Sunday Snippets, 24 September 2023

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

MP pays tribute to green belt campaigners as Leverhulme Estates withdraw latest appeal 

Margaret Greenwood, the MP for Wirral West, has paid tribute to green belt campaigners in Wirral after it emerged that developer Leverhulme Estates has withdrawn an appeal concerning an application to build 240 homes on green belt land, east of Rigby Drive in Greasby. 

It comes a week after the Planning Inspectorate dismissed seven other appeals by Leverhulme Estates to build around 800 homes on the green belt at various locations across Wirral.  

The withdrawal of the eighth appeal, which was underway and which was due to feature a public inquiry, has come as a huge relief to local residents. 

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Inside the site of the proposed Hind Street Urban Village

LDRS reporter, Ed Barnes, was granted access to the huge area that Wirral Council hopes to turn into a modern urban village of 1,600 homes.

The Hind Street Urban Village development will bring in over £300m of public and private investment into Birkenhead and is one of the largest planned projects being carried out by Wirral Council as part of its regeneration plans.

The development in partnership with Ion Developments would seek to transform the area behind Birkenhead Central station with new homes, businesses, schools, corner shops, a gym, new public squares, and hotels. The scheme will be rolled out in phases and is expected to be complete by 2035.

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Residents and visitors admire stunning wildflower pollinator sites

Residents and visitors to Wirral took to social media over the summer to share the colourful developments at a couple of parks and open spaces in the borough.

Dedicated wildflower beds planted at New Brighton’s Tower Grounds and Mersey Park, Tranmere, really came into bloom during the school holidays and the array of vibrant, bright colours caught people’s eye, leading to a number of Facebook posts by residents and a local photographer.

A recurring reaction to the photos was simply the word ‘beautiful’. Other similarly positive adjectives were also posted in response, while others expressed their hope that other areas could benefit from the wildflower planting, which is designed to increase the number of pollinator sites in Wirral.

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Wirral RNLI lifesavers feature in new series of BBC’s ‘Saving Lives at Sea’

The volunteer Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) lifeboat crews from Hoylake and New Brighton will feature in the first episode of the new series of popular TV show Saving Lives at Sea when it airs on BBC Two.

Featuring footage captured on helmet and boat cameras, viewers can watch dramatic rescues through the eyes of RNLI crews while meeting the people behind the pagers and those rescued by the charity’s lifesavers.

The popular 10-part documentary is now in its eighth series and includes the lifesaving work of RNLI lifeguards and volunteer lifeboat crews from around the UK and Ireland.

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State-of-the-art Sports and Activity Centre reopens its doors

A popular leisure centre has reopen its doors following £2.7 million of improvements and upgrades to its facilities.

After closing in March 2022, Bidston Sports and Activity Centre (formerly Wirral Tennis and Sports Centre) has undergone a transformation and will now offer Wirral residents and visitors access to a brand-new gym, immersive studio, active zone and cafés.

Officially opening the new-look facility, the Mayor of Wirral, Cllr Jerry Williams, said, “Investing in sports and leisure is vital not only for the health and fitness of our communities but also for mental wellbeing and reducing isolation – as a runner of 42 years I fully appreciate this.”

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20mph limits in Wirral could save lives and reduce injuries

New 20mph zones in Wirral could save lives as the latest figures show that five people were killed on Wirral’s roads last year.

At a Wirral Council environment, climate emergency and transport meeting on 20 September, it was revealed that over the last six years, 27 people were killed on Wirral’s roads and 590 people were seriously injured.

The World Health Organisation states that reducing speed limits is the most effective way to improve pedestrian safety because in the distance a 20mph car can stop, a 30mph car will still be travelling at 24mph.

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Council to close its seaside restaurant the ‘Sail Loft’ in West Kirby

Wirral Council has decided to close its seaside restaurant the Sail Loft in West Kirby.

The restaurant, which opened during the pandemic, had been affected by coronavirus restrictions, a drop in footfall linked to the construction of the West Kirby sea wall and the rising cost of living, as well as rising inflation and energy prices.

It is currently being subsidised by Wirral Council and the local authority forecast that even with the wall now complete, it will still be £120,000 short of making a profit.

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Government overrules council’s West Kirby planning refusal

Homes will be built on a town’s last remaining farmland in a major blow to campaigners.

Plans had been submitted to Wirral Council for 39 homes on a field off Grange Road in West Kirby but this was rejected by the council in February 2023 after objections from local residents about the plans.

The space was also designated an urban green space as part of the local authority’s draft Local Plan but the decision over the land, known locally as the Sheep Field, was then appealed by developers to the Planning Inspectorate, a government body, who approved it.

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Sharp increase in casualties on Wirral’s roads

Figures show the number of cyclists killed or seriously injured on Wirral’s roads surged in one year.

In 2020, 2021, and 2022, almost a third or 29% of casualties on Wirral’s roads were cyclists, a 12% increase from 2019. Pedestrian casualties were also 29% of all casualties in 2022, a 7% increase from 2021.

2022 statistics for Wirral show 102 people were casualties on the road. 78% of these were people who were cycling, walking, or motorcycling with five fatal accidents.

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Birkenhead Market could move to former Argos store

Wirral Council has plans to move Birkenhead Market to the former Argos store near the bus station.

The current market is located in the Grange Precinct but the local authority was looking to move the market to the old House of Fraser building on Grange Road. This was billed as a major project to kickstart its regeneration plans to transform the town by 2040.

Plans were for the House of Fraser building to be demolished to make way for the new market with costs expected of around £28m and plans to open in 2025. A consultation on the new market was carried out earlier this year.

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LCR Transport Committee reveals strong support for public control of buses

Liverpool City Region’s buses could be moving a step closer to public control as a Transport Committee report shows that 6,201 residents responded to the Mayor’s plans.

The consultation, called Moving Buses Forward, ran from 9 May to 3 August with 720,000 leaflets delivered to households across the City Region.

The news comes as Greater Manchester’s buses are due to come into public control from Sunday 24 September.

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MP raises concerns over NHS waiting lists in Wirral 

Margaret Greenwood, the MP for Wirral West, has raised concerns after figures revealed that, as of July, more than 42,000 people were on waiting lists for hospital treatment with Wirral University Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust. 

The exact figure, according to data by NHS England, stands at 42,631 people. 

Of those waiting, a total of 1,459 had been waiting for longer than a year. The NHS Constitution sets out that patients should wait no longer than 18 weeks from referral to treatment, but 41% of patients on waiting lists locally are waiting longer than that. 

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Funding awarded for transformation of Leasowe school

A school providing “life-changing experiences” for its pupils is set for a major transformation from a £2m funding pot.

The Observatory School first opened in 2007 and provides education for children with special education needs and disabilities (SEND). Originally based in just Bidston, it has more recently expanded to a second site at what was once the Leasowe Early Years and Adult Learning centre.

Wirral Council is investing over £2m in the current financial year to expand SEND provision at the Leasowe Observatory School site as well as Elleray Park Primary School in Pensby.

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MP calls for crackdown on illegal puppy farms amid American XL Bully ban

Angela Eagle MP has called for a crackdown on illegal puppy farms after the government said it will ban the American XL bully.

The Prime Minister announced the government plans to ban the American XL bully by the end of the year. Rishi Sunak said the breed is “a danger to our communities” following a spate of recent attacks involving the breed.

He has tasked experts to define the breed of dog before it can be banned under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991. The law bans the breeding, sale and exchange of certain breeds.

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Birkenhead Trampoline Club shines at British Championships

Birkenhead Trampoline Club took eight gymnasts and two coaches to Birmingham for the British Championship.

British championships DMT and Trampoline is the biggest event for the UKs best in the sport.

All athletes had to qualify for this event in a competition held in June, so just achieving qualification was a massive achievement for them all. However, the weekend was one of the club’s most successful British Championships ever.

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Tranmere triumph over Accrington Stanley with Josh Hawkes brace

Tranmere Rovers returned to knowing the feeling of winning a game with a 2-0 triumph over Accrington Stanley at Prenton Park on Saturday, courtesy of a brace by Josh Hawkes.

In his role as interim manager, Nigel Adkins made two alterations to last week’s starting lineup against Crawley. Joe Yarney and Regan Hendry replaced Connor Wood and Reece McAlear.

Rovers had the game’s opening opportunity as Sam Taylor delivered a pass from the right that landed at Charlie Jolley’s feet. Jolley skillfully manoeuvred around his opponent before testing Toby Savin, the visitors’ goalkeeper.

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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 previous 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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