Tuesday, 22 December 2009

And the winner is ___

Pictured above is Samantha Rigby proprietor of Makerfield Florists (www.makerfieldflorists.co.uk) being presented with the first prize for the best dressed Christmas window in Ashton town centre. The Shimla Spice restaurant Ashton donated the prize which is a meal for two.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Dave McKendrick

It was with great sadness that I learned of the death of Dave McKendrick last week. Dave was a very good friend of mine whose support during a bad time in my life I will always remember. He always had time for me when I needed advice or just to have a laugh with.

Motivated by his strong sense of social justice and caring for people Dave was a life long Labour supporter and a party member for over 20 years. He was a very active member of the Ashton branch and together with his wife Sue would always take a leading role in election campaigns, delivering leaflets and canvassing for candidates at local and national elections. For many years he was the Branch Treasurer for the Ashton branch and was agent on several occasions for local candidates.

Dave cared deeply for the town of Ashton. It was through his drive and enthusiasm that Captain's Lane Community Centre is now the success it is, being used by many different local groups and is a great asset to the community of Ashton. Together with his wife Sue he devoted many hours of his time voluntarily to make Captains Lane the thriving centre it is today.

He cared passionately for the local environment and played a leading role in the renovation and development of Ashton Heath. He would spend many hours working on his beloved Heath and doing environment improvements on the Three Sisters.

Dave was an individual who did make a difference to the local community. His work can be seen on Ashton Heath, the Three Sisters and at the Community Centre in Captains Lane. He will be sorely missed by the people of Ashton and my sincere condolences go out to Sue, his wife, and his family.

He really was a great bloke, one of the best and I will miss him very much.

Monday, 14 December 2009

Burglar alarm con

Conmen are using high pressure sales techniques and bogus claims about crime to scare vulnerable people into buying burglar alarms.

The initial telephone sales pitch often features hyped-up claims about burglaries in the area, designed to feed off people’s natural fear of crime.

Fitting of the alarm is said to be free with a charge for the monitoring and servicing of the system, but that can run into thousands of pounds.

Claims are also made that the alarm system is part of a Government scheme, in response to the British Crime Survey. However, Wigan Trading Standards warns this is simply a trick used to get a foot in the door.

Cllr. Paul Prescott, Wigan Council’s champion for lifestyles, says:

“We would urge people to be on their guard. Don’t buy anything based on a cold call and if you intend to make a major purchase always research the market and get quotes from reputable companies. If you have a complaint about a business or an individual trader, the first port of call should be to Consumer Direct on 08454 04 05 06, who will offer appropriate advice.”

Wigan Trading Standards is keen to point out that consumers have a legal right to cancel any contract within seven days – known as the ‘cooling-off’ period - whether it is made at their own home, at someone else's home, or at their place of work.

Ashton Library now a Grade II listed building

Ashton Library has recently been listed as a Grade two building for the following reasons

1. It is a good example of an early 20th century former lecture hall and library constructed at the expense of the benefactor Andrew Carnegie and displays significant architectural presence

2.The building possesses a variety of original fixtures and fittings within an internal layout which is little changed despite some modernisation

Update from the local neighbourhood team

This is what your local neighbourhood team has been doing in Ashton during November. If you think they could help solve a problem near you just contact me on 736216

Litter and dog fouling

Following reports of dog fouling and litter problems in the St Oswalds Road area extra cleaning has been arranged and a letter drop was undertaken to residents of St Oswalds Road, Townfield Avenue/Elmwood and Oakwood Avenue advising them of the problem and penalties for dog fouling

The team has organised a litter campaign focused on Ashton Town Centre. To date publicity has been in the press and fixed penalty signs have been displayed.The Campaign was launched at a market stall on Tuesday 1st December and is now featured on the Council’s website (http://www.wigan.gov.uk/News/BananaSkinMan.htm?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+WiganCouncilNews+%28Wigan+Council+News%29)

Banana Skin Man, a Town Crier, Police and Neighbourhood Officers patrolled the streets giving advice and information (as well as free stubbies and poop scoop bags) and 1 fixed penalty notice was issued. In addition, the RSPCA offered free dog micro chipping and 10 dogs benefited from the service. The Team was on the Market stall again from 10am-2pm on Saturday 5th Dec.


Seven incidents of graffiti have been removed from Hilton Street, York Road, Edward Drive and the Queens Nightclub. Further sites have been identified in Ashton Town Centre to be dealt within the forthcoming environmental campaign.

Fly posting

Several incidents of fly posting on the highway have been responded to by cleansing in and around Ashton. The posters have been removed and the displayed Computer company details will be passed over to the Highways Enforcement Officer.


The team have dealt with 8 jobs in the ward this month: a defective manhole at Park View has been reported to United Utilities for their attention.

They have also received a number of highways enquiries from residents of adjoining unadopted streets and it was explained to these residents that Wigan Council do not maintain unadopted highways.

Alley Gates

Gating consultation has been completed at Flora Street and gates are due to be erected at Queens Avenue, York Road, Princess Road, Violet Street, Heath Road and Ladysmith Avenue.

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Improved lighting on Garswood Street

Following a particularly violent robbery at the Going Places Travel Agency during which a knife was held to the throat of an employee shopkeepers in Garswood Street called for additional security features to make the local environment safer for shop workers and customers.

The businesses voiced their concerns to the Ashton Business Forum and called for action to be taken to address on street security with particular reference to the poor street lighting.

I was horrified when I heard the full details of what had happened during the robbery at the Going Places Travel Agency and impressed upon the Council the serious nature of the assault and how worried shopkeepers were deeply concerned that a similar incident could happen again.I am delighted that the Council have acted so quickly to improve the lighting in this street.

In the picture is Anne Lawrenson of Anne's Fruit shop outside her shop.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Mayoral recognition for the Town Green volunteers

As representatives of the Town Green Residents group Ann Rampling and Ruth Green were invited as my guests to the mayor's reception in October. This was to show appreciation by Wigan Council for their hard work in creating this award winning garden

It was my pleasure yesterday to present the certificates from the mayor to Ann and Ruth in the splendid garden the group has created. As anyone who has visited this garden will agree the group deserve this recognition for all the hard unpaid work they have done over the past few years.

Monday, 16 November 2009

Road works in Gerard Street / Warrington Road / Bryn Street, Ashton

Carriageway resurfacing will be undertaken shortly at the following locations which will involve closures. The work is programmed to take place on 3 consecutive Sundays commencing on 15th November 2009.

(i) Gerard Street closed from Princess Road to Bryn Street.
(ii) Warrington Road closed from Liverpool Road to Heath Road.
(iii) Bryn Street closed from Gerard Street to a point 50 metres in a northerly direction.

Note – Gerard Street will not be closed at the same time as Warrington Road and Bryn Street.

Alternative routes
(i) Gerard Street via Bryn Street, Wigan Road
(ii) Warrington Road via Liverpool Road, East Lancashire Road, Lodge Lane
(ii) Bryn Street via Gerard Street, Wigan Road. (HM)

Friday, 13 November 2009

Update from the PACT team

The following action has been taken to improve the environment in the Ashton area last month.

Fly tipping
There has been some fly tipping opposite the Queens Club in Ashton which Cleansing have responded to and the situation will be monitored.

Dog Fouling
NHT have received a complaint regarding dog fouling in the St Oswald’s Road/ Townfields area. and are investigating.

Seven incidents of graffiti have been removed from four locations at Liverpool Road, adjacent to Cleveland Drive, the rear of the Queen’s Pub and St Oswalds Road.

Several complaints have been received regarding litter in the following areas: Council Avenue, St Oswalds Road, Townfields, The Cleansing Team are focussing on Hilton Street Car park on a daily basis at present as rubbish is being deposited nightly. This area will be monitored.

If you know of anywhere in Ashton that needs cleaning please contact me.

Ashton Town Centre Litter Campaign

A very high profile litter campaign is being planned for Ashton Town Centre at the beginning of December. This campaign will be welcomed by the many residents who complain to me that the town centre needs a good clean up.

Below are the details of the campaign which will focus on Gerrard Street, Wigan Road, Garswood Road and Market area

The PACT team will liaise with the cleansing department identify issues and complaints that they have received for inclusion

The Campaign will focus around key dates - Tuesday 1st December and Sat 5th December when there will be a high visibility presence in the guise of Banana Skin man and enforcement patrols.

There will be advice and help on the Campaign Market Stall from 11am - 3pm.

In the week prior to the Campaign high profile fixed penalty notices will be erected on lamp posts in Town Centre i.e. on Friday 27th Nov.

Wigan Council will develop an educational campaign strategy for schools which Banana Skin Man will support where possible.

I wish the PACT team every success with this campaign.

Reasons to be cheerful

The result of the Glasgow by-election last night is as follows:

Labour 12.231
SNP 4,120
Cons 1075
BNP 1013

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

The Mayor comes to Ashton

The Mayor Mark Aldred and his wife Karen visited Ashton Library last Thursday to receive a cheque for £320 that the Ashton Knitting group had raised for the Mayor's Charity.

Pictured above is the Mayor and Mayoress receiving the cheque from Susan Garlick member of the Knitting group.

Jubilee Park - renewal of play equipment

The work to upgrade the play equipment on Jubilee Park has now begun and improvement in the drainage is now taking place before the installation of the new equipment.

As can be seen (just) from the notice below the work should take nine weeks.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Question Time at St Edmund Arrowsmith School

Pictured above - myself and some members of the Question Time audience

As a part of Democracy Week I was invited on to the panel of Councillors and local Community Representatives for a question time hosted by St. Edmund Arrowsmith and chaired by Dave Guest from BBC's North West tonight.

The audience included representatives from local secondary and primary schools including the host school, Cansfield and Brychall High, St Wilfrid, St Oswalds, St Benedicts Catholic Primary Schools.

Questions ranged from MPs' expenses, facilities for young people, antisocial behaviour, the environment and Building Schools for the Future.

I really enjoyed the experience and was very impressed by the standard of the questions from the young people and level of debate generated. I hope this event gave the young people an insight into local politics and how they can get involved with local issues both now and in the future.

Jubilee Park - skateboard installation

At the same meeting it was announced that the funding has finally been found for a skateboard installation on the park. Dave Owen told the meeting that because of the conditions of the funding it will have to be finished by the end of March. Consultation will take place with young people in order to achieve an acceptable facility for the available funding.

I am delighted that this project has been approved by the residents group and would like to thank them for supporting it.

I will publish a plan on this blog when it is finalised.

Jubilee Park - Green Flag Status

Last week I attended a meeting of the Jubilee Park Residents group where a report was given by Dave Owen of Wigan Leisure Trust regarding the recent bid by the group for the park to gain Green Flag status.

The Green flag award scheme began in 1996 as a means of recognising and rewarding the best green spaces in the country. It was also seen as a way of encouraging others to achieve the same high environmental standards, creating a benchmark of excellence in recreational green areas. To gain this ward is a prestigious honour - Alexandra Park is the only park in Wigan with Green Flag status.

Unfortunately the judges did not award the park Green Flag status this year but the marks awarded were not far from what was required and praise must go to Dave Owen and the residents for the work they put in.

They have now formulated an action plan which should bring them up to the required standard and now they have been through the process they will feel more confident of success in the future.

For more information about th eGreen Flag award log on to:

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Stubshaw Cross honours hero of Gallipoli – Lance Sergeant William Kenealy VC

Ian McCartney MP led tributes to a fallen hero of World War I on Friday, 2nd October at a dedication service to remember Lance Sergeant William Kenealy VC.

William Kenealy (DOB. 26th Dec 1886) was born in Wexford, Ireland. When his father John, retired from the army, the family moved to Ashton in Makerfield where John worked as a check-weigher at Bryn Hall Colliery.

William became a coal miner at age 13. Ten years later he enlisted in the army, joining the 1st Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers as a private during the First World War.

The Gallipoli Campaign took place at Gallipoli peninsula in Turkey from 25 April 1915to 9 January 1916. A joint British Empire and French operation was mounted to capture the Ottoman capital of Istanbul, and secure a sea route to Russia. The attempt failed, with heavy casualties on both sides.

After the failure of naval attacks, it was decided that ground forces were necessary to eliminate the Turkish mobile artillery. This would allow minesweepers to clear the waters for the larger vessels. The British Secretary of State for War, Lord Kitchener, appointed General Sir Ian Hamilton to command the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force that was to carry out the mission.

Over 130,000 died on both sides during the offensive with over 230,000 wounded (21,000 dead and 52,000 wounded from the UK).

On 25 April 1915 west of Cape Helles, Gallipoli, Turkey, William was 28 years old when he performed an act of bravery for which he was awarded the Victoria Cross.

A citation published by The London Gazette, (No 29273, 24th August 1915 read as follows;

‘On 25th April, 1915, three companies, and the Headquarters of the 1st Bn. Lancashire Fusiliers, in effecting a landing on the Gallipoli Peninsula to the West of Cape Helles, were met by a very deadly fire from hidden machine guns which caused a great number of casualties. The survivors, however, rushed up to and cut the wire entanglements, notwithstanding the terrific fire from the enemy, and after overcoming supreme difficulties, the cliffs were gained and the position maintained. Amongst the many very gallant officers and men engaged in this most hazardous undertaking, Capt. Willis, Serjt. Richards, and Pte. Kenealy have been selected by their comrades as having performed the most signal acts of bravery and devotion to duty.’

Shortly afterwards William was promoted to corporal and then lance-sergeant.

By June 1915 all thoughts the Allies had of a swift decisive victory over Turkey had vanished. The preceding Third Battle of Krithia and the attack at Gully Ravine (28th June 1915) had limited objectives and had much in common with the trench warfare prevailing on the Western Front. Unlike previous Allied attacks at Helles, the Gully Ravine action was largely successful at achieving its objectives though at a typically high cost in casualties.

Lance-Sergeant Kinealy was seriously wounded at Gully Ravine and died the following day, 29th June 1915, aged 29. William’s grave is located at Lancashire Landing Cemetery, Gallipoli peninsula.

William was one of six members of the regiment elected by their colleagues in the regiment for the award. The other five members were; Cuthbert Bromley, John Grimshaw, Alfred Richards, Frank Stubbs and Raymond Willis.

Described by the press as ‘six VC’s before breakfast’, Sir Ian Hamilton ordered that the beach be renamed Lancashire Landing because of his conviction that, ‘no finer feat of arms has ever been achieved by the British Soldier – or any other soldier – than the storming of these beaches’.

Joining Ian McCartney at the Dedication ceremony were William’s family, Ashton Councillor Nigel Ash, Mr Mel Lee Chair of Ashton in Makerfield Royal British Legion, Rev Kevin Crinks and Lt Col Mike Glover, The Lancashire Fusiliers.

A plaque was unveiled to commemorate the contribution and sacrifice of William.

I approached Mel Lee and the national Royal British Legion to seek their approval to commemorate this ‘very brave man’. At the same time the development of the Stubshaw Cross Heritage Garden was underway and Cllr Ash approached Ken Barston - Secretary Stubshaw Cross Residents Association to see if the garden would be able to accommodate a plaque to commemorate William.

Ian McCartney MP in his address retold eye witness accounts of the Gallipoli Campaign. He said, “Eye witness accounts of soldiers who fought in this campaign are harrowing and bring home the horrors of war."

“A Lieutenant Watts was badly wounded and yet continued to encourage his comrades to go forward. He learned afterwards that the first 48 men to follow him were all killed."

“Others reported that they landed on Turkish soil under terrific enemy fire. In a few seconds 17 men were killed and 200 wounded and another survivor said that the Turks used hand grenades at close quarters and he could only recognize his dead comrades by their identity discs!”

On behalf of the Ashton in Makerfield community Ian thanked William for the ultimate sacrifice. He added, “In the short time that he was a soldier William Kenealy experienced the full horror of war. He showed exceptional bravery on several occasions and eventually made the ultimate sacrifice, giving his life fighting for his country."

“I feel very privileged and honoured to be here today at this dedication to commemorate William Kenealy a very brave man and fallen hero. This plaque will ensure that in generations to come he and his comrades will not be forgotten and the sacrifices they made will stand testament to the true nature of the brutalities of war and conflict. “

Saturday, 3 October 2009

The Sun

I am sure readers will be aware that the Sun has made great play in coming out in support of the Tory Party for next year's General Elections.

Perhaps ten years ago this might have been very significant. But things have moved on even since 1997 when they supported the Labour Party. There are so many more means of forming public opinion these days. People now have blogging, twittering, 24 hours news bulletins, Face Book, YouTube and other means I probably don't know about.

The idea that a newspaper alone can sway public opinion to any great extent is, I feel, a thing of the past and belongs to the previous century.

And do people buy the Sun for its political views?

Present for Michael from the Ashton Library Knitting/Crochet group

I bought this teddy bear from the Ashton Library Knitting and Crochet group at their stall in Ashton Library.

They tell me that they are flourishing having 20 members and they knit for many charities including the Warrington premature baby unit, Loving Hands (Scotland, Baby Back Project (South Africa) and Orphans in Romania. The proceeds from this sale in the library will go to the Mayor's charity.

They tell me that the membership is all women but that they would welcome any man who wishes to join the group. I declined this offer but I am sure there must be fellas out there who would be interested.

The teddy bear is now in possesion of my grandson Michael.

Mel Lee - award for services to the British Legion

Last Monday I was honoured to be asked to present the National Award of the Gold Badge to Mel Lee for the years of selfless work he has done for the British Legion.

Mel has been a member of the Royal British Legion since 1985 and of the Wigan Branch since 1985. Anyone who has witnessed the Remembrance Day Service will immediately recognise him as the parade Marshall, a job he has done since 1995. During Remembrance week he goes into Cansfield High School to promote the work of the British Legion. He has also worked closely with myself and Ken Barston Secretary of the Stubshaw Cross Residents Association to establish a permanent memorial to local VC holder William Kenealy.

This award is truly well deserved and was unanimously supported by his local Branch of the British Legion.

Two new traffic initiatives in Ashton

Two other new initiatives have been announced recently which effect Ashton

1.A new Puffin crossing will be established on Wigan Road near Jubilee Park - Highways works will hopefully be complete by the end of next week, with the signal technology being installed and operational by the 23rd October.

2 SCOOT in Ashton is now online. The BT lines were installed on Tuesday 8 September and validation of the system has taken 3 weeks to complete. There were issues raised relating to the Puffin crossing on Gerard Street, these have been actioned and the crossing has been incorporated into the SCOOT system, so demand from pedestrians will be balanced with motor traffic, rather than taking precedence. This will hopefully relieve all the pressure building back to the Warrington Road / Liverpool Road junction.

Renewal of pavements Stubshaw Cross

After taking part on an inspection of the Stubshaw Cross Estate last Monday with a housing officer and a resident of the estate one thing that struck me was the poor state of the pavements there. This has been the case for several years now.

So I was pleased to learn this week that Conway Road and Avon Road are included in the 2009/10 programme of footway works and work has been programmed to start on site in November.

Monday, 21 September 2009

Ashton Festival

The Ashton Festival is taking place from the 19th September to the 3rd October. Once again there is a very full programme of events.

Tickets are available from Ashton Library,the Market Stall on Ashton Market on Saturday 26th September and Tuesday 22nd and 29th September and St Thomas' Hall on Tuesday 22nd and 29th September

Weavermill Park

As a result of writing to every house on Weavermill Park explaining what the new PACT scheme was aiming to achieve several resident contacted me regarding an area of open space on the Estate which is suffering from litter problems and dog fouling.

Unfortunately I have discovered that the area is still owned and has to be maintained by the Developer Persimmon.Eventually the Council will adopt the land which could possibly be some time next year.

I will be contacting Perimmon to ask them to maintain the land in question.

Other areas that residents have contacted me about are:

1 the passageway from C Court to Gerard St - completed on the 10/9/09 and
2 the entry at the side of the Chinese Garden - cleaned on the 10/9/09

Government Minister visits Ashton

Pictured above at the Heritage Garden - John Healey with Ken Barston, Secretary of the Stubshaw Cross Residents Association with residents

Pictured above - John Healey with representatives of Wigan Council and United Utilities and Ann Rampling from the Town Green Residents Association

Pictured above John Healey and myself by the plaque commemorating William Kineally VC.

By coincidence John Healey, Minister for Local Government, who I mentioned in the previous blog entry visited Ashton last week as a part of a tour of the North West. Before going on to Wigan Town Hall he came to view two very successful local projects, the Town Green garden and the newly opened Stubshaw Cross Heritage Garden.

He showed a keen interest in the two projects and was especially taken by the plaque for William Kineally VC - I was told later that he is very interested in military history.

At the Town Green site the Minister met representatives from the residents group,Wigan Council and United Utilities who briefed him on the work that was undertaken to prevent flooding in Ashton.

Ken Barston and a group of residents met him at the Heritage Garden and gave him an account of how the Garden came about.

Everybody who met him found him very likeable and residents told me that they were impressed by the genuine interest in their project. He in turn was very impressed by the projects he had seen and praised the hard work that had obviously gone onto them.

Monday, 14 September 2009

New Council homes to be built in Wigan

Housing Minister John Healey has given the green light for work to begin building over 2,000 new council homes that will help create over 5,000 jobs in the construction industry.

Wigan is one of the seven councils in the North West who will receive a part of the £127m government funding to build the homes.

Wigan will build 14 new homes at a cost of more than £1.8m, with £980,000 coming from the government and match funding from the council.

Eight homes will be built in Windsor Avenue, Astley, and a further six will be constructed in Etherstone Street, in Leigh.

This is the biggest council house building programme for almost two decades and it will be the first new council houses Wigan borough has been allowed to build since 1985.

Construction will begin on the first sites before the end of the year.
A second wave of projects is expected to be announced in the autumn.

This major cash injection is part of the Prime Minister's £1.5bn Housing Pledge announced in Building Britain's Future in June.

In total 51 councils submitted bids.

They had to represent value for money, help meet specific local housing needs and be able to begin construction before March 2010.

Burglaries - man arrested

Following a series of break ins to shops in the town centre police have arrested a male offender who has admitted responsibility for the burglaries.

It was with some pleasure and satisfaction that I read in the Wigan Evening Post that I was the second most generous councillor in all of the Wigan Borough when it comes to giving out public money to local groups - see report above dated 9th September.

One of the projects that I gave money to is pictured above - the Stubshaw Cross Heritage Garden and the plaque commemorating William Kineally VC

Scenes from the opening of the Stubshaw Cross Heritage Garden

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Latest report from the Beat it Team

Here are the areas that the Beat it Team cleaned up during their latest visit to Ashton

1.Path way near to Princess Rd/All Scotts Rd, Duke St and Peter St
Removed fly tipped waste, cut back overgrowth, strimmed and litter picked

2.Back of Greenhalgh’s shop and First Choice Jewellers, Gerrard
Fly tipping removed and litter picked

3.Strip of land between Warrington Rd and back of houses on Chetwode Ave.
Ivy and weeds strimmed and litter picked.

If you know of any other area in Ashton that needs tidying up please let me know.

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Massive increase in fares on the 600 bus route

I have received a lot of complaints about the rise in fares on the 600 route from people who use the bus from Ashton to Wigan.The single bus fare for this journey has risen from £1.70 to £3.20.

I have asked GMPTE and First Buses for an explanation for this massive increase which has deterred people from using this route.

At a time when we are supposed to encouraging people to get out of their cars and use public transport I think that this increase is counter productive.

I will update you when I receive a reply from GMPTE and First Buses

Stubshaw Cross - opening of the heritage garden

I am very happy to be invited to the official opening of the Stubshaw Cross Heritage Garden on 4th September. The garden will be opened by Mrs Florence Johnson and Mr Thomas Woodward who are two of the older members of the community plus two young members of that community.

Once again the Stubshaw Cross Residents Group have worked hard to realise a marvellous project which will be a great asset to their community

Award winning Ashton

Businesses in Ashton are cleaning up.

Especially when it comes to keeping the town centre clean and tidy.

To prove it, a number of local shops have just been presented with the Keep Britain Tidy Group’s Tidy Business Award.

The nationally recognised award scheme recognises businesses for such things as disposing of their waste responsibly, keeping shop frontages clean and tidy, reducing their waste and increasing recycling initiatives and supporting community clean-ups.

Wigan Council’s Environmental Education Team has been working in partnership with Town Centre Management to deliver the scheme in Ashton. So far, one bronze, 10 silver and three prestigious gold awards have been handed out.

The businesses taking part are as follows:

* Connolly’s Rental Service Ltd
* Deliciosa Café
* The Sweet Shop
* Old English Chippy
* BB’s Ice Cream Parlour
* Sephton’s Newsagents
* Past Times
* Sanbob Pets
* Gaz’s Pet Shop
* Kelrick Property
* Iredale Newsagents
* Flair n Fleur
* Anne’s Fruit Shop
* Subway

Ashton Town Centre Co-ordinator Emma Gaster says:

“We are very pleased with the overall response we have had and would like to see more businesses signed up. It’s great to see the council and businesses working together to create a nicer environment in their town centre.”

* If any business would like to take part in the Tidy Business Awards, please contact Emma Gaster, Town Centre Co-ordinator on 01942 828879 or Nick Burdekin, Environmental Education Team on 01942 488222.

Edward Drive - road and pavement upgrade

The Council will soon be working on the Edward Drive pavements and carriageway.

The works are programmed to begin during on Tuesday 1 September 2009 - weather permitting The Council will begin by rebuilding the pavement and replacing the kerbs.

This work is very welcome because the state of the pavements on this estate has been poor for a long time now.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Maintenance on the M6

Starting late August and lasting through to July 2010 the Highways Agency will be working on various sections of the M6 between Junction 21a (M6/M62 interchange) and Junction 26 (Orrell). The works are hard shoulder maintenance and improvements and although they are only working on small areas at any one time, they will, over the course of the contract cover most parts of the hard shoulder on both the north and south bound carriageways.

Because of the high traffic volumes carried by the M6, they will be restricted to night time working i.e. between 10.00pm and 5.00am and they will be required to close lanes 1 and 2 of the motorway whilst carrying out the scheme.

Another reason to be cheerful

Once again Labour have a resounding win in a recent by election in Stockport Reddish North despite everything. The result is as follows:

Bennett P. (BNP) 195
Beverley N. (Lib Dem) 303
Butler G.J. (Con) 403
Price G. (UKIP) 342
Wilson D.S. (Lab) 1,218
Majority 815
% Poll 23.5%
Result Lab Hold

Skateboarding in Ashton

In my first term as a Councillor from 2000 to 2004 I wanted to see a skateboard facility for young people in Ashton which would save them having to go out of the town or skateboard in areas like Aldi car park which are unsuitable and not purpose built. I was so keen on the idea that I put £5000 of Brighter Borough money into a pot that would go towards the creation of a skateboard park on Jubilee park.

This plan was very strongly resisted by the then Community Action Party Councillors. And in response to this opposition young people of Ashton organised a campaign for the introduction of skateboard facilities in the town.

Gradually the idea has been accepted that we need these facilities on the park and I was glad to see that the Friends of Jubillee park have as one of their aims the establishment of a skateboard park. The big sticking point has been the cost of building the facility - over £100,000.

Clearly this issue has not gone away as was highlighted at the meeting to discuss Aldi car park. The young people are still asking for a skateboard park. They were very surprised when I told them the cost. They believed that they could have one built for a lot less which would suit their needs. As a result together with a Youth Worker they are looking at costings and will present these to the Friends of Jubilee Park and the council for consideration later this month.

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Aldi car park

I have had a lot of complaints from residents regarding anti-social behaviour on Aldi car park in the centre of Ashton. As a result of these complaints I held a meeting with representatives of the police, local residents, Wigan Council and young people who use the area to skateboard.

One of the problems with this area is that it is private property which belongs to Aldi so the police have few powers to stop this behaviour although they do move large groups of young people on. At the meeting various suggestions were made to put a stop to the behaviour which is so upsetting local residents. These included a request to Aldi management to turn off a light that is on during the day and night, a request to the the security personnel to also move the young people on more frequently. A suggestion was made to fence off the area but this would have been far too expensive and impractical.

I was very impressed with the attitude of the skateboarders present. They clearly did not want to cause annoyance to local residents and were very amenable to suggestions made by local residents including finishing their activities in the early evening. Unfortunately as usual it was other less responsible young people who were causing the problems.

One of the main issues that came from the meeting was that there was nowhere for young people in Ashton to skateboard - see above article

Fake £20 notes - beware

A local Newsagents have now had 2 fake £20 notes attempted to be passed as real. These notes will not be detected through the machines that are aimed at detecting fakes.

The main sign is that the ink on the note is smudged. The person trying to pass the note may say that the note has accidentally been through the washing machine but this is a scam and these notes are fake.

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Meeting at Stubshaw Cross Labour Club - LDF plans

Last night I arrended a meeting organised by M.A.D. (Makerfield Against Development) to hear residents' views regarding the LDF plans for the Stubshaw Cross area. These plans include:

a. the building of industrial units on the land behind Stubshaw Labour Club
b. the building of a new high school with sports field to replace Cansfield and Byrchall High School
c.both a and b subject to the southern section of a relief road for Ashton from A58 Bolton road to Bryn via Lockett Road - see map below.

The vast majority of those present were against this proposal and the only person who spoke for it was Cllr Donald Hodgkinson.

I oppose this part of the LDF plan for the following reasons:

1. I do not believe that building industrial units on this land will give many employment opportunities. I have visited large warehouses which are run by very few staff. Furthermore as was pointed out in the meeting, there is a lot of spare capacity in the existing warehouses on the South Lancs Industrial Estate

2. The building of industrial units and a new school is subject to an agreed masterplan and delivery of the southern section of a relief road for Ashton.I do not believe that this will bring traffic relief to Ashton and there have been no traffic studies to prove this. However there is a report in existence, entitled Ashton in Makerfield Northern Bypass commissioned by Dr John Holden of the Highways Agency which came to the the conclusion that this road would do nothing to relieve the traffic in Ashton. He also concluded that an all ways junction at junction 25 would not help matters. One of the reasons the last development proposed by Patrick Properties failed was because the road suggested in the plan would have done nothing to relieve the traffic problems in Ashton

3. The plan mentions a new school. At the time of writing there is no new school or plans for one. Ashton secondary schools will be part of the Government's Building Schools for the Future plan which is at present at the first stage of consultation. According to the consultation document produced by the Council Ashton schools will be in the third stage. Local Councillors, the MP and the public have not been shown options regarding what will happen to secondary schools in Ashton, so to talk about a new secondary school in the Stubshaw Cross area is very premature. Ths has been acknowledged by the Education Department in an e-mail to me

4. If phase 3 of BSF comes about and a new school is to be built in Ashton (which I will emphasise again is far from certain) I would not want to see it built in the Stubshaw Cross area. I would want to see it in a much more central position on a campus with other facilities for the community such as can be seen in Platt Bridge where a new school, a new library and health facilities have been built close to each other and which have also contributed to the regeneration of the area.

I would be happy to discuss these matters with anyone who wishes to contact me.

Monday, 27 July 2009

Stanley Sudworth - Gold Badge Award presentation

It was a great pleasure to be invited to the presentation ceremony of the Royal British Legion Award for Meritorious Service - Gold Badge to Stanley Southworth at Ian McCartney's house on Sunday.

Stanley was born in Ashton in Makerfield in 1920 and served for six years in the Royal Navy, attaining the rank of Petty Officer.

During World War Two he saw service at Dunkirk, returning for D-Day. His contribution was recognised in 1994 by the French Government for his service to their country.

Stanley joined the Royal British Legion just after World War Two and has served in the Ashton Branch since 1981.

A well known and popular man in the town he switched on the Christmas Lights in 2007 and he actively participates in the Poppy Appeal every year. At 89 years of age he still insists on delivering poppies to outlets and can be seen selling poppies in the the town centre before Remembrance Sunday. Stanley attends every parade.

Given Stanley's hard work for the local British Legion this award was long overdue and fully deserved.

The Scoot System - easing traffic congestion in Ashton Town Centre

Wigan Council have announced tha the Scoot system will be up and running this week after long delays This system is a traffic light system which monitors the amount of traffic and the length of time that the lights stay on green to allow more vehicles to drive through busy roads. As a result traffic should flow more freely through the middle of Ashton.

Stubshaw Cross - update

Here is a picture taken yesterday of the Stubshaw Cross gardens. It is certainly progressing well.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Last week's Council meeting

I was very happy to support the following motion put forward by Independent Coucillor Gary Wilkes and later amended by Lord Peter Smith which was accepted by Councillor Wilkes. Councillors from every party represented on the Council voted for this motion which read as follows:

This Council views with grave concern the implications of the amount of people in the Borough that voted BNP in the European Parliamentary elections that took place on Thursday June 4 2009.

We, as a Council and individual Councillors, must pledge to the people of this Borough that we will work harder to understand their concerns and support policies that promote jobs, better housing and fairness for all

If this is to work successfully all party leaders that support these values must pledge to put their differences to one side and fight those who may act like a wolf in sheep's clothing in working against these values.

The result of the vote was as follows:

For the motion 56

Against the motion 0:

Abstentions 0

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

The Joint Service Centre - update

Initial work on the the Joint Service Centre (see earlier blog)has commenced last month

Work on Library Street, Hewlett Street and Millgate begun on 8th June and the works to the Wiend commenced the following week.

The works will mean that on street parking around the site will be greatly reduced from now on. Parking services are fully involved in the planning of this work but it will inevitably mean some initial disruption for those people that regularly park in this area.

Beat it Team - report from last clean up

Around St George’s Pond, Wotton Drive
Clean up Litter pick 4 bags

Land at end of Hodnet Drive (by cut through to Captain’s Lane)
Litter pick and cut back overgrowth on the footpath and removed fly tipped waste.¼ tonne removed

Land by Mill St/ Druid St
Litter pick and cut back overgrowth off the path. 1/8 tonne removed

King George playing field
Litter pick and removed fly tipped waste.
¼ tonne removed

The next time the Beat it Team is in Ashton will be from the 17th to the 21st August. Please let me know if there is an area you know of that needs cleaning.

Thursday, 9 July 2009

The real BNP revealed

If anyone was in any doubt about the racist and in this case muderous nature of Nick Griffin and the BNP they should listen to his solution to solving immigration - sink any boat that has immigrants on it.

He has told a BBC reporter that the EU should sink boats carrying illegal immigrants to prevent them entering Europe.

The MEP for the North-West of England said the EU had to get "very tough" with migrants from sub-Saharan Africa.

Pressed on what should happen to those on board, he said: "Throw them a life raft and they can go back to Libya".

To see the interview log on to http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/8141069.stm

I don't think I need to comment, except to say that even the far right European MEPs in the European Parliament won't work with Griffin

If you want to help counter this poison log on to the Hope not Hate website on http://action.hopenothate.org.uk/sinktheboats

Monday, 29 June 2009

Stubshaw Cross Garden and Town Green

On returning from the litter pick I couldn't help but notice how well the Stubshaw Cross garden project has progressed

And also that the Town Green was being used as a venue for a Christian Festival - see photos above

Old George's Pond - litter picking

The Old George's Pond residents group organised another successful litter pick on Saturday in which several local residents took part. There was noticeably less litter this time but the residents did comment on the amount of fishing line left in the pond. (see picture above)

As a result I have asked the council to trawl the pond regularly so that this becomes less of a danger to wildlife inhabiting the area.

Town Centre regeneration - the next phase in Gerard Street

The next phase of the town centre regeneration will take place soon when contractors will be working on the only paved area yet to be renewed. This should start around the 13th July 2009

Upgrading of pavements and road surfaces

Wigan Council will be renewing pavements and roadways in the following areas between now and March 2010

Carriageway Resurfacing
A58 Gerard Street (Warrington Road - Princess Road)

Carriageway and Footway Works
Edward Drive (Bolton Road - Greenfield Crescent)

Footway Works
Conway Road (Full Length)
Alexandra Road (Wigan Road - Edward Drive)

Carriageway Surface Dressing
Alexandra Road Estate

Footway Slurry Seal
North Street Area
Garswood Street

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Town Centre consultation pictures

These photos were taken last Friday on the Gerard Centre at the beginning of the consultation exercise regarding the Town Centre and the LDF plan - see previous blogs.

Friday, 19 June 2009

PACT - update

The new PACT initiative which is tackling 'crime and grime' at a local level has been a great success. As a local Councillor I can contact one specific officer in the Council who is responsible for my area and as a result matters can be dealt with much quicker than before. An example of this is graffiti. I have reported two incidents of graffiti recently and they were cleaned up within two days.

It is interesting that in a recent survey 88% of respondents were fairly/very satisfied with Ashton as a place to live but only 47% felt that the Police and Council were successfully dealing with issues. The main areas of concern in this survey were problems with teenagers,crime and litter. Exactly the things that the PACTs were set up to deal with.

Here are just some of the problems in the area that the PACT team are tackling:

1. Princess Road : Drinking, fighting & causing annoyance around area of Aldi supermarket at 2/3 am - weekends

2. Heath Road/York Road youths causing general ASB
Progress has been made in this area as the PCSOs report youths in the area of Heath/York road are engaging with GMP and are now generally very well behaved
3. Dog fouling : Heath Road, Princess Road, North Street
In Heath Road people not disposing of the dog bags properly. There is now an anti dog fouling campaign in progress. Leaflets will be distributed to all houses in the areas. Dog poo bags are available in local outlet and signage will be erected
PCSO’s are to issue fixed penalty notices (FPN’s) and there is a prevention and education campaign in local schools

4.Wooton Drive - dog fouling - see above

5. Stubshaw Cross Park Youths causing general anti social behaviour

6. Ashton Town Centre, Bryn Street and York Road - litter - Ashton Town centre cleaned every day

7. Graffiti – all over Ashton. There is a very quick response to cleaning it up once reported

If you know of any issues that the PACT team should deal with please contact me.

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Wigan Local Development Framework - Have your say 2

You will see from page 7 of the Your Borough section of Borough Life that Stubshaw Cross has been designated to provide jobs on the majority of the land marked in purple and a replacement High school as part of the Schools for the Future programme.

On the issue of industrial development my view has not changed since I wholeheartedly supported the MAD campaign which was successful in stopping a proposed development of warehousing in the area.

On the issue of a new school I have publicly backed the plan supported by Ian McCartney and local Headteachers to site any new school in the middle of Ashton as a part of the regeneration of the town centre and to make it accessible to all members of the community not just pupils 11-16. I am not convinced that siting a school in Stubshaw Cross fits this criterion. Please let me know what you think.

This document is subject to consultation and you have until the 4th August to make your opinions known. For further details of how to let the Council know your opinions see page 8 of Borough Life - Your Borough.

Ashton Town Centre - have your say

Following the presentation by BDP, the firm who have been looking at the regeneration of Ashton town centre, a presentation was given to the Ashton Bryn township forum at their last meeting where they outlined possible options for the regeneration of the town centre.

Now on June 19th representatives of BDP will be in the Gerard Centre with plans and pictures of how they see the way forward for Ashton Town Centre and they will want your opinions of their plans to improve the centre.

If you can't make it on June 19th then the exhibition will move to the library for two weeks.

Monday, 8 June 2009

Last night's elections -3 - the results

Here are the election results for the Borough of Wigan. From my point of view the most disappointing thing was the turn out - just 27%.

The Labour Party 17049

UKIP 11656

Conservative Party 11354

BNP 7517

The Liberal Democrats 5903

The Green Party 3842

The English Democrats 2097

Socialist Labour Party 1375

Christian Party 1110

No2EU 859

Jury Team 305

Pro Democracy: Libertas.EU 286

Francis Apaloo 157

Rejected Votes 254
% turnout 27%

Last night's election results - 2

Clearly the Labour Party were given a massive thumbs down from the electorate and it is up to us to listen to what the public are telling us and bring in policies that will resonate with the public especially in relation to public housing, jobs and immigration.

At a local level I will continue to work with groups and local people and continue to canvass their opinions. I am sure that local people will tell me exactly where we are going wrong.

Last night's election results

I foolishly wrote on this blog that things can only get better politically - and then the results from last night came through. The most disappointing result of the night was the fact that the BNP had won a seat in the North West and that their leader would be an MEP for the area. It is terrible news for our country.

I will state very clearly that while the BNP will take a seat in Brussels they will not represent me - they are not going there in my name.

The Hope not Hate campaign has just launched a petition saying just that: BNP - not in my name. They will deliver this petition to the European Parliament on the first day that their MEP takes their seat.

If you would like to sign this petition then log on to http://action.hopenothate.org.uk/notinmyname

Monday, 1 June 2009

Bolton Road - Part 2

Since becoming a local councillor I have campaigned for safer pedestrian crossings along Bolton Road. This road is nearly impossible for pedestrians to cross because from the town centre to Riding Lane there is only one pedestrian crossing. Otherwise you take your life into your hands when crossing this road.

With this in mind I was very happy to help a local resident Arthur Jones who has organised a petition requesting that the traffic lights at the junction of Bryn Road and Bolton Road should be converted to a pedestrian controlled junction and that the time delay between traffic stopping on Bolton road and traffic moving out of Bryn road be increased to give pedestrians more time to cross the road.

Mr Jones, local residents and myself presented the petition signed by some 200 people to Deputy Leader of the Council David Molyneux. I will be having a site meeting with a senior council official and residents in the near future to see what can be done to improve safety at this junction.

Pedestrian Crossing - Bolton Road

A local Councillor achieves small things compared to an MP - see previous article.

When I decide to finish as a Councillor or I am not elected, one of my proud boasts will be that I managed to get not only a new bulb for the light in the pedestrian crossing on Bolton Road but also improved the lighting there so that motorists can actually see it in the dark as they approach.

The picture is proof of my efforts - after four years of cajoling the Council.

Ian McCartney

Straight after helping with this litter pick I went to a very emotional meeting where Ian McCartney MP told members of the local Constituency that he was standing down as MP for Makerfield at the next general election due to health reasons.

I personally found Ian's decision both upsetting and understandable. I have worked with him in different ways since 1987 when he was first elected as MP for Makerfield and have seen at first hand how driven he is to make things better for the Constituency and his constituents.In that time I have also been struck by the respect paid to him by people of all walks of life regardless of their political views.

I list below just a few of his achievements

Spokesman for Health, Employment,Education and Social Services in Labour's Shadow Government

Minister of State at the DTI following Labour's landslide victory in 1997. Here he was responsible for the introduction of the first ever right to paid holidays and the National Minimum Wage.

Minister of State at the Cabinet office

Minister of State for Pensions at the DWP

Chairman of the Labour Party from 2003-2005

His campaigns have included the registration of bouncers and compulsory fire retardant materials for furniture - a measure which must have saved thousands of lives since its introduction. He played a leading part in securing a large investment for flood prevention in Ashton following the floods of 2002. And finally he is in the forefront of campaigning to get more resources for Ashton town centre

Whoever wins the seat at the next election Ian will be a very hard act to follow..

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Old George's Pond Manor Park Estate

Last Saturday residents from houses around the pond took part in a clean up which I helped to organise. It was good to see so many people take part - well over twenty. The residents group will be organising another clean up at the end of June.

A big thank you goes to all who took part.


I have had to censor blogs recently because they are giving links to , how should I put it, inappropriate sites. For some reason these posts are coming from China

Friday, 22 May 2009

Labour victory

A little reported election result - perhaps it does not fit in with the current media agenda - is that Labour won a local by-election in Salford, the seat of Hazel Blears.

Given the current anti-Labour sentiment and the fact that the electorate had plenty of other candidates to choose from, I would be interested to hear from readers why they think Labour held on to this seat.

Monday, 18 May 2009

And another one leaves CAP

Ashton Councillor Walter Carney left the Community Action Party last week to be an Independent. CAP now have 5 Councillors left in the Council chamber.


I have always meant to publish my expenses on this blog but have never got round to it. Given the recent furuore about MPs' expenses it seems to be a good time to publish in full what I received as wages/expenses last year from Wigan Council. So here are my expenses from April 2008 to March 2009.

My taxable pay was £11056.33 of which I paid 2211.20 income tax. My net pay was £8845.12

For the year 2007/8 I claimed 170 miles @ 39.50/mile = £67.15. This was included in the 2008/9 calculations because I made a late claim and was paid in July 2008.

The Council instal a telephone in my house which costs £87.60.

To carry out Council business I use my own computer at home at a cost of £171.00.

So far this year I have claimed £18.14 in travelling costs.

All these figures are a matter of public record and have been obtained from Wigan Council.

PACT - it works



Wigan Council has introduced a new system called PACT which seeks to deal with improving the environment and to reduce crime at a very local level. Residents have contacted me about issues in their area and I have reported them to the PACT team at the Council. There has always been a quick response to solving problems.

One good example can be seen in the photos above. Recently a resident contacted me regarding litter and graffiti in an alleyway that went from Hilton Street to Princess Road - see picture one. Within three days the graffiti had been painted over and the litter cleaned up - see picture two

If you know of an area that needs cleaning up please contact me on 736216

Bin collection - the new arrangements

Wigan Council are now collecting refuse and recycling on Bank Holiday Mondays. This means that all collections that week are on the normal day, and not a day later anymore.

The Council is using the following methods to let people know of these new arrangements

1 Helpline - Bank holiday phone message

2 Hi -Viz vests for the crews with the maxim 'Bank Holiday? Bring out your bin on your normal day collection' on the reverse

3 30 magnetic truck stickers for vehicles advertising Bank Holiday collections
Recurring adverts on Wish FM

4 Prominent information on the home page linked to our recycling pages (From Monday) as per the last bank holiday

5 Press release in local papers, including marginal papers i.e. Leigh Journal, Ashton News & Standish Courier

Monday, 11 May 2009

Beat it team

The Beat it team will be in Ashton from May 18th until the 22nd. If you know of any area in Ashton that is in need of cleaning up please contact me

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Flooding - the Pitt report and a new flooding defense in Ashton

As a result of the flooding around the country in 2007 the Government commissioned Sir Michael Pitt to review how Government and Local authorities should handle flooding in the future. I recently attended a meeting in Manchester as a representative of Wigan Council to find out what progress has been made since 2007. Pitt made 92 recommendations which were accepted by the Government. Here are some of the more important ones:

1. Knowing when and where flooding will occur - this will mean improving the way weather forecasts are compiled and mapping possible areas of flooding risk in each authority
2. Improve the way we plan to reduce the risk
3. Better advice and help for people to protect themselves.

There is now a view that the planning system must be more proactive to lessen the risk of flooding when they consider new buildings in areas which could flood.

In Ashton we have been fortunate in having an MP Ian McCartney and a group of local residents who have been working hard in conjunction with United Utilities and the Environment Agency to mitigate the effects of flooding in our locality following the floods of 2002.

This work is still going on and soon a scheme will be announced to build a large storage tank in the Chester Drive area to alleviate flooding around that area. This scheme is just one more step in reducing the risk of flooding in Ashton.

Ashton Town Football Club

It was a great honour for me to be invited as a guest to the presentation evening for the Under 8s and 9s at Ashton Town FC recently.

The event was very well attended and it was good to see so many people there. The club are to be congratulated for the progress they have made this year in encouraging so many youngsters to participate in different teams at all ages. Special mention should go to James and Claire Horner and the team managers for the amount of their own time they devote to making this club a success and more importantly for providing young people with an opportunity to play football locally which they probably would not have had.

I am sure the enthusiasm I saw at the presentation will ensure more success next season

Monday, 27 April 2009

University of the Third Age

Last week I was invited to attend the inaugural meeting of the Ashton and District branch of the University of the Third Age at the YMCA in Hilton Street. The event was very well attended and I am sure there will be enough enthusiasm to make it a success in the long run.

The U3a, as it is known, is a life-long co-operative for older people who are no longer in full time work. It provides opportunities to share learning experiences in a wide range of interests - pursuing learning not for exams or qualifications but for fun and mutual benefit. (It reminds me very much of when I was at university in the 60s - how I got a degree I will never know.)

To give a flavour of what you can expect if you join here some examples of sessions held at a neighbouring group:

1. short walks

2. singing for fun

3. tap dancing

4. theatre visits

5. wine tasting

6. theology and philosophy

These are just a few of many classes being held.

If any reader wants to know more details about the U3a as it is known then they can log on to www.u3a.org.uk

Brown bins - update

I have now been informed that the brown bins are now to be delivered in the Manor Park / Bolton Road / North Street area on May 11th.

Love food - Hate waste

I attended the launch of the Love food Hate waste campaign in Manchester on Thursday which aims to highlight how much food we waste and ways that we can rectify this.

Apparently we in the UK waste 6.7 million tonnes of food a year. An average family would save £600 a year if they used the food that they already bought.

One of the features of the launch was to inform people how to cook what would be considered left overs destined for the rubbish bin and a well known local chef Andrew Nutter gave a cookery demonstration as part of the launch. I have sample recipes if anyone would like them.

Wigan Council will be continuing the campaign in the area and I will let readers know when they are coming to Ashton.

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

George's pond

Following comments about the state of George's pond by local residents I asked local residents if they would like to form a Friends of Georges pond group and was pleased to receive names of several volunteers. To launch this group we invited the local press to do an article which appeared last week in the Wigan Evening Post - see picture showing myself, Ian McCartney and local residents.

Last night the group met for the first time and an action plan for improving the area around the pond and the pond itself was drawn up. One of the events that the group decided on was to have a litter pick on Saturday 23rd May at 10.00 am.

I will give readers of this blog an update of improvements as they happen

New Puffin Crossing on Wigan Road

I have been informed that all the Council procedures are complete for the installation of a new puffin crossing that will link the two parks on Wigan Road. The Council is currently waiting for a construction start date from Greater Manchester Urban Traffic Control, (GMUTC), who manage and maintain all the signals across GM.

As soon as I get more information about the programme for this work, I will post it on my blog.

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Re-cycling - update

Recycling in Wigan borough just got even easier with the news that residents can now put the following range of paper products into their white sack:

1. Yellow Pages

2. White envelopes with or without windows

3.Phone directories and

4.Birthday and Christmas cards (without glitter)

All these items can now be put out for the fortnightly waste paper recycling collection.


Parrots - correction

I have received the following message from a reader:

Your blog is interesting reading.

I especially like the bird photos. Unfortunately your description of the parrot is wrong.

The ones in London are these, see


The Ashton parrot is one of these


Brown bins - update

I recently informed residents of the Bolton Road, Manor Park,North Street area that they would be getting brown bins by the end of March.

Unfortunately I have now been advised by Wigan Council that there will be a delay of four weeks before these bins can be distributed. I will keep residents informed of when they can expect to receive their bins.

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

£10 charge for bulky waste to be scrapped

Free collections of bulky waste are being reintroduced by the council.

In a move that could lead to a drop in cases of fly tipping, cabinet councillors have agreed to scrap the £10 charge for removing large items of rubbish such as old furniture, fridges and carpets.

In future, householders will be able to have three items collected entirely free before any charges have to be paid.

The council will also work closer with charities to try and reuse items that are put out for collection.

Under the new scheme, which started this month:

Residents can have one free collection a year, with up to THREE items being removed for free.
A further two items can be put out at the same time and will cost £5 each to be removed
Anyone wanting to have more bulky rubbish removed at a different time in the year will be expected to pay a full commercial rate for removal.

But the council also accepts there has been an increase in fly tipping since the charge was introduced and councillors have been keen to see a solution that would bring back free collections without an expensive free for all.

In a report to the cabinet, Martin Kimber, the council’s environmental services director, said: “The new scheme will balance the needs of residents, control the potential for increases in municipal waste collected and disposed of, and reduce the number of fly tipping incidents.”

The free collections will cost the council an extra £80,000 per year. It follows an in-depth independent review of the existing service carried out by a social enterprise, Furniture Matters, which found that:

More items could be reused if they weren’t left outside for collection;
87% of councils charge for the service, with a national average cost of £5 per item;
The service was frequently abused by people using it to get rid of trade waste or rubbish that could have been recycled.

Off road motorbikes

Now that the light nights are with us again I know that I will be getting complaints about off road and unlicensed motorbikes disturbing people's peace. I attended a meeting last week of the Wigan Road Safety group and one of the issues discussed concerned the problem of these bikes.

Wigan Council have just launched an initiative to prevent these bikes becoming a nuisance and it should be noted that the police and Council have strong powers to deal with them. Recently three bikes have been confiscated in the Ince area and are due to be crushed in the near future.

If you are having problems with these bikes in your area please contact the police on 0161 872 5050. The more people report a particular problem in their area the more likely the police will deal with it.

Ashton pool - good news bad news

Wigan leisure chiefs learned this week that their application for a major makeover of Ashton Leisure Centre has been successful, but the £600,000 they have been given has to be spent in the next 12 months.

To do that Ashton baths will have to be closed for FIVE months from October.
The only alternative for the Leisure and Culture Trust was to turn down the cash.

Improvements at the centre will include full refurbishment of the entrance area, modernisation of the changing rooms, full refurbishment of the small and large pool including ceiling, lighting, decoration, wall tiling and floor tiling.

The trust had also put in bids to improve pools at Hindley, Howe Bridge and Tyldesley, but only Ashton was successful.If they had been, that would only have left the new Leigh Sports Village pool for the whole borough.

The Ashton closure means that those living in the north and west of the borough face long trips to get free swimming, Hindley being the nearest pool for most.But leisure bosses say the centre is in need of major refurbishment to ensure its long term future and work has been scheduled for the winter months to minimise disruption.

Ashton Leisure Centre was awarded the money as part of the national Free Swimming Initiative. Wigan borough was eligible for a slice of £50m grant money because it already offers free swimming to under-16s and over 60s.

Part of Ashton Leisure Centre will close temporarily in mid-October for up to 20 weeks although the Profiles Health and Fitness Suite and Sports Hall will remain open.

The trust, which manages the borough's leisure centres on behalf of Wigan Council, today apologised for the inconvenience.

Things you see

Local resident David Taylor sent me pictures of two birds seen in Ashton recently.

I know from my trips to London that the green parrot can be frequently seen in the parks making a tremendous screeching noise but I was surprised to see this picture of one in Ashton -it must be very hard.

One story about how the green parrot became common in London was that the late great Jimi Hendrix released a pair into the wild around 1968 and they flourished from that time.

Safer routes to school

Wigan Council are proposing minor improvements to off road footpaths to provide safer, more attractive routes away from the congested highway to encourage children to walk to school. They are hoping that these works will be implemented in the new financial year following Cabinet approval of the Highways Capital Programme for 2009/10.

Should anyone wish to comment on this proposal or gain further information, please don't hesitate to contact 01942 488243.

Residents affected by the proposals will be informed via letter drop w/e 9th April 2009.