Questions and Answers - 2020

Question Reference Number 864636

Regarding the proposed housing on car park at Queen St Leigh:

  1. The artist impression looks like something akin to Strangeways Prison. Who on earth imagines that the entrance to Leigh town centre is blighted by an unobtrusive car park and will be in any way enhanced by disproportionately high ugly social housing blocks which are architecturally totally out of character with anything nearby?
  2. I note that it is stated that these blocks when occupied will benefit local businesses. Has anyone surveyed local businesses for an opinion on that point? Who EXACTLY is Wigan Council proposing should be housed here - because it may well be that an attendant rise in anti-social behaviour in the proximity may well detract from and decrease the existing support for business in the area?
  3. Why, when considering reassigning land use in Leigh does the choice have to be binary - retail or social housing? Is there no one on Wigan Council with ANY idea of town centre development/ planning? Could this site not perchance be developed as a 'leisure' hub to incorporate and encourage cafe/wine bar/restaurant facilities to develop? Please do not keep fobbing us off with the 'not needed in Leigh' mantra. Other towns are developing exactly along that route and are thriving as a result. And, if no one on Wigan Council has any ideas just ask towns like Monton, Urmston, Bury, and even Oldham (about to get a £300m+ makeover) how they did it because they seem to be doing a pretty good job.

Leigh is haemorrhaging young bright professional people who could really make a difference to the prosperity of the town because all we can offer is supermarkets and social housing blocks.

Response from Councillor David Molyneux – Executive Leader and Portfolio Holder – Economic Development and Regeneration

Thank you for your question. It is understood that, due to the prominent location of the site, the building and surrounding landscaping should be appropriate for the location. The design for the building proposed has been developed by our architects in close liaison with Council conservation, design and development control officers, all professionally qualified and experienced in development and regeneration, who are supportive of the design in principle. It features a traditional brick finish with a high level of detail that cannot necessarily be seen in some of the illustrations of the building. 

The design is considered suitable for the location, taking its lead from the traditional architecture of the area of brick elevations, window patterns, strong gables and roof lines, as illustrated below.  Similar design treatment has been adopted to our Wharfdale extra care scheme opposite, that will replace the existing building on that site.

Our intention is that the two buildings together act as a gateway to Leigh town centre and are of a suitable scale to positively change the nature of the environment in the area. This reflects the historic character of the site which was densely built up before the actual railway arches were demolished nine years ago. Currently the area appears open and devoid of buildings and features, as it comprises mainly surface car parking, and does not give any definition to the approach to Leigh town centre from Manchester Road, as illustrated below.

Consultation was held with local residents and businesses prior to the submission of the proposals to planning. Concerns raised during the consultation have been considered and addressed. The block will have 40 apartments, with a mix of one and two bedrooms and will be owned and managed by Wigan Council. All apartments will be let on affordable rent tenancies to applicants from the Council’s housing register. The scheme will have an allocation policy which incorporates a local lettings policy. The local lettings policy would require residents to have a local connection to the Wigan borough and meet strict affordability criteria. The local lettings policy will also allow the Council to carry out anti-social behaviour checks and police checks on all potential tenants. An experienced member of staff will also conduct home visits to check suitability of prospective tenants and also the condition of their current property prior to allocation. We will adopt high management standards for our properties, including issuing all new tenants with introductory tenancies which are for a period of 12 months before becoming a secure tenancy. Any problems which arise during the first 12 months can be dealt quickly and easier during an introductory tenancy.

Wigan Council is experiencing unprecedented and growing demand on social housing across the borough with housing register cases doubling in the last 18 months to over 9000 people and over the last 4 years the Council has lost 755 homes due to “Right to Buy”. Around 10% of housing register cases list Leigh town centre as their first area of choice and around 5% list it as a second choice. This shows an urgent need for the development of additional Council homes in the area. These additional residents will support local town centre facilities.

Whilst we consider this site a suitable location for sustainable town centre living, we do recognise the need to create a better functioning and attractive town centre in Leigh, with a good retail and a range of other uses, quality green space and easy accessibility.

There have been a number of recent investment and developments for leisure and retail schemes in Leigh town centre, supported by Wigan Council, including The Loom, town centre cinema and restaurants, current investment in the refurbishment of Leigh town hall; the massively successful busway and the ground breaking Leigh Sports Village.

However, we recognise the need for  a strategic approach to the future regeneration of Leigh town centre and therefore are developing a Strategic Regeneration Framework for Leigh town centre in response to the challenges that the town is experiencing and to capitalise upon opportunities for revitalising town centre that include living, shopping and leisure. This development site and the redevelopment at Wharfdale are being factored into that analysis and can evidence early delivery of the emerging new vision.

The planning application, reference number A/19/88342/MAJLA, is currently being considered by the local planning authority and you are able to make comments on the scheme up until Monday 24 February 2020. Any representations made to the local planning authority will be considered as part of the consideration of the planning application. Full details of the application can be viewed and comments (external link).

Question Reference Number 864637

Regarding the Homeless grant - £728,000 for Wigan. Why has Wigan borough been given almost 7 times the amount given to the next nearest donee (other than Salford) and more than 14 times more than most other councils in Greater Manchester? Do we really have 14 times more homeless people than other Manchester councils/boroughs? If so we need far more than a charity handout. Or is it that we simply have a surplus of cheap accommodation here in Wigan and thus we can accommodate much of the Manchester homeless problem that Mayor Andy Burnham talks at great length about but which he refuses to persuade greedy Manchester Council to do anything about, less it tarnishes or damages their 'glass palace' city centre. I'm sure we have great charities here in Wigan borough that do great work with the homeless. However, I also think that, in line with many things, the need rises with the money made available. Do we really want to be the magnet for all Greater Manchester's homeless and the many fold problems and pressures that would bring?

Response from Councillor Terence Halliwell – Portfolio Holder for Housing and Welfare

Thank you for your enquiry, I hope I can reassure you that being awarded £728,000 from national funding is good news for the Borough and reflects the good work that has been achieved to date. All local authorities had to prepare a costed bid for the fund, based on their level of ambition for the future, so the amount awarded to Wigan has no connection to the number of rough sleepers in the Borough. Wigan was awarded all of the money we requested, reflecting a strong history of positive work in this area and faith in our ability to deliver against our proposal. In Wigan Borough we are proud to say there has been a reduction in the number of rough sleepers from 30 people in 2017 to 7 people, as of the count at the end of January 2020.

Wigan’s bid addressed the wider homelessness agenda, not only an immediate emergency response to rough sleeping, and is focussed on preventing homelessness and supporting people to live independent, healthy lives. This includes work with private landlords, supporting people into long term, secure and affordable homes and addressing some of the complex reasons for rough sleeping. It is important to note that if people from out of borough present as homeless in Wigan they are connected back to their local area for support, so receiving this money does not create any risk around additional demand.

Question Reference Number 864638

Do you have updated estimates of -

  1. The opening date for the A49 Link Road?
  2. The start date on the M58 Link Road?

Response from Councillor David Molyneux – Executive Leader and Portfolio Holder – Economic Development and Regeneration

The A49 Link Road is on track to be completed in Spring 2020. We do not yet have a confirmed date for the road opening, but as soon as this is known the Council will issue a formal release via the usual communication channels.

The M58 Link Road is currently scheduled to start on site in 2021.

Question Reference Number 864639

Please supply information on the non-elected members making decisions about Leigh who sit on the Board 'Believe in Leigh.

Response from Councillor David Molyneux – Executive Leader and Portfolio Holder – Economic Development and Regeneration

Thank you for your enquiry. I can confirm that no unelected members have taken decisions about Leigh or Believe in Leigh funding. All funding decisions are taken by Cabinet and approved by Council.

Question Reference Number 864640

Please may I ask if I and my group Leigh Film - Charity could join the ‘Believe in Leigh’ steering group?

Response from Councillor David Molyneux – Executive Leader and Portfolio Holder – Economic Development and Regeneration

Thank you for your enquiry. The Believe in Leigh Board will no longer be meeting now that funding priorities have been determined. We will continue to engage Leigh stakeholders as we take forward the Leigh strategic masterplan and we will ensure that a representative of Leigh Film is invited to any future events.

Question Reference Number 864641

Please send a breakdown of the £5m allocation for Leigh Civic Centre, how it was spent etc. 

Response from Councillor David Molyneux – Executive Leader and Portfolio Holder – Economic Development and Regeneration

Thank you for your enquiry. Plans for a town centre youth hub and new visitor facilities at Pennington Flash are among regeneration projects set to receive Believe in Leigh funding. Wigan Council has revealed details for the second phase of the £5m fund including projects addressing priority areas highlighted by residents. Following feedback from two major consultations, improvements to Civic Square, further investment at Leigh Market Hall and a new canal bridge are also among the proposals. A total of £1m has been earmarked for youth facilities in the town centre with plans to engage the community to help shape the development.

Scheduled improvements to Pennington Flash include new parking areas, a café, visitor information centre and rooftop seating area. Refurbishment at Civic Square will include public realm works linked to the regeneration of the Town Hall and supporting the Turnpike Gallery. A further £500k will be invested to improve customer experience at the ever-popular Leigh market.

Believe in Leigh cash will also be used to boost existing funds for a new canal bridge to connect The Loom retail park to development on West Bridgewater Street. And Believe in Leigh capital funding will be bolstered by an action plan to tackle crime and anti-social behaviour and improve community cohesion, with representatives of the Council, the police, health and education providers coming together to address the concerns identified by local people.

Question Reference Number 864642

Regarding your answers to the matters I raised in Q864636 of 2020 -

1. If the Artists impression of these apartment blocks is not a true representation can we please have a true representation on which we can realistically comment

2.I note that landscaping is mentioned as part of the scheme - the artists impression does not appear to show any landscaping. Can we please have some idea of the landscaping design to be incorporated.

3.Your inference that the site was previously densely populated with buildings and therefore will be somehow enhanced by again being populated with dark, dense tenement blocks is backward looking not forward facing. It's 2020 not 1920. Whilst the existing buildings have some quaint authentic charm these oversized tenement blocks have neither. Better to select a key colour from the original buildings(natural stone?) and make that the focus colour bringing in elements of the brick of the original buildings - not red incidentally.

4. The area of Leigh in which this development is planned is probably the nicer area of the town centre where recently a number of small niche independent businesses have opened. In fact just the type of businesses town centres now need if they are to stay relevant at all. I remain totally unconvinced that the tenants who will reside in this development will in any way support or enhance these businesses. Given that these tenants have been assessed as being in desperate need of social housing I would expect the only business that will see any increase in trade is the nearby discount supermarket which is neither local nor independent being owned by a German multi national.

5. More importantly though than the design, or spending power of these tenants, against a fall of 4% nationwide in demand for social housing why has the demand in Wigan borough increased by almost 100% in 18 months - I believe the figure is 79%? How many households single/couple/ family does the figure of 9000 comprise? This is both astounding and worrying especially as there has not to my knowledge been any substantial local demolitions/slum clearance programme. nor any substantial increase in employment opportunities in the borough to encourage or support such an increase AND there is a considerable amount of reasonably priced private rented accommodation available. If then, this increase cannot be attributed, will it double again in the next 18 months? Have Wigan Council planned for this? Where will all these people go given there is no support forthcoming from central government for social housing.

6. Interesting that The Galleries in Wigan town centre (council owned) is to be redeveloped again. Interesting as well that this refurbishment does not include any social housing to enhance and support businesses in Wigan town centre. Instead it is to include a selection of leisure facilities, of which the people of Wigan are clearly more worthy than the people of Leigh.

Response from Councillor David Molyneux – Executive Leader and Portfolio Holder – Economic Development and Regeneration

1. All details of the proposed design, including plans and elevations, have been submitted to the planning authority in support of the planning application and is currently being considered. Any additional information requested to support the application will be made to the planning authority and required amendments made. In addition, planning conditions will be applied to the permission to ensure that it meets all statutory planning requirements.

As explained in the previous response, these can be viewed online and comments made using the following link. The planning application, reference number A/19/88342/MAJLA, is currently being considered by the local planning authority. Any representations made to the local planning authority will be considered as part of the consideration of the planning application (external link).

2. A landscape plan and landscape specification has been submitted to the planning authority and is available on the above link. This contains all details of the proposed landscaping for the site.

3. As stated previously, the design for the building has been developed in close liaison with council conservation, design and development control officers and exceeds all current standards for light, space and accessibility. A Design and Access Statement has been submitted as part of the planning application and is available on the above link.

4. There are a range of households occupying social housing tenancies, with a range of household and economic circumstances. Many working households currently live in council accommodation, on average, across all council tenancies, around 42% of households do not receive benefits. Regardless of income and household circumstances, all are contributing to the local economy and will be using a range of shops and services locally.

5. The 4% fall in demand nationwide was reported on 1.4.18, we have seen significant increase in demand since this time. A recent review of the allocation policies across Greater Manchester identified that local authorities are seeing an increase in social housing applications from households in very high need. Simultaneously turnover and lettings are decreasing; with people remaining in their homes. A breakdown of the waiting list cases indicates around 51% of cases are single applicants, 11% are couples and 38% are families.

There is a combination of reasons for the increase in demand including changes in legislation, welfare changes and the ability for people to afford other types of accommodation including private rented.  Some properties within other sectors are not always in good condition and they only offer short term tenancy agreements resulting in demand for social housing.

The government does provide capital funding in the form of grants to council’s and housing associations to build new affordable homes. The development proposed at the Railway Arches site is one scheme in an ongoing programme to deliver new affordable homes across the borough. The programme is funded by the council’s Housing Revenue Account and is supplemented by grant from Homes England, who award the government’s funding for new affordable homes.

6. We are developing a range of proposals to support the regeneration of both Wigan and Leigh town centres, including leisure, retail and residential uses, as outlined in the previous response.

With regards to the proposals for the Galleries, a mixed use development is proposed, but the specific proposals for the site are not yet agreed. Some residential use is proposed and this will include an element of affordable housing in line with the council’s policy requirement that new housing developments should provide 25% affordable homes.

Question Reference Number 864643

Why has Kirkless Recycling Centre stopped accepting asbestos? And why can't they tell me the reasons for this? I have asbestos in my garden and kids on lockdown playing outside around asbestos that I can't dispose of. Surely asbestos is an essential waste that needs to be safely disposed of given the serious health risks associated with it!? It's shocking that I can't take it somewhere and make my home safe. 

Response from Councillor Paul Prescott – Portfolio Holder – Planning, Environmental Services and Transport

The decision not to accept asbestos at Kirkless on the re-opening off the Recycling Centres was made for various reasons. The main reason was to deploy all the staff at the site to deal with the increased volume of traffic due to the sites being closed for over 3 weeks and to manage the social distancing. When asbestos is accepted at the site the staff are required to wear full PPE and protective masks which takes time to get on, deal with the material and remove safely. Usually the contractor’s staff deal with a number of asbestos enquiries at the same time to make it more efficient, cost effective and to reduce impact on site operations. Unfortunately, the number of enquiries has been very low. We are encouraging residents to leave their asbestos materials in place and not remove if it is not damaged during this pandemic. It is also felt that PPE and masks at this time should be used to deal with coronavirus rather than in dealing with asbestos on sites due to the short supply and high demand for these products.

Asbestos, if in good condition, removed appropriately and wrapped and taped is low risk to health. Further guidance can be found on the HSE / GOV websites. The Council does not have a statutory responsibility to provide facilities for the disposal of asbestos for residents. We will be reviewing our position on accepting asbestos regularly once the demand at the sites and availability of PPE change. There are licensed asbestos removal companies that can dispose of asbestos. Local contractors can be found at www.arca.org.uk

Question Reference Number 864644

I was pleased to note the opening of the A49 link Road, which I am sure will benefit both commuters and residents in Wigan. I was just wondering whether landscaping plans have been finalised for the area around the Poolstock Lane bridge. An area has been planted with saplings but there is a large area which has been left untouched. Is the Council responsible for these areas or the contractor?

Response from Councillor David Molyneux – Executive Leader and Portfolio Holder – Economic Development and Regeneration

Thank you for enquiry in relation to landscaping on the new A49 Link Road, in proximity to Poolstock Lane bridge.

Unfortunately, delays to the road construction project due to Covid-19 has meant some of the proposed trees could not be planted due to the inappropriateness of the season and the reduced chances of species survival in hot weather. The outstanding trees will now be planted in the Autumn. Fortunately it was possible for this area to be seeded with grass and wildflowers, which are establishing well, although it will take a few more weeks/months until the area is fully greened over.

Question Reference Number 864645

I would like to enquire about the field and tennis court area in Hope Park, Tyldesley, I have seen a post on social media stating that this will be fenced similarly to the one in Hindsford. This is currently utilised by the local community. I have a disabled son who we take on to the tarmac area and on the grass to play football and ride his scooter/go kart in a safe environment with no traffic. We see lots of other local families using this area for similar pastimes and will be a real shame if this is fenced off, the other area which has already been fenced is often overgrown and not looked after. It is really disappointing that this may happen. It is no wonder we have disruptive antisocial behaviour going on, the children have absolutely no where to go in Tyldesley - slightly different to other Wigan Council run areas. Please confirm if this is happening or if this will remain an open space.

Response from Councillor Nazia Rehman – Portfolio Holder –  Resources, Finance and Transformation

Fred Longworth High School converted to an Academy in 2011 and the school has a 125 year Academy lease from the Council of the school site including the playing fields and Hope Park. The lease for the conversion was put in place in accordance with legislative requirements.

The Council paid to buy Hope Park, that was acquired for “Education” purposes by the Council in 1963 from Fine Spinners Ltd, the land was not donated or gifted to the Council or the public of Tyldesley. 

There are no covenants on the Council’s title relating to the use of this land by the public and there are no covenants within the academy lease that requires the Academy to leave the land open or available for public use. The footpath leading from Printshop Lane to Factory Street has been included within the lease, but access rights have been reserved.

Under the lease the school are required to secure the Councils' consent for alterations, however we cannot unreasonably withhold or delay consent. As the main reason stated for the works is pupil safety, withholding consent would be considered unreasonable.

The school has posted on social media stating it has received £114,000 for school security fencing to help keep students safe. The school has submitted an application for planning permission for fencing. The design access statement, which forms a part of the application states that the fencing is mainly to improve pupil safety arrangements by separating pupils from a maintenance access road and watercourse.

Question Reference Number 864646

Regarding previous question Q864636 - unfortunately the onset of the Covid- 19 pandemic has delayed my pursuing this matter. I did however submit a comment on the application along with several other people and businesses. I see from today's Manchester Evening News that this development is now proceeding. I have watched with interest the recent documentary Manctopia Billion Pound Property Boom. Interesting that in a city the size of Manchester and despite the constant fine words of Mayor Andy 'a bed for the night for everyone' Burnham and his Labour Council cohorts, and despite all the money the Council is raking in on the back of the boom, not one small space can be found for affordable housing. Yet Leigh, small insignificant town - doubt anybody on Manchester Council has even heard of it - has sufficient funding and space for 40 affordable homes right smack in its town centre! Possibly this is our share in Manchester's booming property economy! So now to the development - can we please have clarity on what exactly is being built? Your response mentions two blocks, then later on infers there is one block but every artists impression I have seen clearly shows 4 blocks. The permission is for 36 one bedroom flats and 4 two bedroom flats. Not much 'family home' scope there - but I think we all know the type of tenant these flats are intended for and I doubt it is decent key workers or hard pressed young single professionals. Which leads me to wonder at the '33 car park spaces' - is it likely that 33 inhabitants will ever use those spaces as intended - especially as they will be very conveniently shaded by trees and landscaping per the artists impressions? Either way I maintain that these are ugly tenements with every hallmark of becoming the slums of the very near future. I sincerely hope I am totally wrong and that in the next few years I will see you in the local media proudly heralding the major success story of these flats because that would be a win/win for the town and the wider borough. I really wish I was a gambler because if I was, I would bet you 100/1 that is never going to happen. Incidentally - given the effect Covid 19 has had on Manchester city centre's economy, there may soon be plenty of 'beds for the night' available there. Maybe we are all 'levelling up' after all. We're all going down downmarket and down the drain together.

Response from Councillor David Molyneux – Executive Leader and Portfolio Holder – Economic Development and Regeneration

With regards to the comments made on the recent television documentary and Manchester City Council’s approach to delivering affordable homes, we are not able to comment on this as this does not relate to Wigan local authority area.

To address your queries regarding the scheme which has received planning approval for the site at Railway Arches car park, Brown Street, Leigh, this is one four storey block comprising 40 apartments, detached bike and bin store building, together with car parking and landscaping.

There will be one block of apartments built on the site of the Railway Arches car park. The reference to two blocks made in the response above is referencing the relationship between the block and the adjacent block that will replace the Wharfdale sheltered accommodation scheme at Henry Street, Leigh.

Your assumption regarding there being four buildings is incorrect. The design of the block features four gables, but this is to one single block. There is a planning policy requirement to provide on-site car parking to the scheme for the use of residents, which has been complied with. I would again refer you to the planning documents for the application A/19/88342/MAJLA for all approved drawings (external link).

With regard to the type of accommodation provided, these are apartments for single people or couples and will be let to eligible applicants registered on the Council’s housing register. There is significant demand for this need currently. The site is not considered suitable for family homes, however, the Council is providing a range of affordable accommodation across the borough to meet all households needs both via its own direct delivery housing programme and through partnerships with housing associations. This includes the provision of 226 new affordable homes on the nearby site at Bridgewater Business Park, Leigh by Your Housing Group, which has recently commenced and will include two and three bedroom family homes for both affordable rent and shared ownership tenures.

The delivery of the new Railway Arches block, together with the redevelopment of the Wharfdale site and Bridgewater Business Park represents a significant investment in delivering additional affordable homes to meet the needs of the residents of Leigh and to contribute to the regeneration of Leigh town centre.

Question Reference Number 864647

Please advise who are the individuals, public and private, who decided what organisations and community groups qualify for ‘The Deal’ funding.

Response from Councillor Chris Ready – Portfolio Holder – Communities and Neighbourhoods

Thank you for your enquiry regarding the Community Investment Fund (CIF).

All applications go through several stages before approval and the stages depend on the size of the application. Applications are checked to ensure they meet the priority for that round. For example this year, the “Big” applications were for children and young people’s services.

The applications are then broken down into themes - health and wellbeing, digital etc, with these then being checked to ensure that there is no duplication and to ascertain if collaborative work can take place.

All applications go through several panel meetings with various leads from across the Council to ask further questions and get more information if required. Once the applications have been agreed by panel, they are sent to the senior management team and the Leader for sign off.

Question Reference Number 864648

Can you please tell me and the people of Atherton why we are being discriminated against by Wigan Council? On Sunday 8/11/2020, which is Remembrance Sunday, we are being denied a Remembrance Day Service at Atherton Cenotaph, why? I believe the services at Wigan and Leigh are being allowed to go ahead, so why not Atherton? Please do not try to use COVID-19 as an excuse as it will not be having a day off in Wigan or Leigh. I believe that Atherton as a town in the Wigan Borough has had a fantastic turnout on Remembrance Sunday for many years (I know this as a fact as I have attended since my days in the Boys Brigade over 50 years ago) and we as a town have acted as responsibly as any other town in the borough with regards to COVID-19. We in Atherton have our fallen to remember and indeed we have a lot of elderly veterans who attend and you are denying them a chance to remember their fallen colleagues and loved ones. The Cenotaph at Atherton has far more open space which is conducive for social-distancing than Leigh Cenotaph (sorry Leigh I'm not having a go at you) so why has this ridiculous decision been taken, I really hope it isn't because we in Atherton had the audacity to elect Independents as our chosen councillors I await your response 

Response from Councillor David Molyneux – Executive Leader and Portfolio Holder – Economic Development and Regeneration

Thank you for your query. Usually, on Remembrance Sunday, 14 parades/services take place across the Borough. Unfortunately, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, we had to make the disappointing decision to cancel the events this year. This included cancellation of parades in all areas and all outdoor services, including Wigan and Leigh. An 11am service was streamed online for the Wigan service and pre-recorded for the Leigh service. As a Council we advised people throughout the borough that events would not be taking place and if they wished to lay a wreath, to do this throughout the day rather than at 11am. As you know, Atherton is one of the biggest parades and very well attended and it would have  been extremely difficult to keep people safe, and social distancing could not have been maintained around the cenotaph. Given that the borough was in tier 3 and then prior to Remembrance Sunday, the whole country entered a second lockdown, it would not have been appropriate to encourage people to attend. The Council wanted to recognise Remembrance Sunday so, as well as the online and pre-recorded services, they arranged for poppy prints to be put on the borough’s roads and to light up the cenotaphs. They also encouraged members of the public to take part in a two minutes silence on their doorsteps, knowing that there would be no Remembrance Sunday services at the cenotaph and in conjunction with the Royal British Legion, a virtual service was created at the cenotaph and uploaded to the Atherton Residents Association Facebook page. This was recorded at different times so there was never a group of people on site.

We also suggested that the churches in the area may wish to do something, but sadly this was not possible because of the lockdown.

Sadly residents of the borough chose not to adhere to government guidance and this has led to criticism of gatherings around some of the cenotaphs which was beyond the Council’s control, when the message from the Council was clear and to follow the Guidance.

I hope this explains why the decision was made to cancel all services.

Question Reference Number 864649

The HIF funding you are still waiting for from the government for new roads can be built for new housing estates, but the new housing estates are still getting built with out this money from the government. So with no money coming from the government how long is it going to take to get these new roads built now, so Atherton new roads are never going to happen now because every where else will get done first over time and I will never see these in my life time, but Wigan will all get done like normal 

Response from Councillor David Molyneux – Executive Leader and Portfolio Holder – Economic Development and Regeneration and Councillor Paul Prescott – Portfolio Holder – Planning, Environmental Services and Transport

The Wigan Local Plan Core Strategy (2013) is the adopted development plan for Wigan Borough through to 2026, and its spatial strategy (policy SP1) prioritises the regeneration of the ‘east-west’ core of the borough.  This is an area from Wigan through to Tyldesley, including Atherton and Leigh.  In the same plan, policy CP7 identifies new highways from A58 Liverpool Road, Hindley to A579 Atherleigh Way as major transport interventions in support of housing delivery in the east west core.

In that context, Wigan and Bolton Councils’ joint bid for the Housing Infrastructure Forward Fund (HIFF) was unsuccessful, as you identify.  The HIFF bid was intended to deliver a number of housing and employment development sites, which would be connected by a link road, the full extent of which would be from junction 26 of the M6 / the easterly end of the M58 to junction 5 of the M61, including the major transport interventions identified above.  The council remains hopeful, however, that funding will be forthcoming, possibly not from one big fund but in separate funding opportunities for discrete elements.

As such, a further bid has been submitted by Wigan Council to the Department for Transport’s (DfT) Large Local Majors (LLM) fund, to deliver those sections of the east-west link road in the borough that do not have associated development.  These are the Ince Link; Phoenix Way to Seaman Way Link and Amberswood Link between Wigan and Hindley, and the Atherleigh Way to Leigh Road Link at Howe Bridge.  We are currently in discussions with DfT to agree the scope of the outline business case, which will be submitted in mid-2021.  A decision by DfT on whether to fund the road would be expected in Autumn 2021.  Should the bid be successful, we would need to secure planning permission and undertake detailed design work, with the aim of starting construction in 2023/24.  Construction would last approximately two years if all sections are built simultaneously, but could take longer.

In the event the bid is unsuccessful, Wigan east-west road infrastructure has also been identified as a priority for investment in the GM Transport Strategy and 2020-25 Delivery Plan.  In the next five years we will use the business case developed for the LLM bid to DfT to make the case for alternative funding to deliver the scheme, emphasising our commitment to provide existing communities with relief from congestion and improved air quality.  We are also embarking on our Transport Strategy to identify the next generation of transport schemes that the council will promote.

In respect of housing coming along before the infrastructure, any new housing proposed in the borough must go through a rigorous traffic assessment as part of the statutory planning application process.  Planning permission is only granted when it has been established that the current network can accommodate any increases in traffic because of new housing, or that improvements to the existing network will be made as part of any proposed housing scheme to ensure it can.  This applies to all planning applications including those in Atherton and Leigh.  An example of this is the Outline Planning Consent for the North Leigh Park site which only permits development in stages based upon delivery of the additional offsite highway infrastructure required to increase capacity.  The Council is currently engaged in positive discussions with the Greater Manchester Combined Authority about accessing funding for this scheme to support the construction of the link road between Wigan Road and Atherleigh Way. 

Question Reference Number 864650

Wigan masterplan keeps being in the news in Wigan and how much it’s going to cost (which is a lot of money) and all the other money that is being spent in Wigan at the moment and Leigh is having millions spent on it as well. Is there any chance of Wigan Council telling us residents what are they going to do about all the other town centres having money spent on them? We all pay in to the pot but it’s always Wigan and Leigh all the time people are getting fed up with it now start doing other town centres up for a change.

Response from Councillor David Molyneux – Executive Leader and Portfolio Holder – Economic Development and Regeneration and Councillor Paul Prescott – Portfolio Holder – Planning, Environmental Services and Transport

Wigan Council is committed to supporting all of the town centres across the borough - creating “vibrant town centres” is one of the top 10 priorities in the council’s corporate strategy The Deal 2030, which establishes it as a key focus for action.

Our borough benefits from having a network of centres – the larger town centres of Wigan and Leigh, but also smaller local centres and neighbourhood centres. All have their own unique character and identities and all are important to our local communities. We want to celebrate and protect the character of each of them, and ensure they are attractive and meet the needs of the communities they serve.

You are correct that there is a focus on Wigan and Leigh town centres. As our largest centres in the borough these centres are vital economic and social hubs for the borough. The performance of these centres in particular will drive the economic prospects of the borough as a whole.

We are however, also committed to ensuring our local and neighbourhood centres also thrive. The Council and our partners are working to deliver a wide range of projects that will contribute to enhancing our town centres such as: bringing quality new homes into town centres; addressing vacant sites; and creating opportunities for cycling and walking.

The Council launched the “Our Town” initiative last year which is aimed at celebrating what is special about the borough’s town centres and encouraging people to get involved in the places they live (there is further information about this Our Town.  Unfortunately, due to the current Covid-19 situation and following national health advice we have decided to postpone some elements of the Our Town programme. This includes temporarily closing the events fund and delaying the start of our cleaner greener works. However, we intend to restart the programme when circumstances allow.

Recognising the challenges facing our local centres and community during the pandemic we launched our “shop local” campaign (#supportlocal) encouraging people to support their local centres and help local independent retailers.

The Council supported Tyldesley Forward to secure High Street Heritage Action Zone Funding for Tyldesley Town Centre earlier this year and continue to support them to implement a programme of investment which will not only conserve the historic buildings but also revitalise the town centre.

We are also securing funding to improve pedestrian and cycling links across the borough and this includes a significant amount of funding secured in principle (subject to a further business case approval) to improve pedestrian and cycle infrastructure part of £13.9 million package across Leigh, Tyldesley, Atherton and surrounding areas.

Town centres up and down the country are facing challenges – not least the growth of on-line retailing and corresponding decline in footfall and spending in town centre shops. However, we believe that town and local centres should be the heart of the community and I would like to reassure you that supporting all of our centres is a key priority for the Council.

Question Reference Number 864651

I would like to ask the Cabinet Portfolio Holder for Planning and Environmental Services why non-car owning residents are discriminated against when it comes to recycling items which should not be placed in the black household recycling bins; for example: paint, nicad batteries, small electrical appliances. It is extremely difficult to dispose of these items. I understand it is a statutory duty that councils provide recycling facilities. Therefore, ALL residents, regardless of when they have access to a vehicle or not, should have arrangements in place to have access to recycling facilities. I am aware, for safety reasons, that pedestrians are not permitted to enter recycling centres, and I understand the rationale. However, it is not within the realms of the imagination for alternative arrangements to be made (I suggest a box at the entrance gate to the centre to deposit items). In my town, Atherton, fly tipping has become a huge problem. Residents report on the Residents Association website of many cases of items being discarded in inappropriate places. Where I live, close to the Valley, it is a particular problem. We need to make recycling as easy as possible for everyone. No resident, no non car owner, should be discriminated against.

Response from Councillor Paul Prescott – Portfolio Holder – Planning, Environmental Services and Transport

Thank you for you enquiry regarding access to recycling facilities and for being so passionate about recycling.

The Council have a statutory duty to provide Recycling Centres for residents to dispose of their bulky items that cannot fit into a wheeled bin. For this reason sites are designed to be accessed by vehicles transporting those items to the centres. Pedestrians are not allowed to walk onto the site for safety reasons, which includes the large number of vehicle and plant movements that occur and the potential risk to pedestrians, especially when carrying large or heavy items. The provision of boxes at entrances for pedestrians is not feasible as it may be abused by people trying to avoid queuing and potentially by businesses trying to avoid paying for the disposal of items.

However, there are alternative options available to residents who do not have access to a car. There are some “bring sites” situated around the borough which are generally situated on car-parks but do differ in the facilities provided. Supermarkets do also provide recycling facilities, some outdoors and for smaller items such as batteries, are inside. Many charity shops will accept and collect electrical items even if they are not in working order. Electrical retailers will also take back electrical items when new items are purchased or delivered and they also have in-store battery recycling. In addition, the Council provides a bulky waste collection service and small electrical items and appliances are amongst the items that are collected.

Question Reference Number 864652

As we are promised mass covid testing in Tier 3 areas in order to drive down infections and help move to a lower Tier and help our businesses can someone please tell me when and where mass testing is being rolled out in Leigh? When and how is covid vaccination being rolled out? My cousin in Stafford is just 80. She has already received her first vaccine. I know a few people over 80. None of them have yet been called for vaccination. The above two issues are critical to ending this pandemic and helping restore some normality to our lives. Transparency of process is absolutely critical to informing and reassuring the public and keeping them on board and compliant. Why then can I not find any information on any of the above - other than a notification in Manchester Evening News that a vaccination Centre is being set up at Robin Park. Is that it?? Heaven knows you've had enough warning that this was going to happen. Is one vaccination centre the best we can do?

Response from Councillor Keith Cunliffe – Portfolio Holder – Adult Social Care

The vaccination arrangements are being predominantly led by the Wigan Borough Clinical Commisioning Group. We are working with them to roll this out as fast as possible but this is reliant on receiving the supply from NHS England. The type of vaccine we have received requires specialist storage, which impacts when we receive the delivery.

Regarding your question about ‘mass testing’ in Wigan Borough and across Greater Manchester - we are rolling out ‘targeted testing at scale’, which prioritises key groups rather than offering the tests to the wider community all at once. This is because the ‘lateral flow’ (rapid) test is not as sensitive as the PCR test  (which goes to the lab to be processed) and people need to be tested repeatedly in order to minimise inaccurate results.  

The priority at this point is supporting our care homes to facilitate visiting. Moving forward, we have identified a number of priority groups (including informal carers) who are either in a vulnerable group or come into contact with the most vulnerable.

The targeted testing at scale roll out will start on 18th January 2021 in Wigan and Leigh, with invites being issued directly to these priority groups. Businesses that have contact with the public will be included by February 2021. We are currently recruiting additional staff to help with the testing and we will have 3 weeks support from a small number of military personnel whilst we get through the employment process.

In terms of communications, we provide regular and informative updates on a range of platforms including social media, in the press and through town centre signage, with fortnightly question and answer sessions being held on the Wigan Council Facebook page with the Director of Public Health, about the virus.   

Your GP can answer any specific questions relating to your circumstances and will be the person who contacts you with regard to vaccination invites and details.

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