Friday, 29 May 2015

Lancashire Police launch National Volunteers's Week

Clive Grunsahw: “Volunteers are an
absolutely vital part of Lancashire
Police - they help make the
Constabulary the outstanding
Force it is."
Lancashire Police are celebrating National Volunteers’ Week with a week of activities around the region.

National Volunteers’ Week is an annual event which takes place between 1-7th June. It celebrates the contribution made by millions of volunteers across the UK.

From showcasing the different volunteering roles on offer, taster sessions and team challenges with new partners, to volunteer recruitment events, awards ceremonies and launching new volunteering campaigns.

Through Citizen in Policing, Lancashire Police currently has more than 300 volunteers working either in the local community, in the stations or at headquarters.

Volunteering roles range from providing mentoring support to vulnerable individuals and families to community road watch schemes, health and wellbeing administrators, viewing CCTV footage, supporting police at community events and getting involved with specific departments such as CSI or Early Action. 

Assistant Chief Constable Mark Bates said: “Volunteers are a vital and integral part of our organisation. Not only do we have the special constables and cadets, but our volunteers provide their specialist skills in areas such as the elderly and vulnerable. The benefits to us using volunteers are three fold; we can build and increase capacity and resilience through volunteers, build volunteering links within specialist departments and the use of specialist volunteers and add value to the communities.”
    
Clive Grunshaw, Lancashire's Police and Crime Commissioner, added: “Volunteers are an absolutely vital part of Lancashire Police - they help make the Constabulary the outstanding Force it is.

"One of my key priorities as Police and Crime Commissioner is to defend frontline policing and volunteers help us achieve this by working alongside officers and police staff.

"I would like to personally thank all our volunteers for the effort, dedication and time they offer to Lancashire Police. The role they play is continuing to grow in importance across Lancashire and their efforts will continue to be valued."

During the week Lancashire Police will be highlighting the work the volunteers do, as well as organising three thank you events for existing volunteers on Wednesday 3rd June at The Crofters in Garstang, The Guild Hall, Preston and the Dunkenhalgh Hotel in Blackburn.

• Lancashire Constabulary are holding two recruitment events for Specials on 8th and 9th June.  Click on the links to register.

Lancashire Constabulary Special Constable Recruitment Event 
Accrington, Coppice Theatre
Monday, 8 June 2015 from 7.00pm to 8.00pm

Lancashire Constabulary Special Constable Recruitment Event 
Blackpool, Blackpool & The Fylde College
Tuesday, 9 June 2015 from 7pm to 8pm



Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Local Cinema Round-Up for 27th May to 4th June 2015

For up to date local cinema links and day-by-day  listings of what's showing on local screens every week visit the Virtual-Lancaster Cinema Page. Read on for the weekly round-up, and reviews.

Only a modest two new films have been released during this period. These are the action adventure San Andreas (12A) and the comedy drama Danny Collins (15). However there is also the welcome return, for one day only, of the historical drama Selma.

Films that have been lost include Spy and The Age of Adaline. In addition it seems that the films Return to Sender and Spooks: The Greater Good will soon near to end of their screening.

There are only three comedies on offer at the moment, the new Danny Collins, the musical Pitch Perfect 2 and the black comedy A pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence. However drama is better represented with Return to Sender, San Andreas, Mad Max: Fury Road and Spooks: The Greater Good.

We have fantasy with Avengers: Age of Ultron and Tomorrowland: A World Beyond. Also there is horror with the remake of Poltergeist. What is missing from the Lancaster Screens is any form of high culture, though the Dukes is screening the classic Fellini film 8 1/2.

In other news the Dukes have revised their website so it is easier to see, at a glance. what is on for for each day.

Reviews

Avengers: Age of Ultron
Director: Joss Whedon
Certificate: 12A
Cast Includes: Robert Downey Jr, Mark Ruffalo, Jeremy Renner, Chris Evans, Scarlet Johansson, Chris Hemsworth, James Spader, Paul Bettany
This is the eleventh film in the franchise and the movie starts where 'The Avengers' finished. Following a raid on a Hydra outpost, Stark (Downey) and Banner (Ruffalo) complete Stark's defense program to protect the earth using an artificial intelligence. However the latter, Ultron (Spader) strives for human destruction. Ultron attacks the avengers and develops a plan to end humanity. Following the battle the avengers start to fight among themselves. However Stark creates a new being, Vision (Bettany) who aids the avengers in their final confrontation with Ultron. This is a very fast acting movie, louder and bigger than its predecessors with complicated plot and titanic special effects. The movie has received good reviews and will delight anyone who enjoyed previous Avenger movies.

Cinderella
Director: Kenneth Branagh
Certificate: U
Cast includes: Lily James, Cate Blanchett, Stellan Skarsgard, Richard Madden
Disney's re-telling of the story of Cinderella. Cinderella (James) finds herself at the mercy of her cruel stepmother Lady Tremaine (Blanchett) following the death of her father. The film sticks very close to Disney's 1950 animated musical. Cinderella is rather 'sickly sweet' but this is offset by the malevolence of the character of Lady Tremaine. The movie has some comedy action and a good selection of special effects. There is nothing in here to offend and the movie will be loved by all.

Far From the Madding Crowd
Director: Thomas Vinterberg
Certificate: 12A
Cast Includes: Juno Temple, Carey Mulligan, Tom Sturridge, Matthias Schoenaerts, Michael Sheen
The latest film adaptation of Thomas Hardy's classic novel of the same name. Bathsheba Everdene (Mulligan) is a willful young woman who has come into property by inheritance. Her looks and manner result in three potential suitors looking to marry her, a sheep farmer Gabriel Oaks (Schoenaerts), a middle aged neighbour William Boldwood (Sheen) and a handsome Sargent Frank Troy (Sturridge). However Bathsheba comes to regret her choice of husband. This is a fine adaption of what is a difficult novel to bring to the screen. The scenery is glorious and acting excellent. A solid period drama romance.

Poltergeist
Director: Gil Kenan
Certificate: 15
Cast includes: Rosemarie DeWitt, Sam Rockwell, Kennedi Clements, Jane Adams, Jared Harris
This is a remake of the classic Spielberg and Hooper 'Poltergeist' released in 1982. Eric (Rockwell) has lost his job whereas his wife Amy (DeWitt) is an unsuccessful writer. Hence they downsize, taking their three children to live in a rather dilapidated house in the suburbs. Here the children suffer from psychic attacks and their younger child Madison (Clement) becomes infatuated with a TV set. Madison is captured by a malevolent spirit and the TV provides the only means of communication between herself and her family. Her parents seek help, initially from a parapsychologist Dr Claire Powell (Adams) and thence from a psychic Carrigan Burke (Harris) in order to save their daughter. This is an action packed film, with solid acting, though the film offers little time for the characters to be developed. The movie follows closely the 1982 original and provides a worthwhile remake.

San Andreas
Director: Brad Payton
Certificate: 12A
Cast Includes: Dwane Johnson, Carla Guging, Ioan Gruffudd, Alexandra Daddario, Hugo Johnstone-Burt, Art Parkinson
A magnitude nine earthquake hits California, demolishing Los Angeles and San Francisco. Chief Ray Gaines (Johnson), a pilot working for the LA Fire Department, rescues his estranged wife Emma (Gugino) from a crumbling building. The the two of them fly to San Francisco to save their daughter Blake (Daddario). Blake meanwhile been rescued by an engineer Ben (Johnstone-Burt) and his brother Ollie (Art Parkinson). This is a feel good disaster movie, following the lives of a half dozen people against the backdrop of a devastating series of earthquakes. There is impressive CGI footage of leveled cities and widespread destruction. Also we have fine acting from Daddario and Johnson, the latter playing his archetypal action character with a soupcon of humour. A proficient and watchable film.

Selma
Director: Ava DuVernay
Certificate: 12A
Cast Includes: David Oyelowo, Carmen Ejogo, Tom Wilkinson
A slice of American History. The film follows Martin Luthor King (Oyelowo) and the events that led up to the 1965 civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery which preceded President Johnson's (Wilkinson) signing the voting Act of 1965 giving equal voting rights to Afro-American citizens. Not only does this film show the build up to the march, it also portrays something of the humour and character of Martin Luthor King and the strain that his work imposed on his marriage to Coretta (Ejogo) and on his friends. It covers much of the political backdrop to the civil rights movement and contains images of violence and racial slurs that were endured by the marchers in their quest for equal voting rights.

Spooks: The Greater Good
Director: Bharat Nalluri
Certificate: 15
Cast Includes: Jennifer Ehle, Laura Pulver, Kit Harington, Tuppence Middleton, Peter Firth, Elyes Gabel
A terrorist, Adam Qasim (Gabel), escapes from MI5 custody. Harry Pearce (Firth), head of counter terrorism, is blamed and Harry subsequently vanishes. Agent Will Halloway (Harington) is brought back into MI5 to investigate. He succeeds in finding Harry and the two of them work to uncover a traitor who deliberately freed the terrorist and who is plotting to destroy MI5. The film is set in London and marks the cinema debut of the TV series that was first broadcast in 2002. The movie captures the spirit of the series and references events in the final episode. The plot is unpredictable with plenty of twists and turns and the film has its fair share of action. This is a tense, fast paced offering that will delight anyone who enjoyed the TV show. However it may not quite have enough presence to win over an international audience.

Tomorrowland: A World Beyond
Director: Brad Bird
Certificate: 12A
Cast Includes: George Clooney, Britt Robertson, Raffey Cassidy, Hugh Laurie
A Walt Disney film which attempts something a little different. Casey (Robertson) is a young woman, by nature an optimist with great enthusiasm for science. She gets into some minor trouble which leads her to finding a badge with the magical property of transferring her to Tomorrowland, a place outside the usual dimensions of the earth. Helped by a mysterious woman Athena (Cassidy) she finds Frank (Clooney), an inventor. Together they travel to Tomorrowland where their aim is to inspire hope amongst the people of earth. It is admirable that Disney is rather 'breaking the mold' with this film and it is likely that the target audience comprises young adults who are still enthused by science. However adults are likely to find the movie unduly complex and perhaps a little boring.

Unfriended
Director: Levan Gabriadze
Certificate: 15
Cast includes: Jacob Wysocki, Shelly Hennig, Moses Jacob Storm, Courtney Halverson, Heather Sossaman
This was initially released under the title Cybernatural. The movie is based in California, though the set of the film is the screen of the computer of Blaire Lily (Hennig). Blaire's friend Laura Barns (Sossaman) committed suicide a year earlier after a video was released on the Internet which shamed her. Now Blair and her set of friends find themselves being stalked on Skype and other social media by an unknown figure who starts to reveal the dark secrets of the group of friends. This is a teen horror movie that will appeal to a generation whose social life revolves around social media. The film has its share of frights and setting the movie on a computer screen is breaking new ground for the horror genre.

Wild
Director: Jean-Marc Vallee
Certificate: 15
Cast includes: Reese Witherspoon, Thomas Sadoski
A biographical drama based on Cheryl Strayed's memoirs of her trek across America. Cheryl (Witherspoon) is a woman with an unfortunate past. Her mother died of cancer. Her marriage failed and she fell into reckless and self destructive behaviour. In an attempt to make sense of her life, Strayed decided to hike the Pacific Crest Trail on her own. The trail is in excess of 1000 miles, extending from Mexico, through California to the Canadian border. The film follows Strayed's journey, with frequent flashbacks to fill in the details of her earlier life. This is a fine drama supported by the music and poetry that kept her going. It is difficult not to feel that you are accompanying her on the way. 

Lancaster Comics Day Launch Event on Saturday



A small event to launch Lancaster Comics Day will take place at First Age Comics, Lancaster on Saturday 30th May 2015 from 11.00am.

Lancaster Comics Day, taking place Sunday 14th June 2015 in Lancaster Library, is a new event aimed at comic fans of all ages for the city which has no shortage of comic creators, organised by the Friends of Lancaster Library in partnership with the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. Tckets are available now from Lancaster Library and First Age Comics.

The event features local comic creators Andy Diggle, whose credits include 2000ADDoctor Who, Captain America and Green Arrow (his work on the latter character the basis for the hit TV show) Doctor Who and 2000AD writer Eddie Robson; and veteran comics editor and writer John Freeman, former Doctor Who Magazine editor and currently editor for the digital audio comics publisher ROK Comics.

Also at the event will be 2000AD and Doctor Who comic artists John Ridgway and Dave Taylor; and formal Marvel editor, author and producer Tim Quinn.

Centred on Lancaster Library events include a panel on Doctor Who comics, the official launch of the Lost in Space digital anthology featuring the winners of a competition organised by LICAF in partnership with Titan Comics, a Breaking Into Comics panel, competitions for all ages, cosplay – and Comic Cake!

Local authors and other comic creators will also be at Lancaster Comics Day, including Lancaster Guardian cartoonist Jack Knight, comics colourist Harry Saxonand authors AS ChambersAdam MillardSophie Sparham, along with cartoonists Joe Matthews and Dave Windett.

The Friends of Lancaster Library are currently running a Children's Comics Competition as part of the project's events.

The event has been sponsored by First Age Comics in Moor Lane and brought to Lancaster with the support of Lakes International Comic Art Festival, which takes place in October this year and whose guests include Simpsons Comics artist Bill Morrison, Superman artist Darwyn Cooke and over 40 international guests in addition to British comic creators and publishers.

• Lancaster Comics Day, Sunday 14th June 2015, 11.00am - 6.00pm Lancaster Library, Market Square, Lancaster. Tickets (on sale now from Lancaster Library and First Age Comics) are £5, £2 concessions (unwaged, students), kids under 13 go free if accompanied by an adult. Ticket includes admission to two panels, one on Doctor Who comics and the other on "Breaking Into Comics", subject to space (first come, first served)

• Visit the Lancaster Comics Day Facebook Page for the latest news about the event

• The Facebook event page is here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1433383200287242

• Follow Lancaster Comics Day on Twitter @LancasterComics

• Friends of Lancaster Library Facebook Page

Eileen Blamire Back as Lancaster City Council Leader, Labour firmly "in charge"



Labour Councillor Eileen Blamire has been re-elected as the council’s leader for the next four years, elected by full Council at a meeting held last night (Tuesday) for a four year period.

Coun Blamire then appointed a Cabinet of a further seven members, all Labour councillors, following the recent elections which saw Labour win 29 seats, the Conservatives 19, the Green Party nine with two Morecambe Bay Independents and one Free Independent.

The members of the new Cabinet are Labour councillors Eileen Blamire, Janice Hanson (as Deputy Leader), Abbott Bryning, Darren Clifford, Karen Leytham, Coun David Smith, Coun Margaret Pattison and Richard Newman-Thompson.

Portfolios for each of the Cabinet members will be announced at a later date. Also elected at the Council meeting were the chairmen of all the council’s committees.

Coun Nigel Goodrich (Conservative) was elected as chairman of Overview and Scrutiny, and he is joined by Coun Dave Brookes of the Green Party as Chairman of Budget and Performance Panel.

Coun Roger Sherlock (Labour) was elected as chairman of the Planning and Highways Regulatory Committee.

Other Committee chairmen appointed at the meeting were:

Coun Margaret Pattison (Labour) - Licensing Regulatory Committee
Coun Terrie Metcalfe (Labour) - Licensing Act Committee
Coun Liz Scott (Labour) - Personnel Committee
Coun Claire Cozler (Labour) - Appeals Committee
Coun Matt Mann (Labour) - Audit Committee
Coun Colin Hartley (Labour) - Standards Committee
Coun Janet Hall (Labour) - Council Business Committee

Council also appointed three champions: Coun Anne Whitehead (older people), Coun Tracy Brown (young people) and Coun Liz Scott (veterans).

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Lancaster CityBlock properties sold

CityBlock 3 on Penny Street


Family-owned CityBlock has sold its Lancaster student properties in a £26.5m deal with investment group Empiric Student Property that also includes accommodation blocks in Leicester.

The Lancaster portfolio comprises three blocks on Penny Street. CityBlock 1 has 30 beds, CityBlock 2 has 77 beds and CityBlock 3 has 100 beds.

CityBlock will continue to manage the sites on behalf of Empiric who also recently snapped up student accommodation in Durham and Huddersfield in deals worth £5.1m and £11 million respectively.

Lancaster has a student population of around 22,700, of which approximately 25 per cent are post-graduate and 25 per cent international. All of the properties were fully let for the 2014/15 academic year, with 62 per cent of the rooms pre-let for 2015/16.

CityBlock 1 (constructed in 2003, on Penny Street) is a low-rise, multi-storey block which provides a total of 30 beds comprising 30 en-suite bedrooms with shared kitchen and communal areas. There is also a ground floor retail unit.

CityBlock 2 (constructed in 2004) is a low-rise, multi-storey block which provides a total of 77 beds comprising 52 en-suite bedrooms with shared kitchen and communal areas and 25 studios. There are also two retail units that are let to Cartridge World and Subway on the ground floor level.

CityBlock 3 (constructed in 2012) is a low-rise, multi-storey block which provides a total of 100 beds comprising 57 en-suite bedrooms with shared kitchen and communal areas, 10 studios and 33 en-suite beds in five townhouses. There is a retail unit let to Sainsbury on the ground floor.

"We are very pleased to have acquired this portfolio of five properties in Lancaster and Leicester," commented Paul Hadaway, chief executive of Empiric Student Property, "creating a very well-located, attractive and highly specified portfolio in two new top university cities for the group.

"The tenant mix at the properties, which have an excellent occupancy track record, reflects the group's target market of international and post-graduate students. The acquisition of this portfolio represents an efficient deployment of equity capital in one transaction. The acquisition is in line with Empiric's investment criteria and returns profile."