Tuesday, 25 March 2008

Selling to underage drinkers

One main concern about ante-social behaviour among young people is the selling of alcohol to under age people. The following article shows what is being done in Wigan to combat this problem.

Licensee fined £1000 for underage alcohol sale

A Wigan licensee has been fined for selling alcohol to an underage teenager.

The licensee of The Outdoor off licence, Scholes Precinct, Wigan pleaded guilty on 20March at Wigan Magistrates Court to selling alcohol to a 15 year old volunteer working with Wigan Council’s trading standards officers.

He was fined £1000 plus £500 costs. The sales assistant who actually served the alcohol on the night has already received an £80 penalty notice issued by the police for the offence.

The test purchase attempt was part of a national Home Office campaign to tackle underage sales of alcohol by the police and trading standards between May and July 2007.

Julie Middlehurst, Wigan Council Chief Trading Standards Officer, said: “This particular licensee had repeatedly been advised by us on under age sales matters, and in particular of the need to maintain a refusals book.

“As the Premises Licence Holder,he holds a pivotal position in relation to ensuring that the staff are trained, and capable and able to refuse sales of alcohol to under age children.

Ms Middlehurst said the council will monitor sales from the premise and would offer to work with the licensee to ensure no underage sales are made from the premises in future.

She added: “Trading standards are committed to supporting those businesses who want to ensure that they do not sell alcohol to under 18s, and yet will come down hard on those who flout the laws.”

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Bolton Road - update

As a result of a Labour Party survey and campaign regarding the ongoing problems with traffic problems on Bolton Road I can report the following progress:

1. With regard to the zebra crossing on Bolton Road, Ashton a site investigation is to be carried out to determine whether there are any issues with visibility at this crossing. If any visibility issues are identified then remedial measures will be considered. I will be informed of the results of the survey.

2.The fault on the zebra crossing beacons has been reported to Wigan Council's Street Lighting section who will arrange for this to be repaired.

3. The guardrail outside Tesco is to be extended by four metres. The two panels that are currently obstructing access to the bus stop are to be removed and re-erected at the end of the section of guardrail.

4.With regard to vehicles overrunning the footway and damaging the footway at the junction of Bolton Road and Bryn Road South, the Highways Maintenance section inform me that they are currently undertaking works in this area to try and prevent damage to the footway. The tarmac on the footway is to be replaced with concrete which will strengthen the footway and make it more resilient to vehicle damage.

Another clean up - Lincoln Drive

On Saturday volunteers from the local Labour Party cleared up areas around Lincoln Drive - in all about 40 bags of rubbish were filled. A number of local residents joined our litter pick among whom were some young people which was good.

Comments have been made about these litter picks. People are asking why should I pay my Council Tax to Wigan Council and then be asked to pick up litter? Half of me agrees with that point of view and I can understand why people feel so strongly about it. However, the other half of me does not like to see litter all over the place and wants to do something about it. (That's the trouble with being a Libra)

None of this of course gets to root cause of the problem which is why there is so much litter about in the first place and why do people feel it is OK to just throw down litter wherever they are regardless of the effect it has on the environment.

I would like to hear your views on this. Do we need more street cleaners, more litter bins or more education or all three?

Monday, 10 March 2008

Town centre garden

One of the nice things a councillor can do is to help people improve the environment. When I first saw the work that Jeanette Ferguson had done in the backs behind her house in Millingford Grove I was very impressed. She had turned the land behind the row of terraces that she lives in into one big garden for the private use of the other residents. She has been working on this project for about five years now and more impressively she has done the work mainly on her own.

I was therefore very happy to allocate £100 from Brighter Borough funds to help her with this fantastic project.

Wigan Road Ashton

In a letter in this week's Reporter a Catherine Fletcher has highlighted the poor state of the buildings in Wigan Road Ashton.

I totally agree with her. I have frequently pointed out that the area in question is a poor advert for Ashton.

Now highlighting the problem is always the easy bit. More difficult is what I as a Councillor and Wigan Council can do about it.

The first difficulty is that as far as I am aware the buildings in question are owned privately and consequently Wigan Council has no direct power to improve them.

I list below the actions that I can take:

1. One empty shop in particular is in a very bad state of repair and I have asked the Council to use the power they do have to get it improved

2. I have asked the the Director of Environmental Services for a full assessment of other measures that can be taken in the area.

3. There is a meeting of local businesses to be held next week and I will be asking the members present to consider this issue with a view to possible action in the future.

However. in my opinion, what Ashton town centre urgently needs is massive expenditure in the centre if it is not to look as run down as the area in question. That is why Ian McCartney and myself have been pressing Wigan Council for some time now to come up with plans for the centre and ways of getting a investment into the town.We are expecting a progress report within the next few months.

I would be grateful for any comments anybody has about this matter

Saturday, 8 March 2008

Liverpool Road clean up

Recently the local Labour Party have put out a survey asking residents to contact us about environmental issues that concern them.

One of the main issues that came out from the survey was litter in various areas around Ashton. One these areas was Liverpool Road and as a result last Thursday a team of volunteers lead by Ann Rampling went and cleaned up the area - see photo above. A total of eight bags of rubbish was removed by the Council.

We intend to do another clean up on the Lincoln Drive estate next Saturday and anyone who is interested is welcome to join us. For details please contact me via the blog or phone 736216

Tuesday, 4 March 2008

Anti-social behaviour around Ashton

In recent weeks I have received a lot of complaints from residents regarding young people and anti-social behaviour around Ashton. The main hotspots seem to be:

1. Ashton Heath
2. The area around St. Oswalds school
3. Riding Lane Estate

At a meeting with the police yesterday myself and the other local councillors highlighted the problems mentioned above with a view to finding a solution to this problem.

The damage caused to the trees on Ashton Heath is particularly worrying.By general agreement the Heath has never looked better thanks to a group of volunteers who work constantly all year round to make the area look as good as it does now.It must be very discouraging for these volunteers to see their work being ruined by acts of vandalism.

As a local Councillor I feel it is my duty to help the residents group in the prevention of this damage. To this end I have called for a task group consisting of the police and other agencies to sort out this problem and hope to see results soon.

Fairtrade fortnight

I thought this might be of interest to readers of the blog which details the events for the Fairtrade Fortnight directly involving Wigan Council

MAIN EVENT : Tuesday 26 February

1. Wigan Town Centre all day event : tastings and marquee display in Market Place / Standishgate involving stores from Galleries and Grand Arcade. Mayor (11am to 12pm) and Fairtrade Steering Group councillors invited to attend.

Barbara Crowther to visit town centre event. (Barbara is Head of Communications for the national Fairtrade Foundation, the body which awards “Fairtrade Town” status).

Press coverage of the above, plus articles in the Town Centre Manager’s magazine and Borough Life to follow.

OTHER ACTIVITIES (various dates)

2. Fairtrade display and tasting stand at Wigan Town Hall all day on Tuesday 26th February. (Location : outside main entrance to Council Chamber).

3. Fairtrade display and tasting stand at Civic Buildings, New Market Street all day on Wednesday 27th February. (Location : foyer).

4. Fairtrade display and tasting stand at Wigan Investment Centre all day on Friday 29th February. (Location : foyer).

5. Fairtrade display and tasting stand at Leigh Library all day on Friday 7th March. (Location : foyer).

6. Fairtrade slide presentation being sent to local schools.

7. (After FT Fortnight). Follow-up articles in Wigan (school) Governors’ magazine and internal Council newsletters.

8. (After FT Fortnight). Badging of Fairtrade-friendly businesses in Wigan Business Directory.

Contact : Janet Withington (ext 4236) or Yasser Alromisse (ext 4242) from the Council’s Sustainability Team in Environmental Services Department.

Other Fairtrade Fortnight events (not directly involving Wigan Council)

- Co-op DVD about their Tanzania Fairtrade Project to be sent to specified local schools.

- “Co-op Fairtrade “Floor Football” event with local schools.
Jo Parker
Coop representative
Co-op Group

- Fairtrade display / tasting at Golborne High School.
Merry Macdonald
Lowton Youth Club

- Fairtrade display / tasting at Leigh Library.
Mary Waterworth
Wigan Borough Coop Members Fairtrade Group

- Series of Fairtrade coffee mornings at various Adult Services locations.
Janet Laithwaite
Adult Services
Wigan Council

- Wigan Literary Festival Fairtrade event on 29 March involving BBC reporter George Alagiah (Patron of Fairtrade Foundation).
Ann Chantler
Wigan Borough Coop Members Fairtrade Group

The event on Saturday 29th March is part of the Words 08 Wigan Literary Festival. It will take place at Wigan Town Hall during the afternoon. George Alagiah will speak at 3.00. The Wigan Borough Fairtrade Group will have a display stand of literature and Fairtrade products and a tasting table at the event.

- Screening of “Black Gold” film at Mosley Common on 10 March.
Iain Hodcroft
Wigan Borough Coop Members Fairtrade Group

There will be a screening of this film on Monday 10th March at the Parish Church of St John, Mosley Common at 7pm. Further screenings at different locations in the Borough are being explored.