Get in touch now to see if you can benefit
First we had the credit crunch... then we had recession... and even though it seems that the worst may be behind us, many hard-working Wigan Borough families will undoubtedly still be feeling the pinch.
But if you have concerns about how to make ends meet; where the rent money is going to come from or how to pay the bills, then the message from Wigan Council is: “Get in touch.”
Wigan Council’s Head of Benefits, Joe Feeney, said: “It is a fact that many families in our borough are facing hardship as a result of the recession with some finding themselves on a lower income.
“This could be due to having their hours reduced at work, lack of business for the self-employed or even redundancy.
“Whatever the reason, many people may not be aware that they could be entitled to help towards paying their rent or Council Tax, even if they are working.”
The council’s Benefits Team is on-hand to help and is keen to make more people aware of the benefits that may be available to them.
“It’s easy to check if you are eligible for benefits,” said Joe. “Here are some of the ways you can find out more.”
If you have internet access you can check online by visiting Quick Calc (external link)
Free internet access is available at the borough’s libraries or at your local Sure Start Children’s Centre.
You can speak to a benefit advisor on 01942 828644.
They are available between Monday to Friday between 8am and 6pm and on Saturday between 8am and 12.30pm.
For Textphone (for people who are hard of hearing) call 01942 828725.
You can also call into your local Life Centre or council offices for more information.
To find the location of your nearest Life Centre, visit Wigan Life (external link)
Sunday train service launched on Atherton line
The train now arriving… is a bit special.
There’s a brand new Sunday train service coming across Wigan Borough on the Atherton line and the message is ‘use it or lose it’.
The service is operated by Northern Rail and funded by Greater Manchester Integrated Transport Authority (GMITA). Hourly trains run from Wigan Wallgate to Manchester Victoria starting at 9.17am, going via Hindley, Hag Fold and Atherton, with the last departure from Wigan at 5.17pm. Trains from Manchester Victoria start at 10.09am and run hourly to Wallgate until 6.12pm.
The service also brings trains to Walkden once again on Sundays.
There is already a Wigan to Manchester Piccadilly service, operating on a different line, which will remain. GMITA hopes that the effective doubling of Sunday services between Wigan and Manchester will benefit a widening group of rail travellers. Trains will operate for a trial period of 12 months.
The service will be supported for one year and will then be reviewed to determine whether subsidies will continue beyond May 2011.
Burning issue becomes a blazing problem
IF there’s one burning issue that could affect our borough this summer it’s deliberate fires.
Relatively dry conditions during the spring could have contributed to a sharp rise in the number of deliberate fires. During March and April, firefighters were called to more than 500 of them, with many being grass fires. If you consider that it costs the taxpayer nearly £2,000 each time the brigade turns out to one of these fires, you quickly realise it’s money quite literally going up in smoke.
Borough fire chief Neil Gaskell said: “As well as the economic cost, nuisance fires blight our neighbourhoods and put lives at risk. The reckless actions of the minority can have a devastating affect on the entire community.”
Efforts to cut the number of deliberate fires will be boosted over the summer with the launch of Operation Challenge, a borough-wide initiative aimed at tackling youth-related low level crime, antisocial behaviour and criminal damage by using a series of measures based on education, prevention and deterrent.
Kicking off before the summer holidays, Operation Challenge brings together various partners including Greater Manchester Fire & Rescue Service, Wigan Council, Wigan Leisure & Culture Trust, Wigan and Leigh Housing and Greater Manchester Police.
As part of the campaign, fire officers plan to visit a number of secondary schools across the borough, explaining to pupils the kind of problems they encounter when dealing with grass fires, plus the knock-on effect they have on resources.
If you know who is deliberately starting fires in your area, you can call Firestoppers free and confidentially on 0800 555 815 or speak with your local Neighbourhood Police Officer.
Chance to win £100 vouchers
Five lucky Borough Life readers will soon have £100 each to spend on the high street – and in all kinds of leisure and pleasure venues too.
To enter the draw, all you have to do is watch ‘My Council’ video number one at You Tube - Wigan Council (external link) and tell us the number of times the ‘My Council’ icon, pictured above, appears.
‘My Council’ is a campaign to highlight council action in areas residents say matter to them, such as improving customer service and demonstrating value for money.
Answers on a postcard please, with your name, address and contact details to: The Editor, Borough Life, FREEPOST NWW3502A, Wigan WN1 1XZ; alternatively, email Borough Life or hand your entry in at your local library.
Closing date for entries is Friday 9 July.
Love2Shop vouchers are accepted at numerous high street retailers and specialist stores, plus many leisure and pleasure venues – for full details, visit Highstreet Vouchers - Love2shop (external link)
Terms and conditions
Competition open only to residents of Wigan borough.
Editor’s decision is final.
No alternatives, cash or otherwise, will be offered in lieu of the prize. Full terms and conditions are available at Borough Life (external link)
New library benefits whole area
The former library building on Orrell Road is set for a transformation that will benefit the whole community.
The council has given the go-ahead to plans to turn the building into a new home for Orrell and Billinge Community Network and Metrofresh, who manage the school meals and crossing patrol service.
The move will help the community group to operate without concerns about income and will allow it to develop.
But the library isn’t completely gone because the decision also allows for a localised book-borrowing scheme to continue.
Work is set to begin now the existing library has been transferred to the new Abraham Guest site at Lamberhead Green.