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St Helens residents to have say on future bus services under franchising

ST Helens residents are being asked how buses could be improved ahead of the biggest shake up to the Liverpool City Region's network in almost 40 years.

Back in 2023 The Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram made the landmark decision to take back control of bus services in the Liverpool City Region following the recommendation of local authority leaders. The decision followed a major public consultation in which around 70% of people backed plans for franchising.

Steve Rotheram, Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, said:- "Hundreds of thousands of people in our area rely on buses to get about every day, with 82% of all public transport journeys taken by bus. Franchising is the biggest shake up to our Region's buses in 4 decades and, while it will take a few years to reregulate the entire network, the change will be transformational. We will have greater control over fares, tickets and routes to ensure that services are run in the best interests of passengers, not shareholders. We're taking back control of our network and putting our buses back where they belong: under public control. It is another massive step forward on our journey to building an integrated London-style transport network that will make getting around our Region faster, cheaper, cleaner, and more reliable."

The Combined Authority is running a 4 weeks of public engagement with people being invited to take part in an online survey or attend 1 of 7 in-person roadshows being held across the borough. St Helens is set to become the 1st area to introduce bus franchising as part of a phased introduction from 2026.

Residents will be able to give feedback on bus connections they would like to see and potential future improvements to the network. The survey will also ask people to suggest changes that might encourage them to uses buses more frequently.

The Combined Authority will now deliver a franchised bus service for the Region that will allow greater local control over fares, routes and timetables, with services operated in the interests of passengers and surplus profit reinvested into improving the network.

A fully franchised system is expected to be in place across the whole of the City Region by the end of 2028.

In the coming months people will also be invited to make their voice heard about services in:- Halton, Liverpool, Knowsley, Sefton and Wirral.

Cllr David Baines, Leader of St Helens Council said:- "Buses are the backbone of the public transport network here in St Helens; tens of thousands of residents every day use the bus to travel to work, School and college, to the shops or to see family and friends. We need a bus service that is affordable, reliable and works for everyone in our Region, which is why last year Mayor Rotheram took the important decision to undo nearly 40 years of deregulation and bring bus services under local public control. Now we're asking people in St Helens and beyond to let us know what they want to see from new, franchised bus services in the borough. Whether you take part in the survey online, or attend an in-person roadshow session, we want to hear from you."

The St Helens bus franchising engagement will runs until Sunday, 17 March 2024.  The online survey is available at:- LiverpoolCityRegion-CA.Gov.UK.

The next St Helens franchising roadshow events will be taking place at the below locations on these dates:-

  • Friday, 1 March 204, at the:- Earlestown Market, Earlestown, WA12 9AQ, from:- 10am to 2pm.

  • Monday, 4 March 204, at the:- Chester Lane Library, Four Acre Lane, WA9 4DE, from:- 11.30am to 3.30pm.

  • Tuesday, 5 March 204, at the:- Rainford Village Hall, 34 Church Road, WA11 8HB, from:- 1pm to 5pm.

  • Wednesday, 6 March 204, at the:- St Andrews Church Hall / The Hub, Dentons Green, WA10 6RU, from:- 1.30pm to 5.30pm.

  • Thursday, 7 March 204, at the:- Haydock Library, Church Road, WA11 0LY, from:- 10.30am to 2.30pm.

Wirral Football community raises over £10,000 for player's father
Photos by Alan Griffiths Sports Photography & Isabel Infantes AFP

THE Wirral football community have raised over £10,000 for a player's father. Thanks to a tournament, a Just Giving campaign and an evening with Everton legend Peter Reid, money was raised for Chris Mountford and his family following his brain tumour diagnosis.

A fascinating night of football nostalgia was hosted at The Venue By White in Moreton, on:- Saturday, 3 February 2024, as football fans were treated to a talk and Q&A with the charismatic Peter Reid, who he shared stories and insights from throughout his career. The event was hosted and compered by Everton stadium announcer Graeme White and also featured live music, a raffle and an auction.

The night raised money for Chris Mountford and his family, following the 38-year-old electrician's recent diagnosis of a brain tumour. Due to pre-existing conditions, the self employed father of 3 has been unable to insure himself against this type of illness; therefore a Just Giving page, a football tournament and the charity night were set up to help support him and his family during this difficult time.

The Just Giving page raised in excess of £8,000, whilst the tournament and Evening With Peter Reid took the total amount raised to over £10,000; raising vital funds for the family's loss of earnings and cost of living with cancer.

Hundreds of people rallied around the family through the Just Giving campaign, whilst the football tournament was the sterling work of Heswall FC, Rakers, Greenleas FC and New Brighton Victoria FC junior football clubs.

The Evening With Peter Reid was organised by New Brighton Victoria FC; a youth football club founded in May 2023, with the aim of instilling social values into children. 1 of their many community initiatives, the club teaches the junior players the importance of doing great work in the community.

New Brighton Victoria FC's Chairman Chris Guy explained:- "It's been a great team effort by all concerned and it's so refreshing to see football being used as a tool to unify people and make the world a better place. Football can be toxic, especially with angry parents shouting on the touchline, but in this case the community spirit of football has triumphed! As a club our ethos is to be community driven and we actively fundraise for local charities and causes. We hosted the U10s tournament in November and raised over £1,100 for Young Lives vs Cancer and CICRA (Children with Crohns & Colitis) but during the tournament we learnt that an opposing player's father had been diagnosed with a brain tumour. That's when we decided to get involved and help the cause."

True to its community values, New Brighton Victoria FC joined forces with Chris Mountford's son's team, Heswall FC, Greenleas, Rakers and the army of people behind Chris' family. Both the tournament and the Evening With Peter Reid were a huge success; raising vital additional funds on top of the Just Giving campaign.

At best, Chris won't be able to work for a year, making things extremely difficult for him, his wife and 3 children, so the combined fundraising efforts have proven to be game changers for them for the coming months.

Chris Guy summarised:- "I am in awe of Chris' determination to get through this and his positive attitude. It's amazing that over 300 people donated to his JustGiving page and I am proud that our Peter Reid event helped get the total amount to over £10,000. We will continue to support Chris through his recovery and even through the tragic circumstances, I've made a friend for life."

Meanwhile, Chris Mountford said:- "It's amazing to witness the power of football and community spirit and I will be forever grateful. I would love nothing more than to be a part of grassroots football and make any difference I can. I'm going to have a lot of time on my hands, so willing to help out in any way I can. I'm excited to be part of something and make a massive difference for our local grassroots football."

The Wirral football community have raised over £10,000 for a player's father. Thanks to a tournament, a Just Giving campaign and an evening with Everton legend Peter Reid, money was raised for Chris Mountford and his family following his brain tumour diagnosis.

To register your child, or to sponsor the team, please message Chris on:-  07368947749, or contact them via the team's website.

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