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Mere Brow Village News Archive 2004
Tribute to Cllr Robert Hodge

Source West Lancs District Council 17/12/04:

It is with great regret and sadness that we have to announce the sudden death of one of the North West's longest serving elected members, Cllr Robert Hodge.

Robert gave a lifetime of dedicated public service, serving on West Lancashire District Council, Lancashire County Council and also as a long-serving member of Tarleton Parish Council.

Robert was first elected to the District Council in 1973. He quickly rose through the ranks becoming leader of the Conservative Group and District Council, with a similar distinction as leader of the Conservative Group on Lancashire County Council.

Politically, Robert had many interests but his greatest passion was housing. One of his greatest achievements was the unparalleled range of sheltered housing accommodation provided for the elderly in West Lancashire, which was directly as a result of Robert's leadership. Robert's interest in this field was also inspired by his time spent in steering Skelmersdale through its early years when he was a senior member of the Skelmersdale Development Corporation Board.

Robert's record of public service also saw him serve many years as a Magistrate and as Chairman of the Chorley Bench. He was also a member of the old Health Authority.

His long service was recognised when he was elected Chairman of the Council. He was indeed "the father of the Council" and was often fondly thought of as "Mr West Lancashire".

While Robert's community achievements were many, he will be best remembered for his sheer humanity and friendship he displayed towards people. He was also a very committed Christian and he was a well-known preacher on the Methodist circuits.

Our thoughts are with his family and loved ones at this very sad time.

Cllr Geoff M. Roberts, Leader of the Council, said: "Robert's passing away is an immense loss to the District Council. He was a guiding light for so many years. One of his unique gifts was not only to know what was the right thing to do but to do it in the right way. "

"He leaves a gap which will never be fully filled."

SCHOOLS REPORT - Could do better?

The controversial annual school "league" tables for England have been published, showing how well pupils did in their national curriculum tests.

The first table below shows how our local secondary schools compared to all the 93 schools that fall within the Lancashire Education Authority area.

Our second table shows the points attained by our local primary schools. Primary schools are ranked on their "aggregate" scores - the total out of 300 across all three test subjects. The average score for Lancashire was 243 with the national average being 237.

Click on the School name to go to a comprehensive breakdown of the results provided by the BBC.

Local Secondary Schools
Complete list LEA Secondary Schools
Rating (Out of 93)
Hutton Church of England Grammar School
All Hallows Catholic High School
Bishop Rawstorne Church of England Language College
Penwortham Girls' High School
Tarleton High School
Balshaw's Church of England High School
Priory Technology College, Penwortham
Burscough Priory High School
Glenburn High School
Worden High School

Combined Score
(LEA Av 243)
Little Hoole Primary School
Tarleton Holy Trinity CofE Primary School
Tarleton Community Primary School
Mere Brow Church of England Primary School
Rufford CofE School

Lancashire Constabulary’s Southern and Central Divisions have joined forces to open Lancashire’s second Public Protection Unit (PPU) as part of the Constabulary’s drive to protect people from dangerous offenders.

The Public Protection Unit will open on Monday 22 November and will operate initially from two sites one in Ormskirk serving the people of South Ribble, Chorley and West Lancs (Southern Division) and the second site from HQ serving the people of Preston (Central Division).

Following on from recommendations in the Victoria Climbie Inquiry Report and after a successful pilot in Accrington, the Constabulary, after an in depth evaluation is in the process of establishing a number of Public Protection Units. These units will bring together various disciplines including family protection, domestic violence and dangerous offender teams.

Approximately 26 officers from Southern, Central and Force Headquarters will work from the re-furbished accommodation at Ormskirk and HQ. The main aim of the unit is to protect the most vulnerable members of the community and to reduce the risk of abuse by those who present a significant threat.

For Detective Chief Inspector Graham Gardner and Detective Inspector Graham Herrmann the opening of the unit will play a crucial role in improving the exchange of information between officers working with vulnerable children and adults, victims of Domestic Violence and Dangerous Offenders. The new unit will also provide other agencies with a ‘one-stop’ point of contact in all three areas, which will aim to break down communication barriers and enhance information sharing.

DCI Gardner commented: “People who suffer these types of awful crimes are often the most vulnerable in our communities. Anything we can do to improve our service to them should be seized upon. The creation of a Public Protection Unit is the start point to closer working with other agencies and voluntary groups. We will continue to improve our efforts to arrest and imprison criminals intent on attacking those least able to defend themselves”

Detective Inspector Graham Herrmann said; “ The PPU will allow the Constabulary to have a better platform for implementing the recently introduced Crime and Victims Bill. The units over-arching principle will be to protect the most vulnerable members of the communities of the Southern and Central divisional areas and to prevent their abuse by those who present a significant risk or threat.”

Members of the public are advised that with effect from Monday 22 November they will be able to contact officers from the Domestic Violence Team, Dangerous Offenders Team and Family Protection Unit on the following telephone numbers:-

Southern Division
(Covering South Ribble, Chorley and West Lancashire)
01695 566321

Central Division
(Covering Preston)
01772 416232
£80 Fines For Firework Misuse
Police in West Lancashire will be launching Operation Cascade this week to target and reduce juvenile nuisance and anti-social behaviour throughout the Halloween and Bonfire season.

Using new legislation that came into effect last week, the police are warning that the misuse of fireworks can not only be damaging to your health but to your pockets too, since officers can now fine youngsters under the Fixed Penalty Notices for Disorder (PND’s) scheme.

The scheme introduced in April 2004, takes account of the new firework legislation and means that £80 fines could be issued to anyone committing the following offences:-

• Throwing Fireworks
• Breaching a fireworks curfew
• Being in possession of a category 4 firework (a display type firework) either in a public place or not
• Being under 18 and in possession of an adult firework in a public place

Inspector for Skelmersdale, James Lee commented,” Police will be using this new legislation and those people found to be committing these offences can expect to receive a fine for £80. We want people to be able to enjoy Bonfire Night in safety and this is why any anti-social behaviour and juvenile nuisance will be dealt with appropriately.”

As well as enforcing this new legislation, Police will be working in partnership with local Fire Chiefs, Local Authorities and Trading Standards Officers to reduce the nuisance caused by fireworks and the number of offences committed. This will involve all retail shops licensed to sell fireworks in the West Lancs area being jointly visited by police and Trading Standards. Details of the initiative will be provided along with the enforcement of the legislation in relation to the storage and sale of fireworks. Any shops found to be selling fireworks to persons under the age of 18 will be referred to Trading Standards for investigation and possible prosecution.

Information regarding unauthorised “bonfire sites” will be forwarded to the relevant agencies who will attend and assess the bonfire.

Letters will be sent to schools informing them of Operation Cascade as well as advising on firework law and safety. The Emergency Services Community Support Officer will also visit some primary schools to talk to the children about Firework safety.

The police will also be using their Ringmaster messaging system to send messages to Neighbourhood Watch Co-ordinators giving details of the initiative and requesting the assistance of neighbours in the identification of apparent breaches of firework legislation and bonfire sites.

Inspector Phil Melling, Geographic Inspector for Ormskirk and Burscough commented, “Police officers, Special Constables, CBM’s and PCSO’s will be working together and conducting extra high visibility patrols of areas that have been indentified as “hotspots” in relation to incidents of nuisance and disorder. Fireworks will be seized from those people under the age of 18 who are in possession of a firework in a public place. Relevant details will be obtained for the juvenile referral scheme and where appropriate fixed penalty notices will be issued.”


British record for Giant Pumpkin Growing

Visitors to the event witnessed 21 massive pumpkins entered for this year's weigh off with Dave Turley from Dune FM kindly doing the honours on the Mike. Radio Lancashire and Northwest Tonight were both recording so watch and listen for more pumpkin updates. James and Liam said they looked forward to bringing a 1000lb pumpkin to next year's competition.

Novice pumpkin growers James O'Hanlon (10) and Liam Cupit (8) from Hesketh Bank not only beat off all comers at the Mere Brow Giant Pumpkin Competition but also smashed the official record for the heaviest pumpkin ever grown in the UK. The monster pumpkin registered 915lb on the Mere Brow competition scales and has been validated by a Guiness Book of Records Judge at 912lb. The previous record for a UK pumpkin was 819lb. Lauren Whiteside, also of Hesketh Bank, completed the kids' takeover bid with a very credible 3rd placed 486lb pumpkin.

Mere Brow Giant Pumpkin Competition Results More pictures and the weigh in results will be available shortly on

Getting back to work
Dear Editor

I work for Shaw Trust as a Personal Adviser covering the West Lancashire area.

Shaw Trust is a national charity established over 21 years ago. Our aim is to support people with disabilities or health issues into training/employment.

As you may or may not be aware, these people face many barriers when trying to find work, not only from employers and other organizations, but also due to a lack of confidence, work experience or low self-esteem.

We at Shaw Trust are committed to supporting these people in every way we can so they can gain, not only employment and income, but independence and self-worth and a chance to live their lives as an integrated part of society.

If a person is in receipt of any of the following benefits then they are eligible to get one on one support from Shaw Trust Employment.

• Incapacity Benefit
• Severe Disablement Allowance
• Income Support with a Disability Premium
• Housing or Council Tax with a Disability Premium
• War pension with an Un-employability Supplement
• Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit with an Unemployment Supplement
• Disability Living Allowance

Shaw Trust Employment can support individuals with any of the following steps:

Access between £20 - £200 when the client starts work.
Identifying a career or education path to pursue.
Financial support for training, clothing for work, equipment and travel to and from interviews.
One to one support in completing application forms, writing letters of application and creating an updated CV.
Liaising with benefit providers to protect benefit payments once the client starts work.
Service of an Occupational Psychologist
Permitted work extension from the normal 26 weeks to 52 weeks
Ongoing support for up to 6 months when in employment plus a sustainability award

Anybody wishing for further information can call freephone 0800 085 1001 or check our website.You can also find out more about our services via your Disability Employment Adviser at your local JobCentrePlus office.

Janet Gaskin
Shaw Trust

Pumpkin Power

Whilst veteran giant pumpkin growers are blaming the wet weather and the lack of sunshine for the poor performance of their pumpkins, two lads from Hesketh Bank are hoping to take first prize with their very first attempt at the “sport”

Trevor Wilson, organiser of the Mere Brow Giant Pumpkin Competition and long time competitor told our reporter “we have tried very hard to encourage more people to get involved in growing giant pumpkins and so it is interesting to note the progress these lads have made.”

A potential prize winner in the annual Mere Brow Giant Pumpkins Competition?
Liam and James guard their very first attempt at growing a Giant Pumpkin.

“Growing giant pumpkins is a carefully honed craft and can often take many years to perfect the technique. It would be a very big upset if a couple of Johnny-come-lately types walk off with the coveted silverware at their very first attempt.”

Referring to the rumours of espionage and even sabotage that surround the annual event, Trevor cautioned “there is still some time to go until the competition and many an unfortunate accident could yet befall this pumpkin. The lads had better keep their eyes peeled.”

The 10th Mere Brow Giant Pumpkin Competition will be held on the 16th October at Brandreth Barn, Tarlscough Lane, Burscough with all proceeds going to the Air Ambulance.

For more information on the competition weigh-in event, the competition rules, advice on growing giant pumpkins and some photos of previous winners please visit the Mere Brow Giant Pumpkins website. Additional sponsors for the event would be very welcome.

Village celebrates £30,000 Gift!
A reception was held on Sunday afternoon 12th September, to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of the rebuilding of Mere Brow Village Hall.

Lord Lilford's mother had re-opened the Hall thirty years ago, and Lord and Lady Lilford were guests of honour at the present celebration. Also present were David Borrow, MP for South Ribble, Councillor Robert Hodge, members of the Village Hall Committee, and representatives of the many village hall user groups.

Mr John Caunce wecomed Lord Lilford, who gave the committee a cheque for £30,000 during the evening. This and a grant of £50,000 from DEFRA will enable the re-surfacing of the car-park to be completed. Mr Mark Ascroft thanked Lord Lilford for his gift, and everyone who had helped with the event. A video of the the re-opening thirty years ago. and the celebration evening will be available shortly.

Village opposed to new Autistic Centre

A meeting of the Mere Brow Residents Association was held in the Village Hall on Thursday evening 9th September. The main subject under discussion was the Autistic Centre for which planning permission had been granted in 2001, but only on appeal, after having refused by the Council. Since then nothing further had been done, but now a modified scheme is about to be implemented.

Original objections had been, that the development which was for twelve residential places plus staff, a total of some fifty people, would have too large an impact in a small village like Mere Brow. It is now proposed to add an outreach centre, therefore it would be likely that there would be even more people involved, and an even greater impact on the community.

Two other alterations to the original scheme were proposed: an old cottage which was to have been retained on the original plan was now to be demolished, and a proposed diversion to the public footpath which crosses the site would bring it nearer existing property.

It was felt that the alterations were such that a new application ought to be made to the Planning Committee, and that it should be refused like the first one was originally.

Kerbside Recycling Collections To Increase

West Lancashire district council is about to send out leaflets to residents flagging up a new multi-material kerbside recycling service that will be provided for three quarters of the district from October.

The council has used a £300,000 Defra grant to purchase two new kerbsider vehicles and 40,000 blue-and-yellow boxes for households to deposit cans, glass bottles and jars and plastic bottles each fortnight.

Announcing the new service, the council's environment portfolio holder, Cllr John Baldock said: "Recent public consultation confirmed that the people of West Lancashire are concerned about their environment and want to be able to recycle their waste.

"This initiative shows that we are committed to providing even more opportunities for residents to help preserve the environment."

The council already collects green garden waste from about 10,000 homes in the Rufford, Aughton, Banks, Tarleton and Hesketh Bank areas each fortnight, providing residents with wheeled bins. Fortnightly blue bag collections for paper were extended and re-launched for 38,000 homes in 2002, with a special mobile service for parts of Skelmersdale that were unsuitable for the collection service.

The council recycled about 8.5% of its household waste in 2002/03, and said it is "well on the way" to achieving a 27% target rate by 2005/06.

All is safely gathered in - at last!

After some of the worst August weather for fifty years , the last few days have seen the combines catching up with the back-log of work.

The weather is proving ideal, and yields are proving to be higher than might have been expected.

The picture shows the combine at work in Stephen Mayor's field at Mere Brow.

All is safely gathered in - at last!
Listen Radio Lancashire on t'internet

Radio Lancashire is the latest local radio station to go live as part of the BBC putting all local radio stations available over the internet. So expat Mere Brewers can Click here, wait few seconds for it to load and then listen to Radio Lancashire live over t'internet. If you do experience any problems getting BBC radio over the internet please click here for help.

BBC Radio Lancashire - live local radio over the internet

Bevan Boys, American Forces and Land Girls sought

Dear Editor,

I am the Chairman of SSAFA (Soldiers, Sailors, Airman and Families Association - Forces Help) Lancashire. I am on the Blackpool organising Committee for the 60th Anniversary of the end of the War that will be held on 10 July 2005. The intention, at the moment, is that there will be a parade something similar to the one held on Horse Guards Parade in London in November of each year.

I am trying to contact local "Bevan Boys", "Land Girls" and any members of the American Forces who were stationed in the North West to see if they would like to either attend or take part in the Parade.

Do you know of any and if so can you please ask them to contact me either on this e mail address or by phone, at home, 01772 863707 or the SSAFA Lancashire Office on 01772 260462.

Many Thanks,

John Kiely

Latest Parish headcount information

The count of all people and households in the ONS-2001 Census key statistics.

North Meols

Latest Planning Applications

Planning Applications received between 05/05/04 to 11/05/04 are now posted on the West Lancs District Council website - click here to view.

Latest Planning Applications

Application No.: 8/2004/0467
Proposal: Erection of detached dwelling house.
Location: Holmeswood Garage, 201 The Marshes Lane, Mere Brow, Tarleton
Applicant: Mr S Ryding, 201 The Marshes Lane, Mere Brow, Tarleton

Application No.: 8/2004/0524
Location: 64, The Gravel, Mere Brow, Tarleton
Proposal: Two storey extensions to side and rear
Applicant: Miss L Crompton, 64 The Gravel, Mere Brow, Tarleton

"Home Front" News now available on the Internet

Mere Brow Local History Society’s team of volunteers recently completed over 2 years of intensive work transcribing each of the 310 “Rector’s Weekly” World War II newsletters in order to make them accessible to everybody over the internet.

The much acclaimed newsletters were originally sent by the Rector of Tarleton, Reverend L.N. Forse, to all the local men and women serving with the forces during World War II. The newsletter provided regular updates of events “back home” in the villages of Tarleton, Hesketh Bank, Mere Brow, Sollom, Rufford, Bretherton, Hoole and Banks and also provided a conduit by which contact with family and friends also serving their country could be maintained.

Recognition of the work of the Rector and the significance of the newsletter to its recipients was widespread and similar initiatives were later introduced in many more villages across England. Over 78,000 copies of the Tarleton Rector’s weekly newsletters were posted out between 1940 and 1946. These important historical documents which captured the events, thoughts and emotions of a rural Lancashire village as the war unfolded are now available for all to read at

A handful of the newsletters remain elusive and the History Society is hoping that the raised awareness of the project may well flush out the few missing issues and, probably for the first time ever, allow a complete set of the Newsletters to be available for reading.

Diamond Wedding

Jack and Alice Lyon Diamond Wedding Celebrations

Jack and Alice Lyon celebrated their 60 years of married life together recently. They also received a card from the Queen to commemorate their Diamond Wedding on April 8th. Family and friends joined them for a party at their home in Tabby Nook, Mere Brow. The couple were married in 1944 at Mere Brow Methodist Church Shortly afterwards, Jack who was in the R.A.F., was sent to India, returning after two years. After being demobbed, he spent the rest of his working life at the Burscough Ordnance depot, retiring in 1982, while Alice worked for many years at Huntapac Produce at Holmes. Their son Maurice travels the world filming Formula 1 racing.

Below is a contemporary news cutting of the wedding:

Mere Brow Wedding - The wedding took place at Mere Brow Methodist Church on Easter Sat urday of Miss Alice Mayor, youngest daughter of Mr. and Mrs. T. Mayor of Tabby Nook, Mere Brow, and Cpl. Jack Lyon, R.A.F., youngest son of Mr. and Mrs, W. Lyon, 35 Moss Nook, Burscough. Given away by her brother, the bride wore a white cloque gown with a train, tulle veil and wreath of orange blossom. She carried, red
carnations and wore a pendant. The bridesmaids were Miss Margaret Mayor and Miss Doreen Wright who wore wine coloured dresses and held daffodils. The best man was Mr. Jim Lyon R.A.S.C. and the groomsman, Mr. Tom Wright. Silver horseshoes were presented to the bride by Roy Lyon and Joyce Moss.

The wedding is also mentioned in the Tarleton Rector's Weekly News from April 13th 1944

Plant Your Pumpkin

Late April to early May is the time for potential giant pumpkin growers to start nurturing their prize winning pumpkins if they hope to compete at the Mere Brow Giant Pumpkin Competition in October.

To encourage more novice pumpkin growers to take part in the competition two new categories were introduced last year; one for local pumpkin growers and one for juniors. These have been retained and so the 10th Mere Brow Giant Pumpkin event will again have the three separate competitions with prizes for the winner and runners up:

Mere Brow Giant Pumpkin Competition - October 2004

The All England Shield - Open to Anyone
The Mere Brow & District Shield - 10 mile radius of Mere Brow
Junior Shield Open to under 14s

A very warm welcome is extended to our regular contestants and novice pumpkin growers alike and it is hoped to see more of the local schools joining in the friendly rivalry this year.

For more information on the competition weigh-in event, the competition rules, advice on growing giant pumpkins and some photos of previous winners please visit the website:

Internet bombarded by new Netsky.D virus wave

A WAVE of new computer worms and viruses has been sweeping cyberspace over the past few days, and has now reached "epidemic proportions worldwide". MX Logic, a security firm based in Denver, Colorado, said the Netsky.D worm "has reached a critical threat level, with one in every 71 emails infected by the worm". The British firm mi2g called the latest outbreak a "tsunami" of malicious computer code, or malware, saying it is "overwhelming both its victim organisations as well as anti-virus toolkit companies and security professionals across the world."

"The first two months of this year have been marked by an unrelenting onslaught of mass mailing worms and their variants, including Mydoom, Mydoom.F, Bagle and Netsky.D. We are convinced that the frequency and potency of mass mailing worms and their variants is likely to increase - making it critical that email users take every precaution to protect their inboxes," said Scott Chasin, chief technology officer, MX Logic.

Over the past days, virus fighters have battled a number of new releases of the Bagle and Netsky internet worm families, and Tuesday afternoon some 10 per cent of all emails in Europe were contaminated by bugs, statistics showed. In contrast to most other viruses, Netsky.D does not have an expiration date, and it will therefore remain a menace for some time to come, experts pointed out.

New Garage Requested

Application No.: 8/2004/0238
Location: 7, The Marshes Lane, Mere Brow, Tarleton
Proposal: Replacement detached brick garage
Applicant: Nicola Ollerton, 7 The Marshes Lane, Longfold, Mere Brow

Great Wall of Mere Brow

Application No.:8/2004/0173
Location: Mere Brow Village Hall, The Gravel, Mere Brow, Tarleton
Proposal: Erection of 1.5m high entrance wall incorporating bench seat.
Applicant: Mere Brow Village Hall, 65 The Gravel, Mere Brow

Caravan storage company seek planning permission

Application No.:8/2004/0134
Location: Banister House Farm, Mere Lane,Tarleton
Proposal: Use of land for the storage of caravans, motor homes & boats.
Applicant: Banister House Caravan Storage Ltd
Banister House Farm,
Mere Lane, Mere Brow, Tarleton. PR4 6JR.

Boundary Deadline Looms

Are things alright as they are or is it time for a change? Would joining Sefton really be the end of the world or would South Ribble be the best? Will any of it make a difference or will Mere Brow be ignored by whoever is in charge?

Judgement Day nears for West Lancs District Council with only two weeks remaining in which you can submit YOUR views and feedback to the Boundary Committee on their much publicised proposed changes. Enter your feedback here.


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