A COMMUNITY in Atherton is spearheading a new action plan initiative set to be adopted across Leigh and Wigan. Community leaders have spent 18 months gathering the views of residents on the Hag Fold estate in a unique bid to reach out to people.

They hope to transform beyond all recognition the troubled estate by using the aspirations of residents logged in a comprehensive series of action points.

And other communities in Leigh and Wigan will be keeping a close eye on the ground-breaking initiative because the council is keen to expand the project.

Hag Fold residents have been asked what they want changed on their estate which has had a poor image for years.

The action plan has been drawn up to combat pockets of vandalism and to stop the area's decline.

A number of bodies, including various council departments, voluntary groups, the police and Railtrack have pledged to work in partnership to tackle highlighted problems.

The action plan includes:

More activities for children especially playschool, toddlers' groups, Saturday clubs and after school clubs and outdoor activities.

Development of a play area on the estate where parents can watch over their children including an adventure playground and rollerblade ramps.

The park at Devonshire Place to be brought back into public use with play areas.

Dog dirt to be cleared up with on the spot fines for dog owners. Dogs banned from play areas and dog patrols to round up strays.

Litter and rubbish removed and more flower beds planted.

Fencing for front gardens on properties.

Prompt action on neighbour nuisance and anti-social behaviour.

Better locks and alarms fitted to homes.

Organised groups of community service or unemployed to tidy elderly people's gardens.

Upgrading street lighting with additional street lamps and white-lights to increase safety.

More public transport.

A cyber cafe for Internet access and more sports sessions on the estate plus a one stop shop to provide advice to young people and a teenmeet facility

The high-profile launch last Friday was attended by civic leaders, Leigh police's Supt Mary Vaisnys, as well as local vicar Rev Bill Baldwin and scores of other prominent members of the local community and interested organisations.

Co-ordinator Elaine Wystawnoka said: "It's a very exciting time here in Hag Fold. The launch of the action plan is the first in Wigan." The more affluent village of Standish will soon launch a similar action plan to present the two extremes of communities in Wigan.

The launch was also attended by scores of residents and included a two-day programme of activities including arts and crafts, banner making, a performance by a South African music band and a circus skills and puppet show for children on Saturday.

Awards were handed out to the housing department, Railtrack and borough engineer Glyn Chadwick for dedication is setting out the action plan and community mapping of needs.

Speaking to those gathered at the launch, organiser and local resident Susan Wilson said: "I'm so proud that the people of Hag Fold are beginning to realise that this is for you."

Mayor elect John Hilton said: "It's a fine example of how all the hard work by this local community in this project can improve our environment."

Atherton councillor Sue Louden and a team of volunteers are now entrusted with the task of ensuring the action plan is put into effect. They have two years to deliver on promises and will hold meetings with Hag Fold residents to report on what has been achieved.