Thursday, 21 December 2006

And the winner is ___Goldrush Amusements

As a part of the Christmas festivities shopkeepers in Ashton were invited to enter a competition to find the best decorated shop front in the town centre. The three Ashton ward Councillors were asked to judge the entries which we did last week.

Today ( Thursday 21st December) the Ashton Councillors together with Emma Taylor, the Ashton town centre manager from Wigan Council, presented the prize and winner's certificate to Mike Dykins the manger of Goldrush Amusements. My congratulations go to Goldrush for creating an attractive and very festive display.

I would like to thank Emma for organising the competition and hope that next year there will be more shop fronts for us to judge.

Left - from left to right: Councillors Nigel Ash and Paul Tushingham, Mike Dykins (manager of Goldrush Amusements) and Councillor Walter Carney

Right - part of the winning display

Thursday, 14 December 2006

My Experience Of The NHS

Last week I had a heart palpitation which was bad enough for me to go to hospital. The thought of going to hospital at 9.00 pm filled me with dread. Previous experience had convinced me that I would be there for hours before I even saw a doctor. So I arrived at the hospital with two fat books in the expectation of a long wait. But to my surprise I was admitted to accident and emergency within minutes and was undergoing various tests. What was also different from my previous visits to hospital was the way the staff, both doctors and nurses, told me exactly what they were doing and what would be happening to me. I was kept in hospital overnight and fortunately allowed to go home the following afternoon. In the time I was there I had three ECGs, my blood sugar and cholesterol measured, a heart scan, a test on the treadmill.

I know praising the NHS is not the done thing at the moment and a headline reading 'Man goes to hospital and receives excellent treatment' would not appear in any newspaper. But I would like to record my thanks to the staff of the Accident and Emergency Department and Cardiac Unit at the Royal Albert Edward Infirmary in Wigan for the superb treatment I received and wish them all the best for Christmas and the New Year.

Tuesday, 12 December 2006

Tidying up Ashton

Last Saturday Ashton Labour Party organised a clean up around the Congregational Church in Hilton Street. Ten members took part and in two hours collected a considerable amount of rubbish. Just by chance the Congregational Church were expecting a visit the next day from one of their leaders and so they were very happy to see us cleaning up the area.

The one striking thing about those who took part in the clean up was the average age - at a guess around 60. Members were saying that we would love to have seen more younger people - 50 and below - helping us. So here is a plea to groups and residents in Ashton. Do you want your area tidied up and are you willing to help us? If so please contact me to make the necessary arrangements.

The Council also run a Beat it scheme at different times of the year.The aim is to tidy up grot spots within Ashton. The next time the Beat it team will be in Ashton will be from the 15th to the 19th January. Please let me know if there is anywhere you know of that needs cleaning up and I will pass it on to Wigan Council.

Saturday, 9 December 2006

St Thomas school and Millingford Brook

Recently I have been working with pupils in year 6 at St. Thomas school in Ashton to help them improve a stretch of Millingford Brook. Working with Paul Fenton, co-ordinator of the Wigan FC media bus, and their teacher the children selected a local environmental feature that they wanted to see improved. They chose a stretch of Millingford Brook that runs from Mill Street to Lincoln Drive.The next stage of the project was to script and record a radio programme highlighting their concerns about the brook. That is where I came in. I agreed to be interviewed on the media bus by the children. Well, the interview was not quite Paxman but the questions the children asked were searching and pertinent.What was also very striking was the confidence the children showed i front of a microphone. The final version of the programme was played this week in a school assembly. The same pupils have also produced a well made brochure to highlight the issue.

The reason the children wanted me involved was to help them get the brook cleaned up. In the question and answer session I had to explain that a) I was not personally going to clean it up and b) I was not going to fund any clean up out of my own pocket. However I made it clear that I knew a man who could. I contacted the Environment Agency who have spent the last week cleaning up the stretch of the brook that the children wanted improved. (I hope to show the before and after pictures later on this blog.) Another unexpected result of this project was that a member of staff from the Environment has volunteered to go into school and give a talk about the wildlife to be found on the banks of the brook.

I found the whole experience very enjoyable and would like to be involved with similar projects in the future

Wednesday, 6 December 2006

The Ruddy Duck

At recent council meetings the subject of 'The Ruddy Duck' was discussed in depth.

The ruddy duck was introduced into Britain some 50 years ago and is now seen as a threat to native duck species e.g the white duck. It has been suggested there should be a cull of the ruddy duck because it will create a hybrid species and eliminate the indigenous duck population in much the same way that the grey squirrel has become the dominant squirrel over the red squirrel.

As councillors we have to decide whether a cull should take place.

Now I am not an expert on ducks and I must be guided by expert opinion in the field. I understand that the RSPB and other nationally respected bodies favour such a cull. However at the meeting we were told by a local ornitholgical group that the data used by the RSPB and others is out of date and consequently no cull is necessary.

I along with other members have asked the cabinet to look again at this matter and obtain the latest data.

I would be very interested to hear comments from readers and especially those with an interest in the subject matter.