It is time council ended the secrecy

Everyone in this town is aware of the dire financial constraints under which the council is working.

And everyone is aware that some things will have to be cut if the books are to be balanced.

But what infuriates people is the secrecy currently being used across departments throughout the Council. The latest to fall victim of this secrecy is the discussion about the future of Low Bank Ground and Hinning House outdoor centres in the Lake District. I use the term ‘debate’ loosely, because that’s exactly what is not happening.

A terse statement from a tight-lipped Nick Hudson says the council is “currenty investigating the possibilities of outsourcing this service” but refuses to elaborate just what possibilities exist.

These two Lake District centres have brought countless hours of pleasure for many many young Wiganers and the town’s residents should be allowed some say in what is to happen to them.

Or are we just going to have yet another shambolic debacle like Drumcroon. The Council refuses to to say what it is considering. Thousands of people protest but it makes not a jot of difference. Drumcroon is history.

Tell us what the options are. Show us the figures. You never know we may agree with the final outcome – we may not – but at least we’ll feel we have had a small say in the final decision instead of this continuing sense of absolute helplessness about what is happening in our town.

J Malone


A Christmas pledge

I totally agree with the Rector of Wigan, Ray Hutchinson and the Reverend Neil Cook in their comments regarding allowing the congregation to take Holy Communion at midnight, the start of Christmas Day, Christ’s birthday and the reason for this traditional midnight service to be maintained at all costs.

As a worshipper at st Aidan’s Billinge, I would question Reverend Alan Overeed of scrapping the 11.30pm service at St Aidan’s, a decision which had been taken on October 6 that the service will now be at 8.30pm.

Regarding his comments on numbers, yes they are dwindling and have been for many years in all churches because church congregations are elderly and dying off.

Regarding the traditional attachment, that is partly true but for most Christmas what is important about the midnight service is celebrating Christ’s birthday and taking Holy Communion as soon as possible on Christmas Day and remembering what Christmas is all about.

I think with not keeping this service it is a retrograding step. Christmas is just becoming a holiday and Christ is being taken out of Christmas.

C Stockley,



Roberto is too stubborn

Wigan Athletic’s run at the moment is terrible, but worse than that is that the manager refuses to change.

He is too stubborn to try two up front and for some reason feels that despite our current form Van Aanholt who is on loan from Chelsea isn’t fit to try. We bring substitutes on when we’re losing, which would be fine if they were not defenders. It’s almost as if he is happy simply not to concede more.

Then we have the amazing statements. “We should not worry about trying to win football matches” is one I found quite unbelievable. Then in last week’s Observer, “it’s not as if it’s something we didn’t expect.” His expectations are well low, what happened to the talk about the next level etc?

Dave Whelan got rid of Chris Hutchings when the club were in a better position and were not on a run as bad as this. So how long does he give him and why is he different from others? We don’t need divided loyalties, we need a real manager. Come on Mr Whelan.

Carl Davies,

via email

Choices are too limited

Last week there was a clip on the news discussing a new study highlighting the high number of young people not in education, employment or training (NEETS) and Wigan has one of the highest percentages.

The report found the higher NEET levels are in towns and cities in the north of England. Shaks Ghosh – Chief Executive, Private Equity Foundation – mentioned in the clip how unemployment numbers are going up and that it’s tough but important to keep kids in school making sure they have the training and skills so that eventually when the jobs are available again they will be able to enter the world of work.

As a part time, fully qualified teacher I am struggling each year to keep hours doing the job I love in the college I studied at, as the government continues to make funding cuts in the 16-18 year old sector, forcing colleges to decrease teaching hours on courses and in some cases cancel the course altogether.

How are we supposed to ‘keep’ our young people in education, to train them up when the course opportunities and choices are slowly becoming limited?

Paul Culshaw,

Warrington Road,


Criticism was wrong

I am writing in response to a letter in last week’s Observer from Mr Pennington, about alley gates.

Mr Pennington says that councillors’ Brighter Borough funding is decided by the Council and councillors can only request to use some of the money. Wrong. Each councillor on Wigan Council is allocated money and they can decide where it goes to. They then send the form into Wigan Council officers to process that form. So long as all checks are ok the funds are released and at no point does the this funding need to go to the Council to be voted on.

Can Brighter Borough money be used for alley gates which I was proposing in the article? Yes, many councillors from different parties have paid for alley gates, including myself.

He then says that where I was standing there were alley gates 50 feet away from me which were funded by Labour councillors. So wrong! I have checked with the relevant dept and no Labour councillor has ever paid for any alley gates in Swinley. It is clear that Mr Pennington was told duff information and he hurriedly put pen to paper without thinking or asking for evidence.

What is evident to all that have followed this is that Labour can’t resolve a simple issue of a set of alley gates in Swinley and you’ve got to ask why? So here’s my message to the Labour councillors – just put some effort into getting alley gates up for the residents. Surely that can’t be too hard to do? I know if you put your efforts to the latter of these suggestions the residents of Swinley will be most grateful.

Gareth Fairhurst

A town responds so generously

How magnificently have the people of Wigan responded to the Emma Hoolin Appeal.

I don’t live in the town any more but I always get the Wigan Observer and the response to help this little girl has brought tears to my eyes.

The number of events organised in extra quick time has been phenomenal and it is obvious that the plight of this little girl who even so ill appears to be always smiling in your photographs has touched the hearts of people throughout the town.

And I am sure that with every penny raised or donated goes an earnest wish that the treatment little Emma has to endure does what it is supposed to and works.

Mrs C Jones,


(Full address supplied)