Body in the river:
police hold two boys
by John Hendon
TWO schoolboy are being held by police at Warrington following the discovery of a man?s body in the Mersey.
Police say they have not been charged with any offence but are helping with enquiries.
Both are local and one is aged 16 and the other 14.
Police say they are treating the death as “suspicious” – and tests are being carried out to try and establish a cause of death.
The body was spotted in the river early on Tuesday morning ? as reported by Warrington-Worldwide the same day.
A passerby is believed to have spotted the body and a police underwater search team was called to the scene to recover it.
The area around Warrington Rowing Club?s headquarters near Kingsway Bridge was cordoned off as the investigation proceeded.
A police spokesman said identifying the body had proved difficult because of the time it had been in the water.
But it had been established that it was David Raymond Atherton, aged 40, of St Katherine?s Way, Warrington who was reported missing from home on May 9.
Police are anxious to speak to anyone who may have seen anything suspicions near Mr Atherton?s home or near the river between May 9 and the early hours of Tuesday morning, May 16.
Anyone who can help should call police on 0845 4580000.
Bo Bo celebrates
his 21st birthday
by Mark Hemmings
CONGRATULATIONS Bo Bo! Warrington?s Walton Hall Zoo resident, Bo Bo the Donkey has reached a milestone.
He is now 21 and still going strong.
Peter Cookson-Dean, who incidentally marks his 25 years of service to the Ranger Service at Walton Hall Gardens this year, has been with Bo Bo from Day One.
Explaining how Bo Bo arrived at Walton Hall, Peter who is his adopted ?parent? said: “His mother was called Frosty and his father came from Knowsley Safari Park.
?Sadly, during her pregnancy Bo Bo’s mother had a hormone imbalance and was unable to produce milk, so she rejected him. I was present at his birth, and I have been with him every day since! For the first six months of his life I was feeding him every six hours day and night.”
Bo Bo, who is definitely a “Daddy’s Boy” doesn’t like women at all. Many female rangers have tried to get close to him – but after one incident where a woman was pinned to the floor by the donkey, they have not tried since! Even when it comes to receiving treatment from a vet or blacksmith, Peter has to be present.
All sorts of donkey themed activities took place at a special party for Bo Bo.
More than 30 children attended a donkey disco ? and there was a carrot cake for Bo Bo!
Pictured are Peter Cookson-Dean and Bo Bo.
Council aims to save
on school transport
by David Skentelbery
TOWN Hall chiefs at Warrington face difficult choices next week as they wrestle with proposals to make savings of up to ?500,000 on free passes for post-16 students travelling to school or college.
The borough is one of the lowest funded and lowest taxing authorities in the country but needs to make savings because of rising costs.
It currently operates one of the most generous schemes for financial assistance to post-16 students – a scheme originally inherited from Cheshire County Council in 1998.
Since then, neighbouring Halton ? which inherited the same scheme ? has scrapped all transport subsidy to the students and Cheshire has introduced a flat rate charge of ?250 per student.
Warrington has carried out a public consultation on changing the policy from this September ? and this has raised strong emotions.
There have been a large number of responses from parents, schools, colleges, several other organisations and education authorities and from bus operator Warrington Borough Council.
Some say September is a wrong time to change the policy as many students will have already made plans and, in some cases, may opt out of further education if faced with increased costs.
Others argue that the infrastructure of school/college provision could be compromised by changes to transport support ? and the bus company points out that some marginal routes may have to be axed if there is a fall in the number of students using them.
There is also the possibility of more people using cars creating increased congestion, road safety and environmental issues.
The borough?s executive board will be asked on Monday to consider three options.
A nominal ?50 charge per pass from September, followed by a charge of ?230 next year, saving ?46,000 over the next three years.
A ?50 charge per pass from September, following by ?190 next year which would require additional savings within the council.
Accept an offer from Warrington Borough Transport to cut the cost of passes by ?150,000, retaining free passes this year and deferring other charging decisions until next year. This would also require other savings within the council.
The executive board will be asked to approve one of the options, taking account of savings required by the council?s medium term financial plan.
But the council aims to retain free transport for students with special educational needs.
Police knife amnesty
to cut street violence
by staff reporter
POLICE at Warrington are calling on the public to support them in efforts to reduce violent crime on the streets.
Police stations are gearing up in support of a national knife Amnesty that begins next week by placing specially designed amnesty bins in various locations across the borough. The knife amnesty runs form the May 24 until June 30.
The number of knife related incidents recorded by Cheshire police last year topped 700 with offences ranging from murder and grievous bodily harm to threatening behaviour harassment and possession.
The law as it stands is clear – carrying a knife in a public space that has a blade more than three inches long is illegal. Anyone carrying a knife who cannot give a satisfactory explanation will be arrested for possession of an offensive weapon.
Cheshire Assistant Chief Constable David Baines said: “For one month, the public have the chance to assist the police in transforming our streets and reducing the number of vicious knife attacks, woundings and stabbings that are occurring in our communities every day.
Most people would not consider carrying a knife as a matter of routine yet in today’s society there is evidence that this is a common practice. A minority of people seem to think that it is acceptable to go about their business with a knife in their pocket. What we will be doing over the coming month is challenging that belief.
?The purpose of the amnesty is to encourage everyone to take responsibility for the number of knives and blades that are available in our communities and we are asking the public to take this chance to dispose of them safely.?
Knife amnesty boxes will be available at Warrington Police Station and the smaller police stations at Stockton Heath, Risley and Great Sankey.
Police officers on patrol will be questioning anyone found in possession of a knife or blade that is not wrapped appropriately. Anyone found in possession of an unprotected weapon will be arrested and questioned concerning their reason for carrying an offensive weapon.
A spokesman said: ?The amnesty cannot be used as an alibi. People who dispose of knives during the amnesty in a responsible way have nothing to fear from the police, weapons handed in will not be routinely forensically tested and the amnesty will be anonymous.?
Time Square scheme
to be considered again
by staff reporter
THE multi-million ? scheme to demolish Warrington?s Time Square and replace it with a new shops, leisure and housing scheme, will come before borough planners for a third time next week.
Planners have twice put off a decision pending further negotiations with applicants Big Apple (Warrington) Ltd.< br />The project includes a multi-screen cinema, restaurant or caf?, bars, shops, offices and 312 residential units. It would provide some 420 parking spaces.
It first came before the committee in February ? at the same time as a ?100 million scheme to re-develop derelict land off Winwick Street with a similar complex of shops, offices, hotel and cinema, together with more than 600 homes.
Planners approved the Winwick Street scheme but deferred the Time Square application because of concerns over the amount of affordable housing proposed.
It is the housing element of the project which is still causing concern.
But planning officers are recommending the scheme be approved.
They say there are no strategic policy objections to the proposals. The developers are prepared to contribute to the cost of affordable housing, recreational space, public transport, etc.
The scheme also includes improvements to the entrances to Warrington Market and an additional link bridge to the Market Multi-storey Car Park. There would also be space available for a health care facility within the site.
The borough council?s estates department has lodged objections, as have some of the existing occupiers of premises within Time Square.
But planning officers say the proposed development is consistent with policies contained in the town centre chapter of the Warrington Unitary Development Plan which seek to ensure the continued vitality and viability of the town centre.
by John Hendon
WARRINGTON Borough Council has been cleared by the Local Government Ombudsman over a complaint relating to a planning application in Barrow Hall Lane, Great Sankey.
But the Ombudsman has indicated there was scope for better communication by the council in advising on issues of significance and some evidence that file notes and meeting notes were not complete.
The complaint arose from the refusal by the council to grant permission for a house on land in Barrow Hall Lane.
Subsequently another application by a property developer was also refused permission ? but allowed after an appeal.
The complainant alleged that pre-application discussion with the council failed to identify emerging policy objections and resulted in him making an application which stood little chance of success and later decide to sell the plot to the property developer.
The Ombudsman says correct advice was given to the complainant, that there was a warning on emerging policy and no indication that planning permission would be forthcoming. It was unrealistic to expect the same level of advice at pre-application stage as when an application had been submitted.
The council acted consistently in refusing permission, even though an inspector later granted permission on appeal. There was no evidence of maladministration.
Director of Environmental Services Alan Stephenson said the complaint served as a useful prompt as to the importance of accurate note keeping.