Friday, 21 May 2010

CancerCare Art Auction announced

woman_and_bowl_vasconcellos.jpgLocal charity CancerCare has announced it will be holding Charity Art Auction in July at Lancaster Town Hall, offering the opportunity to bid for work from artists such as world famous Lakeland sculptress Josefina De Vasconcellos and others and help raise money for a good cause.

Both paintings and prints will be offered in a silent auction, followed by the main auction that includes three sculptures by Vasconcellos and original work by Lancaster artist Chas Jacobs, B. J. Beddows, Moreen Cook, freelance illustrator Kay Boyce, whose work has featured in magazines such as Woman's Weekly and Bella, Cornelius Ferguson, Spencer Coleman and much more.

Vasconcellos, who died in 2005 aged 100, was an English sculptor of Brazilian origin and at one time was the world's oldest living sculptor. She lived in Cumbria much of her working life and her most famous work includes 'Reconciliation' at Coventry Cathedral and the University of Bradford, 'Mary and Child' at St. Paul's Cathedral in London and 'Nativity (at Christmas)' at St. Martin-in-the-Fields Church in London's Trafalgar Square. Her final piece, 'Escape to Light', created in 2001 to commemorate the men of the Independent Off-Shore Rescue Service, appears at Haverigg on the Cumbrian coast.

"CancerCare offers support and information, free of charge, for people affected by Cancer in North Lancashire and South Lakeland," explains Bernard Alvarez who is promoting the event. "This includes cancer patients, their carers and family members and those bereaved by Cancer.

"We also have a special Children’s and Young People’s Service."

CancerCare provide approximately 15,000 free sessions per year to their clients at the present time and with the prospect of cancer rates doubling in the next decade fundraising is a vital component of our service capability.

Services include Psychological Therapies/Talking Therapies (such as Counselling and Hypnotherapy), Touch Therapies (e.g. Massage and Aroma therapy), Yoga classes, Alexander Technique lessons and Social Groups (Woodwork classes, Creative classes, Day Care and Jewellery classes). They also provide free transport when required and an information service.

• CancerCare Charity Art Auction at Ashton Hall, Lancaster Town Hall, Lancaster, Friday 16th July (viewing 6.30pm- 7.30pm). Auction 7.30pm- 10.30pm
Admission £3.50 (includes 1st drink and nibbles) - Proceeds to CancerCare. More info: www.cancercare.org.uk


Pictured: Woman with Bowl by Josefina De Vasconcellos, 1985

Council's Overview and Scrutiny Committee seeks topics for discussion

Lancaster City Council is inviting residents to submit their ideas on which local issues should be considered by its Overview and Scrutiny Committee this year.

Whether it’s a problem with a local park, a council service or an issue you feel the council should lead on and help to improve, the committee wants to hear from you.

All suggestions will be considered and those which would benefit from further investigation may lead to a task group being formed to focus on the issue and determine the best way forward.

In recent years various task groups have made a number of recommendations to the Council, Cabinet and other agencies, with the intention of helping to make real improvements to the lives of residents in the district.

If you have a particular issue that you wish to be examined in this way, please send it to the Overview and Scrutiny Committee, c/o Democratic Services, Town Hall, Dalton Square, Lancaster, LA1 1PJ, by email to scrutiny@lancaster.gov.uk or telephone 01524 582047.

• All meetings are open to the public and normally held at Morecambe Town Hall. For further information on the council’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee visit www.lancaster.gov.uk/scrutiny

Lancaster Banger heads for Barcelona in aid of NSPCC

barcelona_bangers1.jpgFour intrepid local lads are on their way to Barcelona in a beaten up motor to raise money for The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children.

Now in Calais, the team are taking part in a 'banger rally', destination Barcelona (via Lyon and Nice) and although they say it's just for fun, they're aiming to raise at least £500 for the child protection society.

"Barcelona Bangers is an adventure with a difference," says team member Daniel Ogden. "Imagine driving from Calais, cross country to Lyon, through the Alps and parts of the hairpin ridden Monte Carlo Rally. Then down to the coast for a lap of the Monaco Grandprix track before heading to our hotel in Nice.

mainmap.JPG"On the final day we drive though Andorra and over the Pyrenees and past the beautiful Montserrat mountain and then on to Barcelona on the Costa Dorada.

If that sounds fun, there is a catch. They have to make the run in a car worth less than £200 - which is what over 60 teams from across the country are hoping to do over the next few days.

"You'd be surprised what you can and can't buy for this money," says Daniel. "All costs will be coming out of our own pockets."

Hard enough as it might be to get there in a car that old, the hope is that they will actually make it back in the same car - without having to scrap it and fly home.

"It could be spectacular, it could be a hitchhiking nightmare," Daniel admits. "But it's all a challenge and donations will go to a good cause."

During the successful previous events participating teams have raised well over £100,000 in total for their local charities.

The team have set up a page on JustGiving to take donations and have now made their initial £500 target but further donations are welcome. The site's a quick, easy and secure way to pledge and the most efficient way to sponsor them: the Anthony Nolan Trust gets your money faster and, if you’re a UK taxpayer, Justgiving makes sure 25% in Gift Aid, plus a 3% supplement, are added to your donation.

barcelona_bangers.jpg• Raising money for the NSPCC, which aims to make a difference for all children – by standing up for their rights, by listening to them, by helping them when they need it and by making them safe - you can make a donation to the lads via www.justgiving.com/mdmx


The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children


• The September 2010 event is now open and has a twist to it: they wont be finishing in Barcelona. For registrations, visit the Barcelona Bangers Official site

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Count those swifts, urges wildlife group

Wildlife experts are asking the public to become bird watchers  to check on the health of two of Lancashire’s most popular feathered attractions.

The Lancashire Environment Record Network is concerned that numbers of kingfishers and swifts could be badly hit this year for two completely different reasons.

The kingfisher, the UK’s most colourful bird, is expected to have suffered because of the severe winter weather. Lancashire’s kingfishers were virtually wiped out in the winter of 1962/63 and only one pair was recorded in the Lancashire Bird Report in 1964.

Numbers in the county gradually recovered although further hard winters in 1979 and 1981/82 led to further setbacks. By 2000 the population was thought to be at least 100 pairs and continued to increase throughout this century.

LERN is keen to record how the birds have coped after temperatures plummeted in December and January. It seems, from initial reports, that some have survived: but LERN is keen to know how many.

County bird recorder for the Lancashire and Cheshire Fauna Society, Steve White said: “It's too soon to say how Lancashire's kingfishers have fared this winter but the prospects are not good.

“The county's birdwatchers are halfway through a comprehensive four-year survey of all the county's birds, so results from this summer should give us the answer.”

LERN wants wildlife recorders and members of the public to keep an eye out for kingfishers on lakes, rivers and canals in the county.

Aerial displays by swifts are a thrilling sight but numbers are down by almost a third in the past decade and the RSPB notes swifts have "Amber" status.

It is believed that nearly 80 per cent of swifts nest on buildings and experts believe that improvement work on old houses is to blame for the decline. Swifts breed throughout Lancashire and the breeding population was estimated at 2,000 pairs in 2000, concentrated in the urban areas.

LERN is keen to know whether the county’s swift population is rising or falling.

Communications officer Alan Wright said: “If anyone spots a kingfisher or swift nesting site they can pass the information on to LERN or their local bird group and then we can assess if there are problems with numbers. “This information will be available to bird experts who can then plan ways to ensure that these two birds, that give nature lovers so much pleasure, thrive in the county.”

"The swift responses are coming in now, after we had a  number of kingfisher sightings," he told virtual-lancaster. "They're a fabulous sight at this time of year."

LERN will be officially launched this summer and will be the hub of knowledge for Lancashire’s biodiversity.

• You can email LERN when and where you see Kingfisher or nesting Swift this year: lern@lancashire.gov.uk

Photo: A Common Swift (Apus apus) in flight. By Paweł Kuźniar. Usage: GFDL

Cumbrian-inspired poetry at the Storey, courtesy of LitFest

Lancaster Litfest is offering poetry lovers the chance to explore the natural landscapes of Cumbria and Scotland through verse next week, in readings by two poets inspired by their environment.

Andrew Forster and Josephine Dickinson will read for Lancaster’s Literature Festival at the Storey Creative Industries Centre, Meeting House Lane, Lancaster on Wednesday May 26th at 7.45pm.

Andrew Forster is Literature Officer for the Wordsworth Trust in Grasmere, and his poems are included in GCSE teaching.

His second collection, Territory, explores what it means to make a home in a particular place, and the relationship with the environment that this implies.

Josephine Dickinson lives on a small hill farm in a remote corner of the high Pennines and keeps a small flock of sheep. She writes with vigour and lyricism.

In her new collection, Night Journey, her poems move out towards the cosmos and inwards on a journey of transformation leading to epiphany – the ‘night journey’ of the title.

• Tickets are £7.50 (£6 concessions) and can be booked online at www.litfest.org or by calling the Lancaster Visitor Information Centre on 01524 582394.

Williamson Park Pavilion Café re-opens, win free entry to the Butterfly House

Celebrations will be taking place at Lancaster's Williamson Park this Saturday to mark the reopening of the pavilion café - and there's a chance to win free entry to the Park's world-famous Butterfly House up for grabs.

The café has undergone a dramatic refurbishment and is launching a brand new menu of delicious locally sourced products.

Café staff, who are very excited about the new changes, say they will be offering a warm welcome to visitors. The new menu has been developed using the very best of local produce including the renowned Atkinson’s coffee and tea, Lathoms handmade cakes, delicious chutney and jams from the Hawkeshead Relish Company and Singletons speciality cheeses.

Opening at 10.00am on Saturday 22 May, throughout the day there will also be free games and fun activities for children.

Lancaster City Council is also offering 20 families the opportunity to visit the butterfly house, which has also been renovated, and mini beast cave for free on Saturday. The first twenty callers will win the family passes - telephone 01524 33318 to be in with a chance.

Regular visitors to the park will see more changes to come over the next few weeks. Lots of the locally made products are going to be available to purchase in the shop, so if you like what you try in the café – you can buy some to take home from the gift shop.

The Butterfly House has also been renovated and the rain forest atmosphere is filled with beautiful and exotic tropical butterflies.

• Admission to the Butterfly House and mini beast cave on the day is at a special rate of only £2 per person on the day: call 01524 33318 for more information. Tours of the butterfly house and mini beasts will take place at 12.00pm and 1.00pm.

• Lancaster City Council Play Rangers will be in the park from 10am - 12.00pm offering a range of games and activities and free play.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Lancaster City Council Half-Term Fun Stuff

Children aged four to 16 can join Lancaster City Council for four days of exciting sports and art activities during the June 2010 half term holiday.

There is so much to choose from - have a go at aerial runways and kayaking, arts and crafts, archery, fencing, Bikeability; the new cycling proficiency, BMX biking, skiing at pendle ski club, snowboarding at Rossendale ski slope, horse riding, karate, trampolining, football fever, dodgeball, learn to cycle or try the Wet ‘n’ Dry day at Salt Ayre Sports Centre.

There are some exciting new activities too. How about learning to walk the high wire or flying through the air by trapeze with the circus skills course? Another course that is perfect for improving balance, coordination, flexibility and a great introduction to gymnastics is tumbling. These activities are sure to be popular so it is advisable to book early.

Running from 1 - 4 June, there are full day and half day activities available, all in a fun and safe environment and run by experienced coaches. Equipment is all provided and transport too for some sessions.

For more details and information on each course get a copy of the Lancaster City Council Holiday Activity Programme available at Salt Ayre Sports Centre, Lancaster and Morecambe Town Halls and by visiting www.lancaster.gov.uk/holidayprogramme

There are three ways to book - in person, by post or by phone.
To book and pay in person visit Salt Ayre Sports Centre between 10am – 4pm Monday – Friday and until 7pm on 19 and 26 May.
To pay by post, please send the completed booking forms and cheque to Salt Ayre Sports Centre, Doris Henderson Way, Salt Ayre Lane, Lancaster, LA1 5JS
To pay by phone, call the information line on 01524 842493 between 10am – 4pm Monday and Friday.
Applicants will be required to send in a signed booking form to guarantee a place.

CancerCare’s Cross Bay Challenge 2010 on 6 June

With just under 3 weeks to go until CancerCare’s Cross Bay Challenge 2010, the excitement is really starting to build and this year it's set to be the biggest event ever to take place in Morecambe Bay. With the choice of a half marathon or a family-friendly 6 mile walk there’s something for everyone.

The half marathon is believed to be the only race in the world to cross a tidal bay and has become a well-known sporting fixture in the UK that continues to attract ever-increasing numbers of competitors, both nationally and internationally. Whilst the course is mainly flat, it certainly lives up to its title of a challenge as runners take on sand and sea to make the historic crossing from Flookburgh to Hest Bank.

For those who prefer to take in the beauty of their surroundings at a calmer pace, the walk is open to all (canine companions included) and finishes at the same point as the half marathon in time to cheer to runners across the finish line.

All in all, this is a truly special, one of a kind event, the memories of which will last a lifetime. In the words of some of 2009’s participants:

“To anyone out there who's thinking of having a go, think no longer and fill in the form. I assure you, you won't regret it.” (Stuart Nicholson)

“What an absolutely 'awesome' experience it was to complete my first ever half marathon across the bay for CancerCare. It was amazing from start to finish and the scenery was spectacular… the organisation was second to none and I will definitely sign up to do it again next year.” (Saphira Lilley)

These and other comments from previous entrants are available on the event website at www.crossbayrun.org.uk where there is also a gallery of photos.

It all takes place on Sunday 6th June with the walk starting from Silverdale shore at 11am and the run from Cark Airfield in Flookburgh at 1.15pm – both finish at Hest Bank. Further information and registration is available online at www.crossbayrun.org.uk or from Fundraising at CancerCare on (01524) 381820. Runners must register in advance (entries close 30th May) whilst walkers may turn up and register on the day although a discounted rate is offered to those who register before 30th May.

Read our Cross Bay Walk page for crucial bay-crossing info.

Funded by donations and support from the local community it serves, CancerCare is hoping that the event will make a positive contribution to the funds it relies upon to offer its free services. The local charity is dedicated to supporting cancer patients, their families, carers and those bereaved by cancer. It provides free support to people facing cancer at all stages of the journey, providing around 14,000 therapy sessions a year to some 1500 clients at our 2 centres in Lancaster and Kendal and across North Lancashire and South Lakes.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Mitchell's Brewery listing will spare it from demolition, say Council

Mitchells Brewery, LancasterAs we reported earlier today, a High Court judge has ruled against a legal challenge by Save Britain's Heritage against the government's demolition legislation in relation to the Mitchell’s brewery site.

But contrary to some reports, the ruling does not pave the way for the building to be demolished.

Last year, Mitchell’s issued Lancaster City Council with notification that it intended to demolish its disused brewery site in Lancaster. Save Britain’s Heritage applied for, and was granted, an injunction preventing demolition pending a judicial review into the government’s demolition legislation.

On Monday, a High Court judge threw out that challenge and backed the city council’s interpretation of the laws on building demolition.

The building cannot, however, be demolished as, in March, it was granted listed building status by the government.

This means that the outcome of the case does not affect the current status of the building and it cannot be demolished unless Listed Building Consent has been granted, or the decision to list it in the first place is successfully challenged in the High Court.

The Brewery is one of Lancaster’s earliest surviving industrial buildings, largely designed by W A Deighton in 1901 who was also responsible for the Grade II-listed Cook Street Brewery in Salford.

Langhorn back as City Council leader, new lead for Conservative Group

Councillor Stuart Langhorn (Updated 19/5/10): Lancaster City Council’s executive decision making body will once again be made up on the basis of proportional representation, with LibDem Councillor Stuart Langhorn again elected as Leader last night.

Under its constitution the city council’s Cabinet and Leader must be elected annually at the first meeting of the municipal year.

At this year’s meeting, held last night, full Council voted again to establish the Cabinet on the basis of proportional representation.

All six of the groups are entitled to take up seats in ratio to the number of members in each of the political groups on the Council.

Coun Stuart Langhorn was elected as Leader of the Council for the forthcoming year to May 2011.

As well as Coun Langhorn (Liberal Democrat) the members of the Cabinet elected for 2010/11 are: Councillors David Kerr and June Ashworth (Independents), Abbott Bryning and Eileen Blamire (Labour), Jon Barry and Jane Fletcher (Green), Paul Woodruff (Free Independent).

Two vacancies remain open for the Conservatives, who recently decided to become the 'official opposition'.

Also elected at the meeting last night were the chairmen of all the council’s committees. Coun John Gilbert was elected as chairman of Overview and Scrutiny, and he is joined by Coun Roger Sherlock as Chairman of Budget and Performance Panel.

Coun Eileen Blamire was elected as chairman of the Planning and Highways Regulatory Committee.

Other Committee chairmen appointed at the meeting were:

Coun Tony Wade: Licensing Regulatory Committee
Coun Joyce Taylor: Licensing Act Committee
Coun Susan Bray: Personnel Committee
Coun Sheila Denwood: Appeals Committee
Coun Malcolm Thomas: Audit Committee
Coun David Kerr: Appraisal Panel
Coun Karen Leytham: Council Business Committee

In other Council-related news, longtime Conservative leader of their group Roger Mace has stepped down in favour of Councillor Peter Williamson.

"I'm pleased that the result of the general election has demonstrated increased support for Conservatives in the Lancaster District," says Roger. "That is the objective to which I have been working for a number of years - most particularly as Leader of the Conservative Group on the City Council since 2006.

"In that role, I have been encouraged by the support I have received from my family and my colleagues, and from all the local people who have given their time to help me in various ways.

"I have decided the time has come for another Councillor to lead the Group, and prepare for next year's City Council elections."

The Conservatives continued decision to not take up its seats in Cabinet has been given short shrift from some. Green Party cabinet member Jane Fletcher said: "Given the current national spirit of co-operation between the political parties, I was saddened that the local Conservative group would rather be the
opposition than work positively for the good of the district."

Mitchells Brewery: Demolition to go ahead?

Mitchells Brewery, Lancaster(Updated story to clarify 'listing' status): Planning Resource reports that Save Britain’s Heritage (SAVE) has failed in a High Court action to block the demolition of some of Lancaster’s earliest surviving industrial buildings.

Mitchell's Brewery, which is off Moor Lane in the centre of the city, was largely designed by W A Deighton in 1901 who was also responsible for the Grade II-listed Cook Street Brewery in Salford.

Demolition is backed by both the Council and the secretary of state for communities and local government.

However, the Brewery is still listed thanks to English Heritage, which gives it legal protection from demolition until listing is removed.


Read the full report on the Planning Resource web site (subscription required)

Monday, 17 May 2010

Axe hovers over M6 Link, say campaigners

Camapaigners against the M6 Link have immediately hit back at the County Council's optimistic interpretation of government warnings they might not get funding for it (see earlier story).

"Lancashire County Council has obstinately issued a press release boasting that 'it’s business as usual' for its Link road design team, and that public money is still being channelled into the project, even though many other Council staff are worried about funding cuts to other jobs and services," notes David Gate, Chair of local campaign group Transport Solutions for Lancaster and Morecambe.

"The Heysham M6 Link road has been overtaken by financial and environmental realities," he counters.

TSLM are firmly against the massive £140 million dual carriageway HGV road, which would cut through residential districts, and would destroy 173 acres of Green Belt.

It has been calculated that the new traffic that it would attract would pump out an additional 23,000 tons of CO2 into the North Lancashire environment each year.

Now, the Department for Transport has written to Lancashire County Council warning them that funding for building new roads is under review. (Full text of letter here). The DfT is taking stock of the financial commitments on transport with the Treasury to allow new Ministers to consider priorities, and if the County Council chooses to continue work on the Heysham M6 Link road scheme it will have to be at their own risk.

The controversial County Hall road building plan does not have government funding approval.

"Building the Northern route road would contradict the electoral promise of a low carbon economy, and TSLM will be advocating integrated transport plans for the district which will be a better and more sustainable stimulus than the under-performing Link road plan," says David.

"Lancashire County Council should halt work immediately on this scheme, which is poor value for money, and the forthcoming Public Inquiry in October should be put on hold pending the government’s decision on funding."

• (Full text of the letter from the DfT to the Council informing them of the spending review)


• TSLM have a range of proposals for non-road traffic and transport improvements on their campaign web site: http://heyshamm6link.info


• Campaign for Better Transport: www.bettertransport.org.uk

Government Spending Review: M6-Heysham Link Letter in Full

Earlier today, we posted a story on developments to the Heysham-M6 Link plan and the reaction to news that it was to form part of a Department for Transport spending review from both Lancashire County Council and campaigners advocating alternative traffic management plans - and reject the road scheme.

Lancashire County Council would seem to have taken spin to new heights in their response to the "stock take". The full text of the letter sent to M6 Link Design team manager Steven McCreesh from Charlie Sunderland at the Regional and Local Major Projects Division at the Department for Transport in London appears to offer a more pessimistic take on the outcome of the review.

It also implies the Council could be wasting a huge amount of taxpayers' money if it continues work on the project while the review is being conducted, especially if the Government decides not to provide funding.

The full text of the letter from Charlie Sunderland from the Department for Transport is as follows:

"I thought I would write to set out the current situation as regards the Regional Funding Programme given the uncertainty over future funding following the election.

"In recent months DfT has, along with HM Treasury, undertaken a stock take of the financial commitments of transport. The main emphasis of that analysis centred on 2010/11 expenditure and the pipeline spend effect in subsequent years. DfT now has a clear spend profile for the coming financial year in place which allowed Ministers to announce a number of new Programme Entry and Full Approval schemes in recent weeks. This stock take was vital in demonstrating affordability and timing of delivery.

"The RFA funding position and priorities remain uncertain until Ministers have set out their spending priorities. This means that at this stage we are unable to confirm funding profiles for any new schemes seeking approvals or for existing schemes seeking Conditional or Full Approval. Given this position, it would be prudent for us to take stock of all business cases seeking approval in order to feed into wider considerations for Ministers over the next few months.

"Your scheme will form part of this stock take. The Department is unlikely to be involved in any discussions with you over the coming months as you work up detailed designs and seek any statutory permissions. However I thought it prudent to write so that you are aware of the current position and could decide whether to continue work on the scheme. If you choose to continue work on your major scheme, it will have to be at your own risk.

"I realise that this may come as a disappointment and builds some uncertainty into your planning process. Through the review we hope to start building greater certainty which will hopefully enable us to restart discussions with promoters in due course.

"At this stage I cannot confirm how long it will take to complete the stock take as it will be dependent on Ministerial decisions and discussions about wider Government spending over the coming months. I shall hopefully be able to update you again in due course when the position is clearer."


County Council pushes on with M6 Link plans despite spending review

County Council pushes on with M6 Link plans despite spending review

Lancashire County Council is pressing ahead with its plans for the M6-Heysham link - even though Britain's new coalition government has called a halt to progress on many new road plans until the completion of a spending review later this year.

The Department for Transport has written to all new road scheme promoters, including Lancashire County Council, saying that no scheme without Conditional Approval will be progressed until a comprehensive spending review has reported back later this year (You can read the full text of the letter from the DfT to the Council here).

The DfT say that the funding position and priorities of all the schemes remain uncertain until Ministers have set out their spending priorities.

Whilst the Government have awarded the Heysham to M6 Link "Programme Entry" status (which indicates they are willing to fund it subject to funds being available, gaining planning permission and providing a further analysis of the business case), the County Council will need to make a further application for funding once the legal processes are complete. This is likely to be in spring 2011.

The Campaign for Better Transport claims the government review means that schemes with public inquiries coming up stand a very good chance of having their funding pulled in an effort to save money nationally - and schemes without Programme Entry status are unlikely to proceed.

The Government's new stance, which has been given a cautious welcome by campaigners who have long argued for other approaches to improve Britain's traffic problems, comes in part as a result of demands to reduce the national budget deficit. New ministers are also looking at new approaches to national transport issues.

New Secretary of State for Transport Peter Hammond is considered in favour of cuts in public spending sort of person, although he has also talked about ending the mythical "war on motorists", but has, as yet, proposed anything particularly new.

Minister of State Theresa Villiers – a senior Minister within the Department - is considered to be very much in favour of 'option identification and multi-modal approaches' - meaning she won't necessarily opt for one solution to traffic issues.

Campaigners against the planed M6 Link say Lancaster County Council should now go back to the drawing board and look again at the many low-cost alternatives previously proposed including, perhaps, continuing with the Park and Ride plans which were already part of the Bypass scheme; and pushing for improvements to the Heysham-Carnforth rail link that could help address the problems of lorry traffic by making Carnforth a hub for rail freight.

Land already owned by Network Rail could be utilised for this, and such a proposal makes sense given County Council claims that much lorry traffic to Heysham port comes from the north of the country.

Green councillor and transport expert John Whitelegg - who had discussions with the Conservatives about transport policy before the Election - has welcomed the spending review.

"Most new roads are bad value for money and our very own M6-Heysham link plan is especially bad value for money," he told virtual-lancaster. "Its impact on creating jobs, reducing congestion and improving air quality is pathetically small and for a £137 million a real white elephant. I's an obvious candidate for the chop and I hope it is chopped.

"There are so many really good ways of dealing with our transport problems that it will be marvellous to get on with developing them without the spectre of the bypass hanging over us."

Transport Solutions for Lancaster and Morecambe co-ordinator David Gate has also welcomed the review. "This is encouraging news," he says.

However, the County Council, which recently announced Costain had been awarded the construction contract for the £100m Heysham to M6 link road, says it will be "business as usual" for the link's design team after what they describe as the DfT's announced post-election "stock take" of all the major transport schemes.

The council says it will continue to work on the development of the scheme and prepare for the Orders Inquiry in October, as work on this is being funded by the county council and money has been set aside for it.

"When the DfT awarded Programme Entry for the scheme they said that it was a vital new road that will ease congestion and boost the North West economy," County Councillor Keith Young, Cabinet member for highways and transport told virtual-lancaster. "That is still the case and when the time comes we will be presenting the best possible case to the Government to obtain funding.

"The road will bring much needed investment to the area and is excellent value for money with a return of £6 on every pound spent."

Lancashire County Council is not the only Council affected by the review. Almost as soon as the new government was installed, the Department for Transport wrote to Conservative-run Shropshire County Council about plans for its North West Relief Road for Shrewsbury, telling them the scheme should not be progressed until the comprehensive spending review has reported back.

• (Full text of the letter from the DfT to the Council informing them of the spending review)


• TSLM have a range of proposals for non-road traffic and transport improvements on their campaign web site: http://heyshamm6link.info


• Campaign for Better Transport: www.bettertransport.org.uk

Peter Hammond discussing his brief on the BBC's Daily Politics

Brass bands return to Happy Mount Park

With summer approaching, Lancaster City Council is launching its annual programme of Sunday brass band concerts in Morecambe’s Happy Mount Park.

The concerts are as popular today as they where back in the 1970s, when they were first established, and regularly attract audiences of around 200 people from across the region.

This year’s programme starts on Sunday 23rd Ma, with the ever-popular Preston Concert Band and continues every Sunday, up to and including 5th September.

Over the course of the season, the series will feature the very best of brass, drawn from across the North West.
Situated at the east end of Morecambe’s promenade, Happy Mount Park provides a perfect setting for the concerts and is proud of its reputation of offering attractions for all ages.

As well as enjoying the music, visitors can take a stroll in the attractive parkland setting, sample the delights of the varied menu at the Café in the Park or try one of the park’s other attractions, such as the Happy Mount Express miniature railway, Splash Park or the recently opened adventure play park.

Seating is not provided, but members of the public might wish to take along their own picnic style chair or, alternatively, hire a deck chair at the park.

The concerts start at 2.30pm and are free of charge, but donations are welcome. The full programme is as follows:

MAY

23 - Preston Concert Band
30 - Morecambe Bay Brass

JUNE

6 - Blackpool Brass
13 - Morecambe Band
20 - Slaidburn Silver Band
27 – Kendal Concert Band

JULY

4 - Kirkby Lonsdale Band
11- Kendal Concert Band
18 - Wilsden Band
25 - Morecambe Band

AUGUST

1 - Morecambe Band
8 - Morecambe Band
15 - Morecambe Band
22 - Pilling Band
29 - Morecambe Band

SEPTEMBER

5 - Burneside Brass Band
12 - Morecambe Band