Saturday, 5 December 2009

Naked Ambition? Your Opportunity to be Part of Hit Theatre Show

A hit at the 2009 Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Nic Green’s Trilogy is coming to the Nuffield Theatre on Saturday 30th January - but to make it a success, Nic needs local women willing to bare all and join her in this celebration of womanhood.

Trilogy is a celebratory venture into modern-day feminism. Described by Lyn Gardner in the Guardian as “a strenuously choreographed… piece of participatory theatre that examines and celebrates what it means to be a woman in the 21st century, where we have come from and where we are going, Trilogy is angry, joyous, heartfelt, rigorous and radiant with hope. It makes you want to fling off your clothes and dance.”

Nic Green, who is based in Glasgow, is committed to creating hopeful and accessible art work with emphasis on the notion of making positive change, and empowering others to do the same. Her previous work has spanned solo and group theatre performance as well as community projects and interactive web-based endeavours.

Nic explains why she needs your help to bring this piece of theatre to life: “The first part of the Trilogy ends with a high energy, ensemble naked dance. It is a powerful and emotive moment, presenting the female body in an alternative, empowered way, and celebrating the difference and diversity between us. In the past we have had women of all shapes and sizes, abilities, ages and backgrounds and it has been amazing.”

If you’re feeling tempted, but still tentative, Nic is reassuring:

“I realise it's a big challenge (for many of us) to do a performance with no clothes on, but I can promise to approach this in the most sensitive way I know how, and you won’t be asked to do anything you don’t feel comfortable with. If you come to the first session (which we will do fully clothed!) you’ll be able to meet myself and the other participants and decide if you’d like to take part. By attending the first rehearsal you are not committing to anything and if you feel it is not for you then we will totally understand.”

A participant in Edinburgh described the experience of taking part as “the most liberating thing I have ever done.”

To find out more, join Nic for tea and home-made cakes on Mon 7th of December 2009 at Scott Gallery, Lancaster University from 3 to 4pm or at The Gregson Centre, Moor Lane, Lancaster between 5.30 and 6pm.

This will be a fun and friendly opportunity to find out a little more about the project and to chat to Nic about what it means to be involved. If you can’t make these sessions, or want to know more, contact Alice at the Nuffield Theatre on 01524 592994 or alice@nuffieldtheatre.com.

Rehearsals will be every evening during the week of 25th January, culminating in the performance on Saturday 30th January. Tickets for the show on 30th January are £10/£7 from the box office on 01524 594151 or book online at www.nuffieldtheatre.com

Friday, 4 December 2009

Mitchells Issues Statement on Brewery

Mitchells Brewery, LancasterLocal company Mitchells has issued a full statement via its web site and in notices posted at the Brewery itself on its reasons for wanting to demolish the old Brewery, outlining its support for the proposed Centros development. We publish the statement in full here: comment is of course more than welcome. You can download the full statement via this link on the Mitchells web site (PDF)

In recent weeks Mitchell’s of Lancaster has been criticised by several campaigning groups, including It’s Our City and Save, regarding the proposed demolition of our redundant old brewery buildings on Brewery Lane.

John Whitelegg, Leader of the North West (of England) Green Party and local councillor for Lancaster, has also been extremely vocal in his opposition to the proposed move to demolish the buildings.

Despite communicating with local media to explain why we have chosen this course of action we feel little balance has been given to convey our position.

Therefore, we would like to explain to you, the people of Lancaster, why we have, after careful consideration, decided on this way forward. As you would expect from a company rooted in the fabric of Lancaster for over 130 years, we are extremely proud and respectful of the heritage of our city. And as one of the city’s largest employers we are also acutely aware of the need for jobs for local people.

Therefore we would like to make the following points:

Councillor Whitelegg claims that "The demolition would be an act of unrestrained vandalism”.

• For over 130 years the custodians of Mitchell’s have undertaken their duties with a keen interest in the community and the environment. It’s preposterous to think that had the buildings any architectural merit the company wouldn’t embrace their heritage.

• The truth of the matter is that having worked closely with English Heritage, to assess the significance of the site, on three separate occasions, surveys have repeatedly proven that the buildings do not illustrate an important aspects of the nations social, economic or cultural history; they don’t have any important architectural design and they are not of a significant age to be considered a rarity.

• Three failed attempts to have the buildings listed clearly show that they lacked the special interest, in a national context, which is required to warrant the designation of listed status. Indeed English Heritage in a communication with the Department for Culture Media and Sport states that “The brewery itself is not of sufficient intrinsic interest to warrant listing.” This comment was made following the most recent assessment of the site in 2007.

• A fourth attempt to gain listed status, brought by members of the campaigning groups detailed above, will be yet another example of tax payer’s money being wasted. The condition of the brewery has deteriorated to such an extent, due to years of water ingress causing joists to rot and floors to collapse, that the company is extremely concerned regarding its Health and Safety obligations to members of the public and their employees.

• The demolition of the buildings will dovetail with the Centros redevelopment plans which will generate £3.5 million worth of business rates for the city plus additional revenues that will benefit local suppliers.

• Over 1,000 jobs will be created as a result of this development which will make a huge impact on the lives of local people.

We are also acutely aware of the potential dangers of the building as a result of indiscriminate vandalism, over recent years. Together with a number of attempted forced entries, we have to seriously consider our public liability.

Although we have taken all the appropriate measures to secure the site it hasn’t deterred such incidents despite the inherent health and safety issues within the buildings. As owners of the site we, the board, are responsible should any trespasser be injured. Should anyone succeed in entering the building the potential for serious injury cannot be underestimated, particularly when considering the age and condition of the building. This has also influenced our decision.

Irrespective of the Centros proposal we would still have concluded that the buildings had no future. Indeed the site has been taken out of the business rates band as it has been agreed that it has no economic use.

We feel strongly that our detractors would not be making a case for listed building status had the site been outside of the Centros development plans. Indeed there was no interest in the merits of the building in the immediate years after its closure, in 1999, and it’s no coincidence that it is only since the Centros development has been in the public domain that any interest has been noted.

We would ask the minority of people who are opposed to the demolition of the buildings to seriously consider the repercussions of their actions. Not only could they threaten the economic prosperity of the city, they may also be putting the lives and livelihood of local people at risk.

As a Lancaster company we cannot ignore the many benefits that the Centros development will bring to the city. They include:

• Up to 400,000 sq ft of retail and catering space

• Up to 179 town houses and apartments, including 25% affordable (up to 45 in total) providing homes for some 300 or more people

• A new public park and five other public spaces

• Improvements to both the Dukes Playhouse and the Grand Theatre

• New premises for the City’s unique Musicians Co-operative

• More than 1000 new long term jobs provided in retail, catering, leisure, maintenance, security and management, plus 600-700 short term building jobs created during the 2 year construction period

• 3 million pounds of highway improvements.

As a company we have to consider the interests of all parties, whilst our detractors do not.

As a company we want economic prosperity for our city, whilst our detractors, it would appear, do not.

If, having heard our side of the story, you support us in our efforts to improve the landscape and economic potential of the city, feel free to email your support to brewery@mitchellsinns.co.uk

Thank you

Andrew and Jonathan Barker Joint Managing Directors, Mitchells

Injunction Served To Try to Save Old Brewery

Mitchells Brewery, LancasterIn a dramatic turn of events yesterday the High Court in London agreed to the request of Save Britian's Heritage to issue an injunction against Lancaster City Council and Mitchells brewery to prevent demolition of the old brewery on Lancaster's Brewery Lane.

As we reported earlier, contractors had already begun clearance work on the site, the dismay of campaigners.

The injunction makes it very clear that any action by any party named in the injunction that contributes towards demolition will be liable for fines and imprisonment.

“This is fantastic news and I am absolutely delighted," commented local Green Party councillor John Whitelegg. "The case against demolishing the Brewery is solid and wide-ranging and the injunction has now been served preventing demolition until further legal arguments can be completed.

"It is also very regrettable indeed that it has taken the intervention of the High Court to produce this result when it should have been glaringly obvious to city council senior officers that this is something we should have done ourselves.”

Attempted Lancaster ATM Robbery - CCTV Released

greaves_spar_raiders1.jpgPolice have released CCTV images after raiders caused £900 damage to a shop while trying to steal cash from an ATM machine in Lancaster.

The three offenders smashed glass panels in a basement door to gain entry to the Spar shop on Greaves Road, Lancaster, between 11pm and midnight on 26th November, then tried to force the front off the ATM machine in the main part of the store but made off empty handed.

greaves_spar_raiders2.jpgPolice have now released a CCTV image of a man they would like to speak to in order to eliminate him from their inquiries.

• Anyone with information about the incident is asked to contact Lancashire Police on 01524 63333 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Nuclear "Smoke and Mirrors" in Lancaster

091128nuclear.jpgLancaster Town Hall recently played host to some very clever nuclear smoke and mirrors from the Department of Energy and Climate Change in the form of a slick travelling exhibition promoting extensive new nuclear build at Heysham. But despite government assurances on display that arrangements exist or will exist for the long term management of radioactive waste generated by Britain's civil nuclear program, those claims have now been challenged by experts on the issue.

The government recently launched a consultation on the building of new nuclear power stations, which will run until 22 February 2010.

In a letter to the Secretary of State for Energy Ed Miliband, four senior members of the original Committee on Radioactive Waste Management (CoRWM) claim the government is going against recommendations made by their own committee of nuclear waste experts.

“We do not consider it credible to argue that effective arrangements exist or will exist at a generic or a site-specific level for the long-term management of highly active radioactive waste arising from new nuclear build," they argue.

“CoRWM was also quite clear that its proposals should not apply to new nuclear build - the main concern in the present context is that the proposals might be seized upon as providing a green light for new build, that is far from the case”.

Just to add to the government’s smoke and mirrors on nuclear waste, campaigners against the recently-announced expansion of nuclear energy argue there has been an undemocratic, unjust change to our planning system to push through the building of new power stations.

The Infrastructure and Planning Committee is the result of ‘streamlining’ the planning process, which means that issues like the unsolved nuclear waste problem, safety, health and environment will be excluded from the public’s input into decision making. In other words, community groups, individuals and Non Governmental Organisations could present conclusive evidence that Heysham is on a geological fault line but this would not be considered as relevant by the IPC.

The Infrastructure and Planning Committee was successfully lobbied for by the nuclear industry, which now wants to exclude even the recommendations from government experts.

“Nuclear Power is at the top of the polluting industrial food chain and to claim it as a solution to climate change is the most staggering lie," argue Radiation Free Lakeland. "We should remember that according to the military it was nuclear power that first blew a hole in the ozone layer – it would be like curing binge drinking by adding arsenic to beer”.

The experience of nuclear countries is that nuclear power does not stop the need for electricity from fossil fuels and it replaces renewables, not oil or coal, in the energy mix. In fact, there is evidence to show that to go nuclear is to increase use of fossil fuel: Nuclear Engineering International Nuclear argues France uses more fossil fuel per capita than the rest of Europe, despite being one of the countries at the forefront of new nuclear power station building in Europe.

Local campaigners against new nuclear stations are continuing the work of Duncan Ball, the former Sellafield foreman and jailed whistleblower who died earlier this year before he was due to be ‘compensated’ by the industry’s Compensation Scheme for Radiation Linked Diseases. He believed that the only way what he described as a "vicious nuclear juggernaut" would be stopped is by everyone of all backgrounds, all tribes to stand together and say a strong and loud "No" to new nuclear and "Yes" to all the diversity of life.

nuke_scarifice_zone.jpg• The government consultation will run until 22 February 2010 and responses are welcomed: there is more information on the plans here on the DECC web site, or send your views via email to: justification@decc.gsi.gov.uk or to the address listed in the consultation document.


Radiation Free Lakeland web site


Photo: Satori (who says the on-screen message has been 'synopsised')

"Operation Nimrod" Success

The recent Operation Nimrod drugs raids across Lancashire have been hailed a success by officers, councillors and the communities in which they took place.

In the past four weeks, over 100 officers from across Lancashire Constabulary have been involved in eight ‘strike’ days, carrying out drugs raids in Lancaster, Morecambe, Heysham, Bolton-le-Sands and Burnley. The raids resulted in 46 people being arrested and charged with a total of 164 drugs offences related to the supply of heroin and cocaine in north Lancashire.

Officers swooped on the houses after months of undercover police work identified targets involved in the local drug dealing chain and all those charged are now being put through the court process.

“The purpose of Nimrod is to remove those that supply the hardest drugs - such as heroin and cocaine - off our streets," commented Superintendent Richard Spedding, whilst working with other agencies to help those whose daily lives rely on such drugs to kick their habit.

“Residents have been ecstatic at all the activity surrounding Nimrod and confidence in their local police has grown. We are seen to be protecting their communities and their children.

“Drug dealing, in essence, is high level anti-social behaviour and blights communities," he added. "Our activity also tackles crimes such as burglary and vehicle crime, which are committed to fund drug habits.”

Although the Nimrod raids have now finished, police will continue to combat drugs and drugs dealing.

“We will not win the battle against drugs until the market demand has decreased," Supt Spedding said. "In other words, whilst there are always those who are willing to take drugs, or are dependent on them, there will always be those who will supply them.

“We will continue to monitor the situation through our neighbourhood police teams and intelligence we gain from within those communities we have tackled. This will help us to identify any new dealers and then take action to remove them from our streets.”

Lancaster City Councillor David Kerr, who attended several of the raids in Morecambe, said: “The residents I have spoken to have been very impressed to see the police out in such numbers and doing what they want the police to be doing - targeting those individuals who are making their lives a misery.

“I think we need to realise that these operations are required to support our communities, and that without this support our communities would break down.

“Having been on these raids I have seen that it is not just a case of officers kicking a door down and arresting someone – it is about months of meticulous planning resulting in an improvement that benefits all those who live here.”

A spokesperson for Addaction, the organisation that works with officers to provide support and treatment for those arrested for drug offences, said: “Nimrod has brought a large number of people into treatment for their drug abuse – some of whom will be receiving treatment for the first time, while others may have relapsed.

“Getting people involved with treatment is important as in the long term it can get them off drugs and we are pleased at the co-ordination between the offender management team and the police during Nimrod.”

• Anyone with information about drugs dealing in their community are asked to contact Lancaster Police on 01524 63333 or confidentially to Crimestoppers on 0800-555-111.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Injunction Brought Against Mitchell's Demolition

Mitchells Brewery, Lancaster(Updated 8/12/09 to include Council statement): In a dramatic turn of events this morning the heritage group SAVE went to the High Court and obtained an injunction against the immediate demolition of the Mitchell's brewery building on Lancaster City Council and Mitchell's of Lancaster (Brewers) Ltd. Lancaster City Council had announced yesterday (2nd December) that it would do nothing to prevent demolition. Their letter coincided with evidence that demolition was already underway on the site. You can read the full text of the city council letter here.

Initially local residents concerned about the roof removal taking place were reassured that the work was simply removing asbestos from the building. The future of the building was scheduled for discussion at the City Council Planning meeting next Monday 7 December.

Neighbours kept an eye on proceedings in the interim and obtained evidence that nothing less than a complete demolition was being undertaken. Eventually the City Council explained that Mitchells had asserted that a demolition would not constitute 'development' and was therefore not bound to adhere to the planning process. The council was unwilling to risk the expense of litigation over the matter and therefore declined to intervene.

“The collapse of any pretence of effort on the part of the Council to prevent demolition is disgraceful," argues Bulk Ward and Green City Councillor John Whitelegg. "The Council knows full well that large numbers of local people object to demolition as do all ward councillors. The Council knows that bats are present in these buildings and a criminal offence is now being committed in disturbing bat roosts. The Council has initiated a review of conservation area boundaries and spent taxpayer’s money on this and demolition will render that exercise useless. It is hard to imagine a greater dereliction of duty on the part of a public body.”

Commenting on the Council's position on the demolition Mark Cullinan, Lancaster City Council’s chief executive, said: "Following expert legal advice the city council has determined that prior approval for demolition is not needed and we cannot therefore prevent the brewery from being demolished.

"A suggestion has been made that the city council could serve a Building Preservation Notice. However, again based on legal advice, the council has determined that this action would be ill-advised for a number of reasons, not least that the council could be subject to a compensation claim."

This morning, the heritage group SAVE went to the High Court and obtained an injunction against immediate demolition on Lancaster City Council and Mitchell's of Lancaster (Brewers) Ltd.

It says that the Council must "Not permit the demolition or damage of the building by others" and that Mitchells must "Not, whether by themselves or by instructing or encouraging any other person, demolish the building or permit it to be demolished, and [...] not carry out works preliminary to demolition nor to permit them to be carried out and [...] not damage the building nor to permit the building to be damaged."

"If you do not obey this Order you may be found guilty of Contempt of Court and may be sent to prison or fined or your assets may be seized.

"The claim for judicial review is to be issued and served on all Parties on or before Wednesday the 9th December 2009."

The injunction was also sent to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.

Locals who have been campaigning for sustainable development of the site lost no time in pointing out that despite its fiscal difficulties the Council recently budgetted approximately £60,000 to defend the unpopular Centros planning application for this site at its recent Public Inquiry. In the absence of Centros, who refused to attend, the council's case suffered an embarrassing collapse.

This morning, a number of demonstrators visited the site with the intention of physically preventing further demolition until the legal situation could be clarified. The injunction was served.

• Any sign of further demolition work can be reported to the police and also to lawyer Susan Ring of the firm Richard Buxton Environmental & Public Law. Tel: 020 8948 1135
Email: sring@richardbuxton.co.uk
Web: www.richardbuxton.co.uk