20 New Neston High School Tour 25th November 2016

“It looks even bigger inside” –  that was my first reaction on visiting the new High School build.  Perhaps it won’t win any architectural prizes, but it is nevertheless an imposing presence on Raby Park Road with its brick faced corners almost matching the façade of the recreation centre next door, but dwarfing both it and the scattered buildings of the existing school.

Colleagues from the Town Council and one each from Neston Civic Society and the Parkgate Society were shown round the building by Headteacher Steve Dool, Deputy Head Colin Randerson and Project Manager Ben Wolstenholme.  One of the first things to impress us all was the use of natural light to illuminate the corridors and internal teaching rooms.  Also impressive is the open aspect of the purpose-built dining room on the ground floor, yet visible from the other two.

The design allows maximum use to be made of the school’s excellent house system, and the plans for subtle colour coding of corridors and room numbering to guide students easily through the vast space.  The designed-in plasma video screens are a long way from the chalkboards of my school years.

Students will benefit from the excellently-lit art rooms, the specialist technology workshops, state-of-the-art science laboratories, drama and other performance areas as well as, to my surprise, “generously” proportioned classrooms.

At £25 million, this is easily the most significant investment in Neston in recent times.

Colleagues were also impressed.  “An outstanding facility; we are fortunate to have secured such a sizeable investment that will ensure a quality education for our children for many decades to come.”  “I’m impressed with the way the staff have been able to put their stamp on the project to achieve a design that, hopefully, will work well for them. In a word ‘brilliant’. ” I’m envious of the students who will benefit from the new facilities. I look forward to seeing the finished product.”


19 Remembrance Sunday 13th November 2016

A real privilege once again to be able to represent the Town and the Council at this most important event.

Unlike last year, the weather was dry for the parade from the British Legion HQ on Chester Road to the Parish Church where the RBL President Terry Abel, MP Justin Madders, Deputy Cheshire Lieutenant Mark Mitchell and I took the salute before the Remembrance Service conducted by the Vicar Rev Alan Dawson assisted by Rev Deacon Mike Topping from St Winefride’s.  A powerful sermon was preached by Capt Richard Meryon RN (Rtd), formerly Chief Engineer on Ark Royal and for five years the Director of the Garden Tomb in Jerusalem.

Mayor 1

Photo courtesy of Bernard Rose Photography

It was whilst the wreaths were being laid after the church service that Capt Meryon and the Deputy Lieutenant both noticed and commented on later the Remembrance picture displays in the window of Andrew’s Estates.  And we all appreciated the woollen poppies knitted by the Little Neston Guides and secured to the street bollards early in the morning by Guide Leader Catherine Hilditch.  Thanks for these examples of community spirit.  They were appreciated by all who took part in the parade and all those who gathered in the High Street during the afternoon.

18 Neston Players – Henry V 12th November 2016

Neston players

Neston players

We had already bought our tickets when we received the official invitation to this outstanding production – we rarely miss a Players’ production.

A difficult play to stage in many respects – if only because of the number of male characters to be portrayed, although this modern setting of the play enabled some of the parts to be taken by female actors.

Paul Kirkbright’s direction concentrated on Shakespeare’s examination of the responsibility of Kingship and the moral dilemmas faced by those who rule, and the juxtaposition of the attitudes of those who are governed.  Henry V was perhaps Shakespeare’s “ideal” king, and the play is noted for its Elizabethan protestant propaganda – but the issues examined are as relevant today as ever.

Without wishing to raise invidious comparisons, I can’t escape a special mention for the commanding and word-perfect interpretation of the title role by Adam Stubbs in his debut role for the Players.

17 Visit of Town Mayor of Winsford 12th November 2016

When I met Cllr Steve Smith earlier in the year at the Civic Service at Frodsham, he said how he remembered visiting Parkgate many years ago and that he really ought to make a return visit.  He repeated this wish when I met him again at the civic service that closed the Winsford Salt Fair (the only time I’ve been to a religious service conducted on a Dodgem Car track!).

So we invited him and his consort Mark to visit the town informally.  We spent an hour in the morning wandering the Town Trail put together by Neston Civic Society.  They really liked the mixture of new (the Market Square and supermarkets) and the old, especially properties in Parkgate Road around Vine House.

After lunch at The Ship, and the obligatory ice cream, we made good use of the Heritage Trail established by the Parkgate Society.   They were fascinated by the silted Dee and the pools we have created there.

They left with a Neston bag containing one of the History Society’s books, the two town trail guides – and a couple of bottles of Britman Burton Brewery’s best bitter.  And, of course, a promise to return and to spread the word in Winsford of the potential for a great day out in Neston and Parkgate.


16 Armistice Day 11th November 2016

The Town Council took over the running of Neston Market only two and half years ago, and so this year was the first in which 11 November has fallen on a market day.

Having warned shoppers and traders beforehand, at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month I gave a mighty blast of my whistle – and the market square fell silent and still until the second whistle blast two minutes later.

It was observed by almost everyone – and thanks to the person whose audible “Shh” silenced the couple who continued to chat.

Afterwards a number of people expressed their appreciation of the opportunity to remember the sacrifice of others, and many of the traders said how pleased they were the silence had been observed.