ALTHOUGH we are now approaching the end of January, it is my first column of the year so I would like to wish everyone a Happy New Year.

It has been a busy start to 2023 and I’m sure many of you will have been reading about last week’s Levelling Up Fund announcement.

Unfortunately, our bid for Leigh town centre was not awarded funding, which is a huge disappointment.

We were confident that all three of our bids in this round – Leigh, Ashton and Wigan – were strong and achievable submissions shaped in partnership with residents and partner organisations.

In response to this news, we have already committed to submitting further bids for Leigh and Ashton in the third round of the LUF.

Although our concerns about the process remain, I felt it was important to make this pledge and I have already spoken with council officers to start preparing to bid again and we will keenly await details of round three from central government.

It is also important to emphasise that the LUF fund bid was only part of our vision for Leigh town centre as outlined by our strategic regeneration framework (SRF).

This time of year brings with it the excitement about the new rugby league season and in particular Leigh Leopards’ return to Super League.

I would like to wish Adrian Lam’s side and everyone at the club the best of luck for the 2023 campaign.

Dates for the diary for the fixtures between Leigh and Wigan are currently Thursday, March 30, and Friday, July 28. Can we also look forward to further clashes in play-offs, Grand Final or the Challenge Cup?

Over at Pennington Flash, we’re excited that the brand new lakeside café – The Hide – will be opening soon, part of £2.5m investment project at the site.

Please keep an eye out for further updates about the opening date and in the meantime please follow the facility’s social media pages @thehidecoffeehouse for the latest news.

You may have also seen that central government has introduced new regulations requiring voters to show ID at polling stations at upcoming elections.

An awareness campaign is underway to highlight what forms of ID are accepted and what to do if you don’t have one of these so that you can still vote.

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