Council chiefs asked to
explain school closure


by David Skentelbery

A SPECIAL meeting of Warrington Borough Council’s executive board will be held on Monday to further discuss the controversial recommendation to close Woolston High School. This follows the unanimous decision of the council’s children’s services scrutiny committee to refer back the decision to the executive. Scrutiny chiefs want the executive to state more clearly the reasons for its recommendation. Committee chairman Coun Sue Dodd said it seemed the reasons had not been clearly stated because they had not been understood by the people affected. The school closure issues had been “called in” for discussion by the scrutiny committee by Labour’s Coun John Morris and by Liberal Democrats Coun Iona Gillis and Bob Timmis. They resulted in a lengthy debate, culminating in the decision to refer the matter back. Labour councillors complained that the meeting was unfair because parents, teachers and others entitled to be consulted on the proposals were not allowed to take part.
But the executive board meeting on Monday will take place after the full council meeting – when a resolution condemning the council for pressing ahead with the closure procedures has been tabled by Labour councillors Maureen Banner and Paul Bretherton.

Bears make way
to Alder Hey


by Gary Skentelbery

FIFTY teddy bears left the shelves of Bents Garden & Home in Glazebury near Warrington and found their way to Alder Hey Children's Hospital; into the welcoming arms of children on the Neuromedical ward, many of who spent Christmas away from home.
Four year old Mia Loudon, who is one of only four people in the UK to suffer with the rare CDKL5 condition, is regularly cared for on the Neuromedical ward and kindly agreed to deliver the furry bears to her friends who rely on the care and support provided by the team at the leading children's hospital.
Mia, who has been the face of Bents' Charity of the Year, has been working with the Centre over the past 12 months to help raise funds for the Hospital's Imagine Appeal. The fundraising total has already reached a fantastic £3,000.
Bents launched their exclusive Bents Bear collection in 2002 and since then they are quickly becoming one of the season's favourite purchases. It was decided to put 50 of this year's bears on one side so they could be given to the children at the hospital as an extra Christmas present.
Matthew Bent, Managing Director at Bents Garden & Home said: "Each year we introduce a new addition to the Bents Bear collection and they always prove a favourite with our customers. Children in particular love them so we thought it would be a lovely idea to give some of the bears to the children on Mia's ward at Alder Hey.
"We have been fundraising for the Imagine Appeal throughout the year and look forward to being able to announce our overall total. There is no substitute for cash donations as they go towards funding the excellent level of care received by the children, but it has been great to send the bears as they are such a direct gift - something the children can get hold of and will make them smile."
Meanwhile Mia will continue with her own fundraising campaign in 2008 details of which can be found at www.mialoudon.co.uk.

Late night bus service
swings into action


by staff reporter

SPECIAL late night buses to provide Warrington’s revellers with a safe, cost effective journey home during the Christmas and New Year period have started running.
Warrington Borough Transport is operating the service every Friday and Saturday and on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve.
Buses will leave Bridge Street regularly, between 2am and 4.30am, with a flat rate fare of £2 (£3 on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve).
The service has been praised by police.
PC Simon Moodley said: “The late night buses provide a cheap, safe journey home. The regular service helps people easily and affordably get home, which in turn helps clear the town centre, therefore minimising the risk of disturbances and violence.”
To help ensure people get home safely, bus marshals have been recruited to be on duty in Bridge Street to assist late night passengers and will be travelling on every bus, in addition to the on-board CCTV.
Warrington Borough Transport chairman Les Hoyle said: “The safety of our passengers is of paramount importance. Night buses will provide town centre visitors with safe, plentiful and cost effective transport home.”
Warrington’s Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnership, Warrington Licensees, Cheshire Police, Stockton Heath Parish Council and Birchwood Town Council are all backing the service.
Mr Hoyle said: “As a company, we are committed to providing the best possible transport service for the people of Warrington and are delighted to be working with several partners on this project.”
Coun Graham Roughsedge, chairman ofStockton Heath Parish Council said: “This is an important service which is responding to the needs of the community.”
The service provides links to Penketh, Great Sankey, Dallam, Bewsey, Orford, Longford, Stockton Heath, Padgate, Grappenhall, Woolston, Westy, Cinnamon Brow, Locking Stumps, Birchwood, Oakwood and Gorse Covert. A shuttle bus service links Stockton Heath and the town centre between 11:30pm and 1:30am.

Council asked to
"reinstate" Christmas


by John Hendon

WARRINGTON Borough Council has been criticised for using its Christmas lights to promote recycling.
The Bishop of Bolton, the Right Rev David Gillett, called on the council to “reinstate Christmas” next year.
Town Hall bosses decided to replace the traditional greeting “Happy Christmas” in the festive lighting display in the town centre with “Recycle for Warrington.”
As a result, a number of residents complained to local clergy.
One said: "To re-brand Christmas in this way with this recycling logo represents a loss of all common sense. It is a clear example of a council that has forgotten what Christmas is about. Christmas is not an opportunity for marketing departments to promote council branding. It is offensive to many people because it is replacing the Christmas message with council policy."
The Bishop said: "I am quite surprised to see the usual Christmas greetings replaced by the slogan 'Recycle for Warrington'. The various faith communities in Warrington all share the common belief that we should care for our environment and celebrate festivals in an appropriate way. For the majority of Warrington's population the celebration of Christmas is an important time. I hope that next year the Town Council will reinstate Christmas.
“There is widespread concern that this is a clear example of communications staff in local government introducing a secular agenda to remove overtly Christian symbols.”
To illustrate the point a special version of the carol God Rest you Merry Gentlemen has been released by the church:

“God rest ye merry, people all
Let nothing go to waste
So let us this Decemberval
Recycle now with haste
For Christmas here in Warrington
Hath this year been replaced
With chidings of throwing all in bins, all in bins,
With chidings of throwing all in bins.”
But the council intends to leave the lights in place – and says it will re-use them next year.

Cruel thieves steal money
from 87-year-old woman


by James Parr

HEARTLESS thieves have struck at the home of an 87-year-old Warrington woman, taking £140 in cash and her bank cards.
After her ordeal the woman suffered a stroke and is currently in hospital.
Two men approached her property in Rozel Crescent, Great Sankey, claiming they were working on a neighbour's roof and asked if they could enter her home.
They then duped her into parting with £140 cash and her bank cards, before leaving the scene in a small blue van.
Both men are described as being in their 40's, having short, cropped hair and speaking with a local accent.
Anyone who may have witnessed the incident or has any information on the men, is urged to contact PC John Callander at Warrington on 01244 615 858.

Inspector rejects
extension appeal


by staff reporter

A PLANNING inspector has thrown out an appeal by a Birchwood resident against Warrington Borough Council’s refusal to grant planning consent for home extension.
The plan involved rear and side extensions at a house in McCarthy Close, Birchwood which the council claimed would damage the character of the area and lead to the loss of off-street parking space.
The inspector ruled that the extension would harm the street scene because of its size and the reduction of space between adjoining houses.