Churches’ anger

Scenes from St Luke's walking day, Orrell
Scenes from St Luke's walking day, Orrell

CHURCH parishioners are furious there will be no police marshals at their walking day this year.

Members of St Catharine’s Church, in Scholes, will hold their annual walking day on Sunday, June 19, but due to lack of resources, they have been told the police will not be able to marshal some walking days, including their event.

George Seddon, chief marshal of the walking day event at St Catharine’s Church, said: “I think it is unfair the police are generally unavailable for events like this.

“Ten people will not be able to take part in the walk and will instead have to wear yellow hi-viz jackets and be stationed at strategic points.

“Wigan Council has taken out road closure notices, where roads will only closed for 10 minutes at a time.

“But in the past we have had problems with people driving into the procession, which is why we need the police.

“When we speak to some police officers they think it is great to have a walking day and be involved.”

Barbara Nettleton, who runs Sunshine House community centre in Scholes, will be taking part in the walk.

She said: “If they are not marshalling traffic, how safe is it?

“How can people walk in the middle of the road and not have any police to marshal?

“I believe this will be an end to walking days.

“Will we be allowed to use the main roads? Or will our routes be cut and sidelined to the smaller roads?

“It is part of our heritage to celebrate our culture and to celebrate being a Christian.

“I think the authorities should be encouraging people to walk and have their walking days.

“I am asking anybody who wants to join us - you don’t have to be a member of St Catharine’s Church.”

Other church walking days that won’t be policed include St Matthew’s Church, in Highfield, and St Anne’s church, in Shevington.

Chief Inspector Clara Williams of Greater Manchester Police’s Wigan Division, said: “We have been working with Wigan Council and organisers to offer full support.

“We have offered different options to ensure these important community events are supported as much as possible.

“The council has suggested alternative routes to organisers which keep the walks in residential areas and minimise traffic disruption, while some churches are combining their events to reduce the demand for resources.

“Another option, which some groups have run with this year, is to have a static event and a gala day rather than a walking event, as this doesn’t require police supervision.

“In addition, the police and council have been working with groups who want to preserve their walks so that road closures can be put in place and risk areas managed by trained volunteer marshals.

“Some members of church congregations are serving police officers and they have offered to volunteer as marshals and help others to carry out this role.”