Wigan groups appalled as consultation begins on how £15m should be spent to improve communities
Residents' groups have had their say on plans to invest millions of pounds on new infrastructure in three areas of the borough to mitigate the impact of several new housing developments.
Communities are being asked how they want the £15m from housebuilders (£8.6m in Golborne & Lowton and £6.5m in Standish) to be spent including improvements to play areas, revamped community facilities and work to improve traffic flow.
But residents’ groups have raised concerns about the proposals and the way the consultation is being carried out, after spending several months speaking to Wigan Council officers about how the money could be used.
Some of the cash has already been committed to projects, including the enlarging of St Wilfrid’s CE Primary Academy and a possible expansion of Golborne High to accommodate future school places.
With the rest of the money, officers at the council have drawn up a number of possible schemes.
Some of the ideas in Standish include: the possible widening of School Lane; 20mph speed limits and new crossing points; extension of the Standish Mineral Line improvements; extra parking; and improvements to local play areas and open space.
Proposals in Golborne and Lowton include: new left turn from A580 to Newton Road; widening of Stone Cross Lane and installation of additional right turn; part-fund the extension and improvement work to the existing facility at Lowton Judo Club; upgrade facilities at St Mary’s Church Hall; new public toilets and improved kitchen facilities at Golborne Library; and various cycling, walking, play area and open space improvements.
Coun Paul Prescott, the council’s cabinet member for transport, environmental services and planning, said: “We’re in a fortunate position to have a significant pot of money thanks to section 106 collections.
“It’s important that people understand that we cannot possibly deliver all of the schemes set out, however, we recognise how important it is for the community that we spend the money in a way that will benefit residents the most.
“As a result, we have been working with community groups and ward councillors to discuss these schemes, which will be delivered long-term.
“Consultation with the public is key to delivering any successful scheme to ensure the outcome is tailored to local need. This is a great opportunity for local people to influence the projects and changes proposed in their area.”
But residents’ group Standish Voice has concerns about the way the consultation is being carried out and the proposals included.
A spokesman said: “Standish Voice urges all residents of the village to have their say in how the money for improved infrastructure is spent in our community.
“Over several years, we and our local councillors have impressed on Wigan Council that all money from developers involved in the huge house building programme should be spent in Standish to mitigate the very real problems this over-development has caused.
“There are a number of projects from Wigan Council which could help with this and we have been in discussion with them over many months about them.
“Ahead of the consultation starting, we were not given access to the details that will be shared with the public about these schemes.
“On seeing this information on the morning of the consultation, we are appalled at the lack of detail given about them, especially in relation to the proposed widening of School Lane, which will impact many residents who live there.
“To help people understand these proposals, and their impacts, we urge the council to set up a dedicated helpline for people to call with questions and concerns.
“The council told Standish Voice it would provide an email address for people to ask questions. But this was not included in the consultation website when it was launched.
“This oversight needs to be corrected immediately. However, just providing an email address during a pandemic, when plans and information cannot be read in Standish library, is not good enough.
“This consultation is incredibly important and we need residents to be as fully informed as possible before they give their views.”
A joint statement was released by members of five residents’ groups in Lowton and Golborne - Lowton and Golborne Traffic Advisory Committee, Golborne and Lowton West ‘Voice’, Lowton West Residents’ Association, Lane Head South Residents’ Group and Lowton East Neighbourhood Development Forum.
They felt the council had published a “poor engagement document” which lacks sufficient information, and claimed it had “ignored” suggestions on how it could be improved made by from members of the groups.
They said: “It is really good news that the council is consulting local residents about the use of section 106 money to address the traffic flow and congestion problems first predicted in their infrastructure assessment in 2013, and the need to improve local green spaces and public facilities to serve our community.
“We may not agree with all the proposals, but we recognise that this is a step in the right direction and are happy to continue our discussions with the council to resolve any outstanding issues raised.”
The consultation started on Monday and will run for two weeks.
Residents and businesses have been sent paper copies in the post and the survey can also be completed online at www.wigan.gov.uk/consultations.
For more information, email [email protected] to express an interest in being invited to a virtual meeting.
People are asked to include their name, whether they are a resident or business owner in Standish, Golborne or Lowton, and the scheme they want to discuss.
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