasm but it's not looking likely. Harold is laid up with an infection which is rather a worry. He told me: "Some councillors might knock this sorry saga on the head. I really don't care. I've heard nothing officially. DTC don't rate on my list of priorities at present."
Incidentally, the parish council website is still useless. It tells you nothing. Bit like a few of the members who have little or nothing to offer. One or two have too much to say. Remember the For Darwen Party, responsible for kicking it off and then leaving us with an expensive mess we can't escape from? Aye.
Thanks, fellas. HARRY NUTTALL

Saturday, 23 September 2017

Towers: Group faces legal action from Lib-Dems

IT started as a way of giving Darreners some memorabilia to stick on their window bottom or mantelpiece and has ended up with a heated row.

Darwen town mayor Roy Davies has been on his high horse threatening legal action against the friends of Darwen Tower who have sold over 40 elegant, cast aluminium models of the Tower, some of which had been abandoned by DTC five years ago and left to gather dust in a former councillor's garage.

It must be just about the biggest political clanger by the Lib-Dems in years, apart from the disgraceful sacking of the previous mayor, Councillor Brian Taylor (Labour), in a lightning coup back in May..Neither the Labour group nor the Tories have rallied behind Davies as townsfolk have been in uproar at the threat of legal action which could be costly.

Harold Heys, chairman of the FoDT, says: "Roy knew we were selling about 40 Towers. He was at our recent meeting when it was discussed. He says he told us not to sell the Council's original batch as they didn't belong to us. No one else at the meeting can recall this. I certainly can't. If he had I would have immediately challenged him. DTC had virtually abandoned the castings about five years ago.

"I had thought of either getting another 18 or so Tower made to replace the ones they had had made years ago or giving them around £700 from sales of Towers. But in view of the threat of legal action we will keep our powder dry. No one realises how much work went into this project. We haven't made much. We sold them very cheaply."

As news of the threat went around town folk were incensed that the Lib-Dems were threatening a hard-working voluntary group who had taken over what they had apparently abandoned and made a real success of it, forking out close on £1,200 to buy another 25 to sell.

The general theme: As if they didn't have enough to worry about with the state of the town and especially the market.

Mr Heys had planned to show one of the models at a local quiz he is running at Darwen Heritage Centre on Tuesday (Sep 26), but all 40 went inside three hours on Wednesday evening. "It was chaos," he said. "But everyone who got a Tower was thrilled to bits." None are left.

Everyone is asking: "Will there be any more?" Says Mr Heys: "The tremendous response had left us to seriously consider making another 50 in time for Christmas. But not now. We have lost interest. Perhaps the Council will get some made but they have had five years to do summat and done nowt, so I doubt it. Members of the parish council are too busy scoring points and playing party politics."