Friday 31 May 2013

Walk to Work Week

I joined Living Streets Manager of Policy and Public Affairs, Dr Kevin Golding-Williams and Wigan Council employees taking part in Walk to Work Week.

Council staff formed teams to see who could log the most walks during National Walking Month and win prizes donated by local businesses.

I was delighted to support National Walking Month and the fantastic work that Living Streets does championing pedestrians. We’re probably all guilty of not being as physically active as we should and Walk to Work Week is a great way to see how you can build some exercise into your day.

I hope other people in the area will be inspired by the walking teams at Wigan Council.  Sometimes a little bit of competition can be just the motivation you need.

Thursday 30 May 2013

Congratulations to Hindley Green Primary on achieving Eco-School Award

Hindley Green Primary is the latest school to achieve the Green Flag Eco-Schools Award.

To celebrate their achievement, the school opened a memorial garden and pupils buried a time capsule containing memories of the school, and planted a Malus Royalty Tree to mark the occasion.

The school worked closely with Wigan Council’s environmental education officers to come up with eco-friendly ideas to achieve the green flag. Pupils and teachers have since transformed the school – creating vegetable patches, stepping up their recycling routine by using compost bins, a water butt and making sure all their rubbish is separated properly. They’ve also been busy building wildlife habitats such as nest boxes, bug hotels and hedgehog houses to attract wildlife.

Katie Laithwaite, Eco Co-ordinator at Hindley Green Primary, said: “Everyone at our school has been working hard to become a Green Flag Eco-School and we are very proud of our achievements.

“We began our Eco-Schools journey just one year ago and the ethos around school has really improved. The children and staff have a greater awareness of the need to take care of our precious planet now to have a positive impact upon its future.

“The official opening of our memorial garden was held to celebrate all our school has achieved. It’s our opportunity to reflect upon our schools history and remember past pupils and staff who have supported us along our journey to make our school a success to build a better future together.”

Obtaining the Green Flag award is something that the whole school and its surrounding community can be very proud of. The lessons we learn as children influence our behaviour throughout our lives and I was very impressed by the knowledge pupils exhibited about the environment.

Friday 24 May 2013

Walk to School Week

This week, I've been encouraging children and parents to swap cars, buses and trains for a ticket to stride during Walk to School Week.

Walk to School Week (20-24 May) is an opportunity for parents and children across the UK to try walking to school. Along with Walk to Work Week (13-17 May), Walk to School Week forms a part of National Walking Month, a month dedicated to celebrating the benefits of walking.

I visited Hindley Green J&I School to help promote the week. Living Streets runs the national Walk to School campaign, and the national charity says parents find the journey to school less stressful, their petrol bill goes down, their children perform better at school and that they, and their children, feel healthier and fitter.

The walk to school is not only a good way to build some exercise into your child’s day, it’s also helps them to learn valuable road skills, get to know their neighbourhood and build confidence and independence.  We all often feel under pressure and short of time, but Walk to School Week is a great opportunity to give walking a go and the Living Streets website has lots of ideas and ‘feats for your feet’ that will make it fun and challenging.  Getting children into the habit of seeing walking as the natural choice for short trips, will reap health benefits in the future.

Teachers even report that those pupils who walk to school are more attentive once they reach their desks.

Over the past couple of decades, the number of children walking to school has fallen sharply. In 2011, 49 per cent of primary school aged children and 38 per cent of secondary school aged children walked to school, down from 62 per cent of primary and 48 per cent of secondary school aged children in 1991.

However Living Streets’ Walk once a Week (WoW) scheme bucks the trend. It helped nearly 6,800 schools and over 1.9 million children and young people get walking across the UK last year – with a recent project seeing a rise of 32% in children walking.

Friday 17 May 2013

My Money Week

I am calling on local schools to take part in My Money Week (3 to 9 June), giving pupils the chance to learn more about money and personal finance.  Every primary and secondary school in Makerfield is being given the chance to take part for free in My Money Week, which has returned for its fifth year thanks to a new partnership between national charity pfeg (Personal Finance Education Group) and Barclays.

My Money Week will improve young people’s financial skills, knowledge and confidence through special lessons, activities and debates in schools and other settings across the UK.  Teachers in Makerfield can order a free Activity Pack, developed by pfeg, full of creative and engaging financial resources and ideas for how to deliver financial education to young people, from the age of four up to 19.  Young people in Makerfield can also take part in the ‘A-Z of Money’, a national competition challenging them to learn more about money through creative writing.

A decade ago, few schools were actively teaching pupils about money. Now there is growing interest with schools fitting personal finance education into several curriculum areas and pfeg has played a key role in leading this transformation.

In the current economic climate we hear shocking stories of people suffering at the hands of payday lenders and in my view it is such an important area for our young people to be equipped with the knowledge, skills, and confidence to manage their money well.

My Money Week 2013 will also raise awareness of Barclays’ flagship UK community programme, Barclays Money Skills, and provide opportunities for Barclays employees to share their financial expertise and skills with young people in teacher-led My Money Week activities in local schools.  In addition, this year will see extra resources targeted towards disadvantaged young people in both the school environment and the wider community.

Since the first My Money Week in 2009, more than three million young people have been helped to understand more about money and personal finance through focused activities in schools.  In 2012 around 500,000 young people took part in My Money Week activities, with 99 percent of teachers reporting an increase in skills and knowledge and 91 percent of teachers reporting a shift in students’ attitudes towards money.

Teachers in Makerfield can pre-order their free My Money Week Activity Packs here. 

Thursday 9 May 2013

Winstanley Green Belt - One last push in campaign to protect green belt

The campaign to retain green belt status at Winstanley has received a major boost today with news that the independent inspector examining Wigan Council’s planning blueprint to 2026 is minded to refuse the development of land at M6 Junction 25 for commercial/warehousing and retain the site as designated green belt.

I have given a cautious welcome to the schedule modifications document issued by Wigan Council and I am encouraging campaigners to support the modification which would retain green belt status on the land and put a halt to future development of the site during the lifetime of the Core Strategy.

This latest announcement follows the victory to successfully resist development of the site and land at Hawkley Hall from meeting the housing shortfall identified by the Inspector.

This is encouraging news that the Inspector is minded to retain green belt status and is an acknowledgement of the key arguments that campaigners and myself have made.

We now need one last push to support the Inspector’s thinking and ask him to confirm his decision as soon as practicable.

Winstanley Ward Councillor Clive Morgan said, “We can now see the light at the end of the tunnel and I know that residents will be delighted to note that the Inspector is backing our community which has been subject to housing development over the past decade. We have taken our fair share and it is time now for the Inspector to kick this proposal into the long grass!”

Consultation on the schedule of modifications 

Following the previous hearing sessions and submission of statements the Inspector has detailed changes that are required to make the submitted Core Strategy sound. These changes are included in the schedule of modifications document that can be found on the Core Strategy Examination website.

Comments on the modifications can be submitted by email. The deadline for these to be received is 5pm on Friday 14th June 2013.

Comments should only be made on the modifications themselves. It is therefore not necessary to repeat comments or information submitted through previous representations. The Inspector will take account of all comments received before finalising his report to the Council.