Tuesday, 29 January 2008

Your chance to have a say about public transport

Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Authority (GMPTA) is changing the way it, and public transport service providers, engage with public transport users.

Forty surgeries have been scheduled (4 per district) for the coming 12 months and they hope to achieve as wide publicity coverage as possible in the Greater Manchester area.

They want to encourage those public transport users who have concerns/complaints about local bus, train and tram services, stops and stations, but do not have time to attend a formal meeting or write a letter, to drop by and raise the issue(s) by speaking directly to their local transport operators and officers of GMPTE/A.

Below is a list of the dates, venues and times of the new surgeries scheduled for the period February - July 2008. A further list will be produced later in the year for the period August 2008 - January 2009.

Moor Lane Bus Station - Central Platform Saturday 2 February 2008
11.00am – 1.00pm

Bolton Rail Station Wednesday 7 May 2008
4.00pm – 6.00pm
Bury Travel Shop Saturday 29 March 2008
11.00am – 1.00pm

Bury Travel Shop Tuesday 3 June 2008
7.00am – 9.00am

GMPTE Online – Piccadilly Gardens Saturday 5 April 2008
11.00am – 1.00pm

Piccadilly Rail/Metrolink Station Wednesday 2 July 2008
– Mezzanine 4.00pm – 6.00pm

Oldham Mumps Rail Station Wednesday 13 February 2008
4.00pm – 6.00pm

Oldham Bus Station - Civic Centre Thursday 15 May 2008
7.00am – 9.00am

Rochdale Bus Station - Concourse Wednesday 12 March 2008
7.00am – 9.00am

Rochdale Rail Station - Concourse Saturday 14 June 2008
11.00am – 1.00pm

Salford Central Rail Station Thursday 17 April 2008
4.00pm – 6.00pm

Eccles Interchange - Travel Shop Friday 11 July 2008
11.00am – 1.00pm

Stockport Rail Station Thursday 21 February 2008
7.00am – 9.00am

Stockport Bus Station - Hatworks Friday 23 May 2008
11.00am – 1.00pm

Ashton Rail Station Thursday 20 March
4.00pm – 6.00pm

Ashton Bus Station - Travel Shop Wednesday 18 June 2008
7.00am – 9.00am

Altrincham Interchange Monday 28 April 2008
4.00pm – 6.00pm

Altrincham Interchange Tuesday 22 July 2008
7.00am – 9.00am

Leigh Bus Station Monday 25 February 2008
10.00am – 1.00pm

Wigan Wallgate Rail Station Tuesday 27 May 2008
4.00pm – 6.00pm

Pavement improvements Gerard Street update

Phase 1 of the pavement improvements between the National Westminster Bank and Warrington Road has now been completed and has made a big difference to the appearance of that part of Ashton town centre.

Phase 2 from Princess Road to the Job Centre started on 7th January and should be finished soon.

Ashton town centre has long needed these improvements and as someone who has been campaigning for them, together with Ian McCartney, since I was first made councillor in 2000 it is good to see this work completed.

The next area I am looking to get improved next is the Millingford Grove area which badly needs upgrading to improve the appearance of the town centre.

Sunday, 27 January 2008

Rock FM podcasting

I believe strongly that young people should gain some awareness of how the political process works in this country. One of their first points of contact in learning about this process should be to meet their local councillor or MP.

To this end I have been taking part in the Schools Rock FM podcasting which involves me going into local primary schools and being 'grilled' by the children as to what I do as a councillor and if possible help them with a project.

I intend to visit three primary schools in the near future to help children with a podcast.

I like this project because it involves the children in an innovative way with local politicians while at the same time teaching them how to make a well researched radio programme which is then broadcast on the Rock FM website.

Where does it go?

At the last Environment Panel meeting I made to request for a visit to see where the rubbish that was put out for re-cycling in Wigan ended up.

Well, despite what my cynical friend says I will not be going to a quarry in China. On 8th February I will be going with other Councillors and officials to Shotton in North Wales and to Kirklees in Wigan to see at first hand the process of re-cycling Wigan's waste material.

I will give a full report to readers of this blog after the visit.

Sunday, 20 January 2008

Town Green Garden Update

Town Green Residents' Association were delighted when Christine Walkden - star of the BBCTwo series Christine's Garden - agreed to help transform a former wasteland of half bricks and rubble into a new village green.Christine spent a few hours with the group recently discussing their plans and suggesting ways of moving the project along.

The Residents' Group's plans for the area include

1. large areas of colourful planting
2. strategically appointed benches
3. play areas
4. an eye catching pagoda

Ann Rampling seen on the right in the picture said:

' This project started about 18 months ago and is quite ambitious because it could end up with £40.000 of planting and a pagoda. We want to use this area to create a village green that will help rebuild the community to how it was.'

Saturday, 19 January 2008

Litter collection

The Beat it Team are coming to Ashton from the 4th February to 8th February. If you know of any area in your neighbourhood that needs cleaning up please contact me.

Breaking news - kerbside collection of glass cans and plastic bottles coming soon

Wigan Council's Department of Environmental Services is due to begin a trial kerbside collection of glass, cans and plastic bottles for recycling in February 2008.

The scheme involves a trial across 13,000 properties in the borough, based on current refuse collection rounds. Not all wards are to be included at this stage.

Each property will receive a bin in which to store their glass, cans and plastic bottles. Collections will take place every two weeks, on the same day as refuse collection, directly from the property (doorstep collection).

Each household that is included is to be notified by leaflet at the end of January or early February. After this they will then receive a brown bin and a calendar of collection dates. Collections are scheduled to begin in the week commencing 18th February 2008.

Householders can place in their bin: Any glass, empty food and drink cans/tins, aerosols, plastic bottles, yoghurt pots and margarine tubs.

The scheme is being introduced for two main reasons:

• Residents tell Wigan Council they want the service
• European and Government legislation means we all must reduce the amount of waste sent to landfill and increase recycling or waste management costs will increase

If you need any more information please contact me

Saturday, 12 January 2008

Warnings of flooding

I recently attended a meeting of the North West Region area group for flood prevention held at the Environment Agency in Warrington.

One item that readers might like to comment upon is how residents should be warned of possible flooding. One strategy that has been tried by the E.A. is the use of local radio. On recently learning from the Met Office that there was to be heavy rain in the area which could possibly cause flooding the Director of the E.A. contacted local radio stations in the area to let them know of this. However, once they learned that there was to be no major flooding (as happened last summer in Hull and Gloucester) not one single station gave the warning.

Anti social behaviour - York Road

Residents of York Road have been subject to a high level of anti- social behaviour recently. It might be of interest to readers of this blog how this can be dealt with. The trend now is to use a multi-agency approach co-ordinated by Wigan Council. Involved in the process are the following:

1. the police
2 representatives of the Community Protection team of Wigan Council
3. youth service

After meetings with local residents the following steps have been taken:

1. The local police have stepped up their presence in the area over the past three weeks
2. A mosquito device has been installed in the area to deter young people from congregating there
3. The Council is hoping to install portable CCTV cameras in the area soon if the problem continues
4. Prevention of waiting lines will be laid down soon at the junction of York Road and Heath Street
5. The Council is looking to install alley gates to prevent entry at the back of 195 to 207 Heath Road
6. The Youth Service have been asked to help with mediation to resolve the problem.

I understand that the situation is better now.

I don't claim that this approach will solve all such problems in the area and I fully expect that I will be getting complaints from residents in the future about anti-social behaviour in their area.

However I hope it has done something for the residents in York Road to give them some peace of mind.

Bikes on Ashton Heath

I have received complaints about the use of bikes on the Heath both from residents and the Ashton Community website. I have informed the police about this and as far as I am aware they are taking action ( unlike was stated in a recent press article). There have been two recent seizures under Section 165 RTA (no insurance) recently and one person has been cautioned.

If the problem continues please contact me and I will do everything I can to help.


I attended the first meeting of the Council for 2008 on Wednesday night. At what turned out to be a stormy meeting the leader of the official opposition Councillor Peter Franzen was eventually expelled from the Chamber by the mayor after being correctly warned on several occasions about his behaviour. At one time he even shouted at the mayor that he ( the mayor) was a disgrace.

Now this is nothing new for Councillor Franzen. He will no doubt be bleating somewhere about the undemocratic process of the Council and the Labour Party and how it stifles his right to speak. My answer to that is simple - the Councillors present at the meeting of all parties voted to expel him - (I even think that some of his own party would have voted in the same way)It should be remembered that these Councillors were elected by the people of Wigan to do their best to represent them. I think had many of the electors witnessed Councillor Franzen's behaviour on Wednesday night they would have been appalled.

Councillor Franzen also tabled a motion regarding congestion charging in Greater Manchester which would have created an interesting discussion to say the least. But because of his expulsion the motion was not discussed because as mover of the motion he was not in the chamber to introduce it. If I had been an opponent of congestion charging I would have been furious at this because I was being denied the right to speak against it through Councillor Franzen's behaviour.

So if you read anywhere Councillor Franzen accusing Wigan Council and Labour Councillors denying him his democratic right to speak take no notice. There is only one person who denied him that right - himself.