Monday 28 November 2011

Borsdane Precinct Update

I know that a lot of hard work has contributed to today's announcement that the council has entered into an agreement with a developer over the future of Borsdane Precinct, especially when many developers are not looking to commit to projects in the current economic uncertainty.

Wigan Council and the developer are to be congratulated on arriving at this agreement and I remain optimistic that this decision will lead to a brighter future for Borsdane and lift the blight that has been a feature of this area for far too long.

Deputy Leader of the Council, Cllr David Molyneux said, "I am delighted that we have progress on Borsdane Precinct. The condition of the site has long been an issue for the community as well as being a centre for anti-social behaviour. This opportunity for a fresh start is good news for everyone and although we are only at the very start of the scheme, things are now in progress and I feel confident that we can look forward to major improvements to the precinct in 2012.”

The Developer has six months from now to satisfy the conditions of the arrangement, after which the council will transfer title to the retail element of the scheme and grant the building licence of the residential site at the same time.

Friday 18 November 2011

Hindley Green Community Primary School

Today, I was delighted to open the new school building along with Leigh MP, Andy Burnham.

Cllr Sue Loudon informed guests that this has been an 8 year project leading up to today's official opening and parents and pupils were on hand to tour the new buildings.

Congratulations to staff, governors, pupils and parents for their hard work and patience during the planning and building works.

Tesco voucher scheme provides local schools with equipment worth £8,000

Since 1992 Tesco, through the voucher collection promotions, has provided UK schools with access to around 4 million free pieces of equipment worth £170 million.  Last year, 36 schools and clubs in Makerfield collected a total of 230,542 vouchers, with 31 of them ordering equipment worth £8420.

I enjoyed meeting staff and pupils from local schools and hearing what they have been able to do with the vouchers they have collected.

Staff at Tesco Hindley are to be commended for their support.  It is a worthwhile scheme and it has been going a long time bringing significant benefits to many local schools.

Wednesday 16 November 2011

Remembrance Sunday

On Sunday, I attended the Remembrance Service at St Thomas & St Luke's Church in Ashton in Makerfield.

On behalf of the people of the Makerfield constituency, I laid a wreath at the cenotaph to mark the contribution of those service personnel who have paid the ultimate sacrifice.

Thank you to all those involved in the arrangements on the day and in particular to the members of Ashton Royal British Legion.

Monday 14 November 2011

An essential service for Wigan and the nation.

On Wednesday 9 November, I pledged support for the future of funding for the Citizens Advice service at a event held at Parliament to re-launch the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Citizens Advice, hosted by the Group's new Chair, Stephen Lloyd MP.

Citizens Advice Chair, John Gladwin, called on Parliamentarians to pledge the following: "I will do all I can to ensure that the Citizens Advice service has the funding it needs to continue providing vital and high quality advice and advocacy in my local community and across the country."

Every year Citizens Advice Bureaux help over two million clients with over seven million problems, providing support to people who often have nowhere else to turn, from over 3500 community locations across the UK.

Funding cuts pose a significant threat to the Citizens Advice service and bureaux capacity to provide help to those who need it. This financial year Citizens Advice Bureaux in England and Wales have already seen a seven per cent drop in the total number of people they were able to help as a direct result of cuts to funding.

Parliamentarians from across the political spectrum work closely with the Citizens Advice service both in their local communities and at a national level.

At a recent Prime Minister's Questions, David Cameron responding to my question said that the Citizens Advice service, 'is probably the finest organisation in our country for helping people' and is the charity he works with most closely in his constituency.

In my constituency, working with my local Citizens Advice Bureau, I see on a daily basis how advice really can change people’s lives. Even people at crisis point can find their situation swiftly improved if they seek advice. I’m delighted to be able to pledge support for the Citizens Advice service.

The advice provided by the Citizens Advice service is free, independent, confidential, and impartial, and available to everyone regardless of race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, religion, age or nationality. For online advice and information click here. 

Citizens Advice Bureaux in England and Wales advised 2.1 million clients on 7.1 million problems from April 2010 to March 2011. Out of 22 national charities, the Citizens Advice service is ranked by the general public as being the most helpful, approachable, professional, informative, effective / cost effective, reputable and accountable. (nfpSynergy’s Brand Attributes survey, May 2010).

Most Citizens Advice service staff are trained volunteers, working at around 3,300 service outlets across England and Wales.

Thursday 10 November 2011

Campaign Against Police Cuts

Lisa Nandy MP and Paddy Lillis
The shopworkers' Union Usdaw has launched a campaign against the police cuts branding the Tory-led Coalition's attack on police budgets a threat to the safety of all shopworkers.

The Union has produced a leaflet and petition against the cuts and will use its annual Respect for Shopworkers Week, which takes place between this week, to urge shoppers and members of the public to back the campaign and sign Usdaw's petition.

I joined Usdaw Deputy General Secretary Paddy Lillis and Lisa Nandy MP at the launch in the House of Commons.

Paddy Lillis said, "Every minute of every day another shopworker is assaulted, threatened or abused. That is why one of Usdaw's major campaigns is called Freedom From Fear.  Shopworkers should be free from the fear of violence, threats and verbal abuse and it should never be accepted as just a part of the job.”

"Under the Labour Government, violent incidents against shopworkers halved because Labour invested in 12,000 additional uniformed police officers.  Does anyone really believe that by cutting frontline policing, crime will continue to fall - as it did with Labour?  That is not the logical conclusion I draw.  I fear that when these cuts bite we will be left with a much less effective police force that will be grossly under-staffed and terribly demoralised.”

The first duty of Government is to protect us all.  That is where this Tory-led Coalition will fail us with their unprecedented cuts in funding that will affect frontline policing.  Don't just take my word for it - the Police Federation are saying that '20% cuts to policing are criminal'. With a predicted loss of 2,944 frontline police officers in Greater Manchester, I am very concerned about the effect on local crime levels.

You can sign Usdaw’s petition against police cuts here.

Tuesday 8 November 2011

Here's to Pubs!

I joined with Wigan MP, Lisa Nandy and dropped in on Landlord Ian Thorpe at The Anvil on Dorning Street to celebrate British Pub Week.

Pubs inject an average of £80,000 into their local communities and pay over £100,000 in tax. The industry employs over 540,000 people directly and 380,000 in associated trades and account for 35% of the ‘eating out’ market (Source: The Publican).

Landlord Ian Thorpe welcomed us and spoke about the unique challenges facing the industry, including over regulation, alcohol tax hikes and the effect cheap booze sold by the off licence trade has on the pub.

Well-run pubs are the bedrock of community life – They deserve support and government needs to back pubs and reform the beer tie to deliver a fairer deal for consumers.

Lisa Nandy MP said, "Wigan boasts some top class pubs which provide a vital social and leisure service to the town. As a fan of real ale I was delighted to be able to sample some of the brews on offer at the Anvil.”

Unsung Heroes of our Emergency Services

Photo courtesy of Chris Tennant of Bolton MRT

I recently visited Bolton Mountain Rescue Team (MRT), a group of 40 volunteers who for the past 40 years have been helping to rescue people in trouble.

Bolton MRT territorial area of operation includes the Wigan Borough I attended MRT’s operational HQ at Ladybridge Hall on Chorley New Rd, Bolton on Friday, 4th November.

The visit was arranged by Bolton MP, David Crausby for the following purposes:

• To introduce the work of the Bolton Mountain Rescue Team, and the liaison at a local level with the Statutory Emergency Services.
• To thank local Members of Parliament for the recent Government announcement of national financial support for civilian mountain rescue teams in the UK, via an equipment grant to be administered by Mountain Rescue England and Wales.
• To highlight the work of Mountain Rescue in assisting the Statutory Emergency Services via partnership multi agency responses to emergencies within our local communities.
• An opportunity to display the new emergency vehicle livery Bolton MRT have adopted for all five Emergency vehicles.
• To discuss with the Members of Parliament present the ongoing issue of gaining VAT exemption for all equipment purchases made by mountain rescue teams.

Photo courtesy of Chris Tennant of Bolton MRT

I learned that the modern day MRT was much more than just a mountain rescue operation. From looking for missing persons in urban areas to assisting the Police, Fire and Ambulance services during the bad winters of the last two years, Bolton MRT is on hand to support and assist the statutory agencies 365 days a year.

They have done this heroic work without statutory funding, relying on donations and grants for 40 years, so I was pleased that national funding for equipment will relieve some of the financial pressures that they face. We should all be proud of our MRT - they really are the unsung heroes of our emergency services.

Monday 7 November 2011

Curry House 'Highly Commended' in Lyca Tiffin Cup

Hindley’s Mahabharat on Market Street is celebrating after it was announced that it had been ‘highly commended’ in the Lyca Tiffin Cup 2011.

The Lyca Tiffin Cup is a competition to find the best south asian restaurant in Britain. MPs from across the country were asked to nominate a restaurant in their constituency.

The name ‘Tiffin’ is given to the containers that transported light meals. The tiffins, or tiffin boxes, are made up of three porcelain or metallic round trays with handles and lids in which lunches are delivered to workers.

A complex network of Dabbawallahs deliver the tiffins to workers. The practice is still in use in India today.

The judging panel included BBC Comedy Goodness Gracious Me star Nina Wadia.

I nominated Mahabharat earlier this year. The judging process included a mystery diner who sampled the cuisine, decor and ambience of Mahabharat.

Mahabharat received a certificate and embroidered Lyca Tiffin Cup 2011 chef jacket to mark their achievement in this year’s competition today.

This is a prestigious award and to be honoured in this way by the judging panel is testament to the fantastic efforts of all the staff. If curry is your favourite cuisine, then pop along to Mahabharat. You will be assured of a warm welcome.

St Leonards based Indian restaurant Taj Mahal finished as winners of the national Tiffin Cup competition. The Taj Mahal was nominated by Hastings MP, Amber Rudd.

Thursday 3 November 2011

Type 2 Diabetes Test is quick and simple!

At a special MPs testing event held in Westminster, I took the quick and simple Type 2 diabetes test to help raise awareness of the need for public testing for the disease.

I was also issued with a Silver Star Pedometer to measure the amount of steps taken during a Parliamentary Week as part of the 50 day challenge.

The NHS spends £1 million per hour on diabetes related illnesses and it is estimated that more than one million people in the UK are unaware that they have the condition.

Silver Star launched in January 2007 is a registered charity campaigning to raise diabetes awareness. The Charity runs Mobile Diabetes Units (MDU) that carry out important diabetes testing. They seek to promote culturally sensitive healthcare, with particular regard to the high prevalence of diabetes in the major towns and cities of Britain. The Units travel to local community centres, schools, work places and other organisations.