Wigan councillors meet to set the borough budget
Councillors will decide how Wigan council will spend taxpayers' cash in the next financial year at the annual budget meeting on Wednesday.
The ruling Labour group has promised there will be no cuts to services or jobs lost at the town hall despite having to find £9m in savings over the 12 months.
A seven-year freeze on council tax is also set to end with a 0.99 per cent general rise proposed alongside a three per cent increase in the ringfenced adult social care precept.
Further spending announcements could be made by the council leader on the night when all councillors will have a chance to put forward alternative ideas.
Hindley Green’s two independent councillors have a long list of demands for their area which includes building a new £1m community centre in the ward.
The budget amendment by Coun Bob Brierley’s also calls for a fenced-off five-a-side football pitch and basketball court to be created at the Coupland Road playing fields which is estimated to cost the council a further £50,000.
There is also a request to open a youth club near Hindley Leisure Centre.
Coun Paul Maiden explained why he will be backing the amendment.
“There’s a big ageing population in Hindley Green,” he said. “There’s also lots of kids with nothing to do. It’s moving from a rural village to a modern town.
“We should be putting this in place before we build any more houses.”
The independent Hindley Green councillors are also requesting road repairs, new speed ramps and funding to fill ‘all potholes’ within the council ward.
“The population’s growing and there’s more cars on the road,” Coun Maiden added, explaining why the road repairs are needed. “It’s just basic physics.”
Bryn councillor Steve Jones will be calling for £250,000 earmarked to extend The Fire Within cultural programme to Leigh should be spent on grass cutting, weeding, filling potholes and general green space maintenance instead.
He has questioned whether this investment in culture is good value for money, highlighting the benefits of well-kept green spaces to residents’ mental health.
Atherton councillor James Watson has agreed to support this amendment.
He said spending this quarter of a million pounds on green spaces will have a ‘more significant impact’ on residents’ lives than a ‘short-lived art exhibition’.
The Atherton Independent Network, which Coun Watson belongs to, will also be putting forward two amendments of their own regarding regeneration.
They want £7m of the £47m set aside for the redevelopment of the Galleries shopping centre to be invested in town centres outside of Wigan and Leigh.
They also wants income from new housing to be spent on the towns affected.
The Conservatives, which make up the largest opposition group in Wigan, will also be proposing an amendment to the town centre master investment fund.
They want the this funding to be allocated to areas which have ‘traditionally missed out’ on investment because they are not classed as being ‘deprived’.
This includes Orrell, Standish, Lowton, Golborne, Ashton and Shevington.
The Tories also want to remove ‘red tape’, including all charges and fees, for outdoor seating licences which pubs, bars and restaurants apply for.
Conservative group leader, Orrell councillor Michael Winstanley, said this will offer ‘much needed support’ to the hospitality industry as we leave lockdown.
He added: “We also need to invest in the towns around the borough, but particularly those wards who don’t normally qualify for funding.
“This investment is needed if our towns are going to bounce back from the pandemic and they have been forgotten for far too long.”
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