Sunday Snippets, 10 March 2024

Welcome to “Sunday Snippets” a weekly feature from Birkenhead News. It is a round-up of the important local news stories you may have missed over the last seven days. Click or tap on each story to read the full article.

New Ferry reaches ‘key milestone’ as work begins to build 34 new homes

After being ripped apart by an explosion, New Ferry has reached “a key milestone” as work begins to build 34 new homes.

In March 2017, the furniture Homes in Style store off Boundary Road in New Ferry exploded destroying and damaging 63 buildings in the surrounding area and injuring 81 people, two of them seriously.

The explosion has had a long-lasting impact, with a number of shops and restaurants on the high street destroyed and many in the community still remember where they were when it happened.

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Report finds residents want more money spent on ‘active travel’ schemes

A majority of residents in the Liverpool City Region want to move money currently spent on road building to fund more infrastructure that helps people walk, wheel, cycle or use public transport, according to a new report by the charity Sustrans with The Liverpool City Region Combined Authority.

The Liverpool City Region Walking and Cycling Index is part of the largest-ever survey of walking, wheeling, and cycling in the UK and Ireland.

Statistics taken from an independent survey of 1,167 residents in the city region found that 59% of residents supported shifting investment from road building schemes to fund walking, wheeling, cycling (active travel), and public transport, with only 13% opposed to that idea.

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Special day of thanks in Westminster Abbey for New Brighton RNLI

Two of New Brighton RNLI’s longest-serving crew took part in a special ceremony in Westminster Abbey to celebrate 200 years of the RNLI on Monday, 4 March.

A service of thanksgiving took place at Westminster Abbey to celebrate 200 years of saving lives at sea for the RNLI. Representatives from across the RNLI network were invited to the event, including longstanding crew members Mike and Lee from New Brighton RNLI.

Founded in a London tavern on 4 March 1824 after an appeal by Sir William Hillary, the RNLI has been saving lives at sea through the countless challenges of the past 200 years, and now looks forward to the next 200.

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Leaked report suggests attracting major brands to Birkenhead

A leaked report suggests major brands like Nando’s and Ann Summers should be brought into Birkenhead town centre to help revive the town.

In October 2023, Wirral Council commissioned Pragma Consulting Limited to produce a comprehensive report of the Pyramids and Grange shopping centres it bought earlier that year, as well as the economics of the wider town centre.

The report makes a number of recommendations from new developments as well as suggestions to help keep large brands in town like ASDA and Primark.

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The woman making waves at the Mersey Ferries

Louise Robinson, Ship Superintendent at the Mersey Ferries, is a shining example of what determination and a few well-timed choices can achieve.

Starting her career in graphic design, she’s now several career changes and a few hundred miles from where she believed her working life would take her, and she couldn’t be happier.

Setting out into the working world at just 15, Louise learnt a sense of what it was to earn money while working a Saturday job in WHSmith her local town of Dover.

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Theatre manager confident Floral Pavilion has ‘bright future’ 

The manager of the Floral Pavilion is confident it has a “bright future”.

Wirral Council has been reviewing the services provided at the Floral Pavilion theatre and conference centre in New Brighton since July 2023 after the local authority was unable to make a £550,000 saving left over from 2018 when it sought a private operator to take it over.

To keep the theatre open, councillors are being asked to approve a £500,000 subsidy for the venue until March 2025 to give the local authority more time to find an operator. However, there are no plans to close the building which would cost the council more than £321,000.

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Plans to bring fire-damaged Rock Park listed property back into use

According to planning documents submitted to Wirral Council, a fire-damaged Grade II listed building in Rock Ferry could be converted into six flats.

The proposal is to undertake restoration works to 18 Rock Park creating six flats within the property and adding a new-build property providing two self-contained dwellings over two levels. Planning permission for six apartments had been previously granted in 2013.

The property was severely damaged in a fire in March 2014 resulting in the total loss of the interior fixtures, fittings, and the whole roof structure.

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Promise of new railway station at Woodchurch if Metro Mayor re-elected

Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram wants to open three new Merseyrail stations by the end of the decade.

In May, people will have the chance to cast their ballot in this year’s Liverpool City Region mayoral elections. In the first policy pledge of his campaign for re-election to a third term, Mr Rotheram has announced his intention to build new stations at Woodchurch in Wirral, Carr Mill in St Helens, and Daresbury in Halton by 2030.

Should the plans go ahead, it would represent each area of the city region having a brand new station under Mr Rotheram’s tenure.

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Wirral seafarers reminisce about life in merchant navy

A small community tucked away overlooking the River Mersey is providing a home for retired seafarers who are settling there after decades of travelling the world.

The Mariner’s Park off Seabank Road is a community of 112 homes for those who have worked a long time out at sea.

The estate offers support for people from houses where they can live independently, supported living, a care home, as well as a dementia wing providing specialist care. It has existed in Wirral for 160 years.

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Investment to help deliver major highway improvement schemes in Wirral

Councillors will next week be asked to approve spending that will enable Wirral Council to deliver a programme of road safety, highway improvement and sustainable transport schemes over the next 12 months.

At the meeting of the Environment, Climate Emergency and Transport committee on 12 March, members will also consider other proposed schemes earmarked to receive funding in the following years up to 2027.

The funding is being provided under the City Region Sustainable Transport Settlement (CRSTS) Combined Authority Transport Plan (CATP) programme for 2024/25. 

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Charity improving health of ethnic minority communities in Wirral wins top UK health award

Birkenhead-based charity the Wirral Multicultural Organisation has won a major national award for the support it provides to people from ethnic minority backgrounds across the Borough of Wirral.

The award judges praised the services the charity has developed, including its help to overcome barriers in accessing health care.  

Following a rigorous selection and assessment process, the Wirral Multicultural Organisation was chosen from more than 500 charities across the UK as one of the 10 winners of the 2024 GSK IMPACT Awards, which are delivered in partnership with leading health and care charity The King’s Fund.

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Demolition of Wallasey Town Hall annexes well underway

Demolition contractor, J. Freeley, is continuing to demolish the first of two buildings situated each side of Wallasey Town Hall.

Appointed by Wirral Council, the contractor is demolishing the North and South Annexes in Brighton Street as part of regeneration proposals for the area.

The site hoarding and footpath diversions have been installed, and both buildings have been stripped internally by J. Freeley ahead of the phased demolition.  The South Annexe is being demolished first with the North Annexe to follow.

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Wirral Awards honour residents for outstanding community service

Wirral Council has honoured 10 local volunteers and the crew at RNLI New Brighton with a prestigious Wirral Award.

The Wirral Award is given for an outstanding achievement over the previous 12 months, or for distinguished service to the community over a period of 20 years or more.

The Mayor of Wirral, Councillor Jerry Williams, thanked this year’s recipients at a special reception in Birkenhead town hall.

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Planning permission granted for 66 homes at former Foxfield School site in Moreton

Planning permission has been granted for a new 66-home development in Moreton by national housebuilder Lovell Partnerships.

The decision continues the housebuilder’s 15 years’ experience in working on several Wirral Council-owned sites in Tranmere and Rock Ferry, delivering homes on brownfield sites in Wirral and the broader Merseyside Region.

The project involves the redevelopment of the former Foxfield School site off Douglas Drive, which closed in 2015 when a replacement facility was built in New Hey Road in Woodchurch.

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Wirral couple offer advice during LGBT+ Adoption and Fostering Week

This week is LGBT+ Adoption and Fostering week. It’s a week to celebrate those who have gone through the process and to raise awareness for those wanting to adopt or foster. 

Adoption in Merseyside (AiM) has approved 31 people to adopt from the LGBT+ community since merging over five years ago. 

The Head of Service for AiM, Kath Descher said, “We welcome a range of people to come and apply to adopt. It doesn’t matter about your sexual orientation or gender, if you can offer a loving and safe home to a child, we want to hear from you.”

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RNLI launch to mud rescue during 200th anniversary celebrations

Volunteer crews from Hoylake and New Brighton RNLI were on their way to join a celebratory flotilla in the River Mersey when they were paged to reports of a person stuck in the mud.

At 11.17 am both crews were en route to join a flotilla of RNLI lifeboats celebrating the RNLI’s 200th anniversary. HM Coastguard tasked Hoylake RNLI’s hovercraft Hurley Spirit and New Brighton’s inshore lifeboat, Charles Dibdin to a report of a person stuck in the mud just off Leasowe Castle.

Hoylake’s hovercraft arrived on scene and proceeded to the casualty, who was waist-deep in mud. New Brighton’s inshore lifeboat provided cover. Wirral’s Coastguard Rescue team were already on site and worked with the volunteers from Hoylake RNLI to free the casualty. The casualty was then placed on a stretcher, taken aboard the Hovercraft and transferred ashore.

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Plans progress to build world’s largest tidal scheme on the banks of the River Mersey

Advanced proposals to build the world’s largest tidal scheme on the banks of the River Mersey have been unveiled by the Liverpool City Region’s Mayor Steve Rotheram.

Mayor Rotheram has revealed that the city region will pursue a barrage between the Wirral and Liverpool as the preferred option for the city region’s flagship Mersey Tidal Power project.

The barrage scheme – the “first of a kind” in the UK – could generate clean, predictable energy for 120 years and create thousands of jobs in its construction and operation.

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Plans to replace burned-out church with flats rejected

Plans to knock down a burned-out church near Birkenhead Park and replace it with 16 new flats have been rejected.

The self-contained flats would have been built following the demolition of The Church of Christ the King on Park Road South in Birkenhead. Park Road Developments had put forward the plans to create four single bedroom and 12  two bedroomed flats in a four-floor building.

The developers had submitted an application in 2022 for the same number of flats but this was rejected by Wirral Council. It then reapplied in August 2023 with some changes to improve the outlook onto Merton Place as well as further details related to surface water and sustainability.

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Late Gillingham goal secures draw with Tranmere

Tranmere Rovers secured a point on the road against Gillingham, with a 1-1 draw in Kent.

Regan Hendry opened the scoring with a splendid early strike, skillfully controlling the ball in the box and volleying it in off the post at four minutes.

Nevertheless, in the second half, the hosts intensified their pressure and equalized with six minutes remaining, as Conor Masterson headed in from a corner.

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Wirral Police weekly news round-up

This is the Birkenhead News weekly round-up of police activity in and around Wirral during the last seven days.

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What’s On? Guide

Visit our “What’s On?” guide for Wirral and the surrounding areas in the coming weeks.

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