THE Mayor of Horwich has slammed Chorley Council for ‘hijacking’ Rivington Pike as part of a publicity stunt, without consulting the town’s residents.
The Lancashire council staked its claim over the historic tower by dousing it in red light as part of its campaign 'Choose Chorley' campaign, in a bid to attract more businesses to set up shop there.
The town’s leader Cllr Alistair Bradley said they wanted to put Chorley on the map, and chose Rivington Pike — six miles away from Chorley town centre —as a ‘landmark’ to show just how far the town spreads.
But Cllr Christine Root said she thinks Horwich residents will be ‘absolutely outraged’ to see the Chorley stamp on the Grade-II listed building.
She said: “The bottom line is I just don’t get it. I’m not sure what they are trying to do.
“I suspect people will feel it’s being hijacked by Chorley, lighting it up without any consultation with the people of Horwich.
“For me it doesn’t sit well. If you’re going to do anything up there during the centenary year of the First World War, I would have expected something better than a blatant advertisement.
“They have every right to do it, but it’s not seen by the general public as a Chorley landmark, simple as that. Nobody that sees that will associate it with Chorley.”
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The tower was completed in 1733, and was originally used as a watch tower and to accommodate grouse shooting parties.
In 1902 philanthropist William Lever gifted the land at Lever Park, Rivington to the people of Bolton, including the tower, but it was later transferred to Chorley in the 1970s.
As part of the campaign the Pike will be lit during the evening rush hour from 5pm to 9pm, Monday to Friday, for the next two weeks.
Yesterday also saw the launch of a new website choosechorley.co.uk and a new grants package for businesses looking to move to Chorley.
The website shows a map of the North West with Chorley — branded as a "city gateway" — at the centre of the map in bold, surrounded by the cities of Manchester, Leeds, Liverpool, Preston and Birmingham. Neither Horwich or Bolton feature on the map.
Cllr Bradley said Chorley Council hadn’t consulted with Horwich residents because the plans were being kept a 'surprise'.
“I can’t see why this is being described as silly when it’s about the council doing all it can to create new jobs for local people during what has been a very difficult time for those struggling to make ends meet", he said.
“Lighting the Pike has certainly got people talking about Chorley and that is what we set out to do.
“Although it looks impressive, there is a very important reason why we are doing it, and that’s to put Chorley on the map as part of our campaign to get people to Choose Chorley for business.
“The pike is Chorley’s most visible landmark and the dispute over where we are is exactly the kind of debate we wanted to strike up so that there is no confusion as to where Chorley starts and ends.
"We want people to know exactly where we are and what we offer and that when they are passing the Pike on the motorway or rail network they know they are in Chorley."
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What do you think of the stunt? Does Rivington Pike belong to Chorley or Horwich?