Packed agenda as full council set to debates homes, rail and schools
The final full council meeting of the borough’s municipal year features a packed agenda, with members set to discuss issues that were cut from previous proceedings in controversial circumstances.
Wednesday’s meeting at the town hall will also be the last gathering of this cohort of councillors with the local elections on the horizon.
Five motions are tabled for debate, including a pair submitted by opposition representatives that were due to be heard back at January’s meeting was suspended amid angry outbursts around a code of conduct hearing regarding outspoken independent member Coun Bob Brierley.
It means Tory representative Coun Kath Houlton and Coun Stuart Gerrard, an independent, have had to wait three months to have their motions discussed in the chamber as March’s gathering was restricted to budget-setting matters.
Here is a rundown of the motions:
HS2. Coun Houlton is asking for the council to support upgrades to the West Coast Main Line from Crewe to Wigan as an alternative to local HS2 proposals.
Seconded by leader of the opposition Coun Mike Winstanley, it states Warrington Council has already backed these plans which are also supported by local residents groups in the Lowton and Golborne area.
The move is in response to proposals for a spur of the HS2 route being constructed through the borough that would only result in one extra train per hour to Birmingham stopping at Wigan North Western. Most trains to use the new route may not stop in Wigan, campaigners say, meaning the borough will not get enough reward for the disruption endured by residents.
Atherton civic venue proposal. The council is being asked by Coun Gerrard, who represents Atherton, to undertake a feasibility study to build a new facility in his ward.
The motion says a new civic venue would “support community cohesion and events, reduce isolation for residents and provide a dedicated centre for our town’s youth.” It is seconded by Tory member for Lowton East, Coun James Grundy.
Mental health programme board. Deputy leader and cabinet member for adult social care Coun Keith Cunliffe will call on colleagues to mark the introduction of the council’s mental health programme board.
He has requested the new body will report to the existing health and social care scrutiny committee and children and young people scrutiny committee “to provide support and challenge, helping it to deliver improved health outcomes.”
School funding. Cabinet member for children and families Coun Jenny Bullen wants council support for a campaign calling for increased funding for schools.
The motion reads: “This Council fully supports the (National Governance Association) campaign in lobbying the government to properly fund school budgets in the next comprehensive spending review, to ensure that all our children and young people receive the standard of education they deserve.”
Affordable homes. Cabinet member for housing and welfare Coun Terry Halliwell wants the chamber to note the council’s efforts in providing affordable housing across the borough.
It reads: “The Council has directly provided in excess of 400 affordable homes for rent, since 2010, and we welcome a further 136 currently in a programme scheduled for the next two years. This Council is asked to make a further commitment to explore further funding opportunities, as they present themselves, to provide more social housing in the future.”
Both Coun Bullen and Coun Houlton are standing in next month's local elections. The full list of candidates in Ashton and Lowton East wards is:
Ashton: Jenny Bullen (Lab); Geoffrey Stephen Matthews (Liberal Democrats); Michael Moulding (Independent Network); Mark Temperton (UKIP); and Marie Winstanley (Tory);
Lowton East: Mary Patricia Houghton (UKIP); Kath Houlton (Tory); and Gary Peter Lloyd (Lab)