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Friends of the Valley: Where are we now?

Speculation concerning the future of the Woodland Centre and the Tea Rooms has been buzzing around like the noise from a swarm of disturbed bees. Walkers and passers by repeatedly ask us what is happening. So here is a summary of the current status of Friends

of the Valley and the Woodland Centre and what we know of the future of facilities in the Valley. Theoretically the centre is ‘open’ but as staffing has

been severely reduced in the countryside section of the council it has actually been shut for most days throughout the summer. A further round of staffing cuts is in the pipeline so staffed opening hours will not increase. The Woodland Centre building, alongside all council

properties is being reviewed. We have been assured that whatever happens, Friends of the Valley will have some access and use of the premises. Beyond this, nothing has been decided. The Tea Rooms is closed for the winter. Until its

closure the staff were assisted by trainees from Upsall Hall; a centre for adults with learning disabilities. The Tea Rooms has been widely regarded as a wonderful facility with a great ethos. Sadly in the current climate it was considered

unviable as it was running at a huge loss. The Tea Rooms will reopen in the spring; again the management arrangements are undecided. A Steering Group was set up earlier in the year with

the remit of looking at the future of the whole valley. The group is made up of local councillors and local officers. Friends of the Valley felt that we should be represented on this group as we do have a positive vision for the whole valley and its future. At our request we made a presentation to the group but were not invited to be part of it. We understand that the steering group will report early in the New Year.

‘Friends of the Valley’ is an independent voluntary

group and we continue our Friday Task Days and try as best we can to continue our conservation work and related activities. This summer we have made and planted a bee garden and a butterfly garden. We are restoring the wild flower meadow by the viaduct. A regime of regular cutting, seed collection and sowing has begun. We submitted a funding bid for the enhancement of the

three tiered bungalow site adjoining the centre. Planning permission has recently been granted but the council has negotiated a further extension on the deadline for the bid until the end of January; presumably while all options for the centre are being considered. Friends of the Valley now have a stall at the farmers’

market selling bird boxes etc in order to raise funds for our work. Please support our Christmas stall. There is much we can do to enhance the Valley and improve habitats for wildlife. Also we want to prepare for another Pageant of Light!

Talking of which and to end positively, the community

of Saltburn made a great Pageant of Light this year. It was low key and low budget as we had said but the people claimed it for themselves and made a real feel good family event. We hope we can carry on. This article is deliberately trying to be un-emotive

which is not to say we do not have strong feelings about all that is happening. Our experience is no doubt shared by small

organisations all over the country. Ordinary people can be left feeling dis-empowered and under valued. It helps a bit to be kept informed of what is happening. Friends of the Valley are very approachable - come and talk to us any time when we are on our task days! Lorna Moone See also another article on page 11.

Classical music fans have a huge treat in store, with the welcome return of the Northern Sinfonia with special guest soloist Imogen Cooper at Middlesbrough Town Hall on Wednesday 14 December. The second of Northern Sinfonia’s three scheduled

Town Hall Classic! Northern Sinfonia make welcome Town Hall return “She is an outstanding artist, one of the finest pianists

now playing. Go, listen, and wonder how many better pianists there are alive in this country, or anywhere.” (Daily Telegraph.) The evening closes in fine style with Beethoven’s 4th

Middlesbrough visits, the eagerly anticipated show is another glowing part of the Town Hall’s tempting 2011/12 Classical Season thanks to funding from Arts Council England. The performance will be conducted by distinguished

Swiss conductor Thierry Fischer, in a programme including Stravinsky’s groundbreaking suite from The Soldier’s Tale. This will be followed by a performance by one of

Britain’s leading musicians, Imogen Cooper, playing Ravel’s G major Concerto with its rhapsodic slow movements and jazz inspired outer movements. London born Imogen studied in Paris and Vienna,

has recently performed with both the New York Philharmonic and Vienna Philharmonic Orchestras, and has built a reputation as one of Europe’s finest pianists.


Symphony, encapsulating freshness and the love of life. Northern Sinfonia, conducted by Thierry Fischer,

with special guest soloist Imogen Cooper (piano). Middlesbrough Town Hall. Wednesday 14th December. Show: 7.45pm. Tickets: from £12.50 / £11.50 concs. Family tickets from £18.00. School tickets: £3 each for groups of 10+. Plus one teacher free. Box Office: 01642 729729. Other Classical Town Hall dates for your diary

include a further show by Northern Sinfonia (6th March), Russian State Philharmonic (9th February) and, looking even further ahead, Berlin Symphony Orchestra (23rd May) and the Halle on 13th June. Further programme information and the Town Hall’s

Classical brochure can be downloaded at See advert on page 38.

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