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Number 4 Church Street

The council offices in Rishton started life at number 4 Church View, on Church Street, when local meetings were held in the front room. It is possible the same house was used in the 2nd World War by the Air Raid Wardens, as their office, which was also based on Church Street, although the exact number of the building is unknown.

It wasn't until the 30th June 1909 that the offices on Brook Street were officially opened.

The cost of the new buildings was 2,000 and a fire station was incorporated into this new council building.

New council building.

The tenders for the internal decorations of the Council Offices were opened on the 13th March 1940, and awarded to Messrs. J. Trengrove & Son, at the price of 191 0s 0d. upon the condition that the tender was based on the standard rate of wages as being paid on the 1st March 1941, and was subject to adjustment in the case of any change in the rate of wages.

The Council resolved on the 10th December 1942;

  1. That the Surveyor be instructed to arrange for an electric lighting installation in the stables and other outbuildings;

  2. that Blackburn Corporation Electricity Undertaking be invited to carry out the work; and

  3. that failing the Electricity Undertaking, the work be placed in the hands of Mr. H. Dean.

On the 13th November 1941, the spittoons were removed from the Council Chambers.

The Sub-Committee, who met on the 26th June 1951, reported as follows: An Inspection was made of the old Town's Yard, and it was recommended that a chain-link fence on concrete posts be erected to enclose the portion of the Yard to be retained for Council use; to erect a brick wall fronting Brook Street between the Electricity Office and the Council Offices, and to build a dwarf stone wall round the portion of the Yard to be given up, the materials, etc., to be removed from the Yard in stages.

Power to people in borough 'devolution'

TOWNS in Hyndburn could be given individual councils as early as 2000 in a major shake-up of decision-making in the borough.

Brook Street Offices prior to demolition.

Tory leader of Hyndburn Council Peter Britcliffe, has announced plans to split the borough into five separate power bases. Under the reorganisation, Great Harwood and Rishton, Clayton-le-Moors and Church, Accrington North, including Huncoat, Accrington South, including Baxenden and Oswaldtwistle would all have their own councils, chosen because of their roughly equal populations. The set-up could be similar to the situation in Pendle, where five different committees decide on a specific area's issues, such as planning and housing, before final decisions are taken at full borough council level. Hyndburn could also introduce a cabinet which would issue policy guidelines from the group in power, currently the Conservatives.

Local representatives from each town, such as residents and traders, could also sit on the councils and influence decisions.

In the Council Yard.

Each council would have its own budget, plus an area office and manager to help them find their feet. The council is drawing up suggestions for reshaping electoral wards in the borough, which will be submitted to the Local Government Commission for England, in a bid to help them restructure the council.

A pilot scheme is set to the test the water on the new set-up in the new year - and Councillor Britcliffe believes it will be a make-or-break issue at next year's local elections. He said: "This is our devolution revolution. We want to give power back to people in all of Hyndburn's towns and give them an arena to shout about what affects them most in their own area. "We have got to change the way the council is run and by devolving, we will slim down the centre and make Hyndburn a more efficient, effective and dynamic local authority. "If we are returned to power in May these councils will be set up, so it is the people's choice at the ballot box. This is a major step that will affect everyone's life."

Council Office buildings during the 1970's

Offices face closure.

It was announced in February 2000 that housing and benefits offices which serve residents in Hyndburn's outer towns were to close later in the year - with services being relocated to Accrington.

Residents in Oswaldtwistle, Rishton, Clayton-le-Moors, Great Harwood, Huncoat and Fern Gore, Accrington, used the offices to pay rent and council tax, get help with benefits and report housing problems. But from September all but one of the offices closed, and residents wanting to pay bills over the counter had to go to a central office in Cannon Street, Accrington.

Councillors agreed to set up a phone hotline so people could report housing problems, and a swipe card system for rent payments was being considered to allow people to pay bills at post offices and shops.

Hyndburn Council made the decision on the advice of auditors, who said housing staff would be able to make more visits to people in the outer towns if they did not have to man the offices full-time. The auditors also said work was being duplicated by staff in the various offices, and that the cost of processing transactions at the district offices was too high.

The closures only saved around 7,000, but were expected to provide a more responsive service for residents. No jobs were lost. Council leader Peter Britcliffe said the proposed new area councils, which will be decided by a referendum in May 2000, would help people have a better say in how their towns were run.

References

Lancashire Evening Telegraph, 13th August 1999, and 19th February 2000.