Wednesday, 24 December 2008

And finally

And finally this year I would like to wish everybody who has read and contributed to this blog (and fellow flu sufferers) a merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

I will leave you with seasonal stuff I have nicked from YouTube and I will resume the blog in 2009

This year's winner of the best Christmas display

Once again at Christmas time local Councillors were asked to judge the best dressed window in Ashton town centre.

The winner this year was the Cosy Cafe on Wigan Road. Pictured above is the winning window and myself and Cllr Walter Carney presenting the owner of the cafe with the first prize.

Have your say about Ashton Town Centre - 6th January at the Gerard Centre

Above is a poster giving details of a consultation event to be held on the 6th January as a part of the Ashton Town Centre regeneration process.

Representatives of BDP, the company who are preparing the plan will be at the Gerard Centre notice board between 11am and 4 pm. Come and have your say

Ashton Forward - What do you want to see in Ashton Town Centre

As a part of the Ashton Forward Campaign initiated by Ian McCartney a firm called BDP has been appointed by Wigan Council to prepare some ideas to improve and shape the future of Ashton Town Centre over the coming years. They have only just started the work on this project and are very keen to ensure they have the correct understanding of the issues and ideas – therefore ensuring they are appropriate for the people of Ashton. They believe a plan developed with the community and that is supported by local people has a far greater chance of being successful and more importantly, actually happening.

Local people know local areas best and they want to hear from YOU. So please help them by spending 5 minutes and sharing your views and ideas about Ashton Town centre by filling in the form below. Please also leave them your general comments and suggestions about what you think the Masterplan should be seeking to achieve.

Below is a copy of the form

Ashton & You:

1. Are you:

Living in Ashton Working in Ashton Visiting Ashton Other
If other please specify_____________________________________________________________

2. How often do you visit Ashton Town Centre?

Your thoughts and suggestions about Ashton Town Centre:
1. What do you like most about Ashton?


2. What do you think are the biggest problems in Ashton?



3. What would you like to see improved?




4. What are the most important changes needed in Ashton Town Centre?




Please feel free to add any additional comments or suggestions in the space provided below, alternatively you can email:

Please return this form by the end of Friday January 16th to:
Freepost RRAE-ESKK-CGKT, Wigan Council, Economic Regeneration Office, Gateway House 4, Standishgate, Wigan, WN1 1AE

Or you can also hand in this form at the Library, care of Joan Unsworth

If you want copies of the form please contact me on 736216 or and I will make sure you receive them.

Monday, 15 December 2008

The congestion charge - a massive vote against

Road pricing has been roundly rejected in the recent referendum. The proposal for peak time tolls of up to £5.00 a day was defeated by 4 to 1. Just over a million people voted and electors were not persuaded by the £1.5 billion of government money for public transport which would have provided 10,000 extra jobs.

Talking to people who voted against the scheme I have come to the conclusion that it was heavily defeated for the following reasons:

1. There were no advantages for Wigan

2. People did not like the idea of being given money for improved transport only if they voted Yes. They perceived it as a form of bullying by Government

3. People did not believe the promises of improved public transport

4. Residents of Manchester - depending on where they lived - saw this as a tax without any advantages e.g. the tram system was not being extended to their area.

I personally voted yes for the following reasons

1. I believed that Wigan would gain some advantages through the extra money for public transport. The stations in Wigan and Bryn would have been upgraded and there would have been a new station built in Golborne. There would also have been a guided bus route from Leigh to Manchester.

2. The driving economic force of this region is Manchester and that it must be seen to be an attractive proposition for investors to put their money into. An area that is snarled up with traffic with the attendant problems of lenghty journeys and pollution does not make this an attractive area and consequently will deter investors. A lack of investment will mean fewer jobs.

The no vote has not changed anything and the issues are still the same. There is still congestion, poor air quality and substandard public transport. The money will not now come to this area and there seems to be no plan B.

Naturally I am disappointed with the result of the referendum. But I accept the verdict of those who voted and will work in any way I can towards solving this difficult issue. In fact all parties concerned must now have a period of reflection and find alternatives to the congestion charge. Below is a list of some of the alternatives that have been tried elsewhere:

1. Workplace parking levies.
Nottingham is planning £364 annual tax on business parking spaces.

2. Rising bollards
Cambridge uses them to stop cars but allow buses to pass

3. Rephase traffic lights
In London Boris Johnson is adding two seconds to the green phase at the expense of pedestrians

3. Hard shoulder running
The Government plans to allow vehicles to use the hard shoulder as a running lane on 500 miles of motorway - already in use on the M42.

4. Car sharing lanes
The 60 per cent of cars that have one occupant are barred from these lanes, used in Bristol and Leeds in rush hour.

5. Redesigned roads and junctions
to eliminate pinch points that cause traffic queues.

6. More school buses
to get cars off the road

7.Red routes
to prevent vehicles stopping and blocking the road

8. Reallocation of road space
away from cars and towards cycling and buses

I would interested in any other alternatives readers of this blog have to solve this difficult issue. As a member of the Council's Environment Panel I am in a position to put forward proposals for discussion to the Engineering Department and will be reporting back as to what measures are being taken and will be taken in the future to address this issue

Carol Service on Town Green

Last Friday I attended the Carol Service on Town Green Bolton Road. Considering the cold weather it was well attended and everybody seemed to enjoy it.

Special mention should be made to the Salvation Army Band who played through the freezing conditions and to the organisers of the event

Credit Crunch Workshops

Below is a copy of a flier that I have received for workshops aimed at businesses to help them through these difficult times.The courses are free and are organised by Wigan Council from the Investment Centre

Business owners -

Struggling in the “credit crunch”?

Need help & advice to survive?

Then come to the FREE
Credit crunch Beating Workshops

December 17th 5.30 to 8.30 pm Wigan Investment Centre WN3 5BA

January 7th 5.30 to 8.30 pm Wigan Investment Centre WN3 5BA

January 21st 10am to 12.30pm Westleigh Children’s Centre WN7 5NJ

Our experts will give you practical advice on how to:
• Plan to Survive;
• Manage your Costs;
• Focus on Profitability;
• Improve credit control;
• Maintain a positive attitude;
• Stay close to your customers;
• Focus on your USP;
• Use technology to attract customers;
• Look out for bargains
…with lots of opportunities to ask questions & network.

To book your FREE place call Glenys NOW on
01204 391400

Transformation of the Wigan's History Shop

WIGAN History Shop’s £1.3m transformation into a “heritage hub” will begin in earnest on December 23.

Services will be temporarily switched to Wigan Library and will be available from January 5th for the next twelve months as the building where George Orwell once researched ‘The Road to Wigan Pier” is dramatically improved.

Following a Heritage Lottery Fund grant of £500,000 and match funding from Wigan Council and Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust the exciting work will see new museum displays, major access improvements, a full refurbishment of the study and research areas and new toilet facilities on the ground floor.

The work is expected to be completed on the Library Street building by early 2010.

Services at Wigan Library, Wigan Town Centre will be scaled down but there will be an active study area manned by heritage staff while the computer based genealogy service will still be available. Heritage services can also be accessed via Leigh Local History (Leigh Library) and Leigh Archives (Leigh Town Hall).

Education and learning outreach work will continue in the community and schools.

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Christmas tree update

I have received news today that following work done by electricians from the council and LITE who provided the tree it should be illuminated again tonight.

I have asked Wigan's Central Watch to make sure that the CCTV cameras will closely monitor the area from now until January hopefully to prevent further vandalism.

Monday, 1 December 2008

The spirit of Christmas - not

It would appear that not long after the very successful switching on event on Friday night ( 10.00 pm I am led to believe) the electricity supply to the LED lights on the tree was vandalised and consequently there were no lights on the tree on Saturday and Sunday night. The tree will not be lit until repairs have been carried out to the damaged lights.

Both myself and Cllr Paul Tushingham have asked the police to view the CCTV footage of events after the switch on Friday night to see if there is evidence of vandalism to the tree with a view to prosecution.

Sunday, 30 November 2008

The new Christmas tree

The new Christmas tree was certainly a talking point at the switch on Friday. There was mixed opinion before it was switched on but once it was fully lit most people I talked to said it was fine.

As readers of this blog will know from last Christmas I have never been in favour of sticking a dead branch in the ground at huge expense to the council tax payers of Ashton and then throw it away after three weeks or so. I have never believed this to be a good use of tax payers money.

The alternatives to this are as follows:

1. Plant a living tree outside the library. I have been told by tree experts that this was not possible on the plot outside the library because of electrical installations that had been sited under the ground there. There was not enough room for the roots to take hold.

2. An artificial tree with lights which we now have

The advantages of the artificial tree are that it can be used for several years without much outlay. It should be pointed out that local councillors fund the Christmas lights from a pot of money called Brighter Borough which is used to help groups and individuals improve the area they live in. In the two years I have been councillor I have spent over 50% of my allowance on Christmas trees and lighting which I have always said is a disproportionate amount of money for the length of time Christmas lasts. The buying of this artificial tree will release thousands of pounds from next April to spend on projects which will benefit groups and individuals in the Ashton area.

For more details of the Brighter Borough funding please contact me.

Scenes from the Christmas lights switch on - Ashton town centre

Monday, 24 November 2008

Town Green - update

Here are two photos of the latest addition to the Town Green development - a very impressive pagoda as centrepiece of the scheme

Christmas is coming

The Ashton Christmas switch on event will take place on Friday at 7pm at Ashton Library. There will be traditional carols led by the Trinity Brass Band from 6.30 pm onwards.

After the switch on Molly Macs cafe will serve free hot drinks and other light refreshments provided by Greggs.

The Christmas tree and lights in the town have been sponsored by myself and the two other Ashton councillors.

Other Christmas events:

A Little Bit of Magic - a panto with a difference

27th November at Stubshaw Cross Labour Club - 7pm

29th November St Thomas's Church Hall 7pm

For more information call 731891 or email

Santa's Grotto

Santa's Grottos will be open at the Card House and Balloon Room on Gerard Street. The grotto will be open on Decmeber 6th, 13th and 20th 10am - 4pm.

Ashton Best Dressed Window Competition

Together with the other two councillors I will be again judging the best dressed window in Ashton on 8th December

The standard was very high last year and the winner was Jackie Gordan from Flair n Fleur who enjoyed a meal for two at Sorrento's restaurant.

This year the prize will be a banquet for two courtesy of the Little Emperor restaurant

Household Battery Recycling

I have been asked by local residents about the position regarding the recycling of household batteries.

Household battery recycling is a relatively new field for the UK. Traditionally only lead acid vehicle batteries have been recycled and facilities are available at all five Household Waste Recycling Centres(HWRCs)for these. Wigan Council does have one trial point for household batteries at the Slag Lane HWRC which is being monitored.

The situation is set to change because the UK has adopted the European Battery Directive. This requires manufacturers and importers to fund collection and recycling for spent batteries. Regulations for the collection, transport and recycling of waste batteries are expected by late 2008 or early 2009. This will allow battery recycling to be more accessible to the public and likely that facilities will be available at all HWRCs.

I will give updates on this blog when I receive any further information about this issue

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Boost for local Post Offices

Local Post Offices across the town have received a boost as the Labour Government awarded the contract for the Post Office Card Account (POCA) service to the Post Office. The news will be welcomed by local post offices who rely on the business people picking up their pensions or benefits through the Post Office Card Account brings into branches.

With the financial crisis that started with the American banks now being felt here in Britain, people are feeling worried about their finances. Post Offices are often the only providers of banking services in some areas so this vote of confidence in the post office is very welcome

The Government has decided to award a new contract for the continuation of POCA directly to the Post Office. The National Federation of Sub Post Masters had said that, without POCA, 3,000 Post Offices would close.

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Calling Old Ashtonian

In a recent article in the Wigan Evening News a person who wished to remain anonymous, going under the name of Old Ashtonian put forward the proposition that Ashton does not get any money spent on it because there is only one Labour Councillor in the Ashton and Bryn area. ( There are six Councillors in Ashton and Bryn and I am the only Labour Councillor)

Several residents who read the article have contacted me with roughly the same message 'Well if that's the case let's get some more Labour Councillors into the area and we might get even more funding.'

In a letter to the paper I have asked Old Ashtonian to contact me to discuss this matter. My number is 736216

Does your group need more funding?

I have recently received a letter from the Coalfields Regeneration Trust advising me that groups in the Ashton ward are eligible to apply for grants from between £500 to £10,000. The grant programme does not require match funding. They tell me that they have only had a limited number of applications from the Ashton area.

If you are a member of a group that could use extra money for a particular project and you want more details about applying for a grant you can contact the Coalfields Regeneration Trust team on 01925 222066.

Monday, 10 November 2008

Telephone masts - Hilton Street

Residents of Ladysmith Avenue and Hilton Street have recently been informed that Vodaphone want to put 3 extra masts and a cabin on the top of the BT Exchange in Hilton Street. This is what is known as a pre planning application - in other words Highams who are acting for Vodaphone want to gauge reaction to the scheme before taking it to the Planning Committee

Needless to say this announcement has caused a furore among local residents mainly because there are already lots of masts on the top of this building and adding more will make it look even more unsightly

In view of the above I have asked Highams to tell me how many other sites have been considered and why they have selected the BT Exchange as there preferred option

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Ashton Heath - post bonfire night

I have had reports that the Heath was in a dreadful state following last night's bonfire celebrations. Members of the Ashton Heath Residents group reported this to the Council who have called in the Beat it Team to clear up the mess. The Beat it team have done an excellent job today and will be there again tomorrow.

I also believe an individual has been reported to the Council for fly tipping.

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Street lights

Now that the dark nights are here it is important that the streets are well lit. If you come across any lights that are not working just note the number of the column and phone 404347 to report the fault.

Monday, 3 November 2008



More patients will be able to visit GPs during evenings and weekends at two GP surgeries in Ashton-in-Makerfield and Golborne, including a new surgery at Kidglove House in Golborne, opening on the 3rd November.
The new surgeries will offer a range of innovative services and extended opening hours that will increase patient choice. Benefits include:
• Improved patient access to GPs by increasing the numbers of GPs, nurses and other supporting clinical staff

• Extended opening hours to allow patients to choose from a wider range of appointment times, including weekends and evenings (8am – 8pm Monday to Friday, 8am – 12noon Saturday)

• Opportunities for patients to become more actively involved in their GP surgeries through Patient Participation Groups, which are being established.
The new services in Ashton-in-Makerfield and Golborne will be provided by the local Dr Alistair Partnership from the following locations:
• Ashton Surgery, 233 Wigan Road, Ashton-in-Makerfield, WN4 9SR

• Golborne Health Centre, Kidglove House, Kidglove Road, Golborne, WA3 3GS

To register, patients should attend either of the above surgeries, or telephone 01942-481580 (for Ashton-in-Makerfield) or 01942-481690 (for Golborne).

Other surgeries that are increasing their openeing times are:

Dr. Pal, Morden Avenue, Ashton in Makerfield Extra 1hour 45mins
Dr. Pitalia, Ashton Medical Centre, Wigan Road, Ashton in Makerfield Extra 4hours
Dr. Sharma, Wigan Road, Ashton in Makerfield Extra 3hours

The wetlands and David Bellamy

Last Thursday I attended the opening ceremony of the new wetlands at the Seven Sisters. David Bellamy was just as you would expect - full of enthusiasm about the project and praising the work of the Friends of Three Sisters and the other similar voluntary groups up and down the country who are creating areas of wetland. This project is very impressive because of the area it covers. As someone remarked to me it looked like the first world war trenches when it was being created but eventually it will be grassed over and become an area of great beauty.

I would welcome any comment from the Friends group with details of what this area will achieve towards increasing the diversity of wild life in the area.

Monday, 27 October 2008

Recycling news - Slag Lane centre open again

The council's household waste recycling centre (HWRC) on Slag Lane between Leigh and Lowton is now open again.

The busy site has undergone a month long upgrade to ensure facilities for the public and recycling operatives were up to standard. Residents will see a more efficient process and the staff on site will be able to process waste much more effectively.

Slag Lane HWRC is open daily from 8am to 9pm, and residents with cars can visit it to recycle a wide variety of domestic materials:

Facilities on site allow for the recycling of paper, cardboard, books, directories, shoes, plastic bottles, glass bottles/jars, cans/foil, metals, textiles, electrical items, 'TetraPak' drinks cartons, engine oil, car batteries, timber, garden waste, bricks, rubble and soil.

I have received this invitation to the Three Sisters Reserve Celebration on 30th October. All are welcome but make sure you are wearing wellies - at least.

For more information contact : Graham Workman Wildlife & Countryside Development Manager Wigan Leisure & Culture Trust

Ashton Heath - an update

Using monies from last year's Township Forum grant BTCV have completed work on the hill at the south end of Ashton Heath, cutting back, making up the pathway and surfacing with wood chippings. The next tasks will be to improve
the pathway through the woodland and to install a bench by the main path.

Cleaning up Ashton

The Brighter Borough team is in Ashton again from the 3rd to the 7th November. If you know of any areas in Ashton that need cleaning up please contact me and I will pass them on to the Council

Thursday, 9 October 2008

60 today

I can't believe it but I am 60 today. (How did that happen?) So I thought I would look at what happened in the year of my birth 1948.

I found that there were a lot of events that occurred in 1948 that have shaped our present day. The National Health was created and the railways were nationalised. The first supermarket in Britain was opened and world's first computer ran its first programme. The treaty of Brussels was signed and the first comprehensive school was opened. ( see full list of events below)

Things that I have not had time to find out are as follows and I would like help with are:

1. The average cost of a house

2. The average wage

3. What it would cost to feed a family of four.

4. How much it would cost to buy a car

5. How much it would cost to travel to Wigan or Manchester from Ashton

And anything else. Please feel free to contribute any fact about that year.


• 1 January - British Rail created when the government nationalises the railway industry.[1]
• 4 January - Burma gains its independence from the United Kingdom.[2]
• 12 January - The London Co-operative Society opens Britain's first supermarket, in Manor Park, London.[3]
• 30 January–8 February - Great Britain and Northern Ireland compete at the 1948 Winter Olympics in St. Moritz, Switzerland, and win 2 bronze medals.
• 4 February - Ceylon (later renamed Sri Lanka) becomes independent within the British Commonwealth.[4] King George VI becomes King of Ceylon.
• 17 March - Britain signs the Treaty of Brussels with Belgium, France, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.[5]
• 14 May - The murder of a three-year-old girl in Blackburn leads to the fingerprinting of more than 40,000 men in the city in an attempt to find the murderer.
• 21 June - Manchester Small-Scale Experimental Machine, the world's first stored-program computer, ran its first program.[5]
• 22 June
o the ship Empire Windrush arrives in Britain with 500 Jamaican immigrants.[1]
o An order in council removes the title of Emperor of India from the Royal Style and Titles, recognising the independence of India in 1947.
• 5 July - The National Health Service is founded, giving Britons the right to universal healthcare, free at point of use.[1]
• 15 July - First London chapter of Alcoholics Anonymous.[5]
• 25 July - End of Post-War bread rationing.[3]
• 29 July–14 August
o 1948 Summer Olympics held in London.[1]
o Great Britain and Northern Ireland win 3 gold, 14 silver and 6 bronze medals at the London Olympics.
• 30 July - Gas Boards created as the government nationalises the gas industry.[3]
• 18 August - Jockey Lester Piggott, aged 12, wins his first race at Haydock Park Racecourse.[5]
• September - The first comprehensive schools open in Potters Bar and Hillingdon.[3]
• 6 September - Flying the de Havilland DH 108, John Derry becomes the first British pilot to break the sound barrier.[5]
• October - The Morris Minor and Land Rover both go on sale.[3]
• 8 November- The King issues Letters Patent granting the title of Prince or Princess of the United Kingdom, with the style Royal Highness, to the children of The Duke of Edinburgh and The Princess Elizabeth, Duchess of Edinburgh.
• December - Patrick Blackett wins the Nobel Prize in Physics "for his development of the Wilson cloud chamber method, and his discoveries therewith in the fields of nuclear physics and cosmic radiation".[6]
• 10 December - T. S. Eliot wins the Nobel Prize in Literature "for his outstanding, pioneer contribution to present-day poetry".[7]

Monday, 6 October 2008

RareTara - Residents and Tenants group

Another group which seems to be flourishing is RareTara and whose monthly meeting I attended recently.

The group was set up at the end of May 2008 The committee members are as follows:

Chairperson (Mr Julian Sorfleet)

Secretary (Mr David Brown)

Treasurer (Miss Judith Jones)

Vice Chair (Mr Ian Brown)

Vice Secretary ( Mrs Julie Deluce)

Vice Treasurer (Mrs Sheila Brown)

They are looking forward to improving both Riding Lane Estate & Recreation Avenue Estate, working alongside Stubshaw Cross Residents Group and Wigan & Leigh Housing. Their aims are to promote the spirit of the community and to help tackle antisocial problems by encouraging youngsters/teenagers to partake in sporting and leisure activities, hosting fun days along with events for the elderly tenants and residents on both estates.

I was very impressed at the meeting with the progress they had made especially to help young people, some of whom were present a the meeting.

In the picture above (taken from the raretara website - I hope there are no copyright issues) are residents, Councillors and representatives of Wigan and Leigh Housing who were present at the monthly meeting.

You can contact Raretara on

Ashton Seagulls - doing Ashton proud

As part of Ashton festival last week I went to see a display of dance and gymnastics by the boys and girls at Ashton Seagulls. Once again I was mightily impressed by the standard achieved in the show. I would advise anyone who has not seen one of their displays to do so - they are really breathtaking at times. It is also worth noting that it is the young people themselves who arrange all the dance and movement.

I would like to highlight the work this group is doing for young people in the Ashton area. The club is run by volunteers and around 500 young people attend it during the week. It has known nationally and as a consequence young people from all over the North West come to Ashton to train there. On the night of the display I was talking to parents who had come from Preston and the Wirral. The club also competes and wins awards and medals both in the UK and abroad.

So well done to the adults who give up so much of their time for the club and to all the young people who put on such a fantastic display that night.

If anyone reading this from the Seagulls has photos I can publish on this blog I will be happy to do so.

Extra time for Carers - a Wigan Athletic initiative

I thought this was a refreshing change from the stories you usually hear about Premier League football clubs and their players

Wigan’s army of unpaid carers can now find some ‘extra time’ for themselves watching Premiership football at the JJB – for free.

‘Extra time for carers’ is a joint Wigan Council/Wigan Athletic scheme to give council-registered unpaid carers – hard-pressed people who look after friends and family members – an afternoon out at the big match.

Carers Development Officer, Steven Hill, explains:
“We have hundreds of people on our books who dedicate themselves to supporting others – now they can support the Latics too.

“Being a carer can be incredibly rewarding, but the stress, anxiety and sacrifice can take its toll. If you’re looking after people who, for example, might be frail, disabled or chronically-ill, you’re going to need a break now and again.

“So, if you’re a registered unpaid carer and you fancy an afternoon at the football, find out more about ‘Extra time for carers’.”

Wigan Athletic’s Manager, Steve Bruce, adds:
“'Extra time for carers’ is a great idea and we are delighted to be involved in the scheme. Anybody taking up the offer can be sure of a warm welcome here at the JJB Stadium and we look forward to even more supporters getting behind our team.”

About 1,400 unpaid carers are currently registered with the council’s Carer Support Team. Anybody interested in the ‘Extra time for carers’ scheme, which kicks-off this Saturday (4th October) when Latics entertain Middlesbrough, should contact the team on 01942 705967.

If the scheme proves successful, it could be extended to include summer rugby next year.

Saturday, 4 October 2008

620 - the campaign begins

Now that Arriva has decided to continue with the 620 service our Use it or Lose it campaign will continue with Labour Councillors over the next few months making people and agencies in Ashton, Abram and Hindley aware of the situation regarding this service

For the photo( see above)it was pleasing that myself and the two Labour councillors from Hindley, Jim Talbot and Jim Churton, were joined by members of the public and representatives of the local Hospice and a representative and service users of Amberswood wanting to play an active role in our campaign. In the coming months we are looking forward to working with them and other groups who want to help in our campaign.

Please contact me if you want a copy of the new timetable in operation from 13th October.

Saturday, 27 September 2008

620 - the good news

I have received the following information from Kevin Brock, one of the main campaigners to save the 620 bus route. Councillor Mark Aldred Labour Councillor for Atherleigh and Member of the Passenger Transport Authority has e-mailed him as follows:

At a recent meeting I managed to get the 620 back on on an hourly service
from Ashton town centre to Swan Lane Hindley for 9 months reviewed after 6 months. So let's hope everyone uses it so it continues.

This is excellent news for everybody who campaigned to keep this route alive and shows how people working together can change things.

We now need to run a Use it or Lose It campaign to make sure it does not disappear forever.

If anybody is interested in this please contact me.

Listening to members of the public

I received the following e-mail from a member of the public recently

Ashton's new traffic control system at the junction of Bolton Road, Gerard Street, Wigan Road and Princess Road can be quite misleading. The pedestrian hoping to cross from Bar Aqua to the pedestrian island will see two line of metal studs, at the end of which they will see an illuminated "Little Man". They might suppose that when he is green it is safe to go; but this is not the case. This is when traffic may flow across this crossing point. In fact, the only time that it is safe to cross is when traffic is flowing from Wigan Road. The chest-high "Little men" signs on the traffic light pillars do in fact quite rightly indicate this, but may be overlooked. How much better it would be if the former "Red and green men" situated at the top of the traffic light poles directly facing the crossing points were reinstated"

So I went to look for myself and he was right. I went to cross the road from the Bar Aqua thinking it was safe but in fact the red man was showing.

I have reported this to the Council and they have promised to rectify the matter.

Career options for young people

I thought this might be of use for any young person who is looking for a job at the present time.

For real choice in career opportunities, NOW is the time to choose local government.

That’s the message to young people from local authorities across the region.

Nine councils – including Wigan – have joined forces to launch NOWyoungpeople, a web-based showcase for the huge range of local government careers.

Unlike traditional careers advice, NOWyoungpeople is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week at

The site features everything potential recruits need to know at the click of a mouse – including real life stories. It even groups together different roles into job ‘families’ to help young people discover what other roles might suit their skills and ambitions.

Petition presented to the Council

This press cutting is from this week's Wigan Evening Post and shows myself with Ian McCartney, representatives of local churches and local residents presenting the petition to curb lap dancing to Deputy Leader of the Council David Molyneux.

Sunday, 21 September 2008

Campaign to curb lap dancing

Following the campaign launched by myself and Ian McCartney to curb lap dancing in local pubs, residents together with representatives of local churches presented the petition to the Deputy Leader Davd Molyneux last Friday. At the presentation we were delighted to learn that Wigan Council has written to the Home Secretary backing our campaign.

This campaign has certainly struck a chord with local residents and churches. We received fantastic support on our street stall in Ashton town centre and the religious organisations in the area have been extremely supportive.

Both myself and Ian would like to thank everybody who signed the petition and especially those who took petitions to be signed in their own neighbourhood, churches and organisations.

If you would like more detail about the campaign or would like to sign the petition please contact me.

Friday, 19 September 2008

Congestion charge - have your say

Wigan Council’s Cabinet on the 18th September approved arrangements for a referendum on Transport Innovation Fund (TIF) proposals.

The proposed package involves up to £3 billion investment in local transport and the introduction of a weekday, peak-time only congestion charge.

Results in the Greater Manchester-wide all postal referendum will be broken down authority by authority.

Ballot papers will be sent out in late November with a deadline for their return of 10pm on 11 December. Anyone on the electoral register, which is currently being updated, will be eligible to vote.

Each household must complete and return their annual electoral registration forms by Wednesday, November 5 to ensure they are on the updated register.

The Cabinet also welcomed the appointment of Sir Neil McIntosh CBE as returning officer for the referendum across Greater Manchester. Sir Neil served as electoral commissioner for Scotland from 2002 to January this year and played a lead role in overseeing the 1997 Scottish devolution referendum.

He will provide independent scrutiny and supervision of the Transport Innovation Fund referendum.

Wigan Council Leader Lord Smith said: “The size of the public transport investment being proposed and the method of paying for it make this one of the most important decisions for our borough in many years.

“Debate is vital, and that is why we’ve agreed to a county-wide referendum on December 11th. I’d encourage anyone who has not yet returned their registration form to do so as soon as possible so they can have their say.”

For any queries about electoral registration, residents should call Wigan Council’s elections office on 01942 827168 or e-mail

Ashton Forward Campaign - update

At the Regeneration Panel on Wednesday night it was announced that Wigan Council have consulted with partners and developed draft briefs for the feasibility and masterplan works for Ashton town centre.

The aims of the plan are to:

1.develop a clear vision for the town centre which has the support of key stakeholders and the local community

2. provide clear guidance to facilitate sustainable and high quality regeneration of the town centre

3. prepare a robust delivery strategy with projects that can be phased and realised within the overall vision of the town centre.

The beginning of the consultation is due to take place in October.

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Who is Wigan Borough’s most Outstanding Neighbour?

That’s the question being posed by Wigan & Leigh Housing (WALH) – and they want the public to join the search party.

WALH, which manages Wigan Council’s housing stock, is inviting the many thousands of people across the Borough’s estates to nominate the person they feel fits the bill.

They are looking for people who deserve special recognition for the positive contribution they make to local life and lives.

For example it could be:

someone who takes an elderly neighbour to the shops
does the gardening for somebody who can’t
someone who takes a stand against Anti Social Behaviour?'

If you would like to nominate anybody in your area please contact me on 736216.

Nomination forms are also available from all Wigan & Leigh Housing offices. Closing date for nominations is 31st October.

Winners will be chosen from the Wigan, Leigh, Platt Bridge, Pemberton and Atherton forum areas, with the overall winner announced at the 2008 Tenants’ Conference taking place at Hindley’s Monaco Ballroom.

Thursday, 11 September 2008


In a recent letter to the Wigan Evening News regarding the withdrawal of the 620 bus service Hindley Councillor Jim Ellis states 'only Mr McCartney and Ashton councillors were consulted and had been involved in negotiations' about the withdrawal.

I can't speak for the other Ashton Councillors but this is news to me. Arriva (the bus company involved) have never contacted me about the route.As far as I am aware they just withdrew it. Furthermore, if Councillor Ellis read my blog he will see that on the 19th August I was asking people to support a resident who was opposing the withdrawal of the route.

I would like to challenge Councillor Ellis to tell me when these supposed negotiations took place and who was present at the meeting or meetings.

He is welcome to use my blog to post his answer.

Public Art in Wigan - what do you think?

Wigan Council has received a planning application for the installation of a new piece of public art at The Wiend in Wigan town centre.

‘Vertical Face’ by Rick Kirby, a 5.5m high stainless steel sculpture of a face, was the clear favourite of Wigan shoppers, who left positive comments during consultation that took place in July last year.

Funding totalling almost £80,000 was provided by Modus Properties, the developers of the Grand Arcade, as part of an agreement with the council to fund a new major piece of public art.

Rick Kirby is an acclaimed English sculptor, best known for more than 25 striking pieces of public art, including ‘Continuum’ at Alexandra Park Lake in Hastings and ‘Cross the divide’ at South Bank in London.

Speaking of the work, he said: “The face is a play on the many portrait busts of the ‘good and the glorious’ that adorn the parks and centres of every town and city throughout Britain.

“The sculpted portrait is intended to represent not a single celebrity, but all of the inhabitants of the area, the very people of Wigan. These are the people who make that place what it is today, and indeed have the power to determine what will be its future.”

To the rear of the piece, the highly reflective surface of the stainless steel blocks, set at slightly different angles, will form a huge multi-split screen which will mirror fragments of people as well as the surrounding buildings and landscape.

The artist added: “The layered face and hi-tech blocks also represent the process of regeneration, building layer upon layer a more prosperous and positive future for the landscape, economy and ultimately, and most essentially, the people.”

Wigan town centre will be the first port of call for the sculpture, which will make a tour of the borough over the coming years. It is intended that the piece will spend up to 18 months in the town centre, before being moved to another location.

Plans for the proposal are currently being assessed by council planners and can be inspected at the Environmental Services Department in Civic Buildings, New Market Street or online at (application ref A/08/71883). All comments should be made by 28 September

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Bus stop Bolton Road

As a result of a site meeting held last week with Councillors, representatives of the Council and the GMPTE it was agreed by all parties that the bus stop should remain where it is now and that the bus markings will allow parking outside the shop (see plan above) - a solution that seemed to satisfy all parties in this long running dispute.

Hilton Street/ Bolton Road junction

As a result of an accident study showing a high level of rear 'shunts' at the Hilton Street Bolton Road junction the Council has decided to lay down 40 meters of anti skid surfacing - see plan. This surfacing should prevent this sort of accidents because it gives car tyres more grip and as a result drivers will be able to pull up well before going into the back of the car they are following.

Golborne Road / Bolton Road junction

Readers of this blog will remember that there was a plan to create a pedestrian refuge at the top of Golborne Road and narrow the same road so that there would be only one lane going into Bolton Road. Some concern was expressed about this plan and as a result I held a site visit with an officer of the Council and expressed these concerns to him i.e. the narrowing of the road would create longer tail backs on Golborne Road and general safety concerns about the position of the pedestrian refuge.

The officer has promised that the will look at the proposed plan again with these in mind and will report back to me.

600/ 601 bus route

I have just attended a meeting of the Transport and Economy subgroup of the Township forum. Present at the meeting was a representative of First Buses who has promised to review the route of the 600 and 601 buses from the Queens Theatre along Old Road. I have been asking the company to re-route some of their buses along Wigan Road especially as there are so many doctors surgeries on that road

I will report the decision First Buses make in due course.

Millingford Grove - good news bad news

With the present regeneration of Ashton town centre I have been campaigning for the upgrading of Millingford Grove which I believe should be an integral part of any Ashton town centre improvement for the following reasons:

1. This road is in the middle of Ashton the third biggest township in the borough and is in a terrible state of repair.

2. The Council has just spent hundreds of thousands of pounds in Ashton town centre in order to improve the appearance of the town centre. Ian McCartney has launched a campaign Ashton Forward which aims to regenerate the town centre. This road does nothing to enhance the appearance of the centre - in fact the opposite. To adopt this road would complement the good work that has been, and hopefully will be done in the town to attract inward investment and to make it a thriving centre

The good news was that on 21st August 2008 the Cabinet considered Millingford Grove for reconstruction works as part of the Council's private street works strategy. It scored well against the assessment criteria. The bad news was that it was the view of Cabinet that Pennington Avenue, Leigh was the street that best met the Council's aspirations.

It was very encouraging that Millingford Grove was in the top three of streets in the whole of the Borough to be considered for reconstruction and I will continue to press for it to be upgraded.

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Bryn Road South - new connection into drainage system

Monarch Homes have recently asked for a connection from one property in Bryn Road South into the existing drainage system.

Naturally given the problems with flooding residents have experienced over the past few years I have expressed grave concerns about this proposal. As a result Wigan Council has contacted Monarch Homes advising them that they will need a report on the condition of the existing drains and a statement from a qualified drainage Engineer about the impact the connection would have on the system before they can go ahead.

620 bus - proposed withdrawal of the service

I have received an enquiry from a resident about the 620 bus which runs through Ashton to Bolton - I quote his enquiry below.

I would like to hear from other members of the public who use this service and would be similarly inconvenienced.

GMPTE have recently announced that the 620 bus service between St Helens and Atherton is to be withdrawn and replaced with additional 320 services between St Helens and Ashton.

Whilst it may look that the PTE have taken steps to reduce the impact on passengers, this now leaves no direct service between Platt Bridge > Hindley (although the 320 will run to Platt Bridge then into Wigan).

This essential public service will now leave several people who rely on this service for work and other activities out of pocket by having to use other operators and have a serious time impact as this would now mean having to travel into Wigan to get a further outbound service to Hindley. With the traffic congestion on routes into Wigan these days, be this through Warrington Road (Marus Bridge), or via Ince (i.e. by going via Platt Bridge), this, I have figured will add around an extra hour to any journey.

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Stubshaw Cross summer activities for young people

The photo above shows Ian McCartney opening the Stubshaw Cross annual summer activities event for young people which has been organised by Ken Barston and the Stubshaw Cross residents group. Also taking part are Rock FM, Mobile Media Partners, and Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust.

Activities over the two weeks include arts and crafts, football, face painting, general sports and canal side activities.The children will also be able to do a pod cast on the media bus.

All ages are welcome and the events take place on Golborne Road park

Town Green progress

August 2008

February 2007

The photographs above show the progress that has been made on the Town Green. The residents committee must be very happy now that the contractors are on site and transforming it

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Gerard Street - work outside the Red Lion

No doubt some of you will be wondering what is being done outside the Red Lion in Gerard Street.

This area will eventually be treated with street furniture to restrict parking as the Council have done in Phases 1 and 2 of the footway improvement works. The sort of street furniture planned for this area includes flower basket stands, bollards, cycle parking and benches.

One of the problems I see with this renovation is that motorists are parking illegally in Gerard Street. This is especially bad by KFC opposite where the pavement has been widened. I have therefore asked for a more vigilant service in Gerard Street to prevent this.

Beat it team 2

Thanks to those who have suggested grot spots to be cleaned up. They should be done this week. Please contact me if they are not cleaned up.

Monday, 21 July 2008

Beat it Team - cleaning up your area.

Do you know of any area that needs cleaning up in Ashton? If so please contact me as soon as possible and I will let the Beat it team know. They will be in Ashton from the 4th to the 8th August.

Cath Iglesias - congratulations on her retirement

One of the more pleasant things I did last week was to attend the retirement party for Cath Iglesias. After 28 years teaching at St. Thomas school she has decided to retire.

I have known Cath for many years now and I wish her all the best for the future as do my children who were taught by her some twenty years ago. The picture shows her in her normal teaching outfit.

Going back to a previous blog about jobs and education I doubt whether many people in the future will be celebrating retirement after spending so much time in the same job.

The congestion charge debate

At the last meeting of Wigan Council it was resolved that the Council would support a referendum conducted throughout Greater Manchester to ask people whether they supported the congestion charge or not. We would support and abide by the decision of the referendum as long as all 10 authorities in the Greater Manchester area agreed the same.

Readers of this blog should also have received the consultation brochure giving facts about the charges with an opportunity to voice an opinion for or against.

It is very difficult to put all the pros and cons of the scheme in a short article like this but I would like to highlight the following points which readers might like to comment on.

1. Manchester is essential to the economic well being of this area.
2. Greater congestion could harm the economy of Manchester
3. Through general taxation and local authority taxation systems residents in this area have subsidised and paid for investment infrastuctures in the city of Manchester without seeing much if any return
4.The congestion charge does offer a hope of investment in public transport for the Wigan area which should be implemented before the charge is introduced.

In the end people will ask themselves 'What is in it for me?' For this area I would hope to see at least:

1 The Wigan/Leigh to Manchester guided bus way
2. Major improvements to Wigan Wallgate and Wigan North Western stations including links to bus networks
3.Refurbishment of all stations in the area including Bryn
4.Construction of a new rail station at Golborne

But will that be enough to compensate for the congestion charge? Or will the people in this area see improvements without having to pay the charge if they never go into Manchester at peak times?

And finally I have a son who lives in a part of Manchester that will not benefit at all from improved public transport infrastructure. He has to travel to Liverpool frequently and consequently pay the charge nearly every day in return for little if any benefit. He will take a great deal of persauding to support the congestion charge.

I would like to hear your views about this important topic.

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Inflation and packaging

On the BBC news this morning a reporter was talking about the cost of apples.

What was interesting was that the cost of producing the apples had not gone up much. The reason for the large price increase was the cost of packaging which had risen by 18% in a month. This was because oil is used in the process of making all plastic packaging.

Monday, 14 July 2008

National strike set to hit Wigan council services

Monday 14 July 2008 223/08

Many council services in Wigan borough will be hit this Wednesday and Thursday (16 and 17 July) by a national strike organised by two local government unions – Unison and Unite - over the 2008 pay offer.

Council chiefs say they won’t know for certain the extent of the action until the strike days, but it’s likely that refuse collection and some schools will be affected. However leisure services such as libraries and sports centres will not be hit.

At this stage there’s a possibility that no bins will be emptied on Wednesday and Thursday. However, the advice to householders is that they should still put their bins and paper sacks out just in case. Priority is being given to household waste so green bins may not be emptied. If bins aren’t emptied, they should be taken back onto the property and put out again the following week.

The council has pledged to try and maintain vital services to vulnerable groups and residents who could be at risk. Exemptions have been requested from the trade unions in respect of “Life and Limb” services. So far the council has not heard whether these have been granted.

Bernard Walker, Director of Adult Services, said “Our services will be affected. We are not able to say to what extent, but some places may close. Our aim is to provide as many services as we can, but we are working on the basis of the same principles we would use for public holidays – first priority to those people who are most vulnerable and at risk.”

Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust will NOT be affected by the strike action. Libraries, sports centres, parks, cemeteries and Wigan crematorium should all be operating normally since Unison members employed by the Trust were not included in the ballot. Pay awards for leisure staff are determined by the Trust’s board rather than national negotiation and none of the Trust’s eight-hundred strong workforce will be taking part in strike action.

While teachers are NOT taking action, caretakers, dinner ladies and school admin staff may do so. The council expects some schools may need to close for health and safety reasons, some will be partially open and others unaffected. There will be a partial school meals service and where possible alternative arrangements put in place. Headteachers will notify parents directly of the effects on their individual school.

Wigan and Leigh Housing employees have been balloted, but Wigan and Leigh Housing says it has contingency plans in place which it is confident are workable with little disruption to the public. Repairs to council properties should not be disrupted as Leigh Building Services will be working normally.

The council’s main switchboard – 01942 244991 - will be operating as normal on the strike days and will try to connect callers to the service they require. The environmental services helpline – 01942 404364 – will also operate as normal. The Careline service should be unaffected, as should the central watch station which provides security surveillance.

Wigan Civic Centre cash office will be open for business as normal, but Leigh Town Hall cash office will be closed. People can continue to pay council bills at any Post Office, Paypoint or Payzone outlet. Those paying by debit or credit card can use the Freephone telephone facility with 24/7 automated digital service, or pay via the internet.

Executive Director of Business Support Services, Dr David Smith, said: “This is a national dispute about pay, and action is taking place all over the country. Here in Wigan we will do our best to ensure that essential and emergency services continue, particularly to those that are in need of them most.

“There is likely to be considerable disruption but just how much will not be clear until the strike days. There could also be future action and we will keep residents informed as much as possible through the local media and our website.”

Friday, 11 July 2008

Wigan West By-Election result

There was good news for the Labour Party last night when we retained the seat of Wigan West following the death of the previous councillor Mick Baines. The result was as follows:

1. Labour 817
2. Tory 528
3. Lib Dem 344
4.BNP 200
5.UKIP 124
6. CAP 118

The winning candidate was Steve Dawber.

The new composition of the council is
Labour 42,
Democratic Alliance 11 (of whom 7 are Community Action and 4 Liberal Democrat)
Conservative 10,
Independent 8
Independent Conservative 4.

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Education for the future

I attended a conference last week which was the beginning of the process to shape schools for the future in Wigan. Soon the Council will be bidding for one quarter of a billion pounds of Government funding to improve the Borough's education provision and build schools that will prepare young people for the future. This expenditure will be the biggest capital investment in the last 50 years.

One of the most interesting aspects that were discussed at the conference was the nature of educational provision for children of the future. I have a grandson who is nine months old. According to what I was told at the conference he will probably have 18 jobs in his lifetime - long gone are the days when you started in a job as a young person and retired doing the same job. Furthermore 80% of the jobs that will be available when he is of age to work do not exist now. And finally he probably will be working on his own as the work community as we know it will have gone. This is already happening - my second son does a lot of his work from a lap top computer wherever he is at the time.

Now all this is conjecture but I believe the main thrust of it is accurate. So the question for today's education chiefs and indeed the community is ' How do we educate our children for the future and what skills will they need to cope with a very fast changing world?'

Golborne Road/Bolton Road

Further to the points residents have made about the proposed changes to the junction at Golborne Road and Bolton Road I print below the reply I have received from Stuart Dawber the traffic engineer heading this project.

This scheme is an accident reduction scheme, not a congestion scheme and therefore has be designed to reduce road collisions. The proposed improvements are minor and would not add to congestion in any way. This is one of many schemes that is undertaken annually in the borough undertaken at low cost. The only way to assist cars turning out of Golborne Road is to introduce traffic signals at this junction. Unfortunately signals would be very expensive and the scheme would not meet its financial objectives.

2. As mentioned in the previous point, the proposals will not effect congestion. The final design will still allow traffic to queue in two lanes as it does presently during busy periods. We are aware that this is a busy junction and our proposals we not alter how it presently operates. As this is an accident reduction scheme, we studied when the injury accidents occurred. Most of the accidents happened outside of rush hours therefore it was not necessary to visit the site when there were standing traffic. We needed to understand what was happening when traffic conditions were light. The collisions that may happen in busy periods are likely to be low speed that do not cause injury. Changing the radius of the kerb will reduce the speed and angle you can exit Golborne Road.

Additional point on the BLOG…..

3. The current layout from a traffic point of view is adequate but from a collision reduction point of view it needs slight amendments. The proposed trees will be positioned not to obscure visibility exiting Golborne Road but will reduce visibility from a distance so the driver will be focused on the traffic ahead and not traffic travelling on Bolton Road.

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

Combatting fly posting

Wigan Council is waging war on illegal fly posting.

The council’s Environmental Crime team has been gathering CCTV evidence as part of a new drive to improve the image of the borough’s town centres.

The team is currently working with Greater Manchester Police to trace two culprits who travel over to Wigan from Yorkshire each month, plastering disused buildings and bus shelters with illegal posters.

Councillor David Molyneux, Cabinet champion for the Environment says:
“It’s time to clamp down on environmental criminals who blight our borough by fly posting.

“Working with the police, we will target and identify the individuals who attach posters to derelict buildings – and the companies who benefit from the illegal advertising. They will be made to foot the bill for removing the posters and face prosecution.

One of the vehicles used by the Yorkshire pair is neither registered nor insured.

Cllr Molyneux adds:
“We are concerned that as well as fly posting, these people are travelling into our borough to commit other crimes, so we’ve have asked police in both Greater Manchester and West Yorkshire to assist in identifying the owners of the vehicles involved. We also welcome the public’s support in reporting these types of environmental crime.”

Fly posting is a crime and residents are encouraged to report it to the council’s Environmental Services Helpline on 01942 404364 or on line at

Pavement Works:-Gerard Street

The next phase of the town centre improvement scheme is outlined below.

The proposed pavement improvements are to be carried out to the front of numbers 25-41 Gerard Street. Following consultation the residents in this area will be notified that the work are programmed to begin on Monday 7th July.

However, the start date depends on Wigan council's contractor not having been delayed by poor weather elsewhere.

The contractors will begin by replacing the kerbs and rebuilding the pavement with block paving similar to that used on the footway along the opposite side of Gerard Street.

If you have any questions about the works, residents can contact Steve Hughes Area Engineer (Highway Maintenance)on 404364.

Right Of Way Improvements linking town centres and schools : Moxon Way to Edge Green Street

Wigan Council is proposing minor improvements to the Bridleway connecting Moxon Way and Edge Green Street in Ashton - see map above. This scheme is part of the capital programme for 2008/09 and will provide an off road link to St Wilfred's Primary School, which will hopefully encourage more children to walk or cycle to school.

If anybody has any comments or suggestions regarding these proposals, please forward them to Carl Bradshaw on Fax: 01942 404210 or Email: by 11th July 2008.

Monday, 30 June 2008

Golborne Road/Bolton Road junction - reply to queries

In reply to questions from residents which I have forwarded to the Engineering Services about the proposed change to the Bolton Road/Golborne Road junction I have received the following reply. If you would like to contact the Engineering Services Department directly with your comments about this proposed change you can e-mail on

The proposed improvements to the junction of Golborne Road / Bolton Road in Ashton are designed to reduce road collisions

The build out will reduce the radius of the existing kerb and reduce vehicle speeds exiting Golborne Road.

The foliage will reduce visibility slightly on approach, too much visibility can result in drivers looking towards the oncoming traffic from the right and the driver may not be paying attention to what's happening in front of him. This can result in rear shunts. Also if the driver spots a gap in the traffic from a distance he is likely to speed up to make the gap exiting the junction faster that they should. This is typical behaviour at junctions like this and can easily be observed at the road side. By reducing visibility to an appropriate distance it can encourage drivers to slow down / stop at the junction and give way as they should. In this case we need to approach the Church and find suitable foliage / screen that would do the job that they are happy to live with and isn't obtrusive. We have not yet spoke to the church about these proposals.

The pedestrian island will reduce entry speeds to the junction and also assist pedestrians to cross this junction.

Again this proposal is subject to change.

Sunday, 22 June 2008

Wigan Lift Programme

A reader has asked me what our current campaign Ashton Forward is hoping to achieve for Ashton in the way of medical facilities with regard to the LIFT programme. To give people an idea of what we hope to achieve I have copied below information from the Ashton Leigh and Wigan web page. More details and pictures of the existing projects can be obtained from:

Wigan’s LIFT Company, Foundation for Life (FfL), was established in December 2003 as a result of a Department of Health initiative to develop Public/Private Partnerships to deliver high quality facilities in community settings. FfL’s shareholders include the PCT, Partnerships for Health (Department of Health) and Eric Wright Group (Private Sector Partners).Since January 2004, FfL has built 6 LIFT facilities with a capital value of almost £40million. They are:

1. Ormerod House, Atherton
2. Claire House, Lower Ince
3. Chandler House, Worsley Mesnes
4. Kid Glove House, Golborne
5. Boston House, Wigan
6. Platt Bridge Community Health Centre

The range of services provided varies in each facility but include the following:

1. Primary Care Services – in every facility. Cover over 60,000 patients
2. Community services – in all but Kidglove House. Services include District Nursing, Health Visiting, Counselling, Dietetics, Speech & Language Therapy, Family Planning, Midwifery, Podiatry
3. Child Health Services
4. Children’s Hearing Services in 4 facilities*
5. Physiotherapy departments in 4 facilities*
6. Hydrotherapy at Platt Bridge*
7. Integrated Therapy Services for Children with Complex Needs*
8. Diabetic Retinopathy in Kidglove House*
9. Long Term Condition Services in Boston House*
10. Renal Dialysis Unit in Boston House*
11. Wheelchair Service*
12. Adult Community Mental Health teams in Claire and Boston House
13. Minor Surgery Suites in 4 sites*
14. Pharmacy in all but Kidglove House
15. PCT’s Education and Learning Centre in Chandler House*

* Borough-wide services

There are plans to provide Sexual Health Services and Independent Sector diagnostic services from Claire House within the next year. Wherever possible, the LIFT developments have used regenerated land to help redevelop previously deprived areas of the Borough. As well as providing high quality facilities that meet all current standards on energy conservation, health and safety etc, there has been a deliberate intention to design landmark buildings that add value to the local area.

Saturday, 21 June 2008

Traffic safety proposals on Bolton Road

It was good to receive an e-mail from the Council last week regarding safety measures that they intend to take on Bolton Road. Myself, Ian McCartney and Ann Rampling have been campaigning for years now to make this road safer and it seems that we are in sight of achieving our aims - especially in relation to improved pedestrian crossing of Bolton Road

The council is proposing to improve the junction of Bolton Road / Byrn Road in Ashton - see above sketch plan. Their proposals are to introduce a pedestrian crossing to the existing layout of the junction and install anti-skid on Bolton Road. Road markings are also to be renewed on Bryn Road to improve clarity and help drivers position themselves in the correct lane. This scheme forms part of the Capital Programme 08/09 and its' aim is to reduce road casualties.However we are disappointed that the pedestrian crossing lower down Bolton Road will not be upgraded to a puffin crossing and we will be still be campaigning for that improvement.

Over a recent 36 month period an accident investigation revealed 7 collisions resulting in 9 casualties. 5 collisions was a result of rear shunts on both approaches on Bolton Road. There has also been a pedestrian casualty crossing Bolton Road near to the proposed crossing.

A pedestrian count survey was also carried out at this junction and revealed a high pedestrian flow at the location of the proposed crossing.

I would stress that these are only proposals at the moment and the more support I get for these plans the better it will be. All comments should be in to the Council by 1st July 2008.

Traffic safety on Bolton Road - part two

The second part of these safety measures is the improvement of the markings and visibility at the Golborne Road / Bolton Road junction as seen in the sketch map above. The measures that are proposed are as follows:
1. The building of a pedestrian island at the top of Golborne Road
2. Red reflective surfaces along Bolton Road and Golborne Road as marked on the map
3. The planting of trees in the church grounds as indicated on the map
4. Reduction of the junction radius on Golborne Road

Once again all comments should be in to the Council by July 1st.

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

Gerard Street - latest news

I have just received this piece of information from Wigan Council.

As of Monday 16th June, for a period of 5 weeks, Gerard Street will become a temporary one-way street only permitting travel from the Wigan Road / Bolton Road / Princess Street junction towards the Warrington Road / Liverpool Road / Bryn Street junction. Bryn Street and Wigan Road will remain two way. This traffic management system will be in place from 9.30am until 4pm (i.e. during the off-peak period).

I have asked for this information to be put in the various notice boards in Ashton and Bryn and that the residents who live in the town centre be informed of this by letter.

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

Brown bins

I was asked after a previous post about the future of the brown bin scheme and I have the following statement from Wigan Council

We started a trial of brown bins to recycle cans, plastics and glass to approximately 10% of the borough (13,000 properties).

We have within our Waste Strategy that all properties within the borough, will be receiving this service by the end of 2009, subject to funding. As you will be aware, all our kerbside recycling schemes can only be expanded and/or introduced when sufficient enough funding is available.

So as yet there is no detail but I am hoping for more news by the end of the year.

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

Football coaching

I detail below a list of football coaching sessions that are being held in the area and which are being part funded by the local town Centre Safety group. The sessions are for 8 to 14 year olds.

Monday 6-8pm at Ashton Leisure Centre. Multi sports and football sessions
Wednesday 6-7pm at Ashton Leisure Centre (Indoors). Multi sports and football sessions

These sessions will be changing for the summer to the below:-

From Monday 7th July until the end of September - 6-8pm Grange Park in Bryn (multi-sports and football)
From Wednesday 9th until the end of September - July 6-8pm Jubilee Park (multi-sports and football)

For more detail you can contact :

Helen Browne
Sports Development Officer
Wigan Leisure & Culture Trust
Sports Development Unit
Robin Park Arena, Loire Drive
Wigan, WN5 0UH
Tel - 01942 828510; Fax - 01942 404980
Email -;

Monday, 2 June 2008

The 600 bus route

Several residents have contacted me since the diversions from caused by roadworks on Old Road have caused the 600 bus to run along Wigan Road. Many have told me that they welcome this change to the route especially if they have to visit the doctors or clinic.

For those who can remember the 601 bus used to run along Wigan Road alternately with the 600 which ran along Old Road. Now residents are asking me why a similar bus route cannot be re-instated now. I do not think that they want to totally re-route the 600 along Wigan Road - they just want the 601 to run more frequently.

I have contacted First Buses with this suggestion and will report back when I hear from them.

Saturday, 31 May 2008

Ashton Town Football Club

Last night I attended a meeting of the Ashton Town Football club and was very impressed with what I heard. The Club is making every effort to involve the whole of the local community from under 8s to over 35s in their activities. In the last few weeks they have held their first coaching courses for the 5-12 year olds which were attended by three hundred young people. They are entering under 8s, 9s, 10s, 11s and 12s teams into the league for the first time next season and are holding more coaching courses in the summer which are already oversubscribed.

They are looking for more coaches for their teams so if anyone is interested please contact James and Clare Horner on

Finally they are holding a sportsman's dinner on the 4th July 2008 at the club guest speaker Nobby Stiles for which tickets are still available.

The only disappointment I had at the meeting was that they did not have a team for my age -- the well over 50s to play very slow but cultured football.

Thursday, 29 May 2008

The large bend on Gerard Street

Walking down Gerard Street recently I couldn't help notice the new road layout in front of Boardman's shop. I was surprised at how far the new pavement encroached into the road. I was concerned that it would be difficult for two large vehicles to pass each other - especially as this was a new road layout and motorists would not be used to it. So a couple of days ago I expressed my concerns to Wigan Council and I am glad to see the following measure are being taken. The contractors are going to:

1) immediately pull the new kerb-line back 0.5m to provide a wider margin for error. This will provide more than sufficient room for two buses / HGVs to pass unimpeded.

2) immediately re-paint the centre line into its new position - following site visits, it was felt that the existing centre line may be a contributory factor to drivers getting their positioning wrong with relation to the new built-out.

3) install further bollards at the start of the build-out to visually guide vehicles around the corner and prevent them from mounting of the footway.

4) install advance warning signs - temporary 'new road layout ahead' and 'narrow road ahead' warning signs.

Monday, 26 May 2008

Where have the green bins gone?

When a resident of Queen's Avenue made an enquiry to me he mentioned that the houses of Queen's Avenue had never been supplied with green bins. I subsequently made an enquiry to the Council and found that there had been an oversight - the street should have green bins.

Now I have informed the residents by letter of this fact and they should be able to re-cycle their green waste from now on.

Monday, 19 May 2008

Not karaoke

Sunday morning I attended the Mayor's parade through Winstanley to St Paul's church. I have known Rona for many years now and I wish her well for the coming year.

Her charity is called Rainbow and aims to upgrade children's facilities in our local hospital. If any reader would like to know more details or would like to organise an event for this charity please contact me.

Karaoke competition

I was asked by a local pub the Kings Arms to judge a karaoke competition on Saturday night which I agreed to do - you've got to try anything once.

I thought that I would have to listen to the singers and then just give them marks. But no. The whole evening was very professionally organised.It was set out like X factor. There were three judges of which I was one, a representative from the brewery and a Kylie Minogue look a like ( see photo) who was a professional singer. There were 6 competitors each of whom had two songs to sing. and then each judge had to give his/her opinion in front of the contestant and the whole pub - just like X factor. At first this was very nerve wracking but gradually we all got into to it. Interestingly enough the Simon Cowell of the group was Kylie - me and the other guy were far too nice to rip into the singers when they were standing in front of us.

When I heard karaoke I expected to hear some very ropey singers - but I was pleasantly surprised. Everyone of them could sing well and it was very difficult to pick a winner.

In the end after a sing off we chose two winners who are now going to Birmingham for the national finals. I wish them all the best and if they happen to read this please contact me I would like photos of them for the blog

And thanks to Lynn,the landlady for a splendid evening.

Saturday, 17 May 2008

Ashton Forward- Action not words

Together with Ian McCartney we launched our campaign last Wednesday in Ashton town centre which aims to revive the town centre.

Part of the campaign is a petition calling on residents to support a new vision for the town centre. Ian has already obtained support from various groups including Wigan Metro, Wigan and Leigh Primary Care Trust the Greater Manchester Ambulance Service and police and Wigan and Leigh college. He intends to engage them in a comprehensive investment and regeneration strategy to provide modern public services in 21st century state of the art facilities.

The campaign has just received a major boost from a commitment by Steven Broomhead, chief executive of the North West Development Agency to pledge £50,00 to fund a comprehensive study to identify options for the future of the town centre hub. Ian hopes that this sum can be used to secure millions of pounds of investment in the future

Please contact me if you want to support the Ashton Forward campaign.

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Getting out into the community

As Chair of the Ashton Bryn township Forum I have always been concerned that this important group meets in the Members Room of the town hall but does not reach out to the community of Ashton or Bryn

With this in mind we held a completely different meeting on Monday night . Our theme was Youth and we invited speakers from various organisations to attend the meeting to tell us what their role was in relationship to young people and more importantly how the Township Forum could help these groups and organisations. We invited representatives from the Youth Service, the Rock FM media bus, Connexions, staff and pupils from Byrchall High School where the event was held school and give presentations to members of the Township Forum and other guests.

The aim of the evening was for members of our group to understand what the various agencies and young people were doing in the community and then to ask them what we could do for them.

The event was a success - so much so that we have been asked to repeat it later in the year with additional speakers form the police and Leisure and Culture Trust. We aim to do this event for pupils and parents of local schools. We will also be inviting young people's representatives to our next forum meeting.

The pictures ( sorry they are not better quality)are of the speakers from the various organisations giving their presentations.

Thanks are due to the young people who made the buffet for us and Malcolm Coe and Lynn Hankey who did much of the organisation to make the event a success

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

And now for something completely different

I took this picture of a field of rape seed near Haydock Park - which I thought was nice.

Monday, 12 May 2008

Affordable homes

One of the things that I am keen to promote is affordable housing within the Wigan area and the following press release from Wigan Counci made interesting reading on this issue

Wigan is set to benefit from a £10m cash boost to build new affordable homes.

The Housing Corporation, the national body that funds social housing, has made £3.3m available to build new homes for people in need in the borough.

Cash will also be made available from other funding sources to bring the total investment in new affordable homes in Wigan up to more than £10m.

The money will be used to build 74 new homes. The largest scheme will be a development of 50 new rented homes at Durham Street, Whelley, subject to consultation and planning permission.

It will include a range of family houses and bungalows for rent, and will be developed by Adactus Housing and managed by Wigan and Leigh Housing as part of a new partnership arrangement to increase affordable rented accommodation. Work is expected to begin later this year and completed by 2010.

Council director of environmental services, Martin Kimber, says the new cash will bring even more opportunities to find homes for local people.

“This is the largest allocation received by housing providers in Wigan in the last five years and supports both Wigan and Leigh Housing and the council’s aims to increase the number of affordable homes in the borough,” says Mr Kimber.

“The proposals are part of a range of measures to ease increasing housing pressures and will see us working with both private landlords and house builders to ensure that a range of options are available.”

Welcoming the announcement, Paul Lees, Chief Executive of Adactus Housing says: “These homes will be built to high design and environmental standards and will offer quality rented accommodation at affordable prices”.

In addition, specialist housing for people with long-term disabilities, people with dementia and teenage parents will be built.

Wigan Council and Wigan and Leigh Housing have already pioneered an affordable homes scheme in the borough called Opening Doors. Working with developer Gladedale the scheme has been able to provide a number of quality affordable homes at the new Tyldesley Gin Pit Village site.

The shared equity scheme has been able to typically offer a two-bedroom apartment for just £70,174 or a modern four bedroom townhouse for as little at £87,500.