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Globe news review of 2013
ANOTHER year draws to a close, and what a year it has been.
It’s been 12 months of change, celebrations and fundraising for good causes. It’s also been a year in which which we have said goodbye to some home-grown stars.
The Wirral Globe looks back on some of the stories that have featured in our pages.
In January Motorists braced themselves for an expected increase in Mersey tunnel tolls.
Merseyside’s Integrated Transport Authority was preparing to decide on whether to raise the cost during its meeting in February.
It followed publication of a Merseytravel report which said the authority would miss out on generating an additional £2.6m unless it agreed a rise.
During the meeting on February, the price hike, which inluded a rise of 10p per car, was approved.
February saw the threat of strikes averted after Wirral councillors voted to give enhanced redundancy payments to hundreds of staff who faced losing their jobs as a result of cuts in local authority spending.
Council chief executive Graham Burgess had strongly recommended the authority reduced its current pay-off packages down to statutory levels.
But during a meeting of the ruling cabinet, leader Phil Davies felt this was a step too far and offered an enhanced package, which was described as more generous than statutory severance.
Also this month shops and businesses in West Kirby were evacuated following a chemical spillage.
Firefighters were called to a building in Grange Road and found an estimated five litres of the unknown substance had spilt.
In March, plans to build a prestigious apartment block next to New Brighton’s showpiece Floral Pavilion were put on hold for 12 months.
Developers Neptune, who masterminded the £65m renaissance of the once jaded resort, planned to complete the successful Marine Point seafront venture before driving ahead with the controversial flats scheme.
Danny Hind, Neptune’s project director said: “The plan has always been to get the main development finished before turning our attention to the apartment block.
“Once Marine Point is fully occupied - there are only a few units left - we will concentrate on securing funds.”
April saw plans to build a hotel and retail complex next to Tranmere Rovers’ Prenton Park ground were unveiled.
The Tranmere Rovers Trust outlined plans for a formal takeover of the club and presented its ‘vision’ and business plan for the club during a meeting.
Among the proposals was a three-phase redevelopment of the ground, beginning with an initial upgrade of facilities.
In May a leaked email revealed that instead of providing meals for some of Wirral’s most vulnerable people, the council’s cash-strapped care services would give advice on how they could make their own or buy them from ‘local providers’.
Until now, the meals on wheels service from private company ICare had been subsidised by the local authority - but a decision to scrap this support was made by cabinet councillors in February.
It was announced back in November that proposals to increase charges for community meals “to bring Wirral in line with other councils would result in a saving of £200,000.
In June, new figures showing a massive increase in the number of people using Wirral’s food bank were described by Wirral MP Alison McGovern as “alarming and startling”.
Experts said controversial benefit changes and unsupportable loans were pushing people to the point where they had little or no option but to rely on charity for food.
The statistics - exclusively disclosed to the Globe - showed that in the last 12 months - more than 9,000 people used the food bank - 3,297 children and 5,995 adults.
In July, more than three thousand women took a stand against cancer by taking part in Wirral’s Race For Life.
A total of 3,549 ran or walked through Birkenhead Park during the Globe-backed event, which - according to its organisers - raised £155,000 for Cancer Research UK.
Wirral Globe has been the event’s official newspaper since 2006.
August saw plans to turn off street lights in nine pedestrian areas of the borough were put on hold following police concerns for safety.
Oxton Liberal Democrat councillor Stuart Kelly raised the alarm over public safety after it emerged that switching off street lighting on pedestrian routes ran against the advice of senior police officers.
Council leader Phil Davies said the proposals would be iced until talks took place with Wirral’s area commander John Martin.
In September it emerged that 60 jobs were at risk at a Wirral aircraft components firm after its American owner announced plans to close the site.
Teledyne CML Group announced it was reviewing its precision machining fabrication operations at Price Street in Birkenhead.
In October Two Mersey Ferries staff were hailed heroes after saving the life of a three-year-old girl who had fallen into the River Mersey.
In a interview, captain’s mate Ricardo Ermocilla and chief engineer Ste Murphy revealed a ‘hand of God’ moment when, against incredible odds, they dived in to the river and managed to save the child’s life after she fell from the deck of the Snowdrop into the freezing waters after it berthed at Seacombe.
Ricardo said: “I heard shouting and screaming. I went to the top deck but couldn’t get bear the side of the boat, as there were too many people crowded around the side looking out.
“I rushed to the main deck, looked over and saw a little pink coat floating in the water.
“I shouted ‘I’m going in’, took my shoes off and jumped into the water. It was instinct.”
The duo were honoured for their bravery during the Wirral Golden Globes ceremony in November.
Now in its second year, the ceremony paid tribute to Wirral’s unsung heroes.
In November Tributes were paid to Wirral-born comic actor and director Graham Stark, who died at his London home after a stroke.
The 91-year-old from Wallasey appeared in more than 100 films, but was known to millions for his roles opposite comic great Peter Sellers in The Pink Panther series of films.
Lewis Collins, Wirral-born star of classic 1970s detective series The Professionals, died at his home in Los Angeles after a long illness.
In December, more than 3,000 people turned out for the Globe-backed Light Up A Life switch-on for Wirral Hospice St John’s.
Upton brothers Tomas and Louie Stiles turned the 6,000 lights on during a ceremony at the Clatterbridge hospice.
This year’s appeal has so far raised £90,000, with money still coming in...
Nobody will forget the gale force winds which created a tidal surge leaving a swathe of destruction across Wirral’s coastal towns.
Clean-up crews are beginning the massive job of clearing away tonnes of debris torn from sea defence walls.
Such was the power of the sea that sections of railings and feet-thick concrete tide-breaks were ripped apart and the debris scattered across the promenade at Hoylake and Meols, forcing roads to be closed.
There was similar damage at West Kirby seafront, which was closed to traffic as flood water raced across the promenade taking several parked cars in its wake and smashing them against walls opposite the marine lake.
New Brighton’s recently redeveloped promenade was the worst affected. Shops, supermarkets, restaurants and the Travel Lodge hotel at Marine Point were flooded.
Later this month as the whistles of trade union protestors outside Wallasey Town Hall rang in his ears, Wirral Council's leader presented his budget for the coming financial year.
It was a mixed bag of measures and includes some areas of growth, but its principal aim was to reduce overall spending by £27.5 million.