IT WAS an absolute pleasure to visit the new Hide Coffee House at Pennington Flash last week as the facility has now opened its doors to the public.

The complex encompasses a visitor centre in addition to the café, with a new adventure play area scheduled to join it later this year.

It’s a perfect place to relax and enjoy a drink and snack, all while taking in the fabulous views across the Flash.

We know the Flash is close to so many people’s hearts and we believe these new facilities – with £2.7m investment from Wigan Council - will improve the visitor experience and attract even more people to enjoy the nature reserve.

The Hide Coffee House is open 9am to 4pm from November to March, and 9am to 5pm from April to October.

Last week also saw us set out our financial plans for 2023/24. Although we continue to face difficult circumstances due to rising costs and demands, we were proud to deliver a budget that includes no cuts to services and the lowest council tax rate across Greater Manchester.

It also includes investment in areas that we know are important to our communities, such as social care, along with further pledges to create opportunities for apprenticeships and graduate roles and a new Our Town cleaner, greener programme for our district centres.

Free town centre weekend parking in Leigh and Wigan has been extended and the number of free bulky waste collections available to households will be increased.

During the budget meeting, I was delighted to announce that sporting superstars Keely Hodgkinson and Ella Toone will be among the next recipients of Believe Stars in Leigh.

Their contribution to the sporting world in the last few years has been phenomenal and they are both amazing representatives of our borough. We can’t wait to see what further honours their careers will bring and thought it was only right to mark their achievements with these new star awards.

Everyone at Wigan Council was deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Joe Galvin.

Joe and Margaret received Believe Stars of their own last year, recognising the impact they have had on hundreds of young athletes. Joe’s dedication and volunteer spirit is a true inspiration to many.

Our thoughts are with the Galvin family and friends at this difficult time.