Willow Bank Court’s ‘Best Bites’ cafe/restaurant off to a wonderful start

19th November 2010.  Today we make some small corrections to our 8th November posting.  See if you can spot the difference!        

Cllr John Salter

Adrian and I called into Seacombe’s Willow Bank Court today for the official opening of its ‘Best Bites’ cafe.     See also our earlier report –      


‘Willowbank’ is a fabulous new ‘Housing 21’ project, embracing an hotel-style living block of wholly self-contained flats, and bungalows, managed by Gill Jones, seen in the photograph below.           

Gill Jones manages the whole complex of supported flats and independent bungalows

This development stands head and shoulders above anything else we have seen providing supported living for people over 55. For years to come this ‘brand leader’ will surely be the exemplar to which other social housing providers will have to aspire.   There is even a meeting room that can be hired by local organisations for community use.  And with the local Health Centre and Pharmacy on the same site what could be more convenient?       

After a busy morning on ward casework we were keen to visit Willowbank’s cafe/restaurant for its official opening day.  With an excellent lunch for an affordable price we were not disappointed.   At the moment opening times for breakfast through lunch to afternoon tea are 10.00am until 4.00pm.  But these are early days and times may vary according to demand.  There are 100 or so residents living in the immediate complex and the cafe/restaurant will be available to them, and to the public, seven days a week.  Full breakfasts start at only £3.00 including tea, toast and marmalade or jam; and a full lunch can be had for £5.00 including a pudding and a pot of tea.  And there is a wide range of light meals and snacks.         

Debbie, Community Recovery Services Manager, with John (centre) and Adrian at lunch

There are not many cafes or restaurants nearby.  Nor are there many anywhere else that can match this one for its ready accessibility and excellent furnishings – not to mention the most helpful staff.  By the way – the food was excellent!  We are both seen here with Debbie, who manages ‘Community Recovery Services’ – providing sandwich delivery services to many Council buildings.  It also caters for buffets at highly competetitive rates.           

Wirral Mencap’s generous provision of a van enabled ‘Wirral Creations’ (who provide craft based activities for adults with learning disabilities) to travel to different venues to sell the products they create.  The cafe has also benefited – in partnership with Debbie Broster and Gareth Williams of ‘Community Recovery Services, it has allowed adults with learning disabilities, and people with mental health issues, to develop a sandwich making and delivery service as well as the opportunity to work in the excellent social enterprise cafe at Willow Bank.  Gwen Seller, who chairs Wirral Mencap, is seen in the photograph below with Adrian and John standing near the splendid new vehicle. 

Gwen Seller of Wirral Mencap is seen centre left with Adrian. Debbie and John are to the right. On the far left is Bob, visiting Seacombe from afar as he is interested in similar projects in other localities. (Always courteous, we offered Bob a membership form!)

Next we took a walk around the main building.            

Just like old times for John, a former newsagent, in the shop

First call, after lunch, was to the shop – rather like a traditional ‘corner shop’ this is open to the general public, providing much needed basic essentials from a loaf of bread to a pint of milk, or today’s newspaper – basic essentials for people many of whom are less mobile than they once were.           

And of course, for those who need mobility scooters, there is a well appointed indoor parking spot with electric charging points.  A sparkling new ‘unisex’ hairdressing salon is also open to the public.           

Just along the corridor we found a ‘Complementary Therapy Suite’ providing a range of ‘well being’ facilities – including a valuable massage service for those no longer quite as flexible as when they were younger.           

Barbara, the therapist on duty when we visited, demonstrates an age old Chinese therapy - with needles

Talking to Barbara Huddart, the therapist on duty when we visited, Adrian mentioned that after well over a half-century of violin playing he had now dug out his old harmonica as he could no longer comfortably play his violin’s lower strings.  Presto!  He was given a demonstration of the beneficial effects of a centuries-old Chinese therapy – as the photographs show.  The needles caused not even the slightest hint of discomfort and the technique made a real difference to flexibility.           

Adrian was most impressed with the result, and says "There is not the slighest discomfort - quite the opposite, it's most relaxing."

For many people the main value of this service will perhaps be more traditional massage for such familiar conditions as shoulder and lower back discomfort.  This, too, is a service available for the general public – but book ahead – it promises to be much in demand.  Especially so as Yoga classes will also be available.       

This Seacombe housing development is likely to be replicated in other areas as ‘Housing 21’ seems to have set a quality standard that others will try hard to follow.  Soon  – perhaps in April or May – Mendell Court,  a similar development, will open in Bromborough.       

We are sure this short description has left out a great deal but we know this development will attract much news coverage in the weeks and months ahead.  We wish it well; it is a great service to our community.      

HAVE YOUR SAY – log onto our ‘comments’ feature below.

A busy week


On 18th January Adrian appealed to keep the Allandale out of Party Politics. The very next day Denis Knowles and his new Tory Party chums were peddling a leaflet making it a political football by declaring that the club had been 'axed' because of 'cutbacks'. That was totally untrue.

21st March 2010             

 This week has seen the distribution of our newsletter in which we dispel misrepresentations peddled by Denis Knowles and his assistant from Liscard.       They seem so desperate to distract attention from Knowles’s declaration that Guinea Gap Baths and Seacombe Library should be closed ‘for the greater good’ as he declared, that their propaganda machine is working overtime to downplay the support being provided for the Allandale by the Council.      

The Allandale is an independent charitable trust that is not owned or in any way controlled by the Council.  Nevertheless Adrian initiated a  support meeting for the Allandale on 18th January for the Council’s professional officers to assist the club in providing a business plan and to find ways to get short term funding. Business advisers from the Council and from Wirralbiz were there to support the youth club. A point Adrian made at that meeting is that the Allandale should not be made into a political football.         

The Tories lost no time.  The very next day, the 19th, Denis and his new Tory chums made it very much a political football by putting out a leaflet absurdly declaring that the club had been ‘axed’ because of ‘cutbacks’.    

It was not true; the Allandale Youth Club has not been ‘axed’.   But why let that get in the way of yet another ‘Tory tall story’?  

The only body that could  ‘axe’ the Allandale is the community based trust that directs it!     Far from being ‘axed’, as the Tories published, it has the continuing support Adrian initiated in conjunction with the Chair of its management committee.    The Tories always knew that, but the facts didn’t stop them putting out their nasty little leaflet at the very time that the Council was supporting the Club’s management committee to help it to continue for another half century!           

Next, they arranged their ridiculous Tory ambush in council – thinking they were terribly clever, but as usual they shot themselves in the foot.           They proposed granting a £20,000 cash input to the youth club – as a part of a package ludicrously taking £122,000 from – OF ALL THINGS – Children’s Services!           

How much more ridiculous could they be?             

There were other Tory cuts glued to their proposal, as well:           

  • £500,000 from Social Services; (The old, the weak, the disabled, etc)
  • £606,000 from Regeneration; and
  • £226,000 from Technical Services (Roads, Leisure Centres, Parks, Gardens, CCTV, Open spaces etc.) 

The Tories didn’t mention any of those devastating cuts proposals in their propaganda leaflet did they?   Yet to support their proposed subsidy to the Allandale it would have been necessary to vote for all the cuts that were welded to it.  They always knew no responsible Councillor could vote for the devastation of Council services they proposed, so to dangle that carrot was perhaps not the most responsible thing to do.         



Monday: Adrian spent much of the day on casework and leafleting.  But we cannot live ‘by politics alone’ – so he took Monday evening off to play for his local darts team!           

Tuesday:  Leafleting in the day, and in the evening Adrian attended the Council’s Children and Young People Overview Committee.             

Wednesday: saw him taking part in the Merseyside Police Authority’s Inspection in the morning, followed by the Council’s Excellence Overview and Scrutiny Committee in the evening.             In between those was the Seacombe Area Residents’ Association meeting.  John was obliged to be at another Council event.             

Vocalist Paul Drew, right, is seen at the Park View Social Club on Friday 19th March in between numbers. To support the Allandale Paul peformed free of charge and the Park View gave its function for the night. The Park View supports the New Brighton Lifeboat as well as many other good causes.

Adrian was mystified by Denis Knowles’s comments at this meeting.  First he made a political speech about how, in future, the Council should work so much better than in the past –  commenting on the Seacombe Community Centre.    

But Adrian pointed out that in fact he, ‘New Tory ‘ Denis Knowles, was the Council’s official link councillor for the Centre for many years!  Yet as far as anyone can tell he failed to turn up to support it  for many years (if ever).  The poor chap had no answer and was lost for words!  Just sat on his hands. 

However, we have said elsewhere that if we are wrong about that, and if Denis can produce an attendance record to show that those who reckon they never saw him are wrong, then we’ll print it for him here!   But on the face of it is Knowles wise to criticise the Council over the Seacombe Community Centre? 

Wasn’t it his baby?  Wasn’t it under his ‘watchful care?’          

Adrian held his surgery at the Community Centre for many years and can confirm that it would be difficult to find a Centre anywhere with more dedicated staff and volunteers. They are doing a very good job indeed.  Cllr John Salter has now become the link councillor for the Centre.  Adrian and John have called into its excellent luncheon club a number of times.  It will have strong support from John.    

Next, commenting on fund raising, Denis came out with the stunning quip ‘never mind the Lifeboats’.  Eyebrows were raised and comments were made afterwards.  We like to think that it was just a throw away comment that Denis might wish to ‘rephrase’.            

Thursday:  Back to the Police Authority in the morning for its ‘Value for Money Committee’.  An hour or so out in the afternoon for a charity activity.  And then, in the evening,  Adrian and his wife Chris were at another charitable event!              

Friday: was spent largely on casework and leafleting – with a fine evening of entertainment at the Park View Social Club, in support of the Allandale.            The Club gave its premises free of charge and the excellent (Seacombe based) professional vocalist, Paul Drew, gave his time and services free of charge.  Sadly, despite Wirralbiz supporting the Club by putting about 3,000 flyers throught letterboxes attendance was rather small.               

Allandale staff and supporters show Paul some real appreciation at the end of his concert.

Tate Triangle odour control.


Adrian & John have kept residents up to date with their pressure to secure smell-free air for residents living above Limekiln Lane.   At its meeting yesterdayAdrian was able to DSCF0098update the Residents’ Association on a welcome new initiative from Tate & Lyle.

Following the meeting we had with managers of the Company, together with our Senior Enivronmental Health Officer, and the residents’ petition that we presented on your behalf, we are glad to report that progress is being made.  There is a continuing dialogue between our Environmental Officers and the Company, and they asked for a sample of the “tall oil” on site. 

An excellent outcome of that continuing contact is that Tate & Lyle have now put full filters on all tanks that do or may contain “Tall Oil”, which should at least prevent any odours from that product in future.

We have always recognised that there may be other sources of unpleasant smells but it is to Tate & Lyle’s credit that, to use their manager’s own words, they ‘held their hands up’ and admitted to a number of the most unpleasant incidents.  These new filtering measures will, apart from containing the immediate risk of smells from Tate & Lyle, hopefully assist in isolating smells from other sources.

 090901 - JS @ T&LWe’ll continue to take a close watch on air conditions in this locality and our MP Angela Eagle is being kept fully informed. 

We want residents to let us know of any further unpleasant smells affecting the area in the weeks and months ahead.