Thursday, 15 November 2007

Clive Grunshaw chosen as the Labour candidate for Lancaster and Fleetwood

Local county councillor Clive Grunshaw has been selected by Labour Party members to fight the new seat of Lancaster and Fleetwood at the next General Election. But despite some impressive credentials, his selection may irk some local residents with long memories after his involvement in plans to end some local services such as Greaves Nursery and Bowerham Long Stay Children's Unit.

Clive worked as a dockworker in Fleetwood before attending Lancaster University as a mature student, where he gained two degrees. He's worked as a Personal Assistant to Joan Humble MP and a lay tutor for a trade union. Currently, he represents Fleetwood residents on Wyre Borough Council, where he's Leader of the Labour Group, and Lancashire County Council. He has also been involved in efforts to reclaim derelict land as green spaces and is chair of the Biodiversity Group, credentials which Labour is sure to hope will sway Lancaster's growing Green vote in his favour at the next General Election.

In the run-up to Clive's selection, the local Labour Party says it conducted an extensive "Have Your Say" consultation campaign, asking voters which issues mattered to them. Anti-social behaviour, transport and the environment emerged as the biggest concerns locally.

However, we should perhaps take Clive's claims about the results of consultation with a pinch of salt. Back in 2005, when Greaves Nursery faced closure, he claimed the result of a consultation with local people about the plans was overwhelmingly in favour of closure. Then ancashire County Council has now admitted that the majority of people who responded actually favoured keeping the nursery open.

Lancaster's Green Party discovered a report to the Council's Education Overview and Scrutiny Sub-Committee showed that 219 out of 227 parents and other residents responding were opposed to the closure.

Grunshaw has also been involved in other closure plans of services in the Lancaster area, which Lancaster MP Ben Wallace severely criticised last year, accusing the county council as seeming "to put itself before services."

Clive said of his selection: "I am delighted and privileged to have been chosen to contest the constituency where I have lived all my life. I am keen to start campaigning to remind people of the good things this Labour government has achieved. I'm confident we can improve people's lives further by getting to grips with anti-social behaviour, the environment, improvements to the highways and inward investment."

Eileen gets back in the saddle

A Lancaster councillor has got back on her bike thanks to Lancaster City Council’s ‘Bike Buddy’ scheme.

Councillor Eileen Blamire stopped cycling three years ago due to a lack of time and the ever increasing traffic on the district’s roads. Keen to start cycling again, Eileen turned to the Bike Buddy scheme for help.

The scheme is a free service for local residents to help new and returning cyclists find a safe and suitable route from their home to their chosen destination.

Eileen cycled from the Millennium Bridge to Morecambe with the help of her bike buddy Neil Emery. Neil was able to show her the best way to get there and passed on lots of handy tips for riding safely in traffic and varying weather conditions. He gave her advice on equipment and bike maintenance.

Coun Blamire, cabinet member with responsibility for cycling, said: “I really enjoyed the ride. It was very exhilarating after a nervous start. My bike buddy Neil was really encouraging and friendly.

“I first started cycling when I was 10. After cycling through my teenage years I stopped when I started work and had a family. I got back in the saddle eight years ago to help me keep fit. However in recent years, I haven’t had the time and some road users have made it difficult to cycle.

“I’d forgotten how enjoyable cycling can be. Thanks to the bike buddy scheme and with a bit more practice I’m going to start cycling again.”

If you are interested in making use of the scheme, simply contact the Cycling Demonstration Town Team on 01524 582086, by email: celebratingcycling@lancaster.gov.uk or in writing to: Bike Buddy, Lancaster City Council, Palatine Hall, Dalton Square, Lancaster, LA1 1PW. The application form and questionnaire is also available on the council’s cycling website: www.celebratingcycling.org.

By completing a simple questionnaire asking a few basic questions about your cycling abilities, you will be matched with a buddy. Your buddy will contact you by phone or email to discuss your requirements and arrange a convenient time and date to meet up for the ride.

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

Highways Agency warns drivers to take care in fog

The Highways Agency is advising drivers to take extra care on the roads, with the Met Office forecasting patches of dense freezing fog on some routes in northern England and the Midlands on Thursday morning.

The fog could be slow to clear and may linger into the afternoon on some roads on Thursday and Friday.

Roadusers should be extra cautious as visibility could change without warning.

Drivers are advised to use dipped headlights or fog lights if visibility is seriously reduced (less than 100m/328ft). Fog lights can dazzle other road users and obscure brake lights, so should be turned off immediately as visibility improves.

In patchy fog try not to speed up as visibility improves, as roadusers could suddenly find themselves back in thick fog further up the road.

It can feel more secure to 'hang on' to the tail-lights of the vehicle in front, but drivers should beware - it is a false sense of security. Travelling too close to vehicles is dangerous, particularly
when reduced visibility could obscure potential hazards and force a vehicle to stop abruptly.

The Highways Agency is advising drivers that the best way to stay safe on the roads during severe weather is to plan their journeys. Up-to-date information on road conditions on England's motorways and trunk roads is available on the Highways Agency website at www.highways.gov.uk, from the new Traffic Radio service on DAB digital radio or at www.trafficradio.org.uk, or by calling the Highways Agency 24-hour automated phone service on 08700 660 115.

For information on weather conditions, visit the Met Office website at www.metoffice.gov.uk or listen to local radio broadcasts.

Tuesday, 13 November 2007

Animal Care Appeal

Lancaster-based charity Animal Care have their Christmas Fairs soon and are appealing for Tombola items, Toys and Games, DVD's and good quality Bric a Brac to sell to help raise money to look after the stray and unwanted animals in its care.

The items need to be new or good condition so they can be sold and all items can be taken to the sanctuary in Scotforth, Lancaster (between 9am-4pm anyday) or ring Vanessa on 01524841819 to arrange for them to be collected.

School closure plans prompt meetings

Parents, teachers and other interested parties have been invited to attend special meetings being organised by the Overview and Scrutiny Committee of Lancaster City Council to discuss proposals by Lancashire County Council to close two Lancaster schools.

The meetings have been arranged so an elected member task group set up by Lancaster City Council can gather evidence for a review of secondary education in the district.

Central Lancaster High is the venue for the next meeting on Wednesday November 21 at 5pm.
It will be followed by a meeting at Lancaster Town Hall on Thursday November 29 at 5.30pm, when the potential closure of Hornby High will be discussed.

Monday, 12 November 2007

Cabinet accepts request from Overview and Scrutiny

Lancaster City Council’s Cabinet has accepted an offer of support in drawing up a tender brief for the Lawson’s Bridge site in Scotforth, a sell off which has prompted furious reaction from local residents as it could well mean a supermarket will be built on the Scotforth site.

Last Wednesday (31 October) members of the council’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee asked for the tender brief to be referred to them before it goes to Cabinet.

The request was accepted at Cabinet’s meeting on Tuesday (6 November).

Coun Roger Mace, leader of the council and chairman of the Cabinet, said: “I am more than happy for the Overview and Scrutiny Committee to offer some input into the future of the land at Lawson’s Bridge.

“It can only be constructive and it is in the interests of all of us that the tender brief should deal effectively with the land in question.

“To that end Graham Cox (Head of Property Services) and I have already met with the chairman of Scotforth Parish Council to discuss the issues.”

The request from Overview and Scrutiny followed a call-in of Cabinet’s decision on October 9 to draw up a tender brief for the land.

If the brief is approved it is likely the land will then be marketed by way of a development agreement.

The draft tender brief is due to go back to cabinet in December.
It is likely that a special meeting of Overview and Scrutiny will take place prior to the meeting of Cabinet so committee members can discuss the tender brief.

Coun Stuart Langhorn, chairman of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee, said: “I am pleased that the request for the committee to examine the tender brief before it goes to cabinet has been accepted.

“Effective scrutiny of decisions made by the cabinet is necessary to ensure the council achieves the best outcome possible for all parties, including the residents of Scotforth.”

The inclusion of the land at South Lancaster in the Council’s asset sales programme has been discussed by the Council on a number of previous occasions. Originally it was discussed by Council some years ago when a planning application for a housing development was refused.

More recently it was discussed in public at both Cabinet and full Council in January and February earlier this year when Council approved the inclusion of the sale of the land in its list of asset sales, along with a number of other assets, in order to help finance the schemes included in the Council’s five year Capital Programme.

A receipts target for asset sales was subsequently included in the Council’s Corporate Plan, approved by Council in April, which set specific targets for generating receipts within this financial year.

The report to Cabinet in October included proposals to implement the Council’s earlier decision and to meet the receipts targets in its Corporate Plan.

LitFest Week in Lancaster

It's finally here - Lancaster's litfest starts on Wednesday. If you haven't planned what events you want to see then now is definitely the time - all the information is on the litfest website.

This year's headline guest, Linton Kwesi Johnson, is a must-see - a fantastic performer and one of the most influential poets in the country. Don't miss this chance to catch his performance.

The litfest has also have lined up special deals with local restaurants, Quite Simply Food and Pizza Margherita on Moor Lane, for those of you who want to get a bite to eat before or after the show.

It all starts on Wednesday 14 November at 6pm with Annie Clarkson, Graham Mort and Ian Duhig.

More Money for Local Groups

The Galbraith Trust is once again inviting applications from local voluntary and community groups for grants from the charity. The Trust was set up in 2001 from the estate of Ian Galbraith, the former city hardware store owner. Forms and guidelines are available from the CVS (see below) and the next closing date is Friday 25th January 2008 for decisions in February.

Since July 2007, 24 Local Charities shared almost twenty thousand pounds from the Galbraith Trust. Grants varied from £200 to £1850.00 and have included grants which support the work of The Overton Players, North West Children’s Support Group & Cockerham Hand Bell Ringers. Other grants have enabled groups to purchase equipment, go on coach trips, and hold community events & Festivals.

Further information is available from:
Council for Voluntary Service (CVS)
Trinity Community Centre, Middle Street, Lancaster, LA1 1JZ.
Tel: 01524 555900 ex 25
Email: sulivesey@lancastercvs.org.uk