Friday, 10 December 2010

Save Ashton Library - sign the petition

This month, I joined Cllr Ann Rampling and Makerfield MP Yvonne Fovargue in highlighting a review of Library provision in the Borough.

Council Bosses have now started a review which could lead to the closure of Ashton Library.

Please sign the online petition I have started here.

You can also contribute your views to the council's consultation here.

Monday, 9 August 2010

Things for to do in the school holidays

I was happy to attend the opening of the Stubshaw Cross summer events for young people with Yvonne Fovargue our local MP.

Rock FM were there and over the next few weeks there will be activities organised for young people on Golborne Road park.

For further details contact Ken Barston on 272605

And more fun --

On 21st August there will be a Beach Day on Ashton market from 10am to 2pm. Attractions will include donkey rides children's entertainer and face painting. All free!

And even more fun on Jubilee Park

The following events are to be held in Jubilee Park over the summer.

9.11,13 August 12.30 - 2.00 pm - Rounders

10,12 August 12.30 to 2.00 pm - Street Dance

620 Saved

Talks to safeguard a vital bus route have proved successful following an intervention by Abram Ward Councillor, Eunice Smethurst.

Those avid readers of my blog will remember that in October 2008 I together with the local MP Ian McCartney and other local Labour Councillors supported a campaign under the name of Use it or Lose to save the 620 bus route from being scrapped.

It is with great pleasure that I can now announce that thanks to the work of Abram Councillor Cllr Smethurst we have now obtained the support of GMITA to continue the service on a permanent basis, by advocating an extension to the service which will now link Hindley, Platt Bridge, Bamfurlong, Ashton and Stubshaw Cross with St Helens, rather than terminating in Ashton.

Last week Cllr Smethurst was joined by myself and Cllr Keir Stitt (Hindley Green) to celebrate the safeguarding of the route. - see picture above.

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Two great awards for Ashton residents

Congratulations to all involved with Jubilee Park for their achievement in gaining the prestigious Green Flag award for the park and to the Town Green Residents group for their award of a Green Pennant for their beautiful garden on Bolton Road

Monday, 2 August 2010

Lib Dems at rock bottom - and it could get worse

It was with some delight that I read yesterday that the Liberal Democrats support has fallen to 12% and Nick Clegg's rating is now +8 from a high of +72.

Clearly voters have seen what a set of self seeking set of politicians these Liberals are. They - much like their friends in the Council Chamber the Community Action Party - have always told people exactly what they want them to hear to gain votes. They have no policies as such. And now they have been found out because, unlike in the past when they had no power, they have to be accountable for their actions. In effect voters have made the judgement that Nick Clegg was not honest about his policies and has abandoned any principles the Party might have had. A good example of this is the rise in VAT to 20 % which Nick Clegg and his party labelled as a Tory tax bombshell but which now they support wholeheartedly.

I am looking forward to the next local elections when the Community Action Party will have to explain to local voters the reasons they support this Government and then justify the massive cuts that will be made and which will be so harmful to the residents of the Borough.

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Skateboard Park

I am happy to announce that the skateboard park is back on track and negotiations are now taking place with a view to completion.

Friday, 16 July 2010

Cllr Robert Bleakley

At the Council meeting on Wednesday Liberal Democrat Councillor Robert Bleakley read out a statement to the full Council in which he apologised for bullying a female office of the Council. The Standards Board of Great Britain found him guilty of failing to respect others and as a result has been barred from standing as Councillor for six months.

This is not the first time Robert Bleakley has been found guilty of breaching the code of conduct.In 2004 Mr Bleakley was disqualified by The Standards Board for England for three years after being found guilty of “failing to show respect to others'.

His leader Nick Clegg is very keen to recall politicians who fall below acceptable standards of public behaviour. Perhaps, given his record over the past six years Councillor Bleakley should be considered for recall by his leader and the voters of Tyldesley be given a chance to elect another less controversial councillor.

When the going gets tough the Community Action Party disappear

At Wednesday night's Council meeting a motion opposing the increase in VAT proposed by the Con Dem coalition was discussed. Each party has its own opinion about this increase - I together with my Labour colleagues think the rise to 20% is pernicious because it hits the poor and disadvantaged more than the rich. It will also take large amounts of money away from charities. The Tories on the Council opposed the motion and supported the rise.

However we will never know what the Liberal Democrats and their allies the Community Action Party thought because their leader Cllr Tushingham had disappeared before the motion was discussed together with most of his colleagues.

I, together with the voters of Wigan, would have been very interested to know how they viewed this rise. It should be noted here that Community Action has joined the Liberal Democrats in the Council to form the Democratic Alliance and that in doing so is supporting the Con Dem alliance in Parliament.

Monday, 12 July 2010

Fun Day on Jubilee Park

Congratulations to all those who organised the Fun Day yesterday. The weather was excellent and it brought out crowds of people who seemed to be thoroughly enjoying themselves when I was there in the afternoon

The pictures are as follows:

1. the staff from Ashton Library at their stall
2. the University of the Third Age stall
3. David Cameron makes a surprise visit
4. a young guitarist entertains the crowd in the flower park

Skateboard Park

Recently there was a rather misleading article in the local paper about the skateboard park in Jubilee Park being scrapped.

First of all I would like to correct this. No project has been scrapped - yet. Projects are on hold until the Cabinet knows exactly from central government what future funding it will have.

I believe that the skateboard scheme should have special consideration for the following reasons:

1. The whole project cost £44,000 which was funded as follows: £15,000 from Ibstock Corey, £4,000 from my Brighter Borough funding, £10,000 from 106 monies, and £15,000 from Wigan Leisure Trust

2. The funding from WLT has already been spent in preparing the area for the skateboard park

3.In short most of this funding has originated from other sources than the 106 monies

4. This project was just on the point of being given the go ahead before this review was announced.

5. You will be aware of the long history of this project which has been going on now for 8 years or more. Young people in Ashton have been promised on several occasions that this much needed facility would go ahead In fact some of them even made the decision as to the lay out of the skateboard at a meeting held with the Friends of Jubilee Park. To withdraw this project will send a very negative message to a group of young people who have acted responsibly during the creation of this park.

I have made representations to the leader of the Council and the Cabinet outlining these points and I hope for a positive outcome.

I must say that if there had not been so much antipathy to this park - which is now deemed acceptable by most people involved - when it was first mooted six years ago young people of Ashton would probably have had a skateboard park by now and what we now should have been looking to fund was an extension to the park

Carpe diem, baby as Kojak used to say

Bryn Station

As a user of Bryn station I was very pleased to learn that funds have been allocated to improve it - and about time. I think I read somewhere it was nominated as the worst station in Greater Manchester.

The access for the disabled and for young mothers with prams at this station is very poor. It is extremely difficult to get a pram or a wheelchair up the ramp when you get off the station from Wigan because of the steps.

I will be working with our MP Yvonne Fovargue and local Councillor Ann Rampling pictured below with Trevor Allen to upgrade the disabled access for the station

Katherine Jenkins

I was lucky enough to be in the audience to see Katherine Jenkins at Haigh Hall last week,an event organised by Wigan and Leigh Culture Trust.

Now normally I would not go to an event like this but I'm glad I did. Katherine put on a fantastic show. What I liked about her was that she connected immediately with the audience and not only enchanted them with her singing but chatted to them and on occasions made them laugh.

She was the opposite of another very famous opera star I once saw in Manchester who left the stage after every two songs. I remarked at the time that she wouldn't go down well in Bryn Labour Club doing that.

Yes, the picture of the sky was taken at Haigh Hall last Wednesday.

Brychall Founders Evening

I attended Brychall Founders Evening held at Haydock Park race course last Tuesday and was very impressed with the organisation of the event and with the young people who entertained the large audience during the evening.

This event is nothing like the Speech Days I have often attended when I was at school and when I taught. Prizes are distributed in year groups but after pupils of each year group receive their prizes, students from the school perform musical and dance items. And what a talented bunch there were.

The result of this programme was that instead of being bored witless for over an hour my attention was held and the time just flew past.

Well done to those involved!

Museum of Wigan Life

One of the projects that has survived the cuts is the Museum of Wigan Life in Library Street,the opening of which I attended recently.

I did not have time to look round the museum properly but it looks very good with plenty to interest local people.

If you have visited it tell me what you think.

Scenes from the Armed Forces Day

Last month I attended the Armed Forces Day in Leigh Sports Village which was very well attended and very well organised.

One of the exhibitors in the Sports Hall was Frank Brown from Stubshaw Cross who has a remarkable collection of WW2 memorabilia - anything from machine guns to Rinso tins.
Mr Brown told me that he is looking for a building in which he can permanently display his very large collection and create a museum. I have passed his request on to Wigan Council.

Mr Brown's company is called Pegasus WW2 displays and he has a web page on

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Cuts - Part two

On the agenda of next week's Ashton and Bryn Township Forum was an item on the Big Reward. This scheme was to make available capital funds in each Township in the current financial year. This scheme was to seen as an important opportunity to support partnership working in communities and the Ashton Bryn Township was to receive £76,000 which local groups could have bid for.

I have just learned that this scheme also has been cancelled because of the cuts.

Cuts - Part One

I have just learned that free swimming scheme introduced by Andy Burnham is to be axed as part of the cuts in Local Government expenditure. The health and fitness boosting scheme is deemed to to have been a failure by Coalition Ministers as according to them it did not attract enough new regular swimmers. The scheme will end in July and will save £40 million.

As chair of the Adult Health Committee I find this announcement particularly disappointing. This area suffers from a particularly poor health record and I saw this scheme as one way that people could improve their fitness

As for it not attracting enough people that is now what I saw at our newly refurbished local baths where people were queueing to get in every time I went there. It will be a blow to the 50,000 residents who have been enjoying these free sessions and especially for those on low incomes who will find it difficult to go swimming on a regular basis.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Congratualtions to Michael

I was very pleased to learn that locally based Councillor Michael Winstanley is to become mayor of Wigan tomorrow.

Despite the fact that Michael is a Conservative I have always had a good rapport with him. I can now reveal that over the years I have tried to convert him to the Labour cause but despite the many leaflets I have put through his door and a recent attempt at canvassing him he has stubbornly remained in the Conservative Party.

I am sure that Michael will be an excellent advocate for Wigan in his role as mayor and I wish him all the best for the coming year

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Unashamed triumphalism - black day for Labour


I am still coming down from the results on Friday. I have rarely experienced a political event like Friday's count and I will probably never experience one like it again in my lifetime.

The Labour Party won 10 seats and now holds 51 out of the 75 seats on the Council. We actually won in 23 out of the 24 seats up for election.

Added to these fantastic results Labour is now again in control of St Helens and Liverpool.

According to some sections of the press Thursday was a dark day for Labour.

Not here it wasn't.



Post election thoughts 2 - Proportional representation

I have been asked if I support PR. The answer is a very firm no. And before it is said that first past the post has suited me in this election I would remind you that I had to suffer the dreadful Thatcher years because of this system but during that time I cannot ever recall arguing for a change in the voting system. We live in a democracy and we have to respect what the people have decided through the ballot box. I think this present result is an excellent indication of the mood of the people - a plague on all your houses and we do not really trust one single party to govern this country.

First past the post is clean and usually gives a clear result. What is happening now between Clegg, Cameron and perhaps Brown in due course is normal in Europe where PR is the norm - it can take up to a month to form a Government and there will be a lot of fudging of policies which the electorate may not have voted for.

I also believe that any voting system must be understandable to ordinary people. I invite readers of this blog to explain to me how the Euro election results were arrived at - and while you are at it please explain the Duckworth Lewis method of deciding a cricket matched affected by rain.

They say that PR will give the people better representation. Can I remind you that one of your Euro MPs is BNP leader Nick Griffin who was elected purely because of a totally incomprehensible PR system used in the Euro elections. There is not one poll I have seen since which has convinced me that his party has amassed enough votes to warrant a seat in Europe on any basis - it was only elected because of PR.

There is another system of PR which requires the winner to have 50% of the vote. On the ballot paper the voter will number the candidates in order of his/her preference. If the candidate with the most votes does not have 50% of the votes cast then the candidate who is last will drop out, his/her votes will be looked at again and the second preference will be allocated to the other candidates. This will be repeated until one candidate has 50% of the total vote. In this system who can tell whether I would have won or not because nobody can say which candidate the voters would have chosen as second.

The only qualification I will make to my stand on this issue is that if a referendum is held and the people support PR then naturally I will go along with their decision.

Post election thoughts 1

Of course I am delighted with the result from Friday but it was a very close run thing.

I would like to thank the Community Action Party for running a clean and I must say very effective campaign. To get a candidate who is virtually unknown in Ashton - please do not read this as a criticism just a fact - to within 200 votes of winning the seat is an achievement which I, as a seasoned election campaigner, must acknowledge. There was one point during Friday when I thought I was going to lose the seat.

I would like to thank the Independents for fielding a candidate but that's all. I hoped that this campaign would be a clean one but I was not impressed by the last minute flier put out in Ashton and the description of Ann Rampling in their material put around Bryn. The Labour Party will remember this for future elections.

I would like to thank the Conservative candidate Malcolm Childs for a pleasant conversation on election night and the BNP candidate for doing absolutely nothing during the campaign and sparing the good people of Ashton from having to read the obnoxious guff that emanates from this now irrelevant party.

Saturday, 8 May 2010

Oh dear dear

I have just read that the BNP are in tatters after resounding defeats in its stronghold areas including Barking, East London where Nick Griffin came third.

The national losses were compounded by its failure to maintain a single seat on Barking and Dagenham Council where it previously had 12 seats. It has lost every single parliamentary and council seat across the country where it has faced an opposition.

In Barking the Labour candidate Margaret Hodge gave Nick Griffin a drubbing defeating him by 18,000 votes.

The Deputy Chairman Simon Darby came fourth in Stoke Central and the party's vote collapsed in Burnley.

The voters of Makerfield also overwhelmingly rejected the BNP - their Parliamentary candidate came a poor fifth getting just over 4 per cent of the vote. And I have no idea who the candidate for Ashton was as he did not put out a leaflet nor do anything else to my knowledge.

Those local election results in full


Nigel Ash - Labour - 2,208

Joanne Bradley - CAP - 1,980

Malcolm Childs - Conservative - 571

Barry Longstaffe - BNP - 352

Frank Merry - Independent - 574

Total 5,685 - 62.88% of the electorate

I would like to express my sincere thanks to everybody who supported me in this election. I promise that I will continue to work hard for all the residents in Ashton.


Kenneth Haslam BNP 531

Brian Merry Independent 1,697

Ann Rampling Labour 2,274

Joseph Sheedy Conservative 525

Kevin Williams CAP 609

Total 5,636 62.17% of the electorate

Friday, 7 May 2010

Welcome to my new reader

I found a convert to this award winning blog at last night's count. In the course of political discussions with John Mather, the Independent candidate for Makerfield, he told me how much he enjoyed reading this blog.

Well, John. thanks for that. You have probably doubled my readership.

Those Makerfield results in full

Makerfield - total eligible to vote 74,255
Turnout 43,771 (58.95%)

Itrat Ali Conservative 8,210 18.76% (11.06%)

Robert Brierley Independent 3,424 7.82% (4.61%)

David Crowther Liberal Democrat 7,082 16.18% (9.54%)

Yvonne Helen Fovargue Labour 20,700 47.29% (27.88%)

Kenneth Haslam BNP 3,229 7.38% (4.35%)

John Mark Mather Independent 1,126 2.57% (1.52%)

Total 43,771

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Oh dear

I think the following article on Yahoo written by Ian Dunt might be of interest to readers at this election time.

The British National party's (BNP) beleaguered election campaign hit a new disaster today when its head of online operations quit the party and took the website with him.

Simon Bennett, directed traffic to his own website, where he posted an outspoken attack on the party and its leadership, the Times reported today.

Mr Bennett suggested the party was disorganised, amateurish and constantly wasting membership fees.

"This will no doubt [sic] come as a shock to many of those that read this, particularly those who really don't want to hear it," he wrote.

"However, I have a duty to the members and my conscience, but most of all to my wife and children, to tell the truth behind the spin."

The website was briefly down yesterday afternoon before it was reactivated, but the comments quickly spread across the web.

Party leader Nick Griffin and election fundraiser James Dowson w e re branded "pathetic, desperate and incompetent" by Mr Bennett.

It is just the latest incident of infighting threatening to the derail the far-right party's general election campaign.

Mr Griffin himself recently informed police that someone in the organisation was trying to kill him.


I dreamt I was watching Sky TV this morning and that according to one of the latest opinion polls the Labour Party could be the largest party in a hung Parliament on Friday.

I woke up and found it was actually true.

The Liberal bounce - but not in Makerfield

If you were a resident of Makerfield and you did not have a TV or radio you would not know that there has been a Liberal surge in the country - in fact you would not know there was Liberal party at all because to my knowledge the candidate has not put out a leaflet nor has he been seen canvassing on the streets. He did not even bother to attend the hustings in Hindley held recently.

Does new wonder boy Nick Clegg realise how little effort this candidate has put into his campaign or is he relying on the now dwindling Liberal bounce to get him some votes and possibly save his deposit?

I think we should be told.

Monday, 3 May 2010

Confusion in Ashton Town centre

Candidates and followers from different political parties were in Ashton Town Centre on Saturday. However people were apparently very confused as to who the different candidates were representing. I believe the following parties were there:

1.The local Independent candidates and helpers

2. The two Independent Parliamentary candidates and helpers

3. The CAP local candidates and helpers

4. The BNP

5. The group opposed to the BNP

People tell me that they were confused because the Independent and the CAP were wearing exactly the same colours. They could not understand why there were two Parliamentary candidates and why all these 'independent' groups are asking for their votes when they seem to be saying the same thing.

I just say that democracy is a wonderful thing and I am glad to see it alive and kicking in Ashton.

Thursday, 29 April 2010

Your questions answered

Here are the answers to points that have been raised in previous postings

1. Will I leave the Labour Party and go Independent?

No to the first question despite recent events.

I have a problem with the concept of being an Independent politician. While they may be effective for individual issues within a community and do not have to answer to a party whip the fact that they are independent seems to stop them from having a coherent policy on major issues.

The situation in the Council chamber is a good example of this lack of cohesion. There are three groups of Independents- Community Action, the Independents and the Independent Conservatives. If you asked them what their policies on say education or any other major issues that effect most people they would all say different things. I even believe that within their own grouping they have different ideas. Nothing wrong with that but I firmly believe that people want to feel that Parties have coherent policies if they are asked to vote for a party and not be confused by them. Again I attended the Parliamentary hustings on Sunday night and even the two Independents there could not agree on policies.

2. Would I vote against the Labour Whip?

Yes if I felt that the issue under discussion was not to the benefit of the Ashton ward. Not long ago I campaigned strongly against development in the Stubshaw Cross and lobbied Cabinet to oppose the development which eventually was rejected. If this issue had come to Council I would have voted against it.

3. Why I don't use a local printer.

Well this is only partly true. I have produced two leaflets since March - one was produced at Douglas Printers in Wigan and the other outside the area. My out cards are also produced by Douglas printers.

My second leaflet was part of a national print run procured by the national Labour Party which offered considerable benefits to those local constituencies taking part.

I would also point out for a local election a candidate can only spend by law roughly £900 to £1000. I strongly believe that during a campaign the electorate should be contacted as often as possible within the permitted budget.

4. Roads.

Yes I do agree that there should be a four way junction at junction 25. I also support the scheme for the A5225.

5. I agree with the post about quangos and I am disappointed that more of these have not disappeared under this Government.

6. I have always been strongly in favour of a skateboard park young people of Ashton. That is why I suggested the scheme to the Township Forum in 2004 and that is why I committed a large amount of my Brighter Borough funding to the scheme at that time. For information a councillor's Brighter Borough funding is about £5000 a year. .

7 Police

I am waiting for the exact figures about how many police officers and PCSOs are detailed to patrol on Friday and Saturdays.

I would like to see more police at the weekends in the town centre. Together with the other councillors I have regular meetings with the police to discuss ways of reducing anti-social behaviour in the Ashton ward

And last but not least

I thank Alan for his comments about this blog. And so I say to all my readers - make sure to vote for me becasue if I am defeated this blog will disappear.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Two new faces in Ashton Town Centre

The borough’s three main town centres of Wigan (including Wigan Pier Quarter and Robin Park), Leigh and Ashton will soon be home to 15 Life Guides. The two working in Ashton are pictured above.

The Guides will be on hand to help residents and visitors find out where to go, what to do and what events are taking place, as well as generally promoting our borough.

Wigan Council’s Cabinet Champion for Regeneration and the Environment, Cllr David Molyneux says: “The Life Guides will be based in the town centres to provide information on the local area and upcoming events. They will be an extension of our town centre management function and will help to make the areas more accessible to visitors and residents alike.”

The Life Guides are funded by the Department for Work and Pension’s Future Jobs Fund. They will be employed by Groundwork Lancashire West and Wigan and will receive full training in health and safety, first aid, stewards’ training and training from the North West Tourist Board.

If you see them say hello from me.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Your candidates for the general election

The candidates at the general election for the Makerfield Constituency are as follows:

1. Itrat Ali - Conservative

2. Robert Brierly - Independent

3. David Crowther - Liberal Democrat

4. Yvonne Fovargue - Labour

5. Kenneth Haslam - BNP

6. John Mather - Independent

Access to polling stations

I have been asked by Scope if our local polling stations are accessible for people with disabilities. I will be looking into this issue but if anyone reading this has encountered a problem with accessing their polling station please contact me.

Beware - poster thief

Some sad individual or individuals has/have been stealing and destroying our Labour posters. It reminds me of my student days.

I would offer a reward for their return but the party is so hard up we can't afford it. So if anyone knows where these posters have gone I would be grateful for any information. The reward is a personally signed copy of my election leaflet. I have contacted the police and a Sergeant B. Stickers has been assigned to the case.

And on the subject of the colour of the CAP poster the words 'lurid yellow' were used by the person who complained to me. I don't think the posters are lurid yellow or turgid yellow or even motorway jacket yellow. I think they are just yellow.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Where have all the posters gone?

There were lots of Community Action posters on the bridge on Bryn Street in Ashton Town Centre up until today but they have all disappeared.

Is there a reason for this? Could it be that CAP has acted upon the complaints I have received that these lurid yellow posters are spoiling the town centre.

I think we should be told.

Sunday, 18 April 2010

The Beat it Team comes to Ashton

The Beat it team will be in Ashton from the 7th to the 11th June. If you know of any areas that need a major clean up please contact me and I will pass the information to the Team

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Viridoor Wood car park

Following the clean up at the Viridor Wood car park off Bolton Road I have been asked about installing a No Dog Fouling/Litter sign there.

I have been advised that the site in question is under the ownership and management by the Forestry Commission. Wigan Council have had some dialogue with the Forestry Commission about funding a sign or signs there and installing a litter bin which the Council would empty.

I will update readers of progress made on this issue.

Election 6th May

I will be standing as the Labour Party candidate in the local elections on the 6th May and if any reader of this blog would like to ask me questions about local issues and what I will do for Ashton if elected I will be happy to answer them.

Two conditions:

1. I would prefer any questioner to give their name

2. The questions should be reasonable and preferably be about local issues.

If you wish to ask the Labour Party candidate a question about her policies, local and national, then you can contact her by email at or on her website

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Town Centre event

Last Saturday and today (Tuesday) there have been two buses on Gerard Centre and the market promoting healthy living and safety awareness.

The health check initiative came from a meeting of a sub group of the Ashton Bryn Township Forum which looked at ways of making people aware of how they could improve their health. The group was concerned that life expectancy in the Wigan area was much lower than in other comparable areas and men especially were prone to ill health. This check was thought to be a good start to make people aware of how they could improve their life style.

On one of the buses there were nurses who checked your height/weight/BMI, took your blood pressure, measured your body fat rating and cholesterol and blood glucose levels. In addition they gave advice on diet and exercise - an excellent free service.

I was told today that this service had proved very popular and that more men than expected had the check done. There will be a report back to the Township Forum at the next meeting and I will be encouraging the Community Health Authority to repeat the initiative or something similar in the near future.

Safety seats for children - a grandparent's lament

One thing I did learn at the event was how to fit a child's safety seat correctly.
As a grandparent I have found everything that a child needs now - cots, high chairs, push chairs and safety seats so difficult to assemble or make safe. You need a great deal of spatial awareness and the ability to solve jig saw puzzles - neither of which I possess - to assemble these essential children's items.

I hate to say this but in my day when we had our children things seemed a lot simpler.

Ashton pool - re-opening date

The revamped swimming pool at Ashton Leisure Centre will be re-opened on 12th April and there will be an open day on 24th April. From 1st April everyone will be able to swim for free not just here but in any of the five swimming pools in the borough. All you need to do is to sign up to a Life Style card for just £1.50 which will allow you to swim for free for a whole year plus you will get discounts on other activities across the Borough.

I use the card when I play golf - the way I play it is better than my golf clubs

New Facilities in Ashton and Bryn

The swimming pool is just one of the new leisure facilities that have been improved in the area. Other improvements are the new play equipment on Jubilee Park and a new skateboard facility on the same park which should be open in May.

The cost of the refurbished swimming pool at Ashton Leisure Centre is a total of £715,236 for the refurbishment of the pool, reception and changing facilities.

The cost of the new play equipment on Jubilee Park is a total of £81,393 and the cost of the proposed skateboard park on Jubilee Park is £44,000 to which I contributed £4,000 from my Brighter Borough Fund

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Latest litter pick in Ashton by the Beat it Team

The following areas were cleaned up by the Beat it Team from the 8 - 12 March 2010

1.Car park at the Viridor Wood

2.The back alleys from 431 to 497 Bolton Rd

3.School Street – back alleys behind 105 North St

4.Backs between 93 – 103 North St

5.Wasteland on North St behind Barton’s off licence

6.Strip of land between the wall and house on Chetwode Ave off Warrington Rd, Ashton

7.Footpath from Liverpool Rd to Old Rd

8. Market area where the temporary steps are

9.Alley way from Greenfields Crescent to Alexander Rd

Anything from now until polling day that is published here and seeks to influence people to vote Labour is:

Promoted by Nigel Ash of 7 Averham Close Ashton in Makerfield WN4 9PR on behalf of the Labour Party Candidates care of 39 Victoria Street London, SW1H 0HA. Hosted (printed) by (Google Inc) of 1600 Amphitheatre Parkway, Mountain View, CA 94043 who are not responsible for any of the contents of these posts.

Please note however, that The Labour Party is not responsible for the content of this website or individual posts as, unless specifically stated, I am writing solely in a personal and individual capacity.

Monday, 22 March 2010

New - police surgeries on Ashton market

Here is a list of the dates that the police are planning to hold surgeries on Ashton Market. The surgeries will be between 11.00 and 12.00 on Tuesdays this year


Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Can you help?

Wigan Born and Bred? this includes Ashton

I have received the following letter from Julia Bennett of Manchester University. If you can help please contact me on 736216 or Christine Charnock on 244991.

Are you from round here? Maybe you can help me...

I want to collect the stories of the everyday lives of Wigan families, why they have stayed in Wigan, why some have moved away. Following down the different generations to see what stays the same and what changes (for example, more of the younger generations go to university). How do family stories change and get passed on, where ‘a member of my family’s probably lived in this street since the turn of the century’ does this put pressure on the younger generation to stay put (as can happen on family farms)?

The idea for this research comes from previous work I did talking to farmers, many of them lived in the house they had grown up in and one farm had been in the same family for seven generations. All had a strong emotional attachment to ‘their’ land. I wondered about people who live in towns, could they ever have that same level of attachment to their place? Wigan, due to its stable population, seems an ideal place to test out this theory.

The longer you’ve lived in a place the more people you’re likely to know:‘when I go up Wigan I bet I meet about 70 people, hello, hello and you know all the family history don’t you, you know, through the generations’ and ‘Growing up I found it quite hard actually, especially when I was about the age 18, 19 when I was going for a drink, everywhere I went I’d see people me mum knew’. How does it feel to live in the kind of community where ‘everyone knows everyone’ ?

I am looking for families who have at least two, ideally three or more, generations living in Wigan, where all are Wigan born and bred. I would like to interview one or two from each generation about their lives, in a very open way, I don’t have a fixed list of questions. I expect each interview to take about an hour. I would like at least one person from each family to complete a photo diary over the course of a week, taking photos of each place visited and making brief notes about who they met there. I can supply cameras. People who have done this so far have said how much they enjoyed it. This will be followed by another shorter interview to discuss the content of the diary.

All identities will be disguised, taking part is completely confidential. This research is for my PhD in Sociology at the University of Manchester; I expect some of the findings to be published in the future.

Brown bins

The brown bin scheme originally introduced in 2008 was expanded in 2009 to 100,000 more properties. The remaining suitable properties will be added onto the scheme during 2010.

The majority of properties that have not yet got brown bins will receive them by the end of June 2010. There will however be a smaller number of properties, mainly flats and those on our rural collection round,that will get bins before the end of December 2010.

If you need a smaller bin than the normal one you can tell the Council by phoning 404364.

Monday, 1 March 2010

Rare Tara

I attended the meeting of Rare Tara - the Riding Lane Tenants and Residents group - last Thursday and once again found it to be a pleasant experience, a mixture of serious discussion and humour.

The issues that I said I will help the group with are as follows:

1. The cleaning of the backs at the top of Bolton Road

2. The tidying up of the car park for Viridor Wood off Bolton Road

3. The cleaning up of the backs off North Street

4. Helping the group to combat dog fouling in the area

5. Deterring HGVs using Riding Lane/Edge Green Road as a route to Golborne - it was thought that this happened because of the use of sat navs by drivers who did not know the area.

I will report on any progress made at their next meeting

Alley Gating

Some of you will no doubt have noticed that alley gates have been installed in several places in Ashton, often as a request from residents who have suffered from anti-social behaviour in their locality.

Below is a list of the gating orders that have been completed.

1 157 to 167 Princess Road,
2 1 to 19 Duke Street
3. 2 to 22 Princess Avenue
4.169 to 187 Princess Road,
5. 2 to 28 Duke Street and
6.1 to 27 Peter Stree
7.5-35 Windsor Road.

The programme for Ashton has been completed for the time being but if you feel that alley gating could be an answer to anti social behaviour where you live and there is clear evidence of such behaviour please contact me to discuss the matter.

Old Hall Drive - pavement renewal

The Council will soon be working on Old Hall Drive pavements.

The works are programmed to begin during the week of 1 March 2010 providing that the contractor has not having been delayed by poor weather elsewhere.

The Council will begin by rebuilding the pavement and replacing damaged kerbs. Where it is required to replace the existing kerb with new kerbs on vehicle crossings, residents have been requested not to use the new crossings for at least a day afterwards whilst the concrete sets.

If residents have any questions about the works, they should ring 404364.
They can also speak to a Council representative on site.

Monday, 22 February 2010

Jubilee Park - looking good

Here are the latest pictures of the new equipment on the children's playground on Jubilee Park.

Credit Union opened in Ashton


I was very pleased to be invited to the opening of a new branch of the Credit Union at Captain's Lane Community Centre last week. As someone who has worked with people suffering because of large debts and who have borrowed from lenders who charge extremely high interest rates I have seen at first hand what a difference joining a credit union can make to people's lives.

Unify Credit Union, Wigan’s largest financial co-operative has just opened its newest Community Collection Point at Captain’s Lane Community Centre in Aston-in-Makerfield, each Tuesday from 2.30pm to 3.45pm. The collection point is the second in the Ashton area as one also exists at the Priory Road Day/Community Centre each Thursday from 2.30pm to 3.45pm. This is Unify’s seventeenth community collection point, in addition to their 22 school collection points (where children can save alongside parents and school staff) and their main branch in Ince. Work is now underway to open their second branch at 12 Market Street, Leigh, enabling residents on the eastern side of the borough closer access to low cost loans, safe savings and financial help and support.

Background to the credit union

Unify was established in 2002. Its membership has grown year on year and currently Unify has over 5000 members saving with them and borrowing from them. With loan interest of just 1% per month (12.7% APR) on the reducing balance, you would be hard pressed to find a better place to borrow from, particularly in the current credit crunch climate. As a not for profit organisation members receive a share of the profits each year in the form of a dividend. In 2009 members received a 2% dividend on their savings. They also offer adult members free life insurance.

Anyone wanting further information should telephone 01942 701706.

I would also like to thank Ann Rampling her daughter Charlotte,Sheila Brown, Ken Barston and Joan Jones for giving up their time for free to make the credit union such an asset for the people of Ashton.

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Labour's candidate for Makerfield

Following the hustings at Stubshaw Cross Labour Club last Saturday the members of Makerfield constituency overwhelmingly selected Yvonne Fovargue to stand as Labour Party candidate for the forthcoming Parliamentary elections.

Yvonne is currently a Warrington Councillor and is Chief Executive of St Helens District Citizens Advice Bureau.

Ian McCartney, our retiring MP said that he was delighted with the choice that the members had made and that Yvonne was the best candidate to continue the excellent work his office had been doing for constituents over the past 23 years.

If you have questions for Yvonne or would like to know more about her please contact me on this blog or phone 07981509709

Monday, 1 February 2010

Rare Tara

Last Thursday I attended a meeting of the tenants and residents association held at Stubshaw Cross Labour club.

It was a pleasure to attend the meeting mainly because it was business like but at the same time conducted with an underlying sense of humour. It was good to hear the progress made in the area, especially the reduction of anti social behaviour.

The issues I promised to deal with were dog fouling, the provision of salt bins on the estate and problems of an unadopted road. I will be giving an update at the next meeting.

Skateboard park update

I attended a meeting of the Friends of Jubilee Park recently where the issue of a skateboard park was discussed.

Three potential skateboard schemes were presented to the group which included local skateboarders. After the presentation the skateboarders went on to choose the scheme they thought was the best and they unanimously agreed on one project

The scheme will now go ahead subject to certain checks by the Council and has to be finished by the end of March. It will be sited on one of the disused tennis courts in the park

Traffic calming in the Windsor Road area

Following the building of the new housing estate on Weavermill residents who lived in the vicinity were concerned about the extra traffic that the new houses would generate.

In an effort to minimise the risk of accidents Wigan Council will take the following

1 There will be a mandatory 20mph speed limit on Flora Street, Violet Street, Park View,Windsor Road, Heath Road and Weavermill Park, Ashton

2 Highway improvements will be undertaken within the area.

Improving the environment

Since sending my latest letter to residents regarding the work of the PACT team in Ashton residents have told me of the following grot spots which have been cleaned up.

Salkeld Avenue
Satinwood Road
On the footpath between Old Road and Council Avenue
In the alleyway from St Oswalds Road to Townfield
In the passageway from C Court to Gerard Street

Graffiti has been cleaned up at the front and back of the Queen's Club, Crompton Court, Heath Road, and on the fencing from Westonby Court to Dunsdale Avenue.

Greenfields Crescent Improvements

The Council will soon be working on Greenfields Crescent pavements.

The works are programmed to begin on Monday 1 February 2010 depending on the weather

The Council will begin by rebuilding the pavement and replacing any damaged kerb. The existing flagged footway will be relayed with the exception of the flags over vehicle crossings which will be replaced with bitumen macadam.

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Avoid the Christmas debt hangover

Unify Credit Union is warning people in Wigan and Leigh to avoid doorstep lenders and loan sharks as a way of dealing with the post Christmas financial hangover. A report by Circle Anglia has shown that over 100,000 people resorted to loan sharks to finance their Christmas spending and many more have obtained loans from high interest doorstep lenders charging in excess of 184% interest.

Carol Isherwood, Chair of Unify said ‘We are aware that many people borrowed from high cost lenders leading up to Christmas and are struggling to make their weekly repayments. Unify can help and if you are in this position, you need to give us a call on 01942 701706. ‘

Unify Credit Union is working in partnership with Trading Standards and the Illegal Money Lending Team to offer an alternative to residents of Wigan and Leigh. Unify provides low cost loans costing from just 1% per month (12.7% APR) and encourages members to start saving towards next Christmas.

A loan of £500 from a doorstep lender costs £17.50 per week at an interest rate of 272.2% and you would end up paying £410.00 in interest!

A Unify Saver loan for £500.00 would cost £10.60 per week, with an interest rate of 12.7% and the total interest would be £29.98, saving a massive £380.02!

Unify, regulated by the Financial Services Authority, now has over 4000 members using their services across the borough and has plans to open a new office in Leigh town centre in the coming weeks.

For further information telephoned 01942 701706 or 01942 517894 or call into the main branch at Smithy Green in Ince.

Monday, 11 January 2010

Bin collections - latest information

I have just been talking to Wigan Council who have informed me that the bins will be collected as normal from tomorrow. Unfortunately the Monday collection will not be done until next Monday. They tell me that excess rubbish will also be collected.

Transport - latest news

GMPTE is advising passengers to expect the ongoing disruptions to public transport services to continue on Sunday, with temperatures likely to stay well below freezing and the possibility of light snow showers.

Many bus services have been operating today, but main roads continue to be the best served routes. Metrolink services are running and rail operators will continue to operate as a full a service as possible.

Information about service levels will be made available over the course of the day.

Bus passengers are advised to check,,,,,, and for bus service updates.

Rail passengers are advised to check for service updates before travelling.

For the latest advice from Greater Manchester Police, log on to

Northern Rail

Sunday 10 January

A normal timetable will be in operation on all routes

Passengers are advised to check for up to date train running information, before travelling, online via Northern’s Live Departures page or by phoning National Rail Enquiries on 08453 017 641, or Northern Rail’s Customer Relations team on 0845 00 00 125.

Passengers travelling to airports for flights should check with their airline, as flights may also be affected.

Known disruptions to bus services

First Manchester


600 - Wigan to Leigh The service is currently not operating along Old Road, Ashton-in-Makerfield due to parked cars and ice conditions.

621/628 this service cannot use Helvelyn Road due to the icy condition.

Wigan Buses

611 - will try to operate via normal route, subject to Back Lane being clear and not icy

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Bin collection - new arrangements

From Monday 11th January, weather permitting Wigan Council is attempting an emergency bagged collection using smaller vehicles. These vehicles will transport the bagged waste to the refuse wagons at location points positioned within Monday's collection areas. To make you aware of these location points please see attachment. Please note this information relates to Monday's collections only, I will publish the relevant information for Tuesday's collections on Monday 11th January.

To assist collections from properties where the Council would normally collect from the rear of these properties it would be of great help if residents could place their bagged waste, if feasible, at the front of their properties as oppose to the back. This would greatly assist the teams in accessing as much bagged waste as possible, as the backs to these properties are very treacherous under foot.


Landgate La Landgate
Downall Green Rd (Nr Downall Gr R.C. Primary School) Bryn
Cooke St off Downall Green Rd Bryn
Junction of Low Bank Rd / Whitledge Rd Ashton
Low Bank Rd (pit pony car park) Ashton
Woodedge (spare land opposite Alderton Dr) Ashton
Junction of Wigan Rd / Osbourne Road Ashton
Junction of Bryn Rd / Lockett Rd Ashton
Junction of Bolton / East St Stubshaw Cross
Junction of Warrington Rd / Park View Ashton
Gerard Shopping Precinct (car park)


I think most residents do realise that it is not possible to grit all roads in the Ashton area and Wigan Council's policy is to keep the main roads clear.

However, if readers of this blog think that there are areas that do need gritting because of special circumstances they should contact me with their concerns.

Happy New Freezing Year

I would like to wish my reader a happy new year.

As somebody who is only happy when the temperature is 30 degrees Celsius (not Fahrenheit) I am finding the present conditions particularly difficult.

The aim of this blog while this freezing weather lasts is to give information which I hope will help residents of Ashton and elsewhere in the area.