Help Us to Find Madeleine McCann

The Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre has launched a campaign to help find Madelaine McCann by asking internet users to spread a video virally on Blogs and Social networking sites arounf The World.

The video seeks to remind people of Madeleine's story and shows Computer-generated images of what she may look like now that she is 6 years old.

Please watch the video and help to spread the word by either linking to this page, embedding the video in your own blog, by posting a link on Facebook or Twitter or by emailing the URL to people you know.

Perhaps together we can help find this little girl?

St Helens Pubs Support Operation Christmas Child

The St Helens Star has published a story about four of our local pubs who are helping out with Operation Christmas Child.

The Ship Inn on Warrington Road, the Black Horse Inn on Rainhill Road, the Waterside on Garswood Old Road and the Woodlands on Woodlands Road are acting as drop off points for the nationwide appeal.

Read the whole story here.  You would be supporting a very worthy cause if you were able to help.

Why You Should Drive With Your Car Doors Locked?

The St Helens Star brings us this terrifying story of a man who was a victim of a carjacking.

St Helens Dream Phallic Carbuncle Wins Concrete Prize

St helens Dream Sutton ManorThe St Helens Reporter has a story about the artist behind The Dream of Sutton Manor Jaime Pliensa winning a prize for his wrong-way facing, waste of money phallic symbol.

Well he wasn't going to turn it down was he?

It might look good in the pictures, but seen, as the vast majority of motorists see it, from the M62, with just the top of it peeking over the treetops of The Mersey Forest, I guarantee you it looks like the swollen head of a giant Ann Summers' Rabbit.

If you don't see what I mean, cover up the bottom half of this picture from the eyes down and the large member will reveal itself in all its Morning Glory!

Who Saw This Beautiful Rainbow Over St Helens?

YMCA St Helens Lowe House
They say that at the end of every rainbow there lies a pot of gold.
Well today (October 22nd 2009) saw a full 180 degree rainbow that spread, from where we were looking at least, from the Lowe House to The YMCA.
Perhaps there was a pot at either end?YMCA St Helens Lowe House
If you look really closely on this image you will also be able to make out a very faint 2nd band. It was so much clearer with the naked eye, though.

Moore Commits to St Helens

The Engage Superleague Website has reported that England hooker Scott Moore has signed a contract extension with St Helens that will keep him at the club until the end of 2012......(Read More)

What a great move we all say for one of England's brightest prospects to be coming back to Saints where he will hopefully stay for the rest of his career.

He has completed his apprenticeship and we now look forward to him coming into bloom back at The GPW Stadium.

St Helens Council Issues Postal Strike Advice

St.Helens Council has issued advice in lieu of the possibility of a postal strike

Regarding benefits, most housing benefit claimants will not be affected by the strike because they have their benefit paid to their landlord or straight into a bank or building society account.

However, people who are paid housing benefit by cheque may find that the strike will delay delivery of their cheque.....Read More

Free Town Centre Parking for St Helens Christmas Shoppers

The St Helens Star has reported about parking charges being lifted during the 4 Saturdays before Christmas.

Hooray say us, though in fairness who would be daft enough to go to The Trafford Centre on those days anyway?

Read the article here

Johnny Wellies Shows Us His Moves Outside Domino's Pizza St Helens

Local Celebrity Johnny Wellies was spotted outside Domino's Pizza St Helens recently

The Whispering Stops and Someone Finally has the Courage to Suggest that Saints were robbed

We all like a good Conspiracy Theory - none more so than David Prentice from The Liverpool Echo.

Read his take on the strange events at Old Trafford here.

And for a great picture and amusing caption take a look at St Helens Chat

Oh, and Phil Bentham if you are reading this, I hope you have a good disguise for when you come to Knowsley Rd next season ;-)

JD Wetherspoon Buys Chicago Rock Cafe in St Helens

Pub chain Wetherspoons has bought The Chicago Rock Cafe and will re-open next month as The Running Horses, a name inspired by a 18th Century Coaching Inn which stood near the site.

For the full story from The St Helens Star click here

Tests on Harlow Close Babies Inconclusive

Forensic tests on the remains of four babies discovered in St Helens have yet to establish whether they were stillborn or died shortly after birth, a coroner’s court was told.

Nearly six weeks after the remains were discovered, an inquest into the infants’ deaths was opened and adjourned today during a brief hearing at St Helens Hospital.

Lynda Roberts, a coroner’s officer with Merseyside Police, told the court it was believed neither the births nor deaths of the tots had ever been registered.

She added it was believed the infants had never been given names and for “simplicity” in proceedings they would be referred to as babies one, two, three and four.

Three of the babies – the remains of which are believed to date back to the 1980s – were found in a terraced house at Harlow Close, Sutton Heath on Sunday, August 30.

The corpse of a fourth baby was found at grounds nearby a family grave in St Helens Cemetery days later.

Lynda Roberts told the court: “As a result of recent allegations made to police an investigation commenced into the death of four babies in St Helens. As part of that investigation remains of four babies were recovered.

“Apparently neither the births nor the deaths were ever registered, nor is it believed the babies were given names.”

The court was told ongoing enquiries aimed at establishing their age and the cause of death had been inconclusive.

She added: “For simplicity (at this stage) the babies will be referred to as baby 1,2, 3 and 4.

“It has not yet been established whether they were stillborn or died shortly after birth.”

St Helens Coroner Christopher Sumner adjourned the hearing and a full inquest will take place at a later date that is yet to be fixed.

Lab Bomb Plot Trial Postponed until New Year

A Judge today agreed that the trial of a man accused of threatening to blow up a St Helens laboratory should be delayed until January.

Jean Claude Rubagire appeared at Liverpool Crown Court today (Monday, October 12) where he was due to stand trial over a security alert at Alfred H Knight on Prescot Road on March 5 this year.

The trial, which had been listed to begin today and expected to last more than two weeks, was dramatically adjourned until January next year pending a psychiatric report requested by the prosecution.

Witnesses had been braced to give evidence this week, but face a further delay of several months.

Dressed in prison regulation blue shirt and grey sweater, Rubagire, who is from Africa and is currently in Walton Prison, clutched a stack of papers as he listened intently to the proceedings.

The 35-year-old, who has been in custody since March, is charged with threatening to kill by detonating a bomb. He also denies a further charge of causing a bomb hoax.

Judge Bryn Holloway extended his custody time, which had due to expire tomorrow this month until February 1.

For the full background to the story updated live on the day these events unfolded see our post here

Jean Claude Rubagire is set to face court after denying a series of charges in connection with a major security alert at Alfred H Knight on Prescot Road on March 5 this year.

The high-profile incident saw a tense six hour stand off, involving armed police, the bomb squad and more than ten fire engines.

It is alleged Rubagire walked into the factory equipped with a utility belt made to look like an explosive device.

The 35-year-old, who has been in custody since he was arrested in March, has denied the accusations levelled against him.

At an earlier hearing, the accused, who is from Africa, entered a plea of not guilty to a charge of threatening to kill by detonating a bomb that would cause carnage and risk the lives of two men and a woman at the firm’s metal sampling laboratories in Grange Park.

He also denies a further charge of causing a bomb hoax.

A two-week trial is scheduled to begin on Monday.

Hero who Gob Smacked Yob Tracked Down to St Helens

A Dad seen flattening a yob in a clip sweeping the internet was yesterday unmasked as an ex-soldier - with TWO black belts.

The Sun newspaper tracked down Gulf War veteran Jason Smith, 35, who said: "He deserved it."

Burly Jason - a 15st master in karate and jiu-jitsu - was filmed felling the foul-mouthed idiot outside his home as a crowd gathered.

The clip has been viewed 200,000 times on The Sun's website.

Jason, who has been a bodyguard to stars, had no idea why local "hard nut" Les Andrews stood on his step ranting and raving in St Helens, Merseyside.

He decked him with a single blow.

Wife Rebecca, 23, who had cowered with 22-month daughter Boudiccia, said: "I was proud."

Andrews, 23, was arrested and hit with a curfew for yobbery.

Jason said of becoming a web sensation: "People sick of yob culture enjoy seeing someone turn the tables."

Read more:

Vicious Assault Outside St Helens Bar Leaves Man Fighting for Life

Sophie's Bar Duke St St HelensA vicious assault outside the popular Sophie's Bar on Duke St St Helens in the early hours of Saturday morning 10th October has left a man in hospital fighting for his life with serious head injuries.

Witnesses describe the assault, which took place at 2 a.m., as being sickening to watch.

Police immediately cordoned off the vicinity in the search for clues and this remained in place until lunchtime.

A man was reportedly arrested soon after the incident in Chapel St.

More details to follow.

Cordoned-Off Queueing Proposal for St Helens Bars

A senior councillor is urging licensing chiefs to consider imposing Post Office-style queuing systems in town centres bars.

The proposal – already being trialled in Oldham – is part of a series of measures aimed at reducing binge drinking.

Revellers at town centre bars with drinks promotions would be made to queue at the bar at cordoned barriers.

A series of other measures including banning individual punters from buying more than two drinks per visit to the bar and forcing bars to employ extra door staff could also be introduced.

Councillor Carole Kavanagh, St Helens Council's executive member for environmental protection, was told about the scheme by her counterpart at the Lancashire town's council, Coun Mark Alcock.

All 22 town centre bars in Oldham have been told they must abide by strict new measures including paying for two additional police officers to patrol nearby. Bars who refused to comply have been told they will have their licence reviewed.

Coun Kavanagh said: "I think anything that works, anything that would try to curb drinks promotions would be a good thing.

"It will be interesting to see how it plays out. The licensing officers and the chair of licensing are aware of it but because it is such a new thing no one is sure whether is could face a legal challenge.

"It's not my place as a member of licensing to consider it, it would be the lead officer. I can only see if we are looking at it.

"I would certainly look to see how they (Oldham Council) get on with it. I would hope they look at it and see if it is working.

"Binge drinking is a problem and the drink promotions play a part in that problem, but I think the biggest problem is the cheap alcohol on sale in supermarkets, and that is something only the government can tackle, not the council."

She has passed details of the Oldham model to Coun Nancy Ashcroft, chair of the council's licensing committee, as well as licensing officials.

A council spokeswoman said: "The Licensing Authority may only include conditions on an individual premises licence following the making of relevant representations by a responsible authority such as the police or by an interested party.

"It cannot impose blanket conditions. Any conditions imposed must be necessary and proportionate for promoting the four statutory licensing objectives.

"At the present time, no responsible authority has requested that this condition be considered in any application.

"Consequently, it is not currently under consideration."

Website Names and Shames Eight St Helens Food Businesses for Scoring Zero Stars

This post is based on an article in The St Helens Star from 18/09/10. All information provided was correct at the time. Since then many businesses have been re-assessed, especially those that scored poorly on the last round of visits.

A reader has pointed out that the Tai Shan buffet has now been rated as 2 Stars and this is listed on the Scores on the Doors website, along with what each of the ratings constitute

* * * * * (5 star) Excellent
* * * * (4 star) Very good
* * * (3 star) Good
* * (2 star) Fair
* (1 star) Poor
(0 stars) Major improvement needed

Tai Shan is now rated as FAIR as opposed to MAJOR IMPROVEMENT NEEDED.

Approx 650 busineeses in The Metropolitan Borough of St Helens are listed under this scheme. Currently (August 2010) 9 are rated as zero stars and 41 have gained one star. So that means that the management systems, staff training and general cleanliness levels in businesses rated as 2 star are better than those 50 who gained zero or one star.

Here is the article "lifted" from The St Helens Star

Eight businesses have been named and shamed on a website listing council environmental health ratings for takeaways, kitchens and restaurants that serve food to the St Helens public.

The Scores on the Doors website reveals that watchdogs from St Helens Council, checking hygiene standards, gave zero stars to eight out of 642 businesses following inspections.

Those named on

With the worst ratings are Café Carlos and Speedy Gonzales on Westfield Street, Continental Pizza and Crumpets, both on Market Street in Newton-le-Willows.

Also given zero marks are La Vita on George Street, St Helens, Saffron on Tamworth Street, Tai Shan Buffet (please see additional information above) and a business on Church Street that is disputing whether it served food at the time of the inspection.

Inspectors criticised those with no stars for their poor hygiene and stated that they had no confidence in the management to implement a satisfactory food safety system.

All food premises across the town are assessed to see if they are operating within the law and are given a score, which determines the next date of inspection. These vary between six months and up to three years.

Scores given are listed on the website and include public organisations with kitchens such as schools and hospitals. Rankings range from zero to five stars and there are many St Helens businesses and organisations that have achieved top notch marks.

Although there is no legal requirement to publish the scores, councils across the country participating in the scheme believe that there is strong public demand for this information to be made available.

A statement issued by St Helens Council said: “No stars determine that major improvements are needed and no certificates will be awarded.

“The business will be fully supported and guided by the environmental health officers in order to improve their standards.”

Multi-Millionaire Sean Woodward St Helens MP Blasts Expenses System

Sean Woodward St HelensMulti-millionaire St Helens MP and Tory turncoat Shaun Woodward has launched a scathing attack on MPs' expenses system, though he is in the fortunate position of being a man of independent means, or rather, he married an heiress!

The Labour MP, whose own expenses were published by the Daily Telegraph, branded the system 'rotten' and an 'unmitigated disaster'.
Mr Woodward's comments are some of the damning from a senior politician since the fuore errupted last week.

He said: "I think the public look at us right now and think we've all got our noses in the trough. Our profession looks shameful - it's embarrassing - and right now if I try and make almost any defence of our collective position or my position it looks terrible.

"We have to look at how taxpayers money is spent generally, so that means I think you should have the right to look at every single one of my receipts. I just want to say I'm sorry, because I think our profession is not made up of crooks, I think it is people who genuinely want to make life better for people."

The MP for St Helens South claimed £98,079 between January 2004 and June 2008 to help pay the mortgage interest on a London flat he stays in when Parliament is sitting and £3,814 towards his council tax. There is no suggestion of any Mr Woodward's claims broke Parliamentary rules.

According to the Daily Telegraph newspaper, one of Mr Woodward's assistants claimed 38p for a Muller Crunch Corner yoghurt and £1.06 for a pizza from Asda in St Helens in November 2004.

Receipts from an office supplier also reportedly revealed that Mr Woodward has regular orders for Family Circle biscuits, Gold Blend coffee, Tetley tea bags and Diet Coke.

However, although Mr Woodward, 50, whose wife Camilla is a member of the Sainsbury's grocery family, is entitled to a ministerial salary of £141,866, he only draws his MP's salary of £63,291.

He added: "We have an expenses system which is an unmitigated disaster. It has allowed people to do things which, when you hold back and look at it, look terrible. I don't think these people are crooks, I don't think they're bad people, these are good people trying by and large to do a good job, but the system we've got is rotten and has got to go."

An external review into the expenses system is due to be conducted before MPs' expense claims from 2008-2009 are made public this summer

Original Article Courtesy St Helens Reporter

"Urban Legend" Purple Aki Jailed Again

Here is the latest chapter in the Purple Aki story as reported by the BBC.

To find out what all the fuss is about read the Wikipedia article.

For recent newspaper report see our other posts here

A man has been jailed for 18 months for breaking a ban on approaching young men and touching their muscles.

Akinwale Arobieke, 47, formerly of Toxteth, Liverpool, and known as "Purple Aki", was given a Sexual Offences Prevention Order last year.

But two months later he approached a 17-year-old boy and tried to touch his biceps, Liverpool Crown Court was told.

The order was imposed on Arobieke after he was jailed for six years in 2003 for 16 counts of harassment.

His reputation has spread across north-west England where he is known by the nickname "Purple Aki" and is considered by many to be an urban myth, the jury was told.

His latest victim, now aged 18, said he was left feeling "frightened and sick" after Arobieke followed him in Birkenhead in June last year.

He asked the boy how many bench presses he could do.

The boy told the court: "He pointed to my arms and asked if he could see.

"He then lifted his hand towards my biceps and I realised who it was. I backed away and told him I had to go.

"I felt sick and walked away as fast as I could. I went to a friend's house and looked back but he had gone."

Bodybuilder Arobieke had pleaded not guilty.

It was his second breach of the order and his 72nd offence since 1980, the judge was told.

Purple Aki Back in Court Again (Again)

Thanks to the BBC for this one

A 47-year-old man broke a ban on him approaching young men and touching their muscles, a court has heard.

Akinwale Arobieke, of Toxteth, Liverpool - known as "Purple Aki" - was jailed in 2003 for harassment.

Liverpool Crown Court heard Mr Arobieke asked a 17-year-old to show him his biceps - after a Sexual Offences Prevention Order (Sopo) was imposed.

Mr Arobieke denies approaching the boy and breaching the Sopo in June last year, two months after it was made.

The court heard Mr Arobieke had a "predilection" for approaching young men and touching or feeling their muscles.

His reputation had spread across north-west England and was considered by many to be an urban myth, the jury heard.

'Very frightened'

The prosecution said the Sopo was imposed in April last year and banned him from approaching males under the age of 18, touching their muscles and asking them to squat.

Trevor Parry Jones, prosecuting, said two months later Mr Arobieke approached a 17-year-old in the street in Birkenhead and asked to see his biceps.

When the teenager realised it was "Purple Aki", he ran away "very frightened and very shaken", Mr Parry Jones said.

Speaking from behind a curtain, the teenager said: "As I turned a corner I heard a sound behind me so I turned around and he was there.

"He said he had noticed me around the area and asked me had I been working out.

"He asked me how much I could bench (press)."

Allegation 'false'

The boy told the court that Mr Arobieke then pointed to his arms and asked to see the youngster's biceps.

The boy said: "As soon as I heard that I realised who it was. I backed away and told him I had to go.

"I felt sick and walked away as fast as I could. I went to a friend's house and looked back but he had gone."

The following month the youngster picked out Mr Arobieke in a video identity parade organised by police.

Mark Barlow, defending, told the jury that Mr Arobieke had once been convicted of the manslaughter of Gary Kelly, a distant relative of the victim, but the conviction was later quashed by the Court of Appeal.

Cross-examining the teenager, Mr Barlow said: "Your allegation is a false one, borne out of connection between Gary Kelly and your family and an opportunity to get back at Mr Arobieke."

The trial continues.

For more background see our previous story

Government To Issue Swine Flu Advice To St Helens Residents

Swine Flu St HelensLeaflets containing information about the swine flu virus will be distributed to households across the UK.

Dozens of people across the country are being tested for the infection, with the first two confirmed cases being Iain and Dawn Askham, of Polmont, near Falkirk, who had been on holiday in Mexico.

The Department of Health also confirmed it is in talks with a number of companies which produce surgical face masks, but would not confirm reports that millions of the masks have been ordered.
People have been advised against all but the most essential travel to Mexico as the outbreak worsens worldwide.

A total of 159 people have died in the South American country as a result of the outbreak.

A DH spokeswoman explained: "The leaflet will be sent out next week, cover the whole of the UK, and will contain information about this flu outbreak and preventative messages."

She added: "We are talking to a number of manufacturers about procuring face masks. We are not in a position to provide further details at this stage."

It is intended that the extra masks will be used by health workers.

The spokeswoman added: "Although we are aware that facemasks are being given out to the public in Mexico, the available scientific evidence does not support the general wearing of facemasks by those who are not ill whilst going about their normal activities.

"We are urgently looking into how we can increase our current stockpiles of facemasks for healthcare workers who would come into close contact with symptomatic individuals during an influenza pandemic."

The Face of Sutton Manor Draws Worlwide Attention to St Helens

The Face of Sutton ManorIt's been a beautifully sunny few days here in St Helens as the builders have been putting the finishing touches to our new sculpture.

How nice it is for our great town to get some attention for something other than industrial decline!

Read more about it here in a BBC News Story
although not everyone is so happy as was recently reported
And from our archives here is the story of how the project originated

Man Charged With St Helens Morrisons Murder

A man has been arrested on suspicion of murder after a supermarket worker died hours after she tackled a suspected shop lifter on Merseyside.

The woman, 47, was injured at Morrisons on Baxter Lane, St Helens, on Saturday afternoon when she tried to stop a suspected shoplifter fleeing.

The woman later collapsed at home and died on Sunday in hospital.

A spokesman for Merseyside Police said a local man, aged in his 40s, was being questioned by detectives.

Police want to speak to anyone who may have been in the supermarket at the time.

A spokesman for Morrisons said it was "saddened" by the woman's death and that it would fully support the police in their investigation

It's Bonkers - Reaction to The Face of Sutton Manor

the dream st helens sutton manor collieryWork has already started on The Dream – an enormous white bust of a woman's head that will stand 20 metres tall alongside the M62 motorway at St Helens.

The Dream has been commissioned from a Spanish sculptor by St Helens Borough Council with cash from The North-West Regional Development Agency (NWDA).

NWDA is the government-funded quango that is meant to create jobs and stimulate the economy in the North West.

But critics say taxpayers money would have been better spent in creating jobs in the town where more than 5,000 are jobless.

June Lornie director of the Liverpool Academy of Arts said, "This is supposed to be an iconic sculpture but it says nothing at all about the area.

"The artist clearly did not do much research into the history of St Helens or he would have come up with something in glass.

"There are hundreds of local artists who could have done much better job for a lot less."

North-West Lib-Dem MP John Pugh said: "The backers of this project seem to be aiming for some kind of Angel of the North phenomenon but they're way off.

"All too often projects like this build up momentum and are waved-through without any proper consideration for what it will look like or what ordinary people really want."

Southport MP Dr Pugh added: "Creating new jobs in the North West would keep this money in the local economy.

"Instead we are getting a folly with a large proportion of the funding going to a Spanish artist.

"It shows a lack of realism about what is required to tackle economic regeneration in the North West."

Locals in St Helens have mixed opinions about 'The Dream' which has been designed by award-winning artist Jaume Plensa at his studio in Barcelona and is being built on a hill in "Community Woodland" – a former spoil heap at the Sutton Manor Colliery which was closed in 1991.

Janet Jones, 56, whose home in Union Bank Lane, overlooks the site said, "It's bonkers. We will have to look out at this every day and it will stick out like a sore thumb. It's huge and it's white, it will look totally out of place with the trees around it. It will be a blot on the landscape and will probably end-up covered in graffiti."

The sculpture will be assembled from 90 blocks that are being cast at a concrete works in the East Midlands.

Catherine Braithwaite, spokesperson for "The Dream" project said, "This is going to be an iconic structure. Its had a really positive response from local people.

"We've taken a model of the sculpture around local libraries and had really positive feedback.

"Obviously it is a lot of money, but we have to be completely sure that this is a top quality piece of work, and it's not going to fall apart."

Peter Mearns, executive director at the North West Development Agency was keen to point-out that NWDA had not decided the nature of the sculpture.

He said, "We've provided the funding to redevelop the land, but we haven't been involved in choosing the actual artwork.

"Hopefully The Dream will stimulate local pride and generate regional identity."

Suspect Held as Prescot Rd Seige Ends Peacefully


st helens major incident An armed siege which saw a man carrying a suspected explosive package holed up in a St Helens firm’s HQ has reached a peaceful conclusion.

No official statement has been made by police, but it is believed the man has left the building on Prescot Road following talks with police negotiators and is now in custody.

Officers will now assess whether the suspect package the man was carrying did in fact contain explosives.

St Helens Fire Engines
Read our original story here

A major incident unfolded at Prescot Road, St Helens this afternoon 5th March 2009.

The Bomb Squad are present as the latest Police Briefing indicated that one person was present on site and that he possessed a suspect package. Trained negotiators were holding talks with him.

A large police presence is at the site and a huge section of surrounding roads have been sealed off.

Sources have told local bloggers that the incident centres on Alfred H Knight International Ltd, a business with global interests, that analyses metals and minerals.

Police have issued a brief statement saying they Alfre H Knight HQare dealing with a security alert.

The incident is said to be ongoing, say police.

A Merseyside Police spokesman said: "We are dealing with a security alert at a business premises in West Park, St Helens.

"We were called at 11.30am following reports of a man acting suspiciously. The business premises have been evacuated while checks are carried out."

"Prescot Road and Freckleton Road are closed and Prescot Road with the junction of Lugsmore Lane, Thatto Heath are closed." Motorists are being advised to avoid the area.

Alfred H Knight is based on Eccleston Grange, Prescot Road. The company carries out work across America, Southern Africa, Asia and Europe.

Callers to local newsrooms say some homes and businesses nearby were evacuated.

Students at the nearby Carmel College were kept on site since this morning, but they were sent home at 3pm this afternoon.

A heavy police presence and at least a dozen fire crews have also been stationed at the scene throughout the day.

A large media contingent has been gathering throughout the day.

For more details follow this link back to the original article in The St Helens Star

You Can Now Follow Domino's Pizza St Helens on Twitter

Twitter Domino's Pizza Barack Obama does it, Stephen Fry does it and Britney Spears does it too. Twitter is the latest Web 2.0 tool to get everybody talking - and now Domino's Pizza St Helens is at it as well.

For the uninitiated, Twitter is a very simple idea. (sorry but this video is a bit cheesy and American!) You answer the question 'what are you doing?' in 140 letters or less, as often as you like. Other people can then sign up to 'follow' you and receive your updates. They can also reply to you, either in public by using their own update or in private via a Direct Message, a bit like an email.

But in short, we intend to use Twitter as a way of keeping you in touch with what's happening at your local pizza store - from the mundane stuff about new pizzas to Exclusive last minute special offers and deals (even we order too much stock sometimes!)

Getting an account is simple and there's no intrusive questions, then just click on us and click the Follow button to receive regular updates straight to the web, your inbox or via SMS.

For more information you can email us at

SOS Appeal from St Helens Mayor

St Helens' Mayor John Beirne has launched a campaign to save scores of town centre retailers from being wiped out by the economic downturn.

Coun Beirne want townsfolk to support local shops by spending their hard-earned cash in St Helens rather than travelling to out of town shopping parades.

The Church Street Woolworths store and local pie-makers John Pimblett and Sons are among the town's highest-profile casualties of the economic downturn so far.

Coun Beirne said: "With the recession hitting everyone we need to stick together to save our town centre. All you seem to hear is doom and gloom and it's making things worse.

"The town needs a kick start and people need to be aware that spending their money out of town could mean the loss of local jobs. We're going to lose our town centre unless we get the message across.

"The new Liverpool One and the Trafford Centre are taking our customers. To save our town's shops and jobs we need money to be spent in St Helens - not in out of town shopping malls. So don't buy a pair of jeans in Liverpool or Manchester - spend your money in St Helens."

The town centre Lib Dem councillor has now launched a poster campaign on behalf of all the shopkeepers in St Helens in a bid to boost the local economy.

Each eye-catching poster will simply display the message to 'Shop Local Support St Helens'.

Coun Beirne added: "Hopefully shops will display our posters to get the message across town to support local businesses - we cannot let the heart be ripped out of our town centre by more shop closures. I'm particularly concerned about many of the relatively new businesses who haven't had time to build up a solid client base.

"I want the Chamber of Commerce, ALL political representatives and businesses to stick together and work together to get us through this recession. It's just a case of putting St Helens first."

New Saints Coach Potter Outlines His Initial Plans

New St Helens coach Mick Potter brought with him a simple theory when he walked through the door at Knowsley Road - if it ain't broke, don't fix it!

The 45-year-old former St George full-back was Saints' first choice to succeed fellow Australian Daniel Anderson, who won nine major trophies in his three-and-a-half years at the helm before returning home for family reasons in October.

If the formula worked for Anderson, there is no reason why it cannot do the same for Potter, who is the reigning Super League coach of the year after guiding Catalans Dragons to a third-place finish in 2008.

"It's been a very smooth transition for me," he says.

"When you've got a team that has made the Grand Final two years in a row and won the Challenge Cup three years in a row, you're not going to throw out what has been successful.

"There are a lot of right things happening here and I'm not going to change all that just for change's sake.

"There's a good system in place. It's a club that loves the success but also enjoys the hard work."

Potter inherits a squad that has been bolstered by just one signing in the last two years - former New Zealand Test forward Tony Puletua is set to make his debut against Warrington on February 13 - but he is happy to continue the club's flourishing youth policy.

"Staffing-wise, they're pretty well set and player-wise, they have a recruitment policy of bringing in young players and moving them up quickly," he says.

"Rugby league-wise that's better for us. There hasn't had to be a massive player change and it's probably just age and the salary cap that will create any more changes.

"Structurally, there will probably just be subtle call changes, that's about all."

The St Helens directors, who bit off more than they could chew with Anderson's predecessor Ian Millward, clearly played it safe with their latest appointment.

But the softly-spoken Potter will be no soft touch and, as a strict disciplinarian, insists that big reputations will count for little if a player steps out of line.

"I understand the expectation but I'm not concerned or worried about it," he said.

"My focus is not so much on filling someone else's boots but more on doing what I do well, which is getting people to be accountable for what they do.

"I will talk on a level the players understand, without talking down to them. I will empathise with the player but still be demanding, while technically I do like to focus on some fundamentals.

"My other strength would be discipline. I'm pretty demanding and, if people step out of line, they won't last too long here.

"As far as I'm concerned, they will be ostracised or isolated. At Catalans 12 players had to move after the first year for one reason or another."

Potter, who cut his coaching teeth on the backroom staff at Bradford in 1996, arrived in Perpignan from Sydney three years ago as a virtual unknown but his reputation soared after he guided the Catalans to the Challenge Cup final at Wembley in 2007 and a first appearance in the play-offs 12 months later.

His success was noted by several big clubs back in Australia looking for new coaches and Potter has not given up hope of landing a head coaching position in the National Rugby League.

But that is for the future. He has signed a two-year deal with St Helens and, with a grown-up family, is in no rush to return home.

"Australia is ultimately your home and eventually I'd like to get back there but, at this stage in my life, my work is pretty important to me," he says.

"It's fantastic to be involved in sport and there are not too many full-time jobs in rugby league. It's a small industry we work in and you take what's on offer and appreciate it."

Not that the prospect of staying in the south of France was without its attractions. The Catalans were keen for Potter to extend his contract a second time and he admits it was an agonising decision to leave.

"Perpignan is a very nice place to be and the people are very nice," he says.

"You build relationships and invest a lot of time and energy into trying to help the club. It was a big decision to leave the organisation."

After being on an upward curve for three years with the Dragons, Potter is perhaps taking a risk by joining a club for whom the only way is down after finishing top of the table in all four seasons under Anderson.

"That's for someone else to pass an opinion," he said.

"For me, it's about focusing on the small things, rather than finishing top of the table.

"That will sort itself out. If I worry about that, I lose focus on what is important and that's performance week to week."

Saints Edge Wellens Testimonial

Tony Puletua scored a try on his first appearance as St Helens ground out an unimpressive 26-22 victory over Wakefield in the Paul Wellens testimonial match at the GPW Recruitment Stadium.

The former New Zealand Test forward, who has joined the club from Penrith Panthers, made an encouraging start to his England career, catching the eye with some strong runs in two spells.

England international Maurie Fa'asavalu, young scrum-half Jamie Ellis and back rower Chris Flannery were the other players to impress for Saints, who fielded 10 members of their Grand Final team, while Wellens created two of his side's five tries.

Wakefield, who gave a first appearance to new signing James Stosic, were without eight regulars through injury and illness but they often looked the better team and three times they held the lead.

Hooker Sam Obst scored the only try of the first half, as the Wildcats led 6-0, but he went off injured just before the break and was sorely missed by the Yorkshiremen in the second half.

Puletua brought Saints level four minutes into the second half when he took Keiron Cunningham's short pass to crash over near the posts while centre Chris Dean, wingers Ade Gardner and Tom Armstrong and substitute Matty Ashurst scored the home side's other tries.

Wakefield's second-half tryscorers were full-back Matt Blaymire, centre Ryan Atkins and winger Damien Blanch, with Tony Martin kicking three conversions.

St Helens Ace Kyle Eastmond Shows Off His New Crib

kyle eastmond st helensDavid Wilson Homes North West has scored big this winter with a string of sales at The Fairways development in Oldham, where they have just helped no other than St Helens rugby league star, Kyle Eastmond purchase his first home.

The combination of stylish, thoughtfully designed homes in a safe, well-planned environment, and sensational sales advisor Jason Barnett has made this development a winner for the rugby ace.

As a first time buyer, Kyle was looking for the perfect home in a peaceful location to begin his climb up the property ladder. And proving to be particularly popular with the St Helens half back was the stunning three bedroom Malting home.

Kyle explains: “I wanted my first home to be a retreat so it had to be set in a quiet area, away from the hustle and bustle of the city centre, but it also needed to be within easy reach of St Helen’s training ground.

“My uncle recommended David Wilson Homes and when I saw The Fairways development I knew it would be the perfect location for me. They had so many homes to choose from, but what appealed to me was the way the development was so private making it an ideal escape after a match or training session.”

Kyle’s new home the three bedroom Malting is perfect for young professionals looking to make their first step on to the property ladder. The well planned design provides excellent flexibility and space; the ground floor is dedicated to relaxing with a comfortable living area, whilst the separate kitchen and dining room create a perfect area for entertaining. The unique spiral stairs then leads to the first floor which encompasses two generous sized bedrooms, a master bedroom and luxurious family sized bathroom.

Kyle adds: “This house is ideal for me as it’s not too big whilst I’m living on my own but I can also see it as a home I’ll grow into. I love the feature spiral staircase as it makes my home more original and with the extra space I can definitely customise it to suit my needs. My first idea is to convert one of my spare rooms into the ultimate games room; I can’t wait to get started.”

Sales director for David Wilson Homes North West, Shohreh Bowler, adds: “The Fairways boasts a great mix of house types which provide a fantastic combination of spacious, affordable and intelligent designs. The development itself is also very unique; people are already seeing it as an investment. The sales team are also fantastic at The Fairways; Jason has been a great advocate for David Wilson Homes, and we’ve had countless letters of thanks and praise from satisfied customers who have been delighted at the outstanding levels of service they have received.”

Since moving in Kyle has been quick to recommend the development, praising the attentive and friendly service he received from Jason whilst buying the house and since moving in.

Kyle comments: “I cannot thank Jason enough for all the help he has given me. He has been awesome throughout the whole process. As this was my first time buying I was unsure about all the procedures which were involved, but he was more than happy to go that extra mile for me. I felt completely comfortable in Jason hands as he made sure everything was taken care of. I didn’t have to worry about a thing.”

Jason Barnett, sales advisor at The Fairways explains: “It’s all part of my job and I’m more than happy to go that extra mile if it means getting people their dream home. With Kyle I felt I had a responsibility to guide him through the process, as he is still young and was buying his first home. I wanted to make sure we got him a fantastic house which would be an investment for his future. Kyle got a great deal with David Wilson paying 5% of the deposit and with all the carpets and laminates included within the price. I was just happy to be involved and am delighted he is so pleased with his purchase.”

The Fairways is well situated, boasting a range of amenities within walking distance including a great range of restaurants, bars and high street shops in Royton town centre as well as excellent commuter links to Manchester, Leeds and Liverpool via the M62, ideal for first-time buyers and young professionals alike.