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.