Barrie Grunewald: Parkside is a critical step forward

Council leader Barrie Grunewald (right) with Langtree boss John Downes launching the new Parkside development
Council leader Barrie Grunewald (right) with Langtree boss John Downes launching the new Parkside development
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This week has marked a critical step forward in our efforts to deal with long-term, generational unemployment in St Helens and bring a redundant, brownfield site back in to productive use.

Parkside Regeneration – the joint venture company established to redevelop the site of the former coal mine - has completed a series of technical reports which pave the way for a planning application later this year.

It’s a big step forward in our ambition to replace the 2,000 jobs lost on the site after the pit’s closure in 1992.

We know there is pent-up demand from advanced manufacturing and logistics businesses for buildings of around 20,000 sq m and I think we could hope to accommodate four or possibly five within a planned first phase.

There remains long term, generational unemployment in St Helens and the technical reports and surveys suggest that even this first phase of the colliery’s redevelopment could provide up to 1,200 new jobs. That would be a huge boost to St Helens and I congratulate the team on their work.

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Our Trading Standards team has been busy lately - uncovering quantities of illegal counterfeit postage stamps, illicit alcohol, tobacco and dangerous cigarette lighters on sale at off-licences and convenience stores across the borough.

Our officers, accompanied by Merseyside Police and officials from the Royal Mail, visited 17 retailers and found that illegal products were being sold at nine of them.

Specially trained tobacco sniffer dogs were used to discover illegal tobacco products. Among the haul of counterfeit goods were 76 packets of cigarettes, seized along with hundreds of potentially dangerous cigarette lighters. 810 copied postage stamps, with a value of £510.30, were also taken by officers from the Royal Mail.

Fake products be dangerous - as people can be seriously harmed - but responsible, law-abiding traders can also be undermined and forced out of business. It show what an important job Trading Standards Officers do - protecting both consumers and honest businesses.

And finally, we’re asking residents to support the St Helens Baptist Church’s annual Easter Egg Appeal, to help local families in need.

Those wanting to contribute can drop off their chocolate treats at the church on Hall Street, on Thursdays between 11am and 2pm or Saturdays 10am to 1pm, until 24 March.

Secondary collection points are situated at Town Hall, Victoria Square; Wesley House, Corporation Street; The Perth Centre, Dunedin Street; and Fingerpost Community Group, Pocket Nook Street.