HERE at The Bolton News we are celebrating Local Newspaper Week by looking back at times when we have helped to bring attention to local issues. Seamus McDonnell reports


IN the short time I have been at the newspaper, it has become apparent that the effects of infrastructure work on the railways has caused major, long-term problems in several areas in the town.

The issues arose from attempts to improve the railway by electrifying lines throughout the northwest of England, as part of Network Rail’s Great North Rail Project.

While the intention of this was to improve services for passengers, long delays in work schedules and the need to use previously quiet track access points have caused serious disruption for anyone living near train lines in Bolton.

A number of groups were set up across the town in response to these problems and I am happy to say that many of these people reached out to us in an attempt to bring attention to their causes.

Over several months, we have been able to follow the stories of people living on the Hazlemere estate in Kearsley, and the Moses Gate and Church Road areas of Farnworth.

Each group of people had distinct but similar problems and, while those issues are still far from solved, there have been key updates along the way which we have been able to shed light onto.

Most recently, this has come in the form of an interview between a colleague, Mary Naylor, and Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham who was finally able to confirm a completion date for the work after around two years of delays.

We were also able to follow the story of Moses Gate where upgrades led Network Rail engineers to rip out lines of trees between the track and people’s homes.

This meant that homes on a previously quiet residential street were suddenly visible to everyone on trains in and out of Bolton.

However, we were able to continue following the story and recently saw a major step to its conclusion after Network Rail sent representatives to the site.

After meeting with homeowners the organisation made a deal to plant a completely new bank of trees which would create a new barrier and hopefully bring wildlife back to the area.

In a similar situation, groups in both Church Road and Hazlemere held hold joint meetings when a previous series of discussions and complaints were reported in the newspaper.

After attracting the attention of councillors, and Bolton South East MP Yasmin Qureshi, these residents were finally able to reach senior executives within the rail industry who noted their surprise at the magnitude of the problems and made promises to rectify the situation.

While I am not suggesting that The Bolton News deserves sole credit for solving any of these problems, I would like to believe that bringing some attention to the situation has allowed people to meet others with similar problems and will have the information available to hold some of these organisations to account if promises are not kept.