Friday, 1 November 2013

Jubilee Park - action to be taken

 A Multi-Agency meeting was held this morning at the Fire Station in order to deliver immediate action to support the Greater Manchester Police (GMP) at Jubilee Park.

The following actions were agreed:
·         Brick walls to be  repaired by WLCT (1/11/13)
·         All gates will be locked during winter and only one opened at dawn (from 1/11/13)
·         Play area to be locked at dusk (from 1/11/13)
·         Hedges to be cut back to a lower level (1/11/13)
·         Operation Stay Safe stay to knock on and mediate with residents (1/11/13)
·         Operation Stay Safe to deliver letters to residents explaining the locking of the park gates and play areas at dusk (only one gate will be left open)
·        Greater Manchester Police (GMP) will  apply for Section 30 Dispersal order for the park and surrounding areas.
·         Restorative Justice and Voices of Engagement in the park (1/11/13) to engage and attempt to gain intelligence from young people.
·         GMP will increase presence in the park and areas over the weekend.
·         Restorative Justice will visit local schools next week based on intelligence from engagement
·         Rapid deployment CCTV to be installed (1/11/13) on Wigan Road to cover main entrance.
·         Media statement placed on LA website informing residents park about the above actions being locking etc.
·         Letter already sent to local residents regarding safe storage of wheelie bins

Thursday, 31 October 2013

Anti Social Behaviour around Jubilee Park

Following the appalling incidents in Ashton last Sunday the police are taking the following action:

 1. Four arrests have been made for the incident on Sunday night

2. Other individuals already identified by the police are to be visited by them this week. The police will consider other possible sanctions against those involved and their families e.g. in the case of council tenants imposing sanctions on them or more likely the parents.

3. The police are allocating staff to work in and around the Jubilee Park early in the evening to prevent such numbers escalating and taking a hold during the hours of darkness.

4. The police will be maintaining a presence each night to Monday 4th November and review the situation through the Bonfire night week.

5. The police have arranged for additional resources such as their Special Constables to work with them in the next two weeks in light of the difficulties in covering the park.

6. Police Community Support Officers are working with the local schools to provide inputs on the implications of being present in the park.

7. The police will be going house to house in the locality speaking to residents

8. The police have met Youth Services and are linking in with them to ensure a co-ordinated approach.

9. Media messages are being put out on twitter/face book

10. The police are considering the introduction of Section 30 Dispersal Orders.

This has been a very bad few months in Ashton for anti social behaviour. As a local Councillor I have been asking for extra policing and joint working with agencies in Wigan Council, a strategy which was successful earlier in the summer when residents of Ashton Heath were subjected to similar unacceptable incidents of anti social behaviour.

I hope that whoever threw fireworks at the crew who went to deal with the fire in question are prosecuted.I also agree with Borough Commander Sheridan when he says that parents have a responsuibility to know what their children are doing in the evening.

I am asking for a meeting with the local MP, representatives of Wigan council and  the police to find some long term solution to this problem.  

Monday, 30 September 2013

Road works latest Ashton town centre

There will be road works at the junction of  Wigan Road , Bolton Road, Gerard Street and Princess Road

National Grid Gas will commence urgent works to repair a gas leak on Sunday 29 September 2013 on this junction. Temporary traffic signals will be in place until the work is complete and delays are expected.

Furthermore, traffic will be prohibited from turning right out of Bolton Road into Wigan Road and will need to divert via Gerard Street and Bryn Street.

Monday, 15 July 2013

Improving unadopted roads in Ashton

As a part of the local Labour Councillors' ongoing campaign to improve unadopted  roads and back alleys in Ashton we were happy to fund the upgrading of the back alley behind houses at the top of  Bolton Road. Unfortunately we do not have enough to fund all the improvements needed in Ashton at once but we are committed to find funding on an annual basis and will be looking to improve an area from next April in the new financial year. 

The alley as the work is being done

Campaigning to Save our Royal Mail

I was happy to join with the mayor and other Councillors in welcoming  CWU delegates to Wigan who are conducting a nationwide campaign  against the privatisation of the Royal Mail.

Billy Rotherham mayor of Wigan signs the CWU petition  against privatising the Royal Mail
 If you wish to get involved please go to

Changes to Ring and Ride Bookings

With effect from 5th August 2013 booking and scheduling staff will be transferred from the Wigan depot to the main call centre in Manchester. This means that from the 5th August passengers will be able to:

  • Phone Wigan Ring and ride booking service between 8.00 am and 4.00 pm daily on 0845 688 3989
  • Book journeys up to 7 days in advance and up to one hour before
  • Book both Ring and Ride and Cross Boundary services using one telephone number
  • Make requests for several different journeys with one call
  •  Make general enquiries between 8.00 am and 10.30 pm daily on 0845 688 4933 

Visit to Hanover Diagnostic and Treatment Centre Leigh Hospital

In my role as Chair of Adult Health Social Care  Scrutiny Committee I think it is important that the committee get out of the town hall and see what is happening on the ground. We recently visited the  newly Hanover Diagnostic and Treatment Centre at Leigh Hospital. This state of the art building has the following services on three floors:

Ground floor - the  Women's Healthcare unit
First floor -  Urology unit
Second floor - the Endoscopy Unit.

Members of the committee were very impressed with the building and how welcoming it was both in decoration  and the attitude of the members of staff. They were also impressed with the fact that a patient could be diagnosed and treated in the same place without having to go to different buildings within the Trust.  

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Our next leaflet

Our new leaflet is ready for  next week. One of the good things about the Labour party is that members from other areas in the north west are always willing to help. So we will be welcoming members from Salford to Ashton in the coming weeks to help deliver our latest leaflet.

Friday, 21 June 2013

Ricky Tomlinson and the Shrewsbury 24 petition

In 1972, building workers held their first ever national strike for decent pay and health & safety at work. Five months after the strike ended, 24 trade union members were charged with offences allegedly arising from picketing in Shrewsbury in September 1972. They included individuals who were convicted of conspiracy and sentenced to imprisonment. Government files relating to the strike have been withheld from the National Archives even though more than 30 years have passed.

The petition calls upon the Government to release all Cabinet minutes, documents, discussion papers, civil service notes, reports and telephone records produced from 1972 to 1976 by Government departments, agencies and prosecuting authorities relating to the strike, the building workers' unions, the arrested pickets, the prosecutions at Mold and Shrewsbury and the subsequent appeals, as well as any other material pertaining to the case that fall outside the above time period.

You can add your name to the petition here

Thursday, 20 June 2013


Over several years I have been campaigning for better allotments for the residents of Ashton and have been helping the residents of Stubshaw Cross to get their own allotments. It has been a lengthy process to create more plots but working with Wigan Council things are beginning to improve

In Stubshaw Cross there are 24 'traditional' plots and 2 community plots. The community plots are available to the general public, community groups etc and include raised beds.

There will be a compostable toilet installed on the site in the coming weeks. This work has been progressed in partnership with The Conservation Volunteers.

There is a large plot due to be subdivided soon into several, smaller plots. Another plot will also be subdivided into smaller plots.

There are 90 people listed on the waiting list at Stubshaw Cross, around 6-7 of these people are using the community plots.

The timescales to fully reinstate all of the plots into functioning allotments is unclear and is driven by monetary resources It may be a case of reinstating plots, one at a time. This year the Council intends to clear and enclose a derelict plot containing building materials and also enclose another plot. This should turn 2 plots into at least 4 plots.

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Ray Doyle

Ray Doyle with his photos remembering the Top House

I was invited to an event in Garswood House to mark Alzheimers week. Some residents had contributed to a Memory Wall where they had pictures and words which brought to life jobs and family from their younger days.

One man who I found very interesting was  Ray Doyle who was at one time publican of the Top House - a pub now demolished on Liverpool Road near the Catholic Club. I spent some time with him as he told me what it was like in those days to manage a pub. He was very proud to tell me that in those days he was also a butcher and that he paid two stamps.

Please let me know if you have any memories of Ray and the Top House please contact me on this blog.    

Monday, 10 June 2013

Street Surgery Ashton Heath

Following complaints by residents on Ashton Heath about anti social behaviour on the Heath myself and Cllr Bill Clark did a street surgery on Saturday to listen to what the residents had to say. The day before our surgery we leafleted every householder advising them to phone 101 if they witnessed any anti-social behaviour. 

During  our visit we found that residents had used the 101 number which had massively raised the profile of the area with the police and there been more police presence the night before. As a result of talking with residents we have done the following:

1. Arranged a meeting with the police today

2. Contacted Wigan Council to liaise with the police to combat this problem in the future

3. Asked the local PCSOs to visit local schools to talk to certain students suspected of being involved with the incidents

4. Asked the Council to make good the damage to trees caused by some of the  youths.

Local residents told us that they were not concerned with young people being on the Heath. It was the aggressive behaviour of some of them and the damage to the Heath which they care for so much that concerned them and that required police presence.    

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Street surgery in Stubshaw Cross

As part of the Ashton Labour Councillors' ongoing street surgeries we have been on the Stubshaw Cross/Riding Lane estate over the past two weeks to listen to what the residents had to say. 

Nigel Ash with two Stubshaw Cross residents Emily Knox and  Dorothy Hesketh
 Generally most people were happy with life on the estate but there were a few problems which the Labour team will be dealing with. We also took part in an estate inspection which revealed a few more issues which we will be dealing with in conjunction with Wigan and Leigh Housing and Wigan Council's engineering department.

These street surgeries will be on going  and we aim to cover all of Ashton during the next year.    

Friday, 31 May 2013


The Ashton-in-Makerfield Café is held at the Diamond Club, Grey Road (Off Old Road), Ashton-in-Makerfield, WN4 9QW on the first Tuesday of the month from 10.30am to 12.30pm.

The dates of the meeting are 4 June, 2nd July, 6th August, 3rd September, 1st October, 5th November

Community Activities


A new Family Fun Explorer programme will take place at venues throughout the borough on Saturdays in May & June. It’s an ideal way of introducing basic map reading skills to children whilst having fun as a family.

Saturday 1st June – Mesnes Park (meet at Café)

Saturday 8th June – Pennington Hall Park meet at Park Lodge)

Saturday 15th June – Alexandra Park (meet at Play area)

Saturday 22nd June – Three Sisters (meet at Rangers Office)

Saturday 29th June – Pennington Flash (meet at Picnic Area)

All events run form 11 am till 1 p.m. at a cost of £1

Further details from Kim McBride on 01942 488483 or

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

the Youth Zone - the Big Opening Saturday June 8th

Wigan Youth Zone cordially invites you attend its official launch party….The Big Bang Opening!!!!

Starting from 1pm in Mesnes Park on Saturday 8th June, the event really will be a day to remember, and will include loads of fun for all the family.  On the day, we’ll have a packed itinerary, so please find a brief running order below so you can decide which parts of the event you’d like to attend:

1pm – Mesnes Park activities including bouncy castle, face-painting, inflatable assault course, paintballing and if by then you haven’t already, a chance to sign up as a member!

3pm – A short parade through the streets of Wigan, led by our capital sponsors, Martin Ainscough, Bill Ainscough & Dave Whelan, with the FA Cup trophy leading the way!

4pm – Official ribbon cutting at the Youth Zone

4pm – 7pm – Loads of regular activities that you’d expect to see every night at WYZ including climbing, dance, football, arts, music, pool tournaments, hot food and much, much more.

7.30pm – A showcase of local talent in our Sports Hall, culminating with our Battle of the Bands!

Everybody is welcome

Major Roadworks Bryn Road Ashton

As part of the ongoing North West Electrification project by Network Rail the railway bridge on Bryn Road will be reconstructed.

This means that the road will need a complete closure whilst the operation is undertaken on Monday 3rd June 2013 until Monday 9th September 2013 (14 weeks). Access will be available for pedestrians at all times because a temporary bridge footbridge will be in operation.

Also, works from utility companies will be undertaken prior to the closure removing their infrastructure from the bridge then returning same after the closure.

The diversion route for access on the east side of the bridge will be Wigan Road, Bolton Road, Bryn Road South and the route will be signed.

Network Rail also has a 24 hour national helpline if the public want more information on 08457 11 41 41. 

Friday, 24 May 2013

Beat it Team results

The following areas were cleaned up last week

1. Passage way from School Lane to Diane Road and Riding Lane from Avon Road

2. Golborne Road park - fenced areas marked Willow Grove and St Wlilfrids

3. Warrington Road in Ashton outside Byrchall and Edmund Arrowsmith schools.

4. Hilton Street, Bolton road

Thank you to those residents who contacted me to ask for areas to be cleaned up. Your information is very much appreciated.

Saturday, 18 May 2013


One of the things I do as a Councillor that gives me a lot of satisfaction is to fund voluntary groups who support young people to take part in activities, sporting or otherwise. That is why I was particularly  happy to make a contribution towards the local Cub group who are going on Cubjam.  34 Cub Scouts from the Wigan area are about to embark on a once in a Cub-lifetime opportunity - a pirate themed week long jamboree held at Gilwell Park, London.

The aim of Cubjam is to offer Cub Scouts from across the UK the opportunity to join together for a week of ‘jamboree’ style fun reminding the Cubs that they have much in common with each other - no matter their background or where they are from. The wide range of activities offered during Cubjam will help the Cub Scouts learn new skills, try new experiences and make new friends. Scouting is open to all, breaking down the barriers of race, religion or ethnicity. The location of the jamboree is a great way for parents to give children a bit of freedom to gain their independence in a safe environment in the National Centre for Scouting.the local  

Looks like a lot of fun  and I hope they all enjoy their time in London.      

On the doorstep

On our latest Councillors' doorstep surgery in Stubshaw Cross, of the forty or so people we talked to only one thought that Europe was an issue - and that came behind changes to welfare benefits.  


Tory activists are 'mad, swivel - eyed loons' 

No, that's not me writing that - I wouldn't be that impolite. These words were used by one of David Cameron's closest allies at a private dinner this week, according to the Times today 

Nuff said really - I can't better that. 


I was invited yesterday with Yvonne Fovargue MP to talk to members of Oasis, a voluntary group who support local people suffering from mental health, who are struggling financially, single parents or those who are just lonely.

We were very interested to hear the experiences of some of the group who had  mental health problems with claiming the benefits . It was clear that they thought that they had not been treated with respect at the Jobcentre because of their illness. As one member pointed out 'Anyone can see if you have a broken leg but mental illness is much more difficult to spot but is just as disabling.' Myself and Yvonne will be addressing this issue in the near future.

The other issue for this group is lack of premises.The need for their services are growing but they cannot expand because of a lack of  premises in Ashton They are a voluntary group with limited funding so they cannot afford to pay a large rent. Both myself and Yvonne together with the Council are trying to find suitable premises at an affordable rent but so far without success.  If anyone reading this article has any ideas please contact me.  


Last week I was also invited to the opening of the Think Ahead Community Stroke Group - a support group for people who have suffered a stroke. Their new offices are in Ashland House, Manchester Road Ince. 

The group is dedicated to prevent strokes through healthy living and showing that there is life after the illness. 

If you need support because you have suffered a stroke or you know of anyone who needs such support visit 

Wigan Youth Zone

I took the opportunity to visit the Youth Zone last week and what a fantastic facility it is.
There are so many opportunities for young people to participate in activities including sports, dancing ,music and a superb climbing wall. There will also be courses laid on to improve job opportunities for young people. 
Anybody is welcome to visit the Zone to take a look for themselves on the following dates:  
Thursday May 23 and Tuesday May 28:

On Saturday June 8 there is the Big Bang Opening. A fun-packed day for all the family - and it’s all free. More details to be announced nearer the time.

If you’d like to register to attend either the Business Support Event, or Community Open Night, email or call the Youth Zone on 01942 612061.

Friday, 17 May 2013

Same Old Tories part 2

Over 130 Tories vote against proposals in the Queen's speech and in effect David Cameron. This is hailed as party unity by one of the leading Eurosceptics. Funny choice of words. I would call it a shambolic mess.

No mention of the rise in  unemployment, oil companies accused of price rigging over a long period of time, claims that Amazon and Google are avoiding paying tax , the collapse of services in some A and E hospital departments and many more issues that concern the public.

Once again a divided Tory party has  got their collective  head stuck in the Eurosceptic sand and cannot see the important issues. Long may they continue to do so.

And it is good to see Nigel Farage get a rough ride in Scotland. Welcome to the real world of politics, Nigel  where you can't be everybody's flavour of the day all the time.

Monday, 13 May 2013


Congratulations to the players, manager and staff at Wigan FC  for their fantastic victory on Saturday to bring home the FA Cup. 

When I first came to live in Ashton in 1979 Wigan had just become a league club. Their progress from there  to Saturday's victory within 34 years  is little short of miraculous in these days when money is all in football. 

Good luck to the team on Tuesday against Arsenal 


Good to see the Tories continue to tear themselves apart over Europe which according to the polls comes about fifth place in importance for the British public. It's just like the final days of John Major's Government

Long may it continue.  

Tuesday, 30 April 2013


The Beat It team are in Ashton from 13 to 17 May 2013. This team will clean up any grot spots that are reported to local councillors. 

Please let me know if you know of any area that needs tidying up. I can be contacted on 736216 or e-mail

Saturday, 27 April 2013


I was honoured to be invited to the official opening of  the  Ashton Post Office performed by Makerfield MP Yvonne Fovargue. 

It is good to see that the Post Office has the confidence to invest  in Ashton  

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Nurse Martha Hogg JP

I recently attended the ceremony to commemorate the life and achievements of Martha Hogg the first woman Labour Councillor Wigan and one of the very few throughout the country.  In 1920 she was elected for the Lindsey Ward in Wigan and became part of the  Labour  group which for the first time was the largest party in the council . In those days the composition of the council was Labour 23 members, Conservative 21, Liberals 9 and Independents 2. Martha made her voice heard on subjects including pensions for the blind and ex service men and the plight of mothers she cared fro as a mid wife.

In 1931 she was appointed as a Magistrate to the Wigan Bench on which she served with great distinction until her death.

Martha died in 1934 and her funeral brought Wigan to a standstill.

Truly a remarkable woman.


The new Healthwatch Wigan (the organisation that has replaced LINk) has appointed Sir Ian McCartney as chairman of the board. 

Sir Ian who was a cabinet minister under a previous Labour Government will work with the other trustees to ensure the public’s views on health and social care are heard and acted upon.

For further information about Healthwatch contact Anne Turner on 01942 705522 or go to

Thursday, 18 April 2013

ASHTON CHILDREN’S CENTRE - new sessions starting this Spring

Buggy Fun Fitness – Join us for a Buggy walk and fitness with mum and baby in a safe and fun environment Monday 10.00am – 10.45am meeting at Ashton Clinic Cost £2.00

Young & Proud (YAP) – Session for parents aged 16 – 24 and their children, Thursdays 1.30pm – 2.30pm at Ashton Children’s Centre

Sensory Sensation – Stimulate your babies senses through music, sensory massage lights, taste and many more fun activities that will delight your baby and give you lots of new ideas for your home, Tuesdays 1.00pm – 1.45pm cost £2.50 for babies under 1

Rock to the Rhythm – Music and physical session that concentrates on communication skills, gross and fine motor skill development and early numeracy and literacy skills. Lots of songs with action, rhymes, puppets, props, bubbles, scarves and ribbons. Tuesdays 2.00pm – 2.45pm for children aged 1 – 4 years cost £2.50

Baby Rock – Fun singing session with varied activities each week that develop all areas of learning for babies. Fridays 1.00pm – 1.45pm aged 0 – 18 months cost £2.00

Baby Yoga – For babies under 1 Friday’s 2.00pm – 2.45pm cost £2.00 per week

Parent Weight Loss Support Group –Need help to lose weight why not come along to our child friendly parent weight loss group with help and advice on losing weight & keeping it off! Thursdays 9.30am – 11.30am cost £1.50

For more information on any of the above sessions or to see what else is available at Ashton Children’s Centre please contact Louisa on 01942 723965 or go to


It will be ‘Open House’ at CLS care homes in the Wigan area during Good Care Week (Monday 22- Sunday 28 April). The nationwide awareness campaign that aims to champion social care and shine a light on the many fantastic facilities and services available to older people.

Members of the local community are invited to come down for a look around, to browse displays and to share their views on what constitutes good care.

Drop into any of the homes below:

Ancliffe, Warrington Road, Goose Green, Wigan, WN3 6QA, 01942 230 439

Garswood House, Wentworth Road, Ashton-in-Makerfield, Wigan, WN4 9TZ, 01942 728 333

Golborne House, Derby Road, Golborne, Near Warrington, WA3 3JL, 01942 273 259

Greenacres, Green Lane, Standish, Wigan, WN6 0TS, 01257 421 860

Hourigan House, Myrtle Avenue, Leigh, WN7 5QU, 01942 672 922

Lakelands, Grizedale Drive, Higher Ince, Wigan, WN2 2LX, 01942 323 154

Lyndhurst, College Street, Leigh, WN7 2RF, 01942 606 319

Thorley House, Hazelmere Gardens, Hindley, Wigan, WN2 3QD, 01942 255 370

MP's change of address

The office of Makerfield MP Yvonne Fovargue has changed address. It is now:

Wigan Investment Centre
Waterside Drive
off Swan Meadow Road

tel. no 824029


There will be  sessions to help carers and parents understand the  changes to the welfare benefits system at  Platt Bridge Community Zone 81 Ribble Road Platt Bridge Wigan WN2 5EG

The session will be on 24th April 2013 from 10am – 3pm.  Lunch is NOT provided

There will be key speakers from Finance Team and Business Transformation Team Wigan Council

The main topics will be Housing Benefits; Council Tax; Disability Living Allowance; Personal Independence Payment

Please book your place by telephone Eileen at Embrace on 01942 233323


You may be aware that the Willow project which helped women with alcohol problems lost its funding and sadly shut its doors at the end of March. The committee has very kindly donated all the contents of the building to be auctioned and all the proceeds to be given to the Catkins Trust. The Catkins Trust was set up last October and is a fundraising charity, providing children affected by parents or carers drinking, with life’s essentials. Primarily, it is to meet the needs of the children who access Willow’s Young Persons Counselling Service (which will continue to run).

The Auction is to take place on the 19th April (with viewings available on the 17th and 18th of April between 1.30pm and 4pm), at The Mary Appleton Centre. Bengal St. , Leigh and opens at 1pm, with the auction beginning at 1.30pm. Refreshments will be on sale and there will also be a raffle.

Items available to buy include tub chairs, two seater chairs, kitchen table and chairs, coffee tables,

Friday, 5 April 2013

Labour win By Election

Congratulations to Sam Murphy who claimed a 57 per cent victory in the Pemberton by-election last night.

Sam received 1,084 votes out of the 1,890 cast. It means he is now one of the youngest councillors in the chamber and joins Labour’s Paul and Jeanette Prescott in the Pemberton ward.

Apart from the Labour win it is good news because Sam will be one of the half dozen or so Labour councillors who are in their twenties or early thirties. This bodes well for the future and shows that despite what we see in the press and on the media  young people are interested enough in politics to stand for election

The results:

Sam Murphy (Labour) 1,084

Alan Freeman (UKIP) 451

Peter Franzen (Community Action) 203

John Cartwright (Conservative) 89

Dennis Shambley (BNP) 63

Thursday, 4 April 2013

The new Welfare Reforms - useful contacts

What is welfare reform?

The government is introducing many changes to benefits from April this year. These changes will affect working age people across the borough. Some decisions about how these changes will work in Wigan will be for the council to decide.

The main reforms that will affect Wigan are:

  • Localisation of Council Tax Support (Council Tax Benefit)
  • Benefit Reforms – under-occupancy, benefit cap,
  • Personal Independence Payments (PIPs) will replace Disability Living Allowance (DLA
  • Universal Credit (UC)
  • Social Fund changes
When will the reforms be introduced?

The main reforms will mostly be implemented over the next 2 years with many changes being introduced from April 2013.

Where can you go for advice and guidance with things that affect them?

More information is available on the council Website;

The Citizens Advice Bureau can help with debt counselling and welfare benefits advice and can be contacted at Tel: 0844 8269713

Wigan Independent Advice Centre – can help with welfare benefits advice and information Tel: 01942 489984

Staff are also on hand to help through customer services at the Wigan Life Centre and also through the other local life centres.

AGMA Help with your rent Team – can speak to your landlord on your behalf and provide help if you are affected by under-occupancy Tel 0845 120 2093

Wigan and Leigh Housing Options - can talk through your options in terms of moving or finding other accommodation Tel 01942 487717

Jobcentre Plus – can help with finding work and applying for Universal Credit Tel 0845 6060 234

If you require more information please contact me on 736216 or on

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Ashton Library - update

Author Steve Hartley visited the library in February as part of the Children’s Literature Festival. Approx 60 children attended from St Thomas’ school who had an absolutely amazing time.

The library has has facilitated 5 class visits with 201 children in total and one re arranged for March.

They now run a joint monthly Family Fun and Craft session with the Children’s Centre which was very well received with approximately 30 attendees.

Easter holidays activities include an Under 5s party and pottery with the Clayman.

Interest has been shown already on the advertised forthcoming Universal Jobmatch course which will be run by ACL and will hopefully be in place for April.

In February the Library  had 11,296 visitors to Ashton Library, issued 6,401 items and handled 1,059 enquiries, while 827 people attended 30 events and 1,312 people spent 947 hours on the public access computers.

Road works update Bryn Road South

Electricity North West have commenced emergency work to repair a major hv cable fault at the junction with Bryn Road South.In order to carry out the work safely temporary traffic signals will be in operation for the duration of the works.

Ashton Post Office - update

The opening of the revamped Ashton post office has been delayed due to unforseen circumstances. The expected re-opening date is now Saturday 30 March 2013.

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Protest against the Bedroom Tax

Cllr Ann Rampling Yvonne Fovargue MP Cllr Bill Clark
 and myself with other membrs of the campaign
Last Saturday in Ashton town centre I took part in an event organised by local Labour Councillors protesting against the bedroom tax. 

This tax can have come from the Tories who are steadily becoming the nasty party again. This tax will hit roughly 5,000 households in the Wigan borough and affected households will lose between £14 and £25 a week.

The people affected are on very low income already. 2/3 thirds  of households hit are home to someone who is disabled. Divorced parents whose kids come to stay will be badly affected as well grandparents who want their grandchildren to stay with them but now will not be able to do so because of lack of space.

The Tory led Government want people to move into one or two bedroomed properties form their existing 'under occupied 'properties. The problem with this is that in Wigan there are only 852 such properties available and the demand is over double that.

 Many people who signed our petition said they  were not affected by the bedroom tax but were keen to express their opposition to this blatantly unfair tax. 

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

New Community Health Centre in Ashton - update

Wigan Borough Clinical Commissioning Group gave its support to the development of a new health facility in Ashton at its January Board meeting. Due to the major changes taking place in the NHS from 1st April, this scheme will now be progressed by NHS Property Services Ltd who will be taking a lead on the majority of developments of NHS property.

The CCG remain committed to supporting the Ashton development and will continue to work with NHS Property Services Ltd to move the scheme forward as quickly as possible. The preferred site for the new development remains Ashton Town Hall and we will be working with NHSPS and the Local Authority to secure the site if the scheme is formally approved.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Superfast upgrade

Article from Wigan Evening Post March 14th
News came last week that BT will be installing new fibre cable optic cabling in Ashton and Atherton as part of a £2.5bn regional roll out. 40,000 homes across the area will be able to get this service as a result of this investment. This means that anything that can be done online both for businesses and an households will be able to be done quicker. It also shows that a big company like BT have got confidence in this area for them to make such a massive investment.

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Campaigning for interest cap for Pay Day loans

Last Saturday I took part in the Borough wide campaign to highlight the high interst charged byPay Day lenders in Ashton town centre.- see picture below.  Also taking part were Makerfield MP Yvonne Fovargue, Sir Ian McCartney, staff from the local Citizens Advice Bureau and other Labour councillors.

I was delighted to see in the news yesterday that The Office of Fair Trading has given the UK’s much-criticised payday lenders just 12 weeks to clean up their act or be shut down. It is also planning to refer the industry to the Competition Commission.

In a damning report published this morning after a 12-month review of the sector, the consumer watchdog said its investigations revealed evidence of widespread irresponsible lending and lenders failing to comply with the standards required of them.

It proposes to refer the payday lending market – where short term loans are charged at APRs higher than 4000% - to the Competition Commission after it found evidence of deep-rooted problems in how lenders compete with each other.

Clive Maxwell, OFT chief executive, said: “We have found fundamental problems with the way the payday market works and widespread breaches of the law and regulations, causing misery and hardship for many borrowers.

“Payday lenders are earning up to half their revenue not from one-off loans, but from rolled over or re-financed deals where unexpected costs can rapidly mount up.

“We are proposing to refer this market to the Competition Commission, which has wider powers to get to heart of the problems in this market and to identify and impose lasting solutions that protect consumers.”

The OFT review found evidence of problems throughout the lifecycle of payday loans, from advertising to debt collection, and across the sector, including by leading lenders that are members of established trade associations.

Particular areas of non-compliance included: lenders failing to conduct adequate assessments of affordability before lending or before rolling over loans; failing to explain adequately how payments will be collected; using aggressive debt collection practices; and not treating borrowers in financial difficulty with forbearance.

The OFT didn’t name and shame any particular firms, but damned the whole industry by demanding that the fifty leading lenders, each of which was inspected, must take rapid action to address the OFT’s concerns.

They must demonstrate within 12 weeks that they are fully compliant, or risk losing their licence. Failure to cooperate with this process will trigger enforcement action.

“Irresponsible lending is not confined to a few rogue payday lenders – it is a problem across the sector,” said Mr Maxwell. “If we do not see rapid, significant improvements by the 50 lenders we inspected they risk their licences being removed. Payday lending is a top enforcement priority for the OFT.”

Monday, 4 March 2013

Wooden Benches on Skitters Wood

Visitors to Skitters Wood will notice new benches with  poems carved. into them written by local school children.

The idea came from Karin Dagnall and Ashton Friends of Skitters Wood who have been working with Ashton school children to write poems about Skitters Wood. The project was highlighted in last Tuesday's Wigan Evening Post - see picture above.

Local Ashton Councillors have funded this project and we are delighted with the results of this co-operation between a local environmental  group and local school children

Friday, 1 March 2013

Ashton Library


During January the basic computer course has continued to be a success. There has been full attendance at the sessions with 8 people attending each week.

Ashton Sure Start Children’s Centre was inspected by Ofsted who observed a library Under 5s session. The inspector  was very positive about the way it was progressing.

Visitors numbers were affected by the bad weather we experienced during January. There were 11,392 visitors to Ashton Library, issued 6,789 items and handled 1,608 enquiries, while 428 people attended 32 events and 1,248 people spent 1,003 hours on the public access computers. Volunteers contributed 6 hours work in the library.

Thursday, 28 February 2013

Road works - latest updates

Electricity North West are carrying out major works upgrading their network between Pemberton and Ashton in Makerfield. Over several weeks works will impact on major routes, one of which is  Wigan Road, Ashton in Makerfield

Work commenced on Monday 25th February 2012 between Soughers Lane and Landgate Lane. Temporary traffic signals are in operation at all times for approximately 1 week

Old Road, Ashton in Makerfield
Carriageway resurfacing will be carried out on Old Road between house number 14 and Bardale Grove. To undertake the works the road may be closed between Bryn Street and Eastwell Road on the following dates Sunday 3rd March 2013 and Sunday 10th March 2013 The diversion route is via Wigan Road and Cansfield Grove.

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

New Rules for Benefits Claimants

From April 2013 people of working age (under 62) in Wigan will begin to move onto Universal Credit. Universal Credit replaces all income related benefits such as Income Support, Job Seekers Allowance, Employment Support Allowance, Child Tax Credit and Working Family Tax Credit. Universal.

 Credit is paid monthly and will also include the claimants Housing Benefit payment with the responsibility of paying the rent falling on the tenant.Claim for Universal Credit, or to notify DWP of any changes to Universal Credit must be done online.

It is recognised that some residents will need help with this new system. Wigan & Leigh Housing in partnership with Wigan Council are offering a series of FREE courses throughout the Borough to help people GET Online or to manage their money more effectively.

If you would like more details contact  0800 389 7652  Text: 07797 806546


Free Office Furniture

Wigan and Leigh Housing has undergone a major reorganisation and have been able to make significant savings on accommodation costs within the Borough. Consequently they are in the position of having some used furniture which they would like to offer to local Voluntary Groups and Charitable Organisations at no cost provided. Groups can collect and agreed to receive the items in good faith.
Items that will be available on the day are:
Desk, tables, chairs, filing cabinets, cupboards, desk screens, pedestals, notice boards etc..

An Open Day has been arranged for Wednesday the 20th of March at the Halls Removal Store, Phoenix Works, Tram Street, Platt Bridge, WIGAN, WN2 5JE

from 1000 until 1400 hrs. It will be on a strict first come basis and nothing can be reserved in advance. Organisations must provide their own transport.

If you require any further information please do not hesitate to contact David Spilsbury, details below.

David M Spilsbury, Furnished Homes Manager, Wigan and Leigh Housing, Unity House, Westwood Park Drive, WIGAN, WN3 4HE Telephone: 01942 70 50 40

Warrington Road / Liverpool Road junction

Electricity North West have had to set up temporary 4 way lights at this junction due to an emergency fault.The lights were set up last night and I will give an update as more information is received

Monday, 25 February 2013

End of free swimming

As a direct result of the vicious cut in expenditure imposed on Wigan Council by the Tory Liberal Coalition Government the Cabinet decided at the meeting of the 8th February to abolish free swimming from the 1st April 2013. 

This measure will save the Council and the PCT £106,000 a year.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Mildred Millington

It was with great sadness that I learnt this week of Mildred Millington who was Bryn  Councillor for many years. I would like to extend my sympathies to all her family.

The funeral will be held on Monday 25th February at 10.45 in St Thomas's church Ashton.

Friday, 15 February 2013

Upgrading the railway line from Wigan to Huyton

The railway line from Wigan to Huyton is due to be electrified in December 2014 and one of the first requirements is to identify and modify any bridges on the route in order to accommodate the overhead line equipment OLE.

As part of this modernisation Network Rail  need to reconstruct the road bridge spanning the railway on Bryn Road and this will require the road to be closed for a period of time. Network Rail has previously tried to lower the track at this location to prevent highway disruption; however unfortunately this has not provided sufficient clearance for the OLE. The works should start this summer.

Network Rail  intend to inform nearby residents of the work via letter well in advance of the work.

If you require any further information about the modernisation of the railway line you can visit the electrification section of Network Rail's website at:

Newly Refurbished Post Office in Ashton

As a part of the three year investment and support programme the Post Office is to modernise the main post office in Ashton.

This will mean:

  • a newly refurbished branch providing a modern open plan environment for customers
  • the same products and service
  • longer opening hours - the post office will be open on Saturday from 9.00 to 5.30 pm
  • selected Post Office services will be available at the retail counter during shop opening hours. 
The new look post office is scheduled to open at the current location on Thursday 28th March at 9.00.

However it will need to close for refurbishment on Tuesday 12th March at 5.30 pm. Customers will have to use the post offices in  Golborne Asda or Old Road during that time.

Friday, 25 January 2013

Change of venue for surgeries

From tomorrow onwards all of the Ashton councillors' surgeries will be held in Ashton Library.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

The non collection of bins on Monday

The background to the problem

On Monday the bins throughout the Borough were not collected because of the adverse weather conditions. Given the amount of snow that fell , and the conditions of many of the minor and residential roads across Wigan Borough, the Council had little choice other than to suspend services on Monday. 

I realise that it is frustrating for residents when the Council cannot collect their bins. But in truth they had little choice. A waste collection vehicles weighs around 26 tonnes. Sending them down icy roads would have been irresponsible. So, to protect the safety of the public and the staff, they had to cancel the service.

As soon as the decision was taken on Monday morning, the collection crews were immediately redeployed to other duties including clearing snow from footpaths and gritting pavements.

When will the bins that have been missed be collected again?
The current position for those whose collection has been missed is that the Council will not be returning until their next scheduled collection. For those whose black bin collection has been missed, they can leave side rubbish next to their bin at their next collection and the Council will take it away. Unfortunately, if your recyclable bin was missed, the Council will not be accepting side waste.

If residents have excess rubbish the Council  advise them to take it to their nearest household waste recycling centre.

Why will there not be an extra collection?
The decision not to return to missed collections until the next scheduled collection is in line with council policy, which was reviewed last year when the waste collection changes were introduced. Unfortunately, the Council  do not have the resources to offer an alternative collection and cannot afford to offer an extra collection.

It should be noted here that Government cuts mean that Wigan Council has £66 million less to spend between 2010 and 2015 and this year the council has to make £16 million in savings. 

I do appreciate the inconvenience that has been caused by the non collection of bins this week and would welcome comments from readers of this blog

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Opening of the new childrens centre in Ashton

I attended the official opening of the Childrens Sure Start Centre in Ashton Library last Saturday. It was good to see so many parents and children attending  the event and enjoying the activivties that were laid on by the staff.

For those who don't know Sure Start Children’s Centres (for children under 5 years old and their families) are part of the previous Labour  government's initiative to give every child the best possible start in life. Each Children’s Centre has a range of services and a wealth of information that families can access to help improve their lives, their children’s lives and benefit their community.

If you want to know more about what's on at Ashton library please log on to

For more information about Sure Start you can contact Louisa Sharpe  at the Ashton Children's Centre  Tel: 01942 723965

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Are you having difficulty paying your mortgage or rent?

Shelter has found a 60 per cent rise in people struggling to pay their rent or mortgage in the last 12 months. As a result, almost a million people turned to a payday loan to help pay for their housing. These results reveal the spiral of debt that people are falling into, in order to keep a roof over their heads.

If you are finding it difficult to pay your rent or mortgage you can  get help from Shelter via their online advice and free telephone helpline number: 0808 800 4444

You can tweet their online advice details or retweet them. You can find them here: @Shelter

I would urge anyone worried about paying their rent or mortgage to seek out early housing advice as soon as possible and not bury their head in the sand, hoping the problem will go away.

Good news for bus travellers - cheaper fares

I received the following information from Councillor Mark Aldred, Labour Chair of the Bus Network & Transport for Greater Manchester  Services Sub Committee about bus fares in the area.

Following the take over by Stagecoach the ticket prices for the Wigan and Manchester services are as follows.

  • Day rider - £3-50
  • Child day rider - £1.95
  • Day rider plus one (1adult &1child) -
  • £5-80 Group day rider ( 2 adults &upto 3 children) -
  • £8-50 Mega rider 7 day -
  • £12 Child easy rider (for 5 to 16 yr olds with Igo card and TFGM Orange concessionary pass holders)
  •  for Wigan borough travel only Wigan Rider - £9 all day

Friday, 4 January 2013

20 mph speed limit

A Borough wide 20mph speed limit in residential streets proposal was presented to the Wigan Council's Traffic Management Unit meeting on the 23rd October.  This proposal will improve road safety, reduce the severity of casualties and improve the local environment.  The proposal was accepted by the Unit and the statutory procedures are now being followed.  
A dedicated webpage has been set up on the Council's webpages which can be viewed at:
The webpage provides details of all the residential streets which we intend to introduce a 20mph speed limits on.  There is also a number of Frequently Asked Questions on the webpage which will help answer many of the common queries from residents and help you as Members.    
There is an article in the latest copy of the Borough Life promoting the 20mph speed limit plan and details of the website where residents can find out more and have their say.
The Legal Notice has been advertised in the local papers this week (copy attached) which informs residents that they can inspect details of the streets affected and the proposed dates for implementation at Wigan and Leigh town halls on weekdays or view the website.  The consultation period runs until the end of January 2013 and any comments or objections to the proposal must be made in writing, specify the grounds thereof, and must be made to Head of Service - Legal and Risk, Town Hall, Library Street, Wigan quoting reference RD/LR/SYF/N22/632/N-2814.

Latest Road WorksOld Road / Nicol Road / Whitledge Green, Ashton in Makerfield

Carriageway resurfacing will be carried out on Wigan Road betweenWhitledge Green and Nicol Road on the following dates under temporary traffic signals:

Sunday 13th January 2013

Sunday 20th January 2013

Sunday 27th January 2013

However, to carry out the works safely there will be no access or egress onto Wigan Road at Old Road, Nicol Road and Whitledge Green junctions. A local diversion will be in place.

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Sign of the Times

Yvonne Fovargue MP (centre) with Andrew Bullen (far left) and volunteers at food  bank on Ashton market

A food bank under the name of Oasis  has been set up by church goers in Ashton to  provide food and drink for hard up families in the Ashton, Golborne, Garswood and Bryn area. The food is being distributed from a stall on Ashton market every Friday morning which is being provided free of charge by Wigan council.  Recipients of the food parcels are referred to Oasis by partner organisations that have identified them as being in crisis. These organisations include Job Centre Plus, Wigan Independent Advice Centre (WIAC) Wigan and Leigh CAB, Ashton clinic, the Police and GPs.

As Yvonne says ' It is a sad reflection of our economy that food banks are needed in our area in the 21st century. '