Councillor welcomes call to “Change for Life”

A local Councillor has welcomed calls for the community to “Change for Life” by adopting a more healthy lifestyle Mary D’Albert, Councillor for St Mary’s ward in Prestwich, was speaking after a meeting of the Prestwich Local Area Partnership where the “Change for Life” scheme was launched in the area.


The scheme is part of a campaign to increase physical activity and reduce obesity across the country. Cllr D’Albert, the Liberal Democrats Health spokesperson in Bury, said “This is a great chance for local people to get advice on how to lead healthier lives. There’s lots of information out there on healthy food and opportunities for a more active lifestyle, and the Change for Life scheme will give people more chance to learn about becoming more healthy.”


Cllr D’Albert said that Prestwich was the ideal place to put the ideas of “Change for Life” into action. “We’re very lucky in Prestwich to have so much green space” she said. “From Prestwich Clough to Heaton Park, there are lots of places to go out and have a walk or play sport. And new play facilities like the Kersal Road playground and the ballzones around Prestwich mean that the whole family can join in.


According to Cllr D’Albert, the current Prestwich festival is a great time to get involved in the types of things that can make people “Change for Life.” She said    “The Festival includes events like sports training, and a farmer’s market where people can buy good, fresh food. I’m going to get involved and I hope lots of other local people do too.”


The meeting of the Prestwich Local Area Partnership on 15th May approved a £1,500 grant for the production of a “Be Active in Prestwich” map. The map will highlight walks and rides around Prestwich for the whole family to enjoy. Cllr D’Albert said “This is a great step forward and another way in which we can all Change for Life.”

Hundreds attend Save Heaton Park rally

Hundreds of local people staged a “Save Heaton Park” rally on Sunday in protest at plans to create a large commercial sports centre on part of the park.

Over 150 local residents were joined by six local Councillors to make clear their opposition to the proposed Goals Soccer Centre which is planned to be built near the St Margaret’s Road entrance to Heaton Park. The message was clear: Save Heaton Park!

Cllr Tim Pickstone, the Liberal Democrat Councillor for Holyrood ward, addressed the crowd. He said “More sports facilities are great, but this is in completely the wrong place. The park has been here for the people of north Manchester and Prestwich for over 100 years. It’s open parkland where people can play football, have a picnic, walk the dog or play in the sun. All of this will be lost forever if it is a £40 an hour soccer centre.”

St Margaret’s Road resident Paul Toner, who helped organise Sunday’s rally, said “None of us are opposed to sports facilities, but the impact of this development on the local area would be terrible – parking, traffic, illuminated pitches.”

The scheme will be decided on by Manchester City Council, who own Heaton Park despite it being bordered by Bury land on three sides. Local residents were urged to send in letters and emails of objection to Manchester City Council before the deadline for comment on 20th July.”

Local Road Funding “Disgrace” say Lib Dems

Liberal Democrat Councillors in Prestwich have reacted with anger after details of the Council’s road maintenance package for the year were announced this week. The Conservative-run Bury Council has announced that Prestwich will receive just under £63,000 for road and pavement repairs for the coming year, despite a list of required repairs amounting to over ten times that figure.

Reacting to the news, St Mary’s Ward Liberal Democrat Councillor Donal O’Hanlon said “I am astonished by this disgraceful neglect of local roads and pavements by the Tories. The Council’s engineers have identified the thirteen most dilapidated roads in Prestwich, including really shocking cases like Warwick Street. In total these will cost over £700,000 to fix, yet the Council have offered us just £63,000. That’s a terrible neglect of the area, especially since the Tories just put up Council Tax by over 4%. Once again they’re taking more, and giving less.”

The funding figures were released at the same time as it was revealed that broken roads and pavements are costing local taxpayers millions in compensation claims. In response to a question raised by Liberal Democrats at the Town Hall, Conservative Executive Member for Environmental Services Cllr Dorothy Gunther admitted that compensation claims for trips and falls on local pavements totalled over £2m in recent years.

Commenting on the figures, Cllr O’Hanlon said “Two million pounds of taxpayers’ money has been wasted because the Council aren’t maintaining our roads and pavements. They are clearly a danger, and this is a staggering amount of money being thrown away. The fact that the Tories are still offering us nothing like the appropriate amount of funding just shows how out of touch they are.

“We will continue to campaign for a better deal on local roads, and stop this shocking neglect of Prestwich. It’s time the Conservatives at the Town Hall gave us a fair deal.”

Council thumbs-up for new Arts College facilities

Planners at Bury Council have given approval for state of the art new facilities at Prestwich Arts College, marking the end of a long campaign for improvements to the successful local school.

The Council’s Planning Control Committee voted on Tuesday 16th June to grant planning permission for a new dining room and arts auditorium for the school, which was threatened with closure back in 2005. Commenting on the news, local Lib Dem Councillor Tim Pickstone said “This is great news, not just for the school but for the whole community. Prestwich Arts College is the only high school in Bury without a dining room, and this news is long overdue. We’ve been lobbying the Council for years, and I’m glad they’ve finally seen sense and given Prestwich young people what they need.

Commenting on the new arts auditorium, Cllr Pickstone, who is also a governor of the school, said “This will be a first class facility for a top quality school. But more than that, it will be used as a community facility, bringing better arts provision for the whole of Prestwich. I’m delighted it’s been given the go-ahead.”

The new facilities will be built in the near future. Cllr Pickstone said “We need to listen to the concerns of local residents on Heys Road, Glebelands Road and other nearby streets to ensure that the plans do not adversely affect local residents. When we get the process right, Prestwich Arts College and the whole area will have splendid new facilities.

Lib Dems criticise Council over Prestwich’s “crumbling” roads

Liberal Democrats have criticised Bury Council’s under-investment in road repairs after a local councillor discovered a two-metre deep crater on a Prestwich street.

Cllr Donal O’Hanlon, Liberal Democrat member for St Mary’s ward, discovered the hole on Lowther Road, and launched a stinging attack on road maintenance in the borough. “We can’t go on like this – the condition of our roads is appalling, and the amount we are allocated to repair them is paltry!” said Cllr. O’Hanlon.

“Bury Council announced it’s annual budget recently, but the amount given over to road repairs was so low that we can’t even afford to fix the single neediest road. Local Area Partnerships decide how much of the meagre money allocated can be spent on the upgrading of the roads and pavements, but there is nowhere near enough.”

Cllr O’Hanlon described the moment he almost became a victim of the crumbling road himself. “I came round the corner and swerved around a dip in the road. I got out to investigate, and found a crater two metres deep. The damage to someone’s car if it’d fallen in, let alone the shock to the person, would far outweigh the cost of keeping the road in a decent condition!”

Prestwich Area Partnership has been allocated less than £200,000 by Bury’s Conservative-controlled Council to repair all the roads and pavements in the town. ”What we need is a real investment in our roads – the proverb ‘A stitch in time saves nine’ springs to mind. Is this what we get for our massive 4.9% Council Tax rise?” asked Cllr O’Hanlon. “I call on the Executive Member of the Council responsible for roads, Cllr. Dorothy Gunther, to come and see the appalling mess she is currently presiding over, and ask for her commitment to rectify matters immediately.”

Lib Dem Oasis verdict – Room for improvement, not 200,000 fans

Local Lib Dem Councillors have praised clean-up staff following recent Oasis concerts in Heaton Park, but voiced concerns that not enough was done to protect local people during the recent events. The concerts, which saw
210,000 people enjoy music in the park over three nights, generated controversy over noise, but passed largely without major trouble.

Commenting on the concerts, Cllr Vic D’Albert, Liberal Democrat member for Holyrood and Parliamentary candidate for Bury South said “What’s clear is that over 200,000 people came to Prestwich and had a great time. But there
were lots of problems for the people that live here, and we need to get the balance right. Before Manchester City Council think about having more concerts here, they need to think about Prestwich residents.”

Residents complained about excessive noise, particularly on the first night when a power failure caused a delay to the end of the concert. Cllr D’Albert said “Of course there was going to be noise, but I think continuing until 11.25 was too late, and I will be demanding that this never happens again. I want to know why the stage was set up facing the houses of Prestwich rather than the open space of the park, and why revellers weren’t moved on quicker at the end. This was particularly unpleasant for older residents and people with young children.”

Parking arrangements were only partially successful. Cllr D’Albert said “We were given assurances that public transport would work and parking wouldn’t be a problem. Whilst streets in St Margaret’s and Sheepfoot Lane were well protected, those in Sedgley and Rhodes were not, and this wasn’t good enough. Buses and taxis were dropping off people in the wrong place, and queues for trams were very long. We need improvements to help residents.”

Cllr D’Albert did praise some aspects of the organisation. “I thought the street cleaning service was excellent, and lots of local people enjoyed a concert, either as paying spectators or for free in their gardens. A lot of local people enjoyed themselves, and local businesses received a welcome boost in trade. The gigs have raised the profile of Prestwich, and that’s great. In addition, some of the profits will be spent improving local parks, so people will see long term benefits as a result of short term disruption.”

“Prestwich Local Area Partnership will receive a report into all aspects of the concerts, and make this available to local people so that we can represent their views. I look forward to working with everyone – local people, and Bury and Manchester Councils – to make sure that if these things are to happen again, we in Bury make Manchester City Council learn from what happened. There’s certainly room for improvement, but perhaps not for 200,000 people across three nights in quick succession. We need to deal with the noise better, reduce the numbers and restrict activity to sensible times and durations. We need to strike a balance between Prestwich people and money for Manchester.”

Bike Doctors come to Prestwich

Specialist Bike Doctors were on hand at the Phoenix Centre in Prestwich this week, giving local people the chance to give the bicycles an “MOT” as part of another successful Prestwich Festival event.   Police Community Support Officers were also on hand to security tag bikes so that they can be returned to their owners if stolen.

‘It’s really important that we encourage cycling and the Prestwich-based National Cycling Academy’s commitment to local people, repairing bikes, maintenance advice as well as giving cycle maps to both adults and youngsters has been a fantastic plus for Prestwich residents’ said local  Liberal Democrat Councillor Ann Garner, whose own bike received a quick MOT at the event. 

‘I’d promised to support the National Cycling Academy’s event and had to hunt out a cycle helmet as well as pump up the tyres of my bike, I don’t use it enough’   said Cllr Garner  ‘I’m not the only person with a bike I need to get on and use more often, rather than use the car!’  ‘The more bikes on the roads, the fitter we’ll all be!’ 

Julie Woodruff, Course Director of the Cycling Academy said ‘We’ve had a fantasic response to the Dr Bike event today, the number of parents and children bringing their bikes for a check over by our Technicians highlights the genuine interest in cycling amongst the local community. Youngsters need advice on how to maintain their bikes and parents have also valued the reassurance that their child’s bike is safe to ride too’.

Safety improvements planned for Prestwich junction

Local residents and Councillors have welcomed Council plans to improve safety at one of the busiest road junctions in Prestwich after a campaign lasting more than two years.

People living near the junction of Hilton Lane, Scholes Lane and Bury New Road have been working with local Lib Dem Councillors since 2006 to secure safety improvements at the busy intersection. The campaign, which culminated in a 500-strong petition to the Mayor of Bury, has now been successful, and Bury Council have designed a scheme to make the area safer.

The scheme, which will see pedestrian crossing facilities installed at the traffic lights, is still subject to planning approval and the Council securing funds, but has been welcomed by Councillors. Cllr Donal O’Hanlon, Councillor for St Mary’s ward which includes Hilton Lane, said “The campaign waged by local people obviously convinced planners that this work is urgently needed. The designs are great news and a real boost for community safety. The junction is close to schools and shops, and I urge the Council to commit the necessary funds as soon as possible so that people will be able to cross the road with proper pedestrian facilities.

Cllr Andrew Garner, whose Sedgley Ward includes Scholes Lane, said “We’ve been campaigning for this for years. It’s a real testament to the good relationships between local residents and Councillors, and the hard work of campaigners in the community. Well done to everyone who’s lobbied hard for this to happen. All we need now is for the Council to find the money.”

“Bury let down in transport deal” say Lib Dems

Bury has missed out on big public transport improvements after a deal was struck between all Greater Manchester authorities, according to Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate for Bury North Cllr Richard Baum.

The new deal sees big improvements promised across the city region, including a new bypass in Stockport and Metrolink extensions into Rochdale and Oldham. Bury’s only major gain is a feasibility study into improvements tot he East Lancashire Railway. Cllr Baum said “The Tory leadership of Bury Council have struck a bad deal for Bury. We needed better buses, especially in the north of the borough. We also want a commitment that the ELR will be improved and serve as a commuter line. This deal gives us nothing like that.”

The agreement, struck between leaders from the 10 authorities in Greater Manchester, involves individual boroughs giving up their local transport grants and paying more levy to the Greater Manchester Integrated Transport Authority. Cllr Baum said “Bury will be paying for transport improvements in Wigan and Salford. That’s not good enough and the Tories have let us down.”

“Greater Manchester as a whole gets improved public transport without a congestion charge, and I welcome this. It exposes Labour’s TIF bid lies once and for all. But Bury deserves more of the spoils, and the Tory leadership didn’t negotiate us a good deal.”

Lib Dems warn of Heaton Park traffic chaos

Local Councillors and residents of the St Margaret’s Road area have joined forces to highlight potential traffic chaos if Manchester Council’s plans for Heaton Park go ahead. Current plans for a Goals Soccer Centre would put significant added pressure on this narrow residential road, and campaigners are concerned that Manchester Council isn’t thinking properly about its own plans to turn a renovated Heaton Hall into a major tourist attraction – traffic which will again use St Margaret’s Road.

Paul Toner, a resident on St Margaret’s Road, Prestwich said: “We already have major problems with traffic congestion on St Margaret’s
Road, which is only going to become worse if this development gets the go ahead. What also worries me is the increase in noise and light
pollution. The greatest sadness is that we will loose a large piece of open parkland for ever. I am not against good quality sports
facilities, I just don’t think they should built it in a public park, considering there are plenty of brown field sites available.”

Local Councillor Tim Pickstone said “We all love Heaton Park, and the improvements to the Hall would be spectacular. But it’s no good
having a lovely park if the parking arrangements don’t work.

Manchester Council needs to think carefully about the impact on the local area, before pressing ahead with their controversial privately
run Soccer Zone .”

Photos and a video showing how busy St Margaret’s Road is already, BEFORE these developments has been made available at