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News Flash - Chesterfield Crooked Spire to be Straightened!

Posted Saturday, July 7, 2007

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It’s official - Chesterfield Crooked Spire to be Straightened!

`Cultural Deformities Act which comes into force on April 1st 2008'

After receiving a directive from the European Union Cultural Secretariat in Brussels last month, councillors at an emergency meeting were unanimous in vetoing the demand to straighten the famous Crooked Spire, and lodged an immediate appeal against the order, issued under the new Cultural Deformities Act which comes into force on April 1st 2008.

`it should either be straightened - or removed from public view'

There was uproar in the Town Hall Council Chamber when it was revealed that the six hundred year-old spire was found to have contravened the strict new Euro-regulation governing `non-perpendicular structures’ - and was thus deemed to constitute a visible cultural deformity. The order cited the fact that the `non-perpendicular structure’ was `visible to rail passengers of all nationalities who passed through the town, and might be offensive to some’ - and under the new regulations `should either be straightened, or removed from public view’.

Under new European legislation which allows `non-perpendicular structures’ a degree of tolerance dependent on a height differential ratio of 1.227cm per metre, the spire, at a height of 70m (220ft.) contravenes the regulations by what the Secretariat described as `a long way’; in actual fact the spire currently leans a `long way’ to the south-west, 9ft 6ins to be precise – and leans more every year. It also has a spiral twist of 45% from west to east at its base, which contravenes the regulations by a whopping 40%!

A Save Our Spire group held its inaugural meeting in the shadow of the spire, at the Twisted Pinnacle, where an organising committee was elected to fight the latest Borough Council proposals: The Councillor-Elect for the Hospital Ward, Dr. Frank N Stein, said:

“To levy an emergency tax equivalent to five times the annual Community Charge on every householder in the Borough, simply to facilitate the cost which the European Cultural Secretariat regulations insist must be met by the appropriate Borough Council, is outrageous, preposterous cow-poo. If Europe want it straightening, let ‘em pay for it, and then he added, `besides, we Liberal Democrats like it as it is - bent and twisted”.

The SOS Committee led by Dr.Stein are meeting urgently with Borough Council Officials at the Winding Wheel at 7pm on Saturday April 1st.

This is a Public Meeting which will debate a number of proposals, from both the Borough Council and the SOS Group – whose membership in recent weeks has swelled to encompass almost the whole adult householder population of the Borough of Chesterfield – and will decide which course of action, from the recently published `Agenda for Change’ document, to take.

Here are the `Agenda for Change’ Proposal Options:

1. The Borough Council propose to increase the annual rate of community charge to every householder in the D Price-Band and above by 500% a year for three years, and propose to spend this money to have the spire straightened in compliance with the Cultural Deformities Act.

2. The second proposal was put forward by Councillor Colin Scrapman from the Staveley Ward, this offered the alternative of removal of the spire from public view – by demolition.

This proposal had the additional bonus of making the emergency tax levy unnecessary, thus costing the Borough Council nothing, with the proviso that Mr. Scrapman, reputedly a millionaire, undertook the demolition himself and could keep all the lead.

3. The third proposal from the SOS Group, whose headquarters are based at a local magazine whose editor wishes to remain anonymous, proposed the relocation of the new MI Pyramid to St. Mary’s Gate - to be constructed around the spire, thus hiding it from general public view and obscuring it completely from the railway line.

4. The final proposal on the agenda came from the Whittington Moor Residents Spireites Association who also want to remove the spire from public view. Their aim is to `Bring the Blues to the Heart of the Town’ and they propose to keep the annual 500% hike in Community Charge, using the revenue to demolish the town centre and build a new football stadium which incorporates the Crooked Spire at the banked-up east end, thus making it invisible from the railway line.

A spokesman pointed out, “The church vestry would make excellent changing rooms, and instead of a Kop we could have a Spire End”.

Worried that this final proposal might set a precedent, the SOS Committee consulted resident historian, archaeologist and Spireites shareholder Tom Bates, who pontificated:

“Nothing in this proposal sets any precedents. The Romans played football on this very site every Saturday afternoon from August 83AD for over 300 years: the Saxon Cup Final between Brigante Barbarians and Mercia Utd was played here in 779AD. The Brigantes won and declared the site sacred, the Bishop consecrated it, and later a church was erected. It’s been a church ever since - but history shows that it was first a football ground” explained Mr. Bates.

So, no precedent there, and none elsewhere as he went on to explain: “In 1821 Sheepbridge Primitive Baptist FC had no changing facilities and changed in the vestry, and town centres have been demolished before”.

He went on to name a handful, `Dresden, Stalingrad, Berlin, Baghdad, New York’ – and ridiculous though it may seem, as no setting of precedents could be found, the proposal was accepted for the agenda.

Thus there are four choices being debated at the Public Meeting on Saturday April 1st – and the Save Our Spire Group is looking for alternative proposals. They also want to know what YOU think about compliance with the Cultural Deformities Act, and what YOU, the people of Chesterfield, think should be done about Saving Our Spire.

Alternatively come to the Public Meeting on April 1st and join in the great debate.

*Did You Know?:

The spire was added to the existing tower around 1362, but is not attached and is only held in place by the weight (32 tons) and perfect balance.

During the 19th century an official architectural survey declared the spire unsafe and dangerous; the Town Council were ordered to either take it down, or repair it and make it safe – they repaired it!

Chesterfield, since 1994, has been a member of the Association of the Twisted Spires of Europe – and there are 72 altogether!

France has 32, Germany 19, Austria 8, Belgium 7, Denmark 3, and Switzerland 2, with Chesterfield being the UK’s only representative.

And in case you were wondering, Chesterfield’s Crooked Spire is the only one which contravenes the rules governing the `non-perpendicular structures’ legislation!

And finally……from `Old & New Chesterfield’ – 1889Whichever way you turn your eye

It always seems to be awry.

Pray, can you tell the reason why?

The only reason known of weight

Is that the thing was never straight.

Nor know the people where to go

To find a man to make it so;

Since none can furnish such a plan

Except a perfect, upright man;

So that the spire,’tis very plain,

For ages crooked must remain;

And while it stands, must ever be

An emblem of deformity!

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