Friday, 4 June 2010

Police close Lancaster drugs den

Police have closed the doors on a drugs den in Lancaster.

Lancaster Magistrates granted the closure order after hearing how residents’ lives had been made a misery by anti-social behaviour taking place in and around the property in Lune Terrace.

The ‘crack house’ closure order was granted after the local neighbourhood policing team, working closely with officers involved in the recent Operation Nimrod drugs raids, gathered evidence relating to the behaviour of residents at - and visitors to - the property.

Complaints from those living near by included an excessive amount of people visiting the address at all hours and groups congregating outside. During an execution of a warrant at the property, drugs paraphernalia and evidence of drugs storage were discovered.

The property has now been secured and will remain closed for two months. During this time it will be an offence to remain in or enter the property. Anyone doing so is liable to up to six months’ imprisonment or a fine of up to £5,000 or both.

The closure notice has been posted on the property, giving details of the action that has been taken.

Speaking after the order was granted, PC Giuseppe Agliolo, community beat manager for the area, said: "Shutting down this property will have a really positive effect on those who live near to it as their lives have been blighted by the disruptive and anti-social behaviour going on at this address.

“I hope that this sends out a clear message from the police and our partner agencies that such behaviour will not be tolerated and we will use the available legislation to take action against those making residents’ lives a misery.”

He added: “I would like to thank the local community for supporting us in this action. Without their assistance, we would not have been successful in gaining this order. I would urge any residents who are experiencing similar problems to contact us, so we can work together to tackle the issues caused by drugs in our communities.”

• Anyone with information about drug dealing is asked to contact police on 01524 63333.

Lancaster Shop Tops Fine Food North West awards

smallershop 034.jpgChina Street-based J. Atkinson & Co attended the presentation of the Fine Food North West awards last night at Ewood Park, home of Blackburn Rovers - and won the Best Coffee for their Colombian Santuario.

This latest success in the Awards marks a Hat-trick for Atkinson's, who have won a best drink category at these awards for the last three years running.

Top marks went to the independent retailer's Relationship Coffee, sourced from a farm they visited last year.

"We stayed overnight at the Hacienda and were treated to some excellent hospitality by our host Camilo Merizalde," says owner Ian Steel, "who spends every waking hour on this huge project of transforming an erstwhile cattle ranch into a veritable coffee growing laboratory.

"We saw many different varieties growing there and some totally new hybrids not yet available. So, nice to have some reward for his hard work - as well as ours!

"Also gratifying that we really did go to the trouble of sourcing and choosing this coffee at origin and have now had the endorsement of 60 judges in a blind tasting agree that this is a damn fine coffee!

Ian says the winning coffee, Colombian Santuario Bourbon Heliconias Lot 1,890 Mts. asl Appellation 'Cauca State' Controlee is also winner of Atkinson's in-house prize for coffee with longest name! ... and the first Appellation Controlee they have roasted. "How Traceable is that?"

J Atkinson & Co. have been supplying tea and coffee to the good citizens of Lancaster and surrounding areas since a young Queen Victoria came to the throne in 1837. The business was established in 1837 as the Grasshopper Tea Warehouse and has occupied these premises on China Street since 1901.

Five generations of continuous trading in the City have resulted in a marvellous accumulation of wonderful tea and coffee artefacts at the old shop on China Street. In the window the famous small roaster, an Uno dating from 1945 still wafts its delicious aroma out into the streets of Lancaster today. Everything from scoops to scales have been lovingly mended and cared for over the years and are still very much in use on a daily basis.

Atkinson's play their role in the wider global community by Ethically Sourcing the very highest quality of both tea and coffee and provide a specialist resource centre at their Academy for those who want to learn more.

• More about J. Atkinson & Co (Independent Retailer of the Year - Finalist) at www.thecoffeehopper.com; but why not simply call in at the shop on China Street (which is also cited as one of the UK's 50 Best Food Shops). Tel: 01524 65470

Youngsters invited to World Cup screenings

Youngsters are being invited to watch England’s World Cup matches on the big screen in a bid to reduce anti-social behaviour and crime in Lancaster during the tournament.

Neighbourhood police team officers are working in conjunction with staff from the city’s Dukes Theatre to show the England team’s first three matches on the cinema screen at the Moor Lane venue. The events are also being supported by the Young People’s Service and LANPAC.

Free food will be available before each game and a DJ will provide entertainment afterwards.

100 free tickets will be available for each game and will be distributed by the Ridge Community Centre to youngsters aged eight – 17 who live in the Bulk area of the city.

PC Phil Ladlow, community beat manager for Bulk ward, said: “Children and teenagers love football – but there isn’t really anywhere for them to watch the tournament other than at home.

“The idea behind the screenings is to provide them with somewhere they can enjoy watching the games, while keeping them off the streets and out of trouble.”

He added: “I’m really grateful for the help of all those at Dukes Theatre – without their support this would not be possible. I would also like to thank the staff at the Ridge Community Centre, for the work that they are doing towards the project.”

Crackdown planned on alcohol-fuelled problems during World Cup

Partnership agencies in Lancaster and Morecambe have united to tackle alcohol-related crime and anti-social behaviour during this year’s World Cup.

Studies of previous tournaments shows that there is often an increase in reports of domestic violence during such competitions, along with other crimes and instances of anti-social behaviour - often prompted by binge drinking.

The Lancaster District Community Safety Partnership, which includes agencies such as the City and County Councils, Lancashire Police and the local NHS, will be working together throughout the World Cup to reduce these problems by increasing awareness of the risks of alcohol abuse and substance misuse.

“We want everyone to enjoy this year’s World Cup," expalins Councillor Eileen Blamire, chair of the CSP, "so we're working together to try and minimise unacceptable, harmful or even criminal behaviour that can be brought on by drinking too much.”

Posters will be displayed in pubs and clubs across the area, in connection with PubWatch schemes, and premises will receive regular visits from members of the Multi Agency Licensing Team to reduce alcohol-related disorder.

A radio campaign on local station Bay Radio will also help highlight the issue.

Diversionary activities are being set up for the area’s youngsters, to provide them with positive activities and reduce juvenile nuisance problems.

“Our message is simple – drink sensibly," Coun Blamire added. "Alcohol is a major factor in around half of all violent crime and is also a major factor in anti-social behaviour. If you are out watching the World Cup in town or getting into the football spirit at home then be responsible, don’t put yourself or other people at risk.”

Community Safety Partnerships (CSPs) bring together all the main agencies working to make a district a safer, more confident place. In Lancaster the priorities are; criminal damage, street cleanliness, anti-social behaviour, serious acquisitive crime, alcohol related violent crime, domestic abuse, substance misuse, and fire and road safety. Woven through these objectives is the requirement to improve our links and engage the local community.

• Visit www.lancaster.gov.uk/community-and-living/community-safety/ to find out more. The campaign is being runj in conjunction with Wyre and Fylde CSPs.

Thursday, 3 June 2010

New Lancaster Allotments get ‘Off The Ground’

Work is underway to create a new community allotment site on Ambleside Road on the Ridge Estate in Lancaster. The ‘Off The Ground’ project is being managed by LESS (Lancaster District) who are also employing a team of project staff to support food growing projects across the Lancaster District.

The project will provide real benefits to the local community. Residents living closest to the new site will be prioritised for plots with some plots also available to community organisations. Further opportunities to get involved include free on site training and advice and support for residents to grow food in their own gardens.

Tom Fyson, Off the Ground Project Coordinator at LESS, said ‘It is really exciting to be creating something which will have such a positive impact in the Lancaster District. The new allotments will help address a real demand in the local area and plot holders will be able to benefit from free training and advice from the project team. Our Project Workers will also be available to provide free support to schools and community groups across the Lancaster District who want to develop food growing projects.’

Contractors are currently on site creating the infrastructure for the allotments including access and security fencing. Polytunnels will also be constructed to maximise the growing potential. The site will be set up following principles of sustainability and will include a compost toilet and tanks to collect rainwater for irrigation.

Anyone wishing to be considered for a plot or to find out more about volunteering and training opportunities with the project is encouraged to get in touch. Visit the website at http://lessuk.org/index.php?page=off-the-ground, drop into the offices at 8 Ridge Square or contact Tom or Joy on 01524 66100 (or 65937) or via email to tom@lessuk.org.

The project has received funding for the next three years from the Big Lottery Fund’s Local Food scheme and the Lancaster District Local Strategic Partnership.

McGuinness sets TT pace

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After a steady start to the 2010 Isle of Man TT Races, Morecambe's John McGuinness became the first man to lap at more than 130mph in practice this week when he set a scorching lap of 130.242mph during Wednesday evening's third session. Conditions were perfect on the Island and McGuinness took full advantage to go almost nine seconds quicker than his nearest rival.

After Saturday's opening, untimed session was wiped out by heavy rain and fog, John first took to the Mountain Course on Monday evening where he recorded two laps on his HM Plant Honda Superbike machine, the quickest at 127.090mph which was the third quickest on the night. Laps of 120.289mph and 124.523mph on the Padgetts Supersport and Superstock machines saw him fourth quickest in each class.

Tuesday's second practice session got underway on time at 6.20pm despite heavy rain and mist during the day but, except for a few damp patches, especially at Ramsey and Governor's Bridge, conditions were again good. As always, John decided to exercise caution with the track surface less than 100% but again posted two laps on the Superbike machine, the best this time 125.546mph. He also went out on the Superstock machine although fuel problems kept him down in 16th place.

Conditions were absolutely perfect on Wednesday evening with the whole of the Island bathed in beautiful sun and after setting the fastest lap of the week on his opening lap at 129.265mph, John went quicker still second time around to reassert his authority on the Superbike class and the lap of 130.242mph saw him comfortably top the leaderboard. Two laps on the Supersport machine saw him record a best speed of 123.128mph, the third quickest on the night, whilst a solitary lap of 124.973mph was good enough for 7th in the Superstock class.

Speaking on Wednesday evening, John said: "Conditions were pretty good tonight and we made a few improvements to the bike so after having a look round on the first lap, everything felt right to push for a fast lap.

"I got held up in a couple of places and lost a bit of time from Ramsey to the Waterworks where there were yellow flags out so it could have been a good few seconds quicker. Conditions were good though, the tracks getting a fair bit of runner laid down now too so it was good to stick a 130mph lap in and get to the top, Practice doesn't mean anything though so I just used the first couple of sessions to get dialled back in and we're not a million miles away now.

"All three bikes are working well so let's hope this good weather continues and we can finish practice strobgly in readiness for Saturday's first race."
 
Practice continues today (Thursday) and Friday evening before the opening Superbike race takes place at 12pm on Saturday.

• Picture by Stephen Davison - Pacemaker Press International

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Free Peter Pan Tickets in Bumper Sticker Giveaway.

The biggest open-air walkabout theatre event in Britain will be taking place in Lancaster's Williamson Park from 2 July – 7 August at 7.15pm and The Dukes are giving away tickets throughout June as part of a bumper car sticker competition.

The theatre will be giving away 2 tickets for Peter Pan each day from Monday 7 – Friday 11 June in the Lancaster and Morecambe area. Collect an ‘I Believe!’ bumper sticker from either The Dukes, Lancaster Visitor Information Centre or Lancaster Library and place it in your car window. Dukes spies will choose one car registration per day to be the lucky recipient of the tickets. Check the website (www.dukes-lancaster.org) each day in June to see whether your registration is listed. If it is, call 01524 598508 or email anelson@dukes-lancaster.org to claim your prize. Closing date for claims is Friday 9 July at 5pm.

Spies will also be about in Lancashire and the South Lakes area throughout June so make sure you display your sticker all month to increase your chances of winning.

Other tickets for Peter Pan can be booked at The Dukes Box Office on 01524 598500 or www.dukes-lancaster.org.

Cumbrian gunman found dead

_47976434_db1.jpgA number of people have been killed and others injured after a gunman opened fire in several areas of west Cumbria.

Police have just located a body believed to be that of Derrick Bird in a wooded area near Boot.

The BBC reported Cumbrian Police were searching for the suspect, named as Derrick Bird, after shots were fired in Whitehaven, Seascale and Egremont.

Detectives said he drove into the central Lakes in a Citroen Picasso before abandoning it in the Boot area.

People who live nearby were being urged to stay indoors for their own protection.

"Our focus is now on the movements of Mr Bird this morning - we believe there are a number of fatalities and injuries," said police in a statement. "Our thoughts are with the families in these tragic times. We are asking for any witnesses to come forward and help us with our investigation into the events of this morning.

"Police are asking those who were sheltering to now go about their normal day to day activities and would like to thank them for their patience in incredibly difficult circumstances. Please be aware there are a number of crime scenes across the county and we would ask for people's patince whilst we conduct our investigations."

• Cumbrian Police Statement here. A police helpline number 0800 0960095 has been set up for concerned relatives of those involved in this incident.

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Thumbs up for new Play Area from local school childen

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Lancaster City Council invited children from five local primary schools to celebrate the official opening of a new recreation area in Ryelands Park, a project backed by regional funding.

Located near the children’s play area behind Ryelands House, the 34 trees planted in March and provision of eight new benches has helped to transform the area into a quiet place where people can sit and contemplate.

Before the official launch, representatives from St. Luke’s, Ryelands and St. Joseph’s primary schools, Skerton Community High School, Our Lady’s Catholic College and a Gypsy, Roma, Traveller youth group met at the Sure Start building to share ideas on how more improvements could be made in the area.

Ideas ranged from butterflies and chickens, sunny days and friendly people to safe places to hang out with friends, wildlife gardens and splash parks to name but a few.

Council play rangers were on hand to round off the day with outdoor fun and games before joining ward councillors and teachers on a tour of the new recreation area which it is hoped will also be used by local schools as an outdoor classroom.

Funding for the tree planting and benches was granted by ‘North West Together We Can’ as part of the Connecting Communities project.

Moorside School campaign to fence grounds continues

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Parents of Moorside Primary School in Lancaster meet local County Councillors last week to hand them a petition signed by nearly 600 parents and members of the local community supporting the school's fencing of its grounds.

The parents’ group’s chairperson Lucy MacCulloch, (left with petition) handed the petition to Councillors Joan Jackson (centre) and Liz Scott (right), while parents and supporters look on.

"It was wonderful to see so many people supporting the school move to fence its grounds, including Councillors Jackson and Scott”, said Lucy. “We now have almost 600 signatures on the petition from parents and the local community and the support of the Councillors is very much appreciated.

"Councillors Scott and Jackson pledged their support to our group, as we continue our effort to mobilise support for the school’s move to fence its grounds and keep them safe for the children to use.”

Top council staffer unable to name Lancaster famous for The Times

National newspaper The Times has just published an article reporting Lancaster University's placement in the country's Top Ten universities - but the accolade has been marred by a marked lack of knowledge about Lancaster itself from one of the Council's most highly-paid members of staff, interviewed by the paper.

Heather McManus, the city’s director for regeneration, proved unable to name any of Lancaster's famous names when questioned - even though her job to promote the city must surely require knowing the town's rich history.

For her benefit - and the Times reporter Penny Wark, who claimed Lancaster has "an increasingly smart marina" (the last time we looked there were two rowing boats tied up in the Lune near the Wagon and Horses), virtual-lancaster is pleased to list just some famous faces Lancaster can be proud of here...

Henry Cort (1740–1800), English ironmaster and inventor; Thomas Edmondson, inventor of the Edmondson railway ticket; chemist Edward Frankland, who originated the concept of valence; biologist Richard Owen who is renowned for coining the term "dinosaur"; businessman and Baron James Williamson (1842–1930), noted for textiles and creating Williamson Park and the Ashton memorial; authors Joe Abercrombie, Cherith Baldry; cartoonists Paul Harrison-Davies and Nick Miller; TV script writer Peter Whalley, best known, perhaps, for his work on Coronation Street; Marvel Comics writer Andy Diggle; RPG games designer Ken Walton; musicians Keith Baxter, drummer of British rock band 3 Colours Red, and John Waite, formerly lead singer of the bands Bad English and The Babys; military journalist Tim Ripley; sports personalities James Beattie, Alan Warriner-Little (2001 World Grand Prix Darts champion) and Motorcycle Racer and Isle of Man TT legend John McGuinness; and poet Laurence Binyon. To name but a few.

Then there's those were passing through at Lancaster University before going on to fame elsewhere, such as Richard Allinson, DJ BBC Radio 2; Doctor Who and Pulse TV script writer Paul Cornell; Tipping the Velvet author Sarah Waters and award-winning writer Judith Lennox; journalist and novelist Martin J. Goodman; James May, journalist, presenter Top Gear; BBC North West Tonight presenter Ranvir Singh; venture capitalist Jon Moulton; Olympic cyclist Jason Queally; actor Andy Serkis, who played Gollum in the Lord of the Rings film trilogy and actress Ursula Holden-Gill, who played Alice Dingle in Emmerdale; and many more.

We also have to wonder quite why, when presented such a golden opportunity to promote the city, the Director of Regeneration also apologised for a lack of hotels, claiming "there’s no point in shouting about the place until we have the accommodation for people, and some of the hotels we need are still being built.” We're sure the owners of the Shakespeare, the Kings Arms, Penny Bridge and many other establishments, including those in Morecambe, will be rushing to thank her for this glowing reference.

Perhaps she should take a look at the Council's own Visitor web site.

Read The Times article here (subscription may be required)

Vigil planned for Gaza Flotilla victims

Local supporters of Palestine will be holding a vigil in Lancaster tomorrow, to remember those killed on the aid flotilla on their way to Gaza on Monday.

The vigil will take place at 12 noon outside NEXT on Penny Street.

At 4.30am local time, armed Israeli troops boarded one of the boats in the Free Gaza Flotilla which was carrying construction supplies, medical equipment and schoolbooks to Gaza, in an attempt to break the siege which Israel imposed on Gaza over 1080 days ago.

IndyMedia reports that some 35 UK citizens were aboard the boats, which carried activists from over 50 countries. The boats were reportedly 80 miles off the coast of Gaza, and many on the boats were said to be asleep when Israeli troops opened fire with machine guns, leaving at least 16 dead. Many wounded have reportedly been taken to Israeli hospitals.

Israel is on a media offensive claiming that its troops were attacked first. Even if it were true, they would need to explain why they were boarding a ship flying a Turkish flag in International waters.

The UN Security Council has called for for impartial, credible investigation of Israeli Boat Raid, which as been widely condemned. The council agreed to language condemning the acts that resulted in the deaths and injuries aboard the Turkish vessel Mavi Marmara and the European Campaign’s vessel Spendoni.

A demonstration was held outside Downing Street yesterday afternoon and Stop the War had already called a demo for this afternoon at 2.00pm outside Downing Street.

More about the Vigil on Facebook here

Free Gaza Flotilla

New Morecambe MP backs Nuclear Power, Carnforth rail station development

New Morecambe and Lunesdale MP David Morris was quick to reaffirm his support for the nuclear power industry in his maiden speech to the House of Commons last week.

Commenting on plans for a low-carbon energy policy in the Queen's Speech he noted the decommissioning of Heysham 1 and expressed his hope that a new power station would be built in its place.

"The power stations are the major employer in the Heysham area of my constituency, which accounts for 20% of the constituency's electorate," the new Conservative MP told the House. "I am pro-nuclear power, as I said I would be from day one on the doorsteps.

"I will always fight the corner of the nuclear power industry, because I believe it is the future. The House should recognise that, because if we do not, in 10 years' time the lights will go out."

In a wide-ranging speech complimenting former MP Geraldine Smith and noting the Morecambe area's historical connections with the abolition of slavery, he also called for trains to again stop at Carnforth ralway station.

"Carnforth station is the centre of the railway universe in this country," he argued. "Everything goes through Carnforth, but it does not stop there. One of my campaigns as a candidate was to say that I would like the Virgin trains to stop there.

"It is a form of madness that the train stops there for 20 minutes in the morning, afternoon and evening but cannot take on passengers. We are trying to be more efficient in our transport policies in this country - we are trying to get more people on to trains and public transport of all kinds, yet that happens at Carnforth."

Read more about David Morris activities in Parliament on TheyWorkForYou.com

• Lancaster MP Eric Ollerenshaw has yet to make his maiden speech to Parliament. Follow his parliamentary activites on TheyWorkForYou