Saturday, 15 November 2014

The Week ending....16 Nov '14

What a big week this has been. So much going on this week.

Ashfield Campaign

The week started with the Ashfield Campaign meeting at the Unity Club on Tuesday. This was the first public meeting since the restart of the Village Green.

As we know the inspector overseeing the application has now given both parties, me - the Applicant and Wigan Council - as the objector, directions to how we proceed toward the public inquiry that will take place possibly in the early part of next year.

First of all if you feel that you want to help and you have or do use Ashfield Park then please fill in a witness statement. Here is one for you to download and print and complete.



Fill in the form as best you can and with as much detail as you can. Mark on the map on the last page where your house is or was also please sign the back of the map, as this is important. Once you have completed it please drop it in at our cllrs surgery or contact us and I wil arrange to collect it. Or you can send it to

Save Ashfield Park Campaign
31 Littleton Grove
Standish
Wigan
WN6 0LL

These witness statements will then all be put in the bundles that we will present to the inspector to demonstrate the wide use that people have used Ashfield for. This is crucial!

Also it is hard to understand what people want to do to help. so we have create a form that you can fill out and email it back to me. You can email it back to info@saveashfieldpark.co.uk .

Below is the form if you want to help in any way.



On the form you will see that we are asking for people to pledge to the fund. What we are not after at this time is the money just the pledge. That way should we fail to hit either of our targets then we will not have collected the money.

The first target is £1500 which is to pay for a barrister that specialises in these matter to put together our Legal Summary for the evidence bundles that again will be presented to the Village Green Public Inquiry. We currently at this point have over £300 so on our way.

The other target is people are asking for a barrister to represent us at the public inquiry. This will go on for several days, if not a week. Hiring a barrister for this amount of time is costly. The target is £10,000. I seriously didn't think this was even dreamable but people have put up some pledges already. One person kindly pledged £1,000. But then someone said that there are aprox 7000 houses in Standish and if 500 houses, less than 9% pledged just £20 then we would hit the target. when it is said like that it so is possible to hit that, I believe.

Wristbands

So there is a lot going on there and to try and raise the profile of the campaign we are selling wristbands for £1. These will show the support we have and also raise the profile of the campaign. If you want one of these please keep your eyes open for the posters in some of the shops or contact me and I will get one to you.





Full Council meeting


Wednesday night saw the meeting of the Full Council. As Wigan Town Hall had been deemed unsafe we had to use Leigh Town Hall chamber, which was a tight fit but proved workable. To be fair given that there was a large number of residents about the East Lancs Bus Lane there it was probably fitting that it was held that side of the borough.

Unfortunately the pantomime goes on with the Council making the rules as they go.  One Cllr for Hindley was deemed to have swore to another Labour Cllr was silenced for the rest of the meeting. that means he was no longer able to contribute to any debates- if we have any. However, the Cllr never swore and I was sat in front of him. Other Opposition Cllrs also did not heard him, in fact it was all the opposition who agreed that he did not. When I challenged the Mayor she said that she had been told that he had swore. So I guess if she had to be told she also did not hear him swear but she still did not allow him to speak again. That's democracy for you in Wigan.

I am absolutly shocked at how the residents of Tydlesley and Atherton are being treated over the lack of consultation and there is now a strong sense of if they will not listen then they will back a candidate in next year's local election. I have been contacted to ask if I would be willing to talk to them and help - which I am and I guess that meeting will take place in the coming week(s).The less Labour Cllrs then the better we have at stopping things like houses in Standish and guided bus lanes on the East Lancs Rd.

Surgery


This week surgery saw a couple of residents come in over issues them and we will be dealing with them and helping those residents. If you ever need us we are in the library between 10 - 11 am ever Saturday morning.

Sunday, 9 November 2014

The Week ended.....9 Nov '14

This has been another busy week. The main issue pushing through this week is obviously the Save Ashfield. At the end of last week the great news came through from the inspector who is over seeing the Village Green application were he has said that there will be a Public Inquiry. I think I have said enough about how the Council has spent over £60,000 of tax payers money fighting this application and even refuse to accept that we know they have been in discussions with Persimmon homes over the development of the site. This week has seen the public meeting being arranged and the new wristbands being ordered. Also there is a large about of preparation work for the meeting this weeka has also been done and still being done.

Today is remembrance Sunday which is the 100th year from the start of the War. I, along with the other Ward Cllrs have joined the remembrance parade and service in Standish. I have just returned and watching the pictures from London and what is strange is the presenter keeps saying celebrating the 100th year. What is strange is it is the 100th year from the start of the war so I think we should remember those that have fallen and protected us but to say 100 year to celebrate is to me wrong. I would say that it would be more appropriate in 4 years time to say celebrate because that is the end of the great war.

Also this week I exposed the disgraceful action of the Council on the cover up of historic abuse scandal. There is also the case that they paid off before it could get to the courts and expose the whole issue. Also the fact that a number that is up to 100 where historic sexual abuse cases as well. At a recent scrutiny meeting the Council lied when they told Councillors there was no cases.

See you at the Save Ashfield Meeting this coming week.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Save Ashfield Witness Questionnaire and Map

Now that we know that we are having a public inquiry for the application for a Village Green we have to evidence that we have used the field.

I know hundreds have already filled out a witness questionnaire but if you have filled one out already here is a link to download one. If you download please remember to also download a map here and put a x on where your house is or where you lived. Also sign the and print the back of the map too.

So who can fill out the questionnaires?

If you have lived or are living within the red border line in the last 20 years you are eligible to download a form and fill it in. Please put on what you have used Ashfield for. These can be picnics, walking, riding playing, football just messing about or anything else like rolling down the hills or sledging or snow ball fights. What ever it is you can put it down.

Then also print out a map and put a cross on the map where you live now or if you have lived here in the past then mark where your lived. Once you have down both of these things you can bring them to the meeting next week or watch here where you can leave them.

Any questions please feel free to email me at -  gareth@saveashfieldpark.co.uk .

Thanks for the support.

Abuse scandal at Wigan Council Care

I am saddened to report that I have learnt that there have been a number of historic abuse cases for children under Wigan's care.

The first is physical abuse.
A claim came into Wigan Council in the late 80's/ early 90's. This was were a person who was a child previously and been to a certain Wigan Care Home for Children claimed that he was going to sue the Council for abuse and neglect because whilst he was under their care he was hit and kicked. Wigan Council carried out an investigation and found that the abuse this person was claiming was not only probably true but the practice was rife, were children were regularly hit around the head or kicked. Instead of making a public apology and resolving all the cases the Council decided not to say another publicly and to pay this person off. This to me is hush money because the Council paid the person the money, they did this because if it went to court the flood gates would open. This leaves the Council in a difficult position because now those people that were physically abused will be able to claim more now because the Council knew about the abuse and did nothing about it.

Sexual abuse.
I also understand that the Council have a pot of money ready in case of any historical sexual abuse cases come in. This pot is in the region of a staggering £12 - £15 Million. The Council try and defend this position by saying this pot is for all compensation claims for trips and falls. Smoke screen! There is no way that Wigan Council pays out that for trips and falls and the reason for the staggering amount is because of the sexual abuse cases and physical abuse cases. In fact at a recent Scrutiny meeting the council claimed there were no concerns over this but I can exclusively reveal that there are up to 100 cases were the police have asked the Council to pass over files of children that have been in the care of Wigan Council and have made complaints. Whilst it may not be the 1400 that was recently reported in Rotherham this figure is simply shocking. Wigan Council again have tried to say that it is not near the 100 figure but merely only about 35 cases, approximate, O well if it is only roughly about 35 then that makes it okay then Mr Wigan Council. No it doesn't to me - it is shocking and disgusting and these matter need a full, frank and independent investigation but Wigan Council will not order one as yet again they don't want the truth to come out. Any victims of physical or sexual abuse needs to be taken seriously and apologised to if they have suffered.  

I have now written to the Leader of the Council saying that not I nor any member of our group will be part of any cover up and that is the reason why I have disclosed the information exclusively on the blog today. I want an independent investigation to be carried out and the truth to be told - the public need it and the victims deserve it!

Monday, 3 November 2014

The week ending...............2 November '14

Yet another week and there are a number of residents issues popping up from litter, dog fouling and anti social behaviour.

One thing that we have witnessed and other have commented on too are the amount of drugs that are about. We have seen this too and had meetings with the Police on the matter and we have been able to identify a few of them and words have been said no and they are on their last warnings. We have a strong belief in zero tolerance and the culprits know they are being watched.

One major issue that has taken a considerable time this week is the Ashfield campaign trying to save that from development and get it registered as a Village Green. Over on the Facebook page at the beginning of the week we had just under 400 likes on the page and now at the end of the week we have smashed through the 1000 likes ans still growing. Where that will end no one knows but one thing is that the residents now know that the issue is active and live again and we are getting ready for battle.

On the issue the Save Ashfield Campaign have ordered wrist bands and will be selling them to raise the campaign more and let people show their support. Next week's meeting at the Unity Club will certainly be a big turn out.






Saturday, 25 October 2014

Ashfield Village Green Public Hearing

In 2012, I put in a Village Green application in to register Ashfield Park/Playing Field as a Village Green. Once the Village Green application went in the process takes over, which in turns means the it goes quiet. Many people presumed that meant that we had won the fight to register Ashfield as a Village Green and there would no be no houses on built on there.

Whilst things have been quiet to the public I can assure you that a lot has been going on. The first thing that I needed to do was gather up all the witness statements that people kindly filled in. This was a case of scanning and printing the Witness Statements and then submitting the hundreds into the Council has evidence. These went into the Council into three bundles. Those that have not submitted a witness statement but would like to have a small window of opportunity to fill one in and return it. I have put a link at the bottom of this post to print out.

Once the bundles went in the Council I believe that they knew that the support was of such a a size and the evidence in the witness statement was so strong that they went and hire outside solicitors and/ or barrister who specialise in this area of expertise. I believe that the bill for this specialised work has cost over £50,000 , which shows the level of feeling that the Council wants to stop this application for a Village Green.

The first thing the Council tried was to write to the inspector asking him to through out my application because in their opinion it failed to meet the criteria. This was because the crucial issue on a Village Green is did we get permission to use it when we used the playing fields or did the Council give us permission. In their eyes years ago they moved the budget for the fields from the education pot to the recreational pot and on that grounds the Council believe that was them giving us permission.

Also out of the advice that the Council received was to try and get a behind closed doors hearing to try and resolve this application. The Council said that if they won that "behind the closed door" hearing, as I call it, then that way there would not be a need for the public hearing. The Council have tried to stop the public hearing because when that goes ahead then the public will not hear the truth, the public will not have a voice and most of all the public does not get their say. And on this matter the residents of Standish needs their say and it will be heard.

As part of the process the Council, as the objector to the Village Green Hearing, had to ask for my opinion on the "behind closed door" hearing. Their thinking behind this idea was it would save money because there would be no need for a public hearing and also witness's would not need to go through the process. As part of my objection I said this was out of the ordinary and would not save money if we won because we would then need a public hearing the witness's evidence would be needed to decide if the application stands or falls

The inspector that is overseeing this application has now returned his opinion and direction and that is that there will be a public hearing. There will not be a pre hearing like the Council had asked for and it will be determined in the usual way of a one stage public hearing.

Now comes some serious hard work in preparing for the public hearing. With bundles made up and prepared, opening and closing statements drafted and redrafted. I will be calling a public hearing to update residents. Keep watching.



Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Council takes step closer to closing Ashfield playing fields.

Wigan Council are doing what they do best - closing things! They are taking another step to closing Ashfield and trying not to get people to notice it. But this is of great concern to me.

Ashfield is a campaign that I, like the population of Standish, are very passionate about. We all know that in 2012 the Council were having conversations with Persimmon and Morris Homes about building houses on the feilds. The Council spent nearly £3000 on leaflets only the other month and sent them to every house in Standish saying that the closure of Ashfield is not true. However, the Council at the end of last football season removed the changing rooms and they did not return at the beginning of this years season. Many thought that they went away for the summer just to be refurbished or something and would return at the start of the season.

Now we are well into the football season and the Council have not returned the changing rooms and South Lancs League have now banned ALL their teams from playing on Ashfield because their criteria is that the grounds have to have on site changing facilities.

Now the football teams cannot plan on Ashfield because of the Council's decision to remove the changing rooms and no doubt the Council will in time will say, what they usually do, that the fields are no longer being used by football teams and so they are defunct and they can sell them. Remember when the Council block new pupils attending Mere Oaks and then they said that children were not going there so that's why it had to close.

I have contacted the Council with my concerns and I am demanding that the changing rooms are put back ASAP to allow the teams back on the feilds before they go and find other permanent places to play on.

Shame on this shameful Council who only purpose seems to try and publish and get opposition Cllrs that oppose them!