Sunday Snippets, 4 February 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.

Shop local to support Wirral’s high streets

A major campaign to help boost Wirral’s high streets and local businesses is now underway.

The Shop Local campaign involves a high-profile period of promotion of the borough’s high streets and the many different types of shops and businesses that operate close to residents’ doorsteps.

The goal is also to remind people how much local businesses and shops are often at the heart of the community, many offering a warm welcome and a huge range of goods and services, as well as how important local businesses are to the borough’s economy, including providing local jobs.

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Coastal signs that could save lives installed

Location markers have been installed along parts of the Wirral coast to assist emergency services in responding to incidents in the River Mersey or Irish Sea that they may be called to support with.

A total of 58 numbered signs have gone up from Fort Perch Rock in New Brighton down to Woodside Ferry in Birkenhead as part of a lifesaving initiative led by Wirral Council’s Community Safety team in partnership with Merseyside Water Safety Forum, which includes representatives from Merseyside Police, Wirral Council, HM Coastguard, RNLI and the charity, Samaritans.

A similar scheme was introduced on the Liverpool side of the Mersey in 2021, suggested by a Merseyside Police officer, aimed at reducing the numbers of deaths in the river, either by suicide or any other incident that may result in someone entering the water.

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Lady Lever spotlights women landscape artists

A new exhibition at the Lady Lever Art Gallery in Port Sunlight will present a different perspective on British landscape art, focusing on work by women.

Another View: Landscapes by Women Artists (20 April to 18 August 2024) will showcase around 40 works dating from the early 1800s to the 1980s. 

Presenting work by artists such as Vanessa Bell (1879-1961), Ingrid Pollard (b. 1953), and Dame Ethel Walker (1861-1951), the exhibition considers how artists have used their practice to explore the issues of their day, asking questions about class, gender, politics, and more through their depictions of landscape. 

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Wirral Council faces tight deadline for housing project on former House of Fraser site

Wirral Council may need to find more than £2 million by March next year if it can’t deliver plans to build over 80 homes in time.

In 2020, Wirral Council decided to buy the former House of Fraser store at 92 Grange Road in Birkenhead as part of its plans to regenerate the town centre.

In March the following year it then fully reimbursed these costs using £2.1m of government housing funding which supports housing development on brownfield sites.

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More species recorded in Mersey than ever before amid concerns over pollution

More species were found in the River Mersey last year than ever before in what is being described as “the greatest river recovery in Europe.”

There were 45 different kinds of fish found in the river in 2023 by The Mersey Estuary Species Hunt, a partnership between anglers and the Mersey Rivers Trust.

This is higher than the 37 species found in the hunt’s first year in 2022 where five types of sharks were found.

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Wirral Council strategy ‘vindicated’ as shoppers return to Birkenhead

Birkenhead’s Grange Precinct and Pyramids shopping centre have enjoyed healthy growth in customer visits since their acquisition by Wirral Council, new data shows.

The Grange and Pyramids were bought by the Council in 2023 as key planks in its wider strategy for regenerating the town centre. And, following modest investment in marketing and management, the public has responded by returning to both centres in ever-increasing numbers.

A quarterly events programme aimed at parents with young children, a more visible social media presence and a range of Christmas-specific initiatives, including enhanced festive lights and a charity gift appeal, have all encouraged the public to return.

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12 months of mountains challenge to raise funds for Maggie’s Wirral

Dan Marsden and Sean Hayes have both been completing charity challenges for the last five years, raising thousands of pounds for charities.

This year Dan and Sean have rounded up a team of friends, family, and colleagues who will be completing 12 mountains in 12 months for Maggie’s Wirral, a local cancer centre supporting people affected by cancer in Merseyside and Cheshire.

Mountains include; Ben Nevis – Scotland, Sleive Donard – Northern Ireland, Pen Y Ghent – Yorkshire and the amazing Mount Olympus – Greece. The team will be completing a different mountain every month of the year.

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Grandmother worried black mould will send her back to hospital

A Wirral grandmother claims a housing provider is not doing enough to tackle black mould in the flat she has called home for more than half a century despite it sending her to hospital three times.

Celia Park, who lives on Boyd Close in Moreton, said black mould returned in her flat shortly after coming back from hospital after treatment for bacterial pneumonia. Her home is managed by Prima Housing, a housing association that oversees 2,700 properties across Wirral, Liverpool, and Sefton.

The mould has been found in several areas of the flat including in her grandson’s bedroom and Mrs Park said she had to throw away several coats after noticing they smelled and went mouldy in the hallway.

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Wirral plans £38m road infrastructure investment by 2027

Across Wirral, the local authority currently manages 1,200km of roads, 2,000km of pavements, 38,000 street lights, 120 bridges, and 300 signal junctions.

Over the next two years, it expects to invest more than £14m and nearly £38m between 2022 and 2027 through money from the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority.

The figures were revealed as Wirral looks at how it will manage its “largest and most valuable asset” going forward through a new highways management strategy. To do this, the council said it will have to balance with its budget pressures from population growth, new developments, and the potential impacts of climate change.

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Shirley Ballas to host variety spectacular at Floral Pavilion

A co-production between the Floral Pavilion and West End concert specialist, Star EFX Theatre Productions, Star EFX Sunday Night Live features local professional and upcoming performers.

Strictly Come Dancing’s Head Judge, and the Queen of Latin, Shirley Ballas will host the one-night variety spectacular in April.

Wirral is Liverpool City Region Borough of Culture and the evening is showcasing four local theatre and dance schools from the area, Hoylake School of Dance, Complete Works Performance School, The Victoria Dance Academy, and Roxyz School of Performing Arts, as well as up-coming vocalists Emily Williams and Amy Dyce.

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Luxury apartment block could be built overlooking River Dee

A new “landmark residential development” providing 12 luxury flats could be built overlooking the River Dee.

Plans put forward by Blueoak Estates look to develop The Grange on Grange Road in West Kirby by knocking down the existing Victoria Era building on Grange Road and “create a pleasant and sustainable environment in which to live” in its place.

The building was built in 1897 by a shipowner before temporarily becoming Combermere School in the 1950s and 60s.

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More than 10,000 Wirral pupils regularly absent from school

More than 10,000 Wirral children regularly missed school last year according to the latest statistics.

Figures published by the Department for Education (DfE) show 9,529 Wirral children were persistently absent from school, missing 10% of school lessons, while 894 missed more than half of lessons over the 2022-23 academic year.

These are double pre-pandemic figures but similar to trends being seen in schools across England.

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Delays, repayments and the riot act: 12 months of new Merseyrail trains

They say good things come to those who wait.

Then wait some more and more and more.

After seven years of rattling along on a tired old fleet, January 2023 marked the rollout of the much-anticipated class 777 trains on the Merseyrail network. The 23rd of the month was a day long anticipated on Merseyside as the maiden voyage left Liverpool Central.

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Date announced for 2024 Wirral History Fair

The Wirral History and Heritage Association (WH&HA) has been selected as a finalist in this year’s Liverpool City Region Culture and Creativity Awards.

The WH&HA is one of six finalists in the People’s Choice Award for Outstanding Contribution to Culture, the only category voted for by the public.

The WH&HA is a voluntary organisation, open to any individual or group interested in the history and heritage of Wirral. Set up in 2009, it aims to promote and encourage an awareness and enjoyment of the peninsula’s unique past.

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Wirral Council disappointed at ‘harsh’ Ofsted report despite progress

Wirral Council’s Leader has expressed disappointment after receiving the final recommendations of the latest Ofsted inspection of its Children’s Services department.

In all five areas of judgement, HM Inspector summarised that the service “requires improvement to be good” despite acknowledging that significant improvements have been made in a number of important areas since the last full inspection in 2019.

The latest inspection was carried out back in September 2023, but the final report is only being published this week.

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St John Plessington Catholic College hosts awards evening to remember

St John Plessington Catholic College in Bebington has honoured students’ achievements with an incredible awards evening celebration.

The school was also joined by a special guest speaker, Sean Highdale. During an emotional introduction to Sean from associate assistant headteacher, Mr Dean Davies, attendees discovered how this incredibly talented individual was struck with tragedy after becoming captain of Liverpool FC’s under-18s team.

Sean, who is a former student of Mr Davies, overcame his adversity and went on to represent Great Britain in the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio De Janeiro. His attendance was an opportunity to demonstrate how true resilience and determination can help students achieve their lifelong dreams. 

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Wirral Council actively marketing new offices in bid to attract tenants

Wirral Council has yet to attract additional tenants to its new £75m office buildings.

The local authority is currently looking for companies to move into its new offices that have been built at Alice Ker Square in central Birkenhead. The developments are one of the first projects delivered through the council’s regeneration plans to create more modern office space within the town.

Funded in advance by a £75m investment by the private sector, the council is facing repayments of more than £2m a year for the next 35 years. After this, it can buy the buildings for £1.

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Currys fundraisers make more than £13,400 for Claire House

Staff at Currys in Bromborough have made more than £13,400 for Claire House Children’s Hospice.

During the past eight years, the Currys team has taken part in a range of events to raise money and awareness for their local children’s hospice.

So far, they have donated £13,483 thanks to their amazing fundraising efforts, which have included cake bakes, raffles, face painting and Star Wars days with the 99th Garrison.

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New public toilets for New Brighton’s Vale Park

A toilet block with five new public toilets has opened in New Brighton after a two-year campaign to replace ones destroyed in a storm.

The Vale Park toilets in New Brighton were destroyed in November 2021 following a storm depriving the seaside town of a major public facility and in April 2023, Wirral Council awarded Healthmatic a contract to replace them for £14,279.30 with four new unisex toilets and a disabled toilet.

Announcing the news, councillor Richie Pitt (pictured), who also works at the Coffee Roast at Vale House, said, “The day has arrived. The new toilets are ready and available. They will be open from 9-5 everyday but later in the summer months.

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West Kirby RNLI rescue person cut off by tide at Middle Eye

On Sunday, 28 January, at 11.42am, volunteer lifeboat crew from West Kirby RNLI launched to a person cut off by the tide at Middle Eye.

With a large tide of over 8.5m the casualty, who was an international student, was unaware of the tides in the area and became cut off during a walk. They managed to get themselves onto Middle Eye and did the right thing by immediately calling 999.

HM Coastguard requested West Kirby RNLI to launch their inshore lifeboat and with a slight sea chop and some wind, the volunteer lifeboat crew made up of Helm, Jamie Marston, and Crew Members Jon Hayes and Mike Hearty, made their way towards Middle Eye.

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Family Hubs launch across Wirral

“Absolutely essential” hubs are being launched across Wirral providing much needed help for families following a nearly £1m government boost.

There are currently plans for 12 hubs to be set up over the borough during 2024 with eight of these now open in Bromborough, New Ferry, Moreton, Woodchurch, Seacombe, and three in Birkenhead.

Each hub will be open throughout the week with different services there to support families with housing and health issues, domestic abuse, financial problems, special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) support, and employment advice.

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Tranmere fail to break deadlock against Crewe

Tranmere Rovers experienced their first goalless match of the league season at Prenton Park against Crewe on Saturday afternoon.

Rovers started the game with vigour, nearly catching the visitors off guard within the first couple of minutes. However, Charlie Jolley failed to connect with Rob Apter, both leading the attack.

Ten minutes into the match, Tranmere had another opportunity to take the lead when Kieron Morris set up Connor Jennings in the box. Unfortunately, Tom Booth came out to gather the ball.

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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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