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.