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.

Sunday, 11 May 2008

Crewe and Nantwich by-election

Went to Crewe on Saturday to help in the Crewe and Nantwich by-election. Met a Governnment Minister, party members and MPs from all over the country who had come to lend their support. Nice to see Dennis Skinner again - he was holding court on the Nantwich Road chatting to passers by and anyone else who would listen.

After the battering the Labour Party has taken recently it was reassuring to see so many people from different parts of the country giving up their Saturday morning to help the candidate in this important election.

Friday, 9 May 2008

Political Composition of the Council

The state of the parties in the Council today is as follows:

1. Labour - 41 seats

2. Conservative - 10

3. Independents - 8

4. CAP - 7

5. Liberals - 4

6. Independent Conservatives - 4

One vacant seat.

So at the moment the Democratic Alliance of the CAP and Liberals are the official opposition. The leader of this group will be opposition leader - which means that the official leader of the opposition will represent a party that has 7 or 4 members out of 75.

But this will no doubt change. If there are any more defections from CAP the Tories will be the official opposition.

Watch this space.

Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory

Imagine you are a local Tory - it is May 1st and after years of hurt and pain you see that the party nationally is on the up and locally it has won seats and is going to be the official opposition in Wigan with 14 seats.The leader of the party is articulate and is an effective opposition leader - unlike the last one whose only memorable phrase was ' it's a disgrace' And what a coup for David Cameron - he will be able to boast that the Conservative Party is the official opposition in of all places Wigan

and then - four members of the Party defect to form the Independent Conservative group which means that you are not going to be the official opposition any more.


CAP - the Con Artists Party

I was going to leave the subject of politics at this point but it has just been reported that yet another sitting councillor has deserted the CAP to go independent. This has become an annual event. I now count six Independent Councillors serving on Wigan Council who were once members of this Con Artist Party.

Clearly any thought of the electorate goes out of the window when these politicians act in this way. Councillor Wilkes ( the defecting Councillor in Winstanley) says in his press release that he did not defect before the election because it would have damaged the chances of his friend Councillor Barnes in the election. ( this by the way is from the party that tried to con the people of Wigan at the outset that they were non-political)

This Party has a lot of previous

In the past three years we have had a Councillor in Ashton standing as CAP but had left the party before the election in 2006 without telling the electorate.Last year we had the CAP joining with the Liberals to form the Democratic Alliance in the Council chamber to become the official opposition - no word of this to the electorate - and now you have the Councillor in Winstanley leaving the Party without a word to the people of Winstanley to ensure his friend is elected. Oh yes I forgot - they are non-political.

To me there is a fundamental point of decency here. If I as a Councillor decided to join another party I would have good grace to tell the electorate what I was going to do and then would ask them for their verdict.

Another question which must be asked is: Who is next to desert the sinking ship?

Saturday, 3 May 2008

My Poll

Well at least the Labour Party came top in my poll opposite - by a massive majority

A question

I would like to hear from Labour supporters who did not vote in last Thursday's elections or who voted against us. Please could you tell me your reasons for your decision to abstain or vote against. Was it national or local issuues that influenced you?

Friday, 2 May 2008

Spectacular loss

On a night when the Labour Party lost the most number of seats in 40 years we witnessed the results of six years of incompetence by the Community Action Party when it managed to lose two seats, one of which was its leader Peter Franzen.

They must be the only party in the country to have achieved this spectacular piece of political mismanagement when every other party was gaining seats from the Labour party.

Is this the end for the party that was going to be the answer to all Wigan's problems and put an end to the Labour Party in Wigan?

Elections 2008

Reasons to be gloomy

By any standard Thursday's election results were a disaster for the Labour Party nationally and very disappointing locally.We believe that we fought a good campaign in Ashton with a candidate who has worked selflessly for residents of Ashton. We spent four weeks canvassing and putting our message over but it became more and more evident as time went on that national politics were influencing people's decisions. A lot of people decided not to vote for us because of issues like the abolition of the 10p tax rate. I get the impression that these people did not vote against us they just abstained. Clearly the party nationally needs to listen and act to address this.

Or perhaps we are just at the bottom end of the political cycle and we have to accept this ,keep our nerve and struggle through to the next general election Given that the Labour Party has been in power for 11 years it has up until last Thursday been virtually untroubled by bad opinion polls. Compare that to the Conservative even under Margaret Thatcher and John Major in the 90s. However, the mood in the press and the public is to blame us for everything under the sun, some criticism justified and some not. I am sure Tory readers of this blog will remember how that feels during the last days of John Major.

So Peter Franzen and members of the CAP Party might get what they have always wanted in two or so years time - the end of New Labour. Well I hope they like David Cameron's Tory Party better. I can remember 1979 when the country got rid of the Labour party in government and got -- Margaret Thatcher.

Reasons to be cheerful

1.We did not lose any seats in the Makerfield Constituency despite the electoral carnage elsewhere.

2. Wigan Council is still Labour controlled despite losing five seats.

3. The leader of the Community action party was defeated in Golborne - see article above.

Our reaction as a local party

We will continue to do what we have been doing for the past few years doing working in the community, helping both individuals and groups, communicating with the people of Ashton through leaflets and surveys asking local people what we can do to improve Ashton and not just at election time. It's what we do.