Sunday Snippets, 24 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.

Hilbre Island buildings set for new lease of life

Seven derelict buildings on Hilbre Island are set to be transformed, with the LDRS invited on a tour prior to the restoration work commencing.

Hilbre Island is a popular visitor destination about a mile offshore from West Kirby. The islands have a long history, going back to the Iron Age. They have been visited three times by Prince Philip and are believed to have been involved in pirate raids and smuggling in the 18th century.

The islands have gone through several different uses over time with only a bird observatory and two family homes still in regular use.

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Solution in sight as Wallasey van hire firm leases land for parking

West Wallasey Van Hire (WWVH) will pay £100,000 a year for land to park its vans after controversially storing around 100 vans in parking spaces on the New Brighton waterfront.

The company based on Cross Lane in Wallasey has come under fire for parking its vehicles along King’s Parade on the town’s seafront with around 100 vans regularly found parked there according to people in the area. People who spoke to the LDRS said this resulted in major parking problems or people deciding not to visit the area.

The company has now issued a full statement apologising saying this was due to the sudden return of rental vehicles as supply issues were resolved. It has promised to clear all of its vehicles off the road by the end of March as it prepares to use a former gas works site off Dock Road in Seacombe.

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New Noise Holiday Club launches at Future Yard this Easter

Future Yard has launched a new half-term holiday club for children aged between 7 and 11 this Easter, giving kids the chance to try out making music in sessions at the Birkenhead music venue.

Taking place during the Easter Holidays from 8-12 April, New Noise Holiday Club is for 7-11 year olds to make friends, start a band, write their own songs, and even perform on the Future Yard stage.

Based at the cutting-edge venue in the heart of Birkenhead, every child will get the chance to learn about guitar, bass, keyboards, drums, singing and more in a supportive and friendly environment.

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Merseyrail chief ‘sorry’ for new trains’ first year of poor performance

Merseyrail had to “get good quickly” at managing passenger disruption in a turbulent first 12 months for its new trains.

Neil Grabham, managing director of the rail provider serving the Liverpool City Region, said performance of the £500m fleet, rolled out last January, had been “tremendously damaging” for passengers who wanted seamless journeys. The performance of the class 777 fleet was the subject of a scrutiny session by the city region’s transport committee on Thursday afternoon.

Among those presenting was Matthias Hämmerle, head of metro, for train manufacturer Stadler who said he “felt the pain of passengers” over the last year.

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Backer withdraws rental guarantee, leaving future of Brackenwood Golf Course in limbo

In a shock decision, Wirral Council will not transfer one of its golf courses to a community club.

An email sent to leading councillors said the local authority would no longer be transferring Brackenwood Golf Course in Bebington over to Brackenwood Golf Limited (BCGL), despite a decision by councillors to finally approve it in July 2023.

The golf course was closed in 2022 after sweeping budget cuts that year but there was hope the golf course would reopen.

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Wirral councillors respond to government’s controversial ‘Plan for Drivers’

A Low Traffic Neighbourhood (LTN) is an area in which modal filters (such as bollards) and traffic calming measures are deployed to reduce motorised through traffic in residential areas.

LTNs are nothing new – there are numerous, decades-old LTNs across Wirral.

In fact many housing estates are de-facto LTNs. Take the 1970s estates in Spital. There is one through road for travelling through Spital from Bebington to Bromborough. However, if a motorist were to turn off Poulton Road into the estates they’d find themselves looping back to Poulton Road – there is no through access to anywhere else.

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Formal planning process begins for Mersey barrage scheme

A new flythrough video has revealed how the world’s largest tidal scheme on the River Mersey could look – above and below the water.

The flythrough has been published following a decision by Mayor Steve Rotheram and the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority to pursue a barrage between the Wirral and Liverpool as the preferred option for the region’s flagship Mersey Tidal Power project. 

At its meeting on Friday, 15 March, the Combined Authority also agreed to start the formal planning process by preparing a scoping opinion to be submitted to the Planning Inspector later this year for what would be the world’s largest tidal power scheme.

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Hoylake and Meols railway stations shine at best kept stations awards

Two Wirral Merseyrail stations have been recognised in the prestigious Cheshire’s Best Kept Stations Awards.

Hoylake station scooped the prize for best station in Wirral for a second year in a row, while Meols station secured the Best Kept Gardens award, having claimed the ‘In Bloom’ title last year.

On announcing the Awards, Mark Barker, Chair of Cheshire Best Kept Stations said, “What volunteers do is amazing; the passion, commitment, ingenuity, resourcefulness and sheer hard work has improved stations for passengers, the community, the railway and for yourselves. Team working, meaningful activities, using your skills, and exercise. Please keep on doing what you are doing!”

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£12m plans to revamp Liscard town centre take next step

£12m plans to revamp Liscard town centre with a new community hub are set to take their next step.

The £10.7m funding for Liscard was granted in November 2023 through the Levelling Up fund. The local authority had previously bid for more than £12m but to cover this shortfall, councillors approved a contingency fund in January of £1.3m in case the council couldn’t cover it through local funding.

This would also ensure the council could deliver the project before March 2026 which involves two key projects to revive the town centre.

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Tasty new festival celebrating ‘sugar, spice and all things nice’ coming to Port Sunlight this Easter

A new food and drink festival bringing together some of Wirral and Merseyside’s best local makers is coming to the historic Port Sunlight village this Easter weekend.

Presented by Port Sunlight Village Trust and award-winning local chocolatier The Chocolate Cellar, the Sugar & Spice Festival will be open to explore on Friday, 29 and Saturday, 30 March, between 9.30am and 5pm.

It will take over the picturesque Diamond park and Museum Green in the centre of the village, opposite Lady Lever Art Gallery.

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Council marks ‘significant moment’ as watchdog set to step down

Wirral Council has marked “a significant moment” as the watchdog overseeing it prepares to step down.

The local authority has been overseen by an independent assurance panel since 2021 that was set up following critical reports into its finances and decision making after it had to request emergency government funding to support its budget. The panel has overseen and scrutinised the council since.

Now the local authority’s chief executive Paul Satoor said the panel was looking at standing down, satisfied the local authority has taken the steps needed to address issues within the organisation. However, this is subject to a final report being presented to the Department for Levelling Up, Housing, and Communities.

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What the Woodchurch thinks of its promised new station

Wirral has been promised a brand new Merseyrail station – but after years of promises, local people remain sceptical.

A railway station between Upton and Heswall on the existing Borderlands Line that runs from Wrexham to Bidston has long been promised going back at least 10 years when it was mentioned in Merseytravel’s 30-year plan in 2014.

Liverpool City Region Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram pledged as part of his re-election campaign to look at building a station near the Woodchurch Estate.

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Global real estate specialists appointed to market new apartments at £130m Miller’s Quay development

Global real estate advisor, JLL, has been appointed by waterside regeneration specialists Peel Waters as the marketing, lettings and management agent for Miller’s Quay.

Millers Quay is a £130m residential scheme at Wirral Waters, the UK’s largest and most sustainable regeneration project.

With construction at Miller’s Quay approaching its final stages, five hundred highly sustainable one- and two-bedroom waterfront apartments, including 100 affordable new homes, will soon hit the market.

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Artist returns to Birkenhead after 20 years with new exhibition at Williamson Art Gallery

Two decades since he last lived and worked in Merseyside, artist David Clapham is returning to Birkenhead with a new exhibition, The River Runs Through, at Williamson Art Gallery.

Harrogate-born Clapham lived in Birkenhead Park for twelve years in the 1980’s and 90’s, including six years in Birkenhead Cricket Club.

He made a significant contribution to the arts on Merseyside, as a Fine Art lecturer at John Moores University for over 20 years, and as a freelance filmmaker working for a variety of broadcast media including Granada TV.

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Council moving ahead with Argos market plan

Wirral Council is moving ahead with its plans to move Birkenhead Market into a former Argos store.

In December 2023, the council decided to put its long-developed plans to build a new market hall on the former House of Fraser on Grange Road on hold with leaked emails suggesting the plug was pulled as far back as May last year.

Since then, a proposal has been developed to move the market into a former Argos store on Princes Pavement which was first reported by the LDRS.

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OMD donates venue compensation to local food banks

As part of their UK and Ireland tour, Wirral synth-pop legends, OMD, performed at Liverpool’s M&S Bank Arena on 3 March.

With old and new songs in their set list for the night, it was perfect time to introduce fans to live performances of tracks from their new album, Bauhaus Staircase.

However, there was a problem with the heating at the venue that led to the auditorium being unusually cold.

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Wirral charity asks people to get together and celebrate autism acceptance this April

A Wirral charity specialising in autism support is encouraging individuals, communities and schools to celebrate autism and autistic people this April.

World Autism Awareness Day takes place on 2 April, and Bromborough-based Autism Together is asking people to continue learning and thinking about autism right throughout the month, also known as Autism Acceptance Month.

As such, the charity is sharing free resources with schools, while encouraging people to hold their own events and fundraising challenges throughout April to help raise awareness and encourage acceptance for autistic people everywhere.

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Council awarded over £300k to develop new wetland nature reserve

Wirral Council has been awarded more than £300,000 to develop a wetland nature reserve.

£314,000 of flood management funding has been given to the local authority to work with Cheshire Wildlife Trust to turn over 60 hectares of land into a number of different habitats to improve biodiversity in and around Hoylake.

The funding will go towards developing a wetland on farmland that regularly floods called the Hoylake Carrs, sometimes known as Langfields, that sits next to the Hoylake Municipal Golf Course.

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Contactless tap-and-go ticketing on track for Merseyrail

Tap-and-go ticketing is to be introduced on the Merseyrail network from this Autumn.

As part of a £10m investment, passengers will be able to use a Metro Card linked to their bank account for their journeys across the Liverpool City Region. This is part of a two-stage launch, with bank cards and smart devices able to be used next year.

Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram said it had become apparent the current ticketing system was “no longer equipped” to meet passenger demand.

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Rock Ferry man triumphs at MMA event

Recently, Full Contact Contender hosted its 37th MMA, ‘FCC 37’ event at the Olympia in Liverpool that was streamed live on UFC Fight Pass – the largest combat sports streaming platform in the world. 

A fighter from Rock Ferry, Jamie Davies, made his second pro appearance and finished his opponent with an impressive rear naked choke in the second round, taking him to 2-0 as a professional.

He had a stand-out amateur career, with a record of 4-0 and was the FCC Amateur Welterweight Champion. His goal now is to work towards winning the professional title.

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Tranmere suffer defeat at home to Crawley Town

Tranmere Rovers succumbed to a 3-1 home loss against Crawley Town on Saturday afternoon.

There was only one change to the starting lineup from last week’s Wrexham fixture as Kieron Morris made a return to the starting lineup in place of Harvey Saunders.

Crawley swiftly seized the lead within two minutes, with Jeremy Kelly slotting the ball into the far corner from the right flank.

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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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