Barrie Grunewald - Sport legacy for the town

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Plans have now been submitted to our planning team to create a completely new look for the Ruskin Drive sports complex.

This new ‘sports village’ will include a new pavilion that provides changing and training facilities and squash courts – and should help to breathe new life into a facility that has seen better days.

There could also be new all-weather cricket nets and a renovation of the dilapidated tennis courts.

If the scheme gets the go ahead, we believe these ambitious plans would vastly increase the number of people using the facilities there.

We’re keen to ensure that Ruskin Drive remains a key feature of the local sporting landscape – providing great junior and amateur facilities for local people.

If we get the go ahead – with the help of lottery funding and various sports’ governing bodies - it will give a huge boost to sports including cricket, both codes of rugby, football, tennis and squash.

g Returning to the theme of council services that few people are probably aware of – yet do an enormous amount of good – praise must go to the TAZ (Teen Advice Zone) team.

This small group is responsible for overseeing a steady decline in the number of teenage pregnancies in the borough over the last few years.

Figures released last week show that 2012 saw 123 under 18 conceptions in the borough.

This compares with 147 in 2011 and 180 in 2010.

These are really encouraging figures – and show that by providing easy access to community sexual health services and contraception in community settings we can help young people take a responsible approach to sex and relationships.

The team offers its services at every secondary school in the borough, including drop-ins, targeted group work, one-to-one support and the delivery of sex and relationships education.

In St Helens we still trail the national and regional averages, and there is clearly more work to be done.

But I think everyone can take heart from these latest figures – which show we are certainly moving in the right direction.

g The value of social media was underlined last week when we asked people to show their support for a campaign that raises awareness of domestic violence.

By adding a white ribbon to their Facebook and Twitter profiles more than 100 people across the borough were able to show they supported the White Ribbon campaign – which encourages men to make a stand against violence towards women.

It was a quick, easy way for a lot of people to show their appreciation of – and support for – an extremely worthwhile cause.

Domestic violence is a crime that’s often hidden and under-reported.

Yet last year there were still 700 incidents reported to Merseyside Police in St Helens in November and December alone.

That’s far too many and the quicker we can raise awareness of this issue the better.

g Help is at hand for small businesses – in the shape of a new rate relief scheme for retail premises with a rateable value of £50,000 or less.

We’ve approved a new rate relief scheme to support shops, restaurants, cafes and pubs and bars.

There’s no escaping the fact that online sales are having a big impact on some of our smaller businesses, so we need to do all we can to help.

Altogether, we should be able to provide £580,000 worth of support to local businesses.

It should make a big difference - and help smaller operations to compete with their larger neighbours.

That is something we can all welcome.