Tributes to a fine leader

It was announced this week that Carole Hudson, chief executive of St Helens Council, will retire next year.

Carole has been at the forefront of the economic transformation of the borough – heavily involved with projects that include the M62 Link Road, Technology Campus, the Saints stadium, Central Station and new schools programme, together with many new business premises on former employment sites.

The last four years have been extremely challenging during the austerity programme. Yet, working with politicians, she has managed the council well - having to make significant budget cuts and at the same time ensuring that the council can continue to deliver its statutory responsibilities.

I would like to thank Carole for her loyal service to the council and the people of St Helens and for her contribution. I wish her well in her retirement.

g Better connections with the rest of the Liverpool City Region – and the wider world beyond – is a key requirement if we are to boost the local economy here in St Helens.

So I’m pleased to report that we’ve now cleared one of the first hurdles with the City Region Combined Authority’s decision to approve an ambitious long-term rail strategy.

It will ensure the rail network meets the needs of the City Region over the next 30 years, support our ongoing economic growth and regeneration work and help us to contribute to the wider UK economy.

The project will go some way towards re-balancing a national economy that is painfully skewed in favour of the South East. By getting northern cities better connected from east to west – with improved road and rail links - we will be able to forge ahead with plans to create the much talked about ‘northern powerhouse’.

g There are some very entrenched views – and popular stereotypes – of people with drink and drug problems.

But forget all those images of people living rough or on the wrong side of the law – because the reality is very different.

People from all walks of life can quickly find themselves caught up in a spiral of despair after drifting into alcohol or drug misuse. Figures suggest that one in four people may have a problem that affects their health, safety and wellbeing.

Which is why we should all be grateful that we have a fantastic new facility in Corporation Street – Addaction – that helps local people who need support to tackle drink and drug problems.

Addaction has been working with local people for the last two years from separate premises in the town centre. It’s already helped to create the borough’s first ‘recovery community’ – and is generating real evidence that local people are breaking free of the negative impacts of drugs and alcohol.

The new building is home to doctors and nurses who can provide medical help, but equally importantly, there is expert advice and peer support that equips service users to tackle the issues that led to alcohol and drug misuse.

g Bonfire night is always something to look forward to. But the actions of a small minority can often make life a misery for some of our residents. Firework misuse and anti-social behaviour are real problems as we approach November 5. Last year several local retailers agreed to limit the period of sale to one week prior to the November 5, which helped contribute towards a five per cent drop in the number of reports of anti-social behaviour and a 16 per cent drop in firework related calls police compared with the previous year.

This year we’re hoping more retailers will sign up to our ‘Good Guy’ campaign and agree to limit the selling period for fireworks.

All Good Guy retailers will receive a certificate to display on premises - proving they will only sell fireworks to over 18s, that the fireworks they sell are legal and conform to British and European Safety Standards and that they will limit their sale of fireworks to a specific period of their own choice within the statutory selling period.