North West Is Best

By Mike Ashworth | April 16, 2014

News stories that caught my eye, mostly about the North West.

Mostly Manchester, Greater Manchester, Liverpool, Merseyside, St Helens and surrounds.


Spinningfields square set to stay for good. MEN.

Liverpool firm that is leading the way in teaching kids how to handle money. Echo.

Community garden being built in the back alleys of Pocket Nook. St Helens Star.

Seven North West businesses receive £23 million from Regional Growth Fund. BDaily Business News.

20 facts about Oasis’ Supersonic 20 years after its first release. MEN.

Thirty fascinating aerial pictures of north Manchester from the 1920s, 30s and 40s. MEN.

Liverpool fourth best tourist destination in UK, says TripAdvisor. Echo.

Sutton man’s devotion to honouring St Helens Pals who were victims of WW1. St Helens Star.

Johnny Vegas bangs the drum for musical talent in St Helens. St Helens Star.

Sefton Council set to offer loans to small Companies. Sefton Council.

Wirral Chamber of Commerce set to help create hundreds of new businesses. Echo.

1000 volunteers needed for International Fesitval of Business. IFB

Manchester Evening News writers, website and newspaper up for top awards. MEN.

Artists plan to revive empty King Street – with not-for-profit coffee shop. MEN.

Piccadilly Gardens: It’s just TOO popular, says city leader. MEN.

Port Sunlight River Park nears completion as new public park to offer spectacular Liverpool’s waterfront views. Echo.

Liverpool music prize The GIT Award reveals Lapsley as One To Watch winner. Echo.

Dub dance act Forest Swords takes Merseyside music’s GIT Award. Echo.

Warrington set to build an £8.5m business incubator in town centre. Echo. MEN.

There is a new way to explore Heaton park this summer – on a Segway. Echo.

Trainee guide dogs take to the skies – with a little help from Virgin. MEN.

Star sales executive Jane Ball flies the flag for St Helens in Washington DC at Gannett Awards. St Helens Star.

Deaf entrepreneurs making a big impact. St Helens Reporter.

Top award for St Helens boozer saved from last orders. St Helens Star.

Knighthood for The Iron Men of Crosby beach creator Antony Gormley. Echo.

Liverpool One pop-up shop honoured with award. Echo.

Port of Liverpool to rival Tilbury for importation of vital building materials. Echo.     

Topics: Arts and Entertainment, business, Fun, greater manchester, Health, lancashire, liverpool, manchester, merseyside, north-west, politics, Society, Sport, st helens | No Comments »

North West Is Best

By Mike Ashworth | April 9, 2014

News stories that caught my eye, mostly about the North West.

Mostly Manchester, Greater Manchester, Liverpool, Merseyside, St Helens and surrounds.


Northern Rail to start electrified mainline services from Liverpool to Manchester. Echo.

Watch as Merseyside man does world’s highest bungee jump…backwards! Echo.

Co-op set to transform Manchester with £800m injection. MEN.

Man to run 40th marathon, two years after brain haemorrhage. MEN.

St Helens plant hire venture secures £25k funding from Merseyside Special Investment Fund. Echo

A new online matching service launched by North West firm to help small Companies access loan opportunities. Website

Hero schoolboys kick down door of burning house in bid to save man from suspected arson attack. MEN.

Sir Alex Ferguson takes up teaching position at Harvard University. MEN.

Fully booked: Gerard’s Park business hub home to 21 businesses. St Helens Star

Owner of Liverpool’s newest landmark hotel hails its speedy creation. Echo.

Supermum promised her dying friend she would look after her six children and two foster children. Mirror

Liverpool – Steven Fletcher’s poem on the greatest city in the world. Echo.

Shameless estate tower blocks ‘recycled’ as area renovated. MEN.

Alien invasion at the Dream? Artists create stunning photos at Sutton Manor. St Helens Star.

St Helens library launches ebook lending service. St Helens Star.

Celebrity single launched to raise funds for Brian Epstein statue. Echo

Campaign for new Metrolink line – down Princess Parkway. MEN.

New book reveals story of Manchester’s real-life Sherlock Holmes. MEN.

Promising young Liverpool chef, 15, has scooped a national catering award. Hospitality & Catering News.

A brand new Liverpool music, entertainment and film festival has won support from pop icon Will.I.Am’s charity foundation. Echo.

St Helens Chamber start-up support scheme helps to create 84 new businesses. Echo.

Liverpool city centre bar Oh Me Oh My to open a rooftop venue overlooking the Mersey. Echo.

Labour would create ‘Minister for the North West’. MEN.

Giants to take over Liverpool’s Newsham Park for summer showcase. Echo.






Topics: Arts and Entertainment, business, greater manchester, lancashire, liverpool, manchester, merseyside, north-west, politics, Society, Sport, st helens | No Comments »

Don Logan

By Mike Ashworth | April 5, 2014

Sometimes it would be great to retort as Don Logan does in this scene from the film Sexy Beast.


Or the rather more explicit version



Topics: Arts and Entertainment, Fun | No Comments »

St Helens Councillors To Get Ipads and Iphones

By Mike Ashworth | April 4, 2014

I just read that the Councillors in St Helens are to receive Ipads and Iphones. Link to story in Star.

No excat figures are given buy it’s suspected that to give an ipad and iphone to each of the 48 councillors, will cost around £48,000 before you add in any additional costs such as support, training, data usage / contract fees etc.

The mind boggles!

The Council believes the equipment will help it move towards a “paperless” working environment and is also seen as a step to help councillors strengthen their ties with constituents through social media, such as Twitter.

Which all sounds great until you dig a little deeper and realise…….

Only 12 of the 48 Councillors use Twitter and some of those are infrequent. A list of them here.

As for strenthening ties perhaps they should take a look at what they are tweeting or rather what they are not tweeting, This week saw the publication of a report into NEET’s (Young people Not In Education, Employment, Training) which none of the Councillors, or  St Helens Council, have shared a link to on Twitter.

In addition two reports were also published this week about the Town Centre and again not a single tweet to share links to those. Report 1 – Scruting Review – local shopping centres and closures of shops , Report 2 – Local Centres Funding Phase 2

As for strengthening ties with citizens of St Helens, I sent an email to my local Councillors recently, which they chose not to answer. And as for Twitter, sometimes you ask them a question and get told to “Get in touch with the contact centre” I’m not entirely certain what kind of engagement that is!

They also claimed that they were reaching out to people in poverty by using Twitter., which in my humble opinion,is fanciful at best, downright misguided at worst.

I think we often forget that the Councillors work for us, we are in a way their employers. I know I wouldnt let staff take such liberties, would you?

Austerity sucks!



Topics: merseyside, north-west, politics, st helens | No Comments »

Stories Of St Helens

By Mike Ashworth | April 3, 2014

Stories Of St.Helens is an Arts Council funded dance theatre project and they need your help.

The project is concerned with collecting the stories and memories of the people of St.Helens, via workshops with writers, community artists, memory boards and a website. These will be collated and used to create a script, which will then be used to devise a small touring dance theatre performance.

They are currently looking for existing community groups that have older people, miners and rugby fans. If you know of, or run a group like this then please get in touch with Belinda (

You can also take part and contribute by adding your stories or memory on the website

Please pass this website and information onto your friends and family for the chance for them to share their stories and also be in line to win one of two prizes of a dinner date for two at a restaurant in St.Helens.

via St Helens Arts Service

Topics: Arts and Entertainment, merseyside, st helens | No Comments »

A Tale Of Two Towns: St Helens

By Mike Ashworth | April 3, 2014

This year we’ll see £1m invested in sorting out the Town Centre in St Helens, which frankly, is on it’s knees. £500k on other shopping areas around the town. The Council have also invested £6m in buying up the Parkside land for developmental purposes. £2m on a Business Support Fund, £1m on money for first-time buyers etc. etc.

All the above may sound wonderful until you realise those sums are dwarfed by the £140m pumped into fixed odds betting machines in St Helens.

That number even exceeds the amount that has been cut from the Council’s budget since 2010. In fact it’s even larger than the amount of money the Council holds in reserves. And looking at the Council Tax info for this year, the amount spent on fixed odds betting machines is greater than the Council’s net spending on all services in St Helens!

Fixed odds betting terminals (FOBT) are dubbed the “crack cocaine of gambling” and of  the 10 places with the highest levels of FOBT playing six were among the top 10 poorest authorities which shows a direct link between poverty and problem gambling.

That money is instantly spirited out of the Local Economy where it could be much more beneficial.

I feel that the bookmakers are deliberately targeting those areas and it is high time that our Council took a much harder line over this and said “No more!”

Update. It appears that the Labour Party in St Helens need a history lesson. They tweeted this a short while ago.



Hmmmmm, it appears the Labour Party are wanting to take the moral high ground over these gambling machines, which is all well and good, most opposition parties always ask for / promise the earth, except their is just one problem with this. The gambling machines were introduced when Labour changed legislation when last in Government. Remember the “Super Casino” idea too, yep that was Labour as well…..


Topics: merseyside, north-west, politics, Society, st helens | No Comments »

Shambolic start to new Liverpool City Region Authority

By Mike Ashworth | April 3, 2014

What a nightmare it was for the start of the new Liverpool City Region, here are a selection of stories that explain far better than I, the shenanigans that have been going on…..

Essentially this speaks volumes about Mayor Joe Anderson. The fact that he wants to pull Liverpool out of new regional authority because he has not been made the head of it, in addition to running Liverpool, makes it feel like the man is a power junky. Maybe also that it saw him want Merseyside to be a kind of “Greater Liverpool” where every place other than Liverpool was just a suburb, and the money would go mostly to the City Centre!


New chair of Merseyside ‘super council’ warns egos must be put to one side to ensure region’s growth. Echo.

Liverpool mayor seeks legal advice over pulling city out of combined authority. Echo.

Liverpool mayor threatens to exit Merseyside authority. BBC.

Joe Anderson threatening to pull Liverpool out of City Region Super Council. St Helens Star.

Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson hits out at council leaders who voted to appoint Cllr Phil Davies as new combined authority chair. Echo.

Liverpool City Region combined authority row is down to Joe Anderson’s ego, claims St Helens Council leader, Barrie Grunewald. Echo.

St Helens Council Leader, Barrie Grunewald says Liverpool Mayor is playing silly games. St Helens Star.

Now Knowsley Council’s leader wades into the row over the leadership of Merseyside’s combined authority. Echo.

Shambolic start to new Liverpool City Region Authority. Liverpool Confidential

Plea for calm in clash of council chiefs in combined authority row. Echo.

Anderson: Liverpool will stay at centre of city region, despite row. Echo.




Topics: liverpool, merseyside, north-west, politics, st helens | No Comments »

Dunces vs Muppets

By Mike Ashworth | April 2, 2014

No, it’s not some new Danny Dyer horror film or the latest app for your smartphone, I’m talking about the latest exchange between David Cameron and Ed Miliband during PM Questions Time.

David Cameron and Ed Miliband have been hurling insults at each other in a return of the “Punch and Judy” politics both men said they wanted to abolish.

In exchanges on the price of Royal Mail shares, Mr Miliband said the PM was “not so much the ‘Wolf of Wall Street’ as the ‘dunce of Downing Street’”.

The PM said he would not take lectures from the Labour leader and Ed Balls.  He branded the pair “the two Muppets” who had advised former PM Gordon Brown on the sale of the UK’s gold.

Asked later if the word “Muppets” was the kind of language the prime minister should be using in Parliament, his spokesman said: “PMQs is a unique parliamentary occasion. It has been the way it has been for many years.”

And therein lies the problem, yes PM question time is a carefully scripted piece of theatre, but maybe, just maybe, the public, you know the people who they serve, have had enough of this political jousting. Huge number of people in this country are suffering due to austerity measures put in place by The Conservatives / Lib Dems because of the huge debts run up under the last Labour Government. And what do we get, these people arseing around!

They work for us, that is how it should be with public servants. Think of them as our employees if you like. Would you let an employee of yours treat you like a dick? Well, that’s how it looks most of the time, except of course when it comes to them wanting that most precious thing we have, the vote.

In all fairness dunces and muppets is the wrong thing to call them, clowns would be much more apt!





Topics: politics, Society | No Comments »

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