Friday, 24 September 2010

Freshers offered crime prevention advice at start of new term

Freshers at Lancaster and Morecambe’s colleges and universities are being offered crime prevention advice as they start their new term.

Over 20,000 students come to the north of the county to study each year at campuses including Lancaster University, the University of Cumbria and Lancaster and Morecambe College.

For many students it is their first time away from home and they will now be faced with not only getting to grips with lectures and making friends, but also the added responsibility of looking after both themselves and their property – away from the watchful eyes of parents.

Crime prevention officer Jan Brown is offering students the following advice so that they can avoid becoming a victim of crime and fully enjoy their university experience –

Student Halls

Halls are communal buildings, so there are a lot of people coming in and going out at all different times of day. This can create opportunities for passing thieves. Following a few simple steps can help prevent crime.

  • Always lock your room’s doors and close windows, especially if on the first floor.
  • Be aware of who lives around you – challenge people you don’t know trying to enter your corridor, or contact security if you are have any concerns.
  • Don’t leave flat doors open so that friends can come in – thieves can then come in too.

Living off campus

Once you move out of halls, you leave a monitored environment and the onus is now well and truly on you to make sure your belongings are secure.

  • Make sure doors and windows are locked when you go out.
  • Keep valuables away from windows.
  • Use a light timer switch to give the impression that someone is in the property, even when you are out.
  • Ask your landlord to fit a door chain and use it every time someone knocks at the address.
  • Don’t let anyone into your digs unless you know who they are, even if they are claiming to be from an official organisation. Ask to see identification and check it out – if in doubt, call the police.

Personal property

Laptops, ipods, mobile phones – these days students can have a lot of valuable equipment and property. This can make you a tempting target for thieves.

  • Lock property in your room when you are not using it. Do not leave it out on display near windows.
  • Mark your postcode on to your property with an ultra violet marking pen. This will make it easier to return if it is stolen.
  • Mobile phones are regularly reported stolen every week – most frequently from pubs and clubs. Keep them in a safe – preferably zipped up – place while you are out and about.
  • Make a note of your phone's unique IMEI number - you can get this by tapping in *#06#. Write it down, keep it safe (but not on your phone!) and give it to the police and your network supplier if your phone happens to be stolen.
  • Property also goes from cafes and other public places such as the library –don’t leave items unattended, even for a short time.

Bicycles

Bikes are a cheap method of transport for students –and thieves like them just as much.

  • If you use a bike – lock and secure it each time you leave it, even if it is just to nip into a shop for a few minutes.
  • Use a quality lock. Even better – use two locks
  • Secure your bike to something substantial and put your chain through the frame, not just the wheel as this can be removed.
  • If you can easily remove your bike seat and take it with you then do so.

Identity theft

This is possibly the fastest growing crime in the country and messy student accommodation can be the perfect place for criminals to find bills and other personal items left lying around.

  • If property such as credit cards, passports and personal address details are stolen, you can find yourself the victim of identity theft. Report them as missing to the relevant authority as soon as possible.
  • Destroy any item that has your name and address details on it, particularly bank statements or credit card bills, before disposing of them in the bin.
  • Ideally use a shredder, or make sure that your details cannot be identified
Staying safe while out and about

You may be finding your way round a new city for the first time and you will definitely be soaking up the atmosphere and making the most of your time at uni – just make sure you stay safe while doing so.

  • Always stick to well lit main routes through the city.
  • If you go out as a group of friends – stay as a group.
  • If one person wants to go home early make sure they are going to get there in one piece, or if you are disappearing (for what ever reason) – tell someone where you are going.
  • Remember – safety in numbers –  so stick together and never walk home alone.
  • Keep enough money for a taxi. Don’t spend your last fiver on a burger – get home safe instead.  
  • Get a taxi from a licensed firm or taxi rank.
  • Take care of your cash, but only take out what you will realistically need for an evening and avoid using cash machines at night –it is not worth the risk.

Alcohol

Alcohol is a traditional part of student life – but remember it isn’t a compulsory part of your university education! Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol can affect your judgment, cause a health risk and leave you vulnerable to becoming a victim of crime.

  • Pace your drinks and consider alternating alcoholic drinks with a soft drink or water - you will last the night out and you’ll save a bit of cash too.
  • Drink spiking is rare (the amount of alcohol consumed is more often the problem.) Keep hold of your drink and don’t leave it on the side of the dance floor. Always watch your drink being poured – if someone offers to buy you a drink, go to the bar with them.
  • Remember that drink lowers inhibitions and makes you more vulnerable to theft or assault. If something happens to you, report it to the police.
  • Your behaviour may come at a cost –police officers take a zero tolerance attitude to drunken criminal behaviour. Penalty notices for disorder cost £80  - a fairly hefty fine for a student pocket – and a criminal record is not the kind of result you want to leave university with.

Wild Mushroom warning for Autumn 'foragers'

Destroying Angel Mushroom photographed by Daniel Butler of Fungal Forays
A poisonous Destroying Angel mushroom.
Photo: Daniel Butler of Fungal Forays
The Health Protection Agency’s poisons experts have issued a wild mushroom safety message as autumn arrives, warning of the potential dangers of fungi foraging for those who don't know the good from the dangerous.

A bumper harvest this year has sounded warning bells for the Agency, who are warning that anyone going mushroom picking needs to be very careful before consuming their crop.

The National Poisons Information Service, which is commissioned by the Health Protection Agency, is sounding the alarm as it receives queries from clinicians needing help treating those who have picked and consumed sometimes dangerously toxic wild mushrooms.

Earlier this month. stories were published in various national newspapers recounting The Horse Whisperer author Nicholas Evans, disastrous and potentially fatal foraging experience back in 2008. While staying at his brother-in-law’s Scottish estate, the writer and his companions gathered a basket of what they believed to be chanterelles, but which turned out to be deadly webcaps, which look very similar.

The four gastronomes were taken seriously ill and the Daily Mail reported that three of them are only being kept alive with dialysis - two years on, the Evanses and their brother-in-law have almost no kidney function.

Luckily, none of the four children present at the meal (Nick and Charlotte have a six-year-old son, Finlay, and their hosts have three children) wanted to try them - doctors told them later that if they had, it could have killed them.

Luckily, none of the four children present at the meal (Nick and Charlotte have a six-year-old son, Finlay, and their hosts have three children) wanted to try them - doctors told them later that if they had, it could have killed them.

Of course, this alarming story - and there are many more - has to be put into context. Over the whole of the last century there have been two adult deaths from eating wild mushrooms. One was a hippy who was experimenting with fly agaric (which is extremely hallucinogenic) and the other was a Vietnamese woman on the Isle of Wight in 2008 who ate a death cap. Other than that, the only fatalities here are toddlers who are in that phase of exploring the world by putting everything in their mouths - which is not good if it's a death cap or destroying angel.

"Only a few mushrooms will kill you; most will just make you wish you were dead," Phil Daoust, who's a big fan of wild mushrooms, noted in a feature for The Guardian last week. "Species such as the destroying angel, the devil's bolete, the poison pie and the sickener get their names for a good reason."

Death Cap Mushroom photographed by Daniel Butler of Fungal Forays
Death Cap mushroom. Photo: Daniel Butler of Fungal Forays.
It's thought that the 2010 autumn wild mushroom season began in late August and it is expected to run, in some parts of the UK, for several more weeks. But there are dangers as some types of mushroom are so poisonous they can prove fatal if eaten. At present, those that might be found that are poisonous are the Fly agaric, Panther cap, Destroying angel, the Woolly milk cap and the blue-staining bolete.

"Only a few mushrooms will kill you; most will just make you wish you were dead," Phil Daoust, who's a big fan of wild mushrooms, noted in a feature for The Guardian last week. "Species such as the destroying angel, the devil's bolete, the poison pie and the sickener get their names for a good reason."

Woolly Milk Mushroom photographed by Daniel Butler of Fungal Forays
The poisonous Woolly Milk Cap mushroom. Photo: Daniel Butler of Fungal Forays.
“Environmental and weather conditions in recent months have resulted in there being a bumper crop of wild mushrooms in many parts of the UK during this mushroom season," notes Professor Simon Thomas, Director of the NPIS unit in Newcastle. "This has encouraged people to forage for wild mushrooms and include these in their diet. 

“It is important to note that the toxins contained within some of the most dangerous varieties of wild mushrooms are generally not destroyed by cooking.

“NPIS receives enquiries from NHS staff each year who are concerned about people who have ingested mushrooms," he added. "Some of these have inadvertently picked and eaten toxic mushrooms and subsequently developed severe symptoms of mushroom poisoning. Very occasionally this has resulted in death, although this has been rare in the UK.

“While many mushrooms growing in the wild are delicious and safe to eat, it is not always easy, even for people with experience, to differentiate between toxic and non-toxic species. NPIS therefore advises that people should not eat mushrooms collected in the wild unless they are familiar with the various species that grow in the UK and are sure that the mushrooms they have collected are safe to eat.”

Most cases involve accidental ingestion of mushrooms by children under ten; these do not usually result in severe symptoms. Enquiries concerning adults often occur after deliberate ingestion of mushrooms collected in the wild.

Already in 2010, NPIS has answered 209 telephone enquiries relating to ingestion of mushrooms. During the corresponding periods of previous years there were 123 enquiries (2009) and 147 mushroom enquiries (2008).  The numbers known to involve adults were 63 (2010), 33 (2009) and 42 (2008).

Dr John Cooper, director of the HPA’s Centre for Radiation, Chemicals and Environmental Hazards, which commissions NPIS, said: “Foraging for wild food can be great fun. But people need to be aware that when it comes to mushrooms there can be very real risks to health involved and think carefully about what they are doing.”

Tips on  for foragers  include:
  • Make sure you can identify the fruit, leaves or mushroom that you've found. Use several features to be sure (check leaf, flower, berry colour and shape, season, and so on). Most of us can spot a blackberry but mushrooms are much more tricky. If you're unsure, don't eat it.
  • Do wash your harvest well, wherever you have collected it.
  • Don’t allow children to pick or eat wild food unsupervised.
  • Don't eat an unhealthy looking plant or fruit – if it appears burnt, bruised or has any sign of mould, for example.
  • Don't eat plants and berries growing on old industrial sites, busy roadside verges or where the ground is visibly contaminated with oil or ash.
  • Do keep a sliver of mushroom, berry or leaf aside so it can later be identified if you do have a stomach upset.
If you go foraging, only take what you need so that there is enough of the plant left to reproduce. Under the 1981 Wildlife and Countryside Act it is illegal to uproot any wild plant without the permission of the owner or occupier of the land. It is also illegal to pick, uproot, collect the seed from, or sell, any of particularly rare or vulnerable species.  The current list can be found on the Joint Nature Conservation Committee website.

• A full list of both edible and poisonous autumn mushrooms can be found at www.wildmushroomsonline.co.uk/Autumn-Mushroom/index.php

• Wild Mushrooms Online UK: www.wildmushroomsonline.co.uk

Fungal Forays: Mushroom Safaris in Wales
Special thanks to Daniel Butler at Fungal Forays for kindly providing the photographs used in this article, which are his copyright

How to Pick Wild Mushrooms: article by Phil Daoust in The Guardian

• Guidance on wild food foraging on the Food Standard Agency’s website www.food.gov.uk/news/newsarchive/2004/sep/forage

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Cannabis plants found at Scorton farm

Just days after finding a drugs factory in Heysham, police have found a number of cannabis plants growing in farm buildings in Scorton after carrying out a drugs raid. The haul has an estimated street value of at least £300,000.

Officers executed a drugs warrant at the farm in Cleveley Bank Lane at around 12 noon on Monday, as a result of information received from the local community.

Inside one of the outbuildings a sizeable cannabis cultivation set-up was discovered, along with a number of growing cannabis plants.

PC Dave Kerfoot, who led the operation on Monday, said: “As is usual with these types of set-ups, the inside of the barn had been decked out with heating and ventilation systems and the electricity meter had been tampered with in order to disguise the amount of power that was actually being drained.

“It is conservatively estimated that the plant would produce in excess of £300,000 worth of cannabis each year.”

The cannabis plants were seized and sent away for forensic analysis along with samples of the cultivation equipment at the scene. The remainder of the cultivation equipment was seized under police powers and has been destroyed.

In addition to the search at the farm, further searches were conducted at two addresses in Preston, which resulted in the seizure of further cultivation equipment and cannabis plants.

Two men, aged 38 and 40, from the Preston area, were arrested on suspicion of cultivating cannabis and have been released on bail pending further inquiries.

PC Kerfoot continued: “I would like to reassure residents that if they have concerns about drugs in their community, we will act on them. If you have any information, no matter how small it may seem, contact your local police.”

• The neighbourhood policing team at Garstang can be contacted on 01995 607834 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

The World is on Lancaster's Streets this Saturday

An exciting urban street game will take to Lancaster's streets on Saturday afternoon (25th September) involving teams, chasing and checkpoints -- all in an intriguing bid to raise awareness about development issues.

Organised by the Global Link development education centre, adult volunteers and Dukes theatre young people the street game will also be run next Saturday (2nd October) on Morecambe Promenade.

Young people and adults are invited to register at the Friends Meeting House (next to the train station) in Lancaster, and at the Winter Gardens in Morecambe, at 2.00 pm. They will race in around the city centre, negotiating their way through checkpoints, finding materials they need to build shelters, finding out how to survive on pennies, and being chased by giant mosquitos carrying malaria.

The project is funded by the Department for International Development and Lancashire County Council, and uses fun and games to raise awareness of the Millennium Development Goals - eight international goals set to reduce poverty, disease, and infant and maternal mortality, as well as improve environmental conditions by 2015.

People can play by registering on the day or joining the Facebook group. If people are aged between 13-19 they can receive an AQA award on global learning if they successfully complete the game.

• Lancaster - Saturday 25th September - Game starts at 3.00 pm from the Friends Meeting House

• Morecambe - Saturday 2nd Octobr - Game starts at 3.00 pm from Winter Gardens - Map

Registration from 2.30 p.m.


• For further information see www.worldonthestreet.org.uk or email play[at]worldonthestreet.org.uk

Operation Boat targets scrap metal thieves cashing in on crime

Police in Lancaster and Morecambe have launched Operation Boat to target criminals cashing in on crime at scrap metal dealers.
As prices of scrap metal rises, the temptation increases for thieve to steal metal, including valuable lead from the roofs of churches and schools.

As part of the operation, which will continue throughout the year, officers carried out checks on the White Lund estate recently to ensure that scrap metal yards were complying with their current legal obligations. Working with staff from VOSA, the Environmental Agency , Trading Standards and other agencies, police checked any scrap metal being taken on and off the site in order to determine its origin.

A total of 30 vehicles were checked for stolen metal. While no metal thefts were detected, one person was arrested on suspicion of possessing cannabis and VOSA issued five notices to vehicles with defects.

Officers also addressed any motoring offences being committed, issued warnings to seven owners of vehicles being advertised for sale on the road and carried out checks for stolen bicycles, following a recent spate of thefts.

“Metal theft is a problem across the county as the price of scrap rises," explains Inspector Dave Vickers of Morecambe police. "Thieves will go to extraordinary lengths to get it, often climbing onto high and dangerous buildings, ledges and roofs to steal metal – usually lead.

“Usually the first the victim knows about it is when it starts to rain and they get a leak, so they not only face the financial cost of replacing the metal but also repairing the damage.

 “Anyone found in possession of stolen scrap metal can expect to be arrested and detained whilst we make further enquires into the origins of the metal.”

Operation Boat also encompasses police action against organised criminal groups targeting commercial warehouses and industrial premises in the Morecambe and Lancaster area.  Officers working with local business watch groups, including White Lund Business Watch, will be carrying out regular operations to combat commercial burglaries.

A recent spate of commercial burglaries have occurred in the White Lund and Heysham area," notes Inspector Vickers. "We're requesting the assistance and support  of the local communities, including business communities, to immediately report any suspicious activity or vehicles, in particular late at night.

“We are also asking local business people to make regular checks of their premises, including their  alarm systems and by making weekend visits.

“Any suspicious activity, including an activation of an alarm, should be immediately reported to the police.  At the same time local officers will continue to target these areas at all times of day and night.”  

• Anyone with information about scrap metal thefts should contact police on 0845 1 25 35 45 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Make space for Christmas this October with Bulky Matters

As the run up to Christmas begins, local recycling operation Bulky Matters is encouraging anyone having a clear out to take advantage of its October special offer.

Bulky Matters, a partnership between Lancaster City Council and local re-use charity Furniture Matters, collects unwanted household items from inside people’s homes, at a time to suit them, for a small fee.

Many of the items collected by Bulky Matters are then reconditioned and either sold at low cost to disadvantaged families, or if they are not reusable they are stripped for parts. Residual waste is recycled where possible and throughout the whole of October you can have four items collected for the price of three.

The income generated from the charges to customers and from the sale of the goods themselves all goes back in to help subsidise the service.

Furniture Matters provide training and volunteering opportunities for local people using the items collected. Since the service began, hundreds of people have been able to learn new skills, gain qualifications and build up work experience to help them find jobs.

The collection service operates all day Monday to Saturday and on Tuesday and Thursday evenings.

If you have any unwanted items you can save time, avoid the inconvenience of going to the tip, help the environment and help change the lives of thousands of local people by booking your collection on 01524 582491.

• For further details and information about what can and can’t be collected, visit www.lancaster.gov.uk/bulkymatters


Normal collections cost £18 for up to 3 items, and £6 for each additional item. During October the cost will be £18 for up to 4 items and £6 for each additional item. Households in receipt of Council Tax or Housing Benefits are eligible for a 50% discount.

Cannabis factory found in Heysham house

Police discovered a 73-plant cannabis factory at a house in Heysham after residents told officers that they suspected drugs were being sold from the address.

A drugs warrant was executed at the property in Bowland Road by operational support unit officers at 6.40pm on Sunday. Two of the property’s three bedrooms had been converted into a cannabis cultivation set up. Officers seized 73 cannabis plants and a quantity of harvested and prepared cannabis bush, along with a small quantity of suspected amphetamine.

A 44-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of cultivating a class B drug (cannabis), possessing a class B drug (amphetamine), abstracting electricity and distributing an indecent image.

A police spokesperson said: “Residents had concerns about what was going on at the address and we have acted on those concerns.

“Drug dealing can lead to a whole range of anti-social behaviour and other criminal activities, all of which can make residents’ lives a misery. It will not be tolerated in our communities and we will work together with residents to combat these problems.”

Cone Alone: CCTV appeal after ice cream promotion stolen

ice cream1.jpg
ice cream2.jpg
ice cream3.jpg
Police have released CCTV stills after a £150 plastic promotional ice cream cone was stolen from a garage forecourt.

The 4ft item was taken from the forecourt of Ryelands service station, Owen Road, at around 9.00pm on 4th September.

Police would now like to speak to the three people shown in the CCTV images in order to eliminate them from their inquiries.

• Anyone with information is asked to contact police on 01524 63333, quoting log ref LC-20100905-1074.

Local litter offenders pick up hefty fines

Four people who failed to pay fines for dropping litter in local streets have been ordered to pay a total of £770 by a court.

All four were issued with £80 fixed penalty notices during June, July and August as part of a crackdown by Lancaster City Council. In total, 46 fixed penalty notices were issued to people caught dropping cigarette butts in Lancaster.

Anyone who drops litter is committing a criminal offence and liable to an £80 on the spot fine if caught by a member of council staff, a Police Community Support Officer, or even a member of the public.

Hannah Smith, of Beeching Close, Lancaster, pleaded guilty by post to failing to pay her fixed penalty notices. She was ordered to pay a £40 fine, £60 costs, and £15 victim surcharge.

Jacqui Crowe of Hammerton Hall Close, Lancaster and Deborah Parker of Christie Avenue in Morecambe did not appear. Both were ordered to pay a £175 fine, £60 costs, and £15 victim surcharge.

Mohammed Latif of The Roundhouse, Robert Street, Lancaster appeared before magistrates and was found guilty and ordered to pay £80 fine, £60 costs and £15 victim surcharge.

Councillor Jon Barry, cabinet member with responsibility for the environment, said: “One of Lancaster City Council's key priorities is to make our district a cleaner and healthier place to live. One of the ways we are doing this is by taking enforcement action against those people who drop litter on the street.”

“We hope these cases show that we are more than willing to pursue offenders through the courts."

A person convicted of dropping litter could be liable to a maximum fine of £2,500.

A 'victim surcharge' has been added on top of every fine for a criminal offence handed out in court since 1st April 2007. It is be paid into a fund aimed at helping improve services for victims of crime, and has been fixed at a flat rate regardless of the size of the fine.

• Anyone who witnesses someone littering should contact the council’s customer service centre on 01524 582491.

Littering: A Criminal Offence (Defra web site)

Solid weekend at Scarborough for McGuinness

John McGuinness at Oliver’s Mount, Scarborough


Morecambe motorcycling champ John McGuinness made his annual trip to Oliver’s Mount, Scarborough at the weekend and the put in his usual solid performances around the woodland circuit.

Armed with just his Padgetts Honda Superstock machine, he was able to finish in the top five in all three of his races and once again thoroughly enjoyed his weekend on the North Yorkshire coast.

With Saturday playing host to some dry, sunny weather, John got his weekend underway with third place in the Superbike heat and lined up on the front row of the grid for the eight-lap race later in the day. A good start saw him up to third at the end of the first lap and although he got shuffled back to fifth, firstly by team-mate Ian Hutchinson and then by Michael Pearson, he enjoyed a good dice with the latter and eventually took a hard fought fifth place, also posting his best ever lap around the public road course, a lap of 1m45.796s making him the fifth fastest rider ever in the history of the event.

Sunday saw a lot different conditions, heavy overnight rain leaving the circuit extremely damp and regular drizzle meant it was going to be a difficult day for everyone. The second leg of the Superbikes saw John have one of his best rides in the wet on the roads for a long time and he took a fine fourth place in the 8-lap race only defeated by Ryan Farquhar, Ian Lougher and Hutchinson. He then completed his weekend with another fifth place, this time in the feature Gold Cup race.

John was also part of the Parade laps, celebrating both 60 years of the Gold Cup racesDuring the course of the weekend, John was also part of the Parade laps, celebrating both 60 years of the Gold Cup races and 21 years of the Steve Henshaw Gold Cup, joining the likes of Carl Fogarty, Mick Grant, James Whitham and Phillip McCallen in entertaining the large crowd in attendance.

Speaking later, a happy John commented: “I always enjoy coming to race at Scarborough and this weekend has been no exception. It was 1996 when I first came here and I still have as much fun now as what I did then so it’s great to see another big crowd turn up.

"I haven’t ridden a 1000cc bike here since 2005 but I was soon on the pace and enjoyed every one of my three races. It was obviously a shame that the weather spoilt things a bit on Sunday but, from my own perspective, it was one of my best rides on the roads in the wet for a long time. I lapped quicker than I’ve ever done here this weekend and finished in the top 5 in every race so I can’t complain.

"It was also a privilege to be part of the celebrations in the Parade laps and, overall, it’s been a good weekend for everyone. We all love coming here and will be back again next year to do it all over again!”

John now turns his attention back to the short circuits with the next round of the Metzeler National 1000cc Superstock Championship taking place at Silverstone this next weekend, 24-26 September.

Report by Phillip Wain. Pictures by Stephen Davison and Alan Armstrong Photography.

Monday, 20 September 2010

Good news for mums-to-be at Carnforth Pool

Lancaster City Council is offering local mums-to-be with a gentle and relaxing way of exercising at its community pool in Carnforth.

From Tuesday 5th October, the new antenatal classes will take place each week from noon until 1pm and take women at all stages of pregnancy through a variety of exercises that will improve flexibility, boost circulation and improve relaxation techniques as they prepare their body for giving birth.

• The cost of each sessions is just £3.20. For more information about these classes or the many other sessions being offered at Carnforth Community Pool call 01524 734699, send an email to carnforthpool@lancaster.gov.uk or visit www.lancaster.gov.uk/carnforthpool

"Carry on Council" ignoring Government spending warning on new road?

Lancashire County Council leader Geoff DriverIs Lancashire County Council still working on its controversial M6 Link Road plan, despite being warned not to by the Government?

In an interview with the Morecambe Visitor last week County Council leader Geoff Driver, while trying to defend the carbon emissions problem posed by the road, let it slip that "recent more detailed calculations show that the figures previously quoted are too high."

However, back in July he was using previously published figures (23,514 extra tonnes of CO2 per anumn) to defend the road. So where have these "recent more detailed calculations" Driver alludes to come from?

Has new research been undertaken despite government warnings in a letter to the County Council on 10th June that any future spending on the project would be at the Council’s own risk, pending the Autumn Spending Review?

"Councillor Driver’s gaffe clearly shows that public money continues to be spent on this road building project," feels David Gate, chair of local transport campaign group Transport Solutions for Lancaster and Morecambe. "Yet, at the same time, County is cutting services for the most vulnerable: services for children and young people, children’s homes, community services – it’s a long list."

The Lancashire Evening Post reported earlier this month on at least £22 million in cuts, including £5.2m to be stripped from children and young people’s services and £4.3m to be cut from the council’s environment directorate.

"Despite these cuts, it’s clear what this Council’s number one priority is," argues Gate. "Coun Driver will stop at nothing to get his hands on the £140 million to build the HGV generating road."

"The Council’s own figures suggested that the road would pump an extra 23,500 tonnes of CO2 into the local environment and that 173 acres of North Lancashire Green Belt would be destroyed. The Council Leader is trying to play down the environmental risks, but at the same time he is responsible by law for cutting carbon emissions."

Transport Solutions for Lancaster and Morecambe opposes the construction of the Heysham M6 Link Northern Route, and favours instead non-damaging sustainable transport solutions.

How Bad Are Bananas?

Kicking off an exciting new series of "Transition Cafes" at the Lancaster's Gregson Centre, author Mike Berners-Lee will talk about his new book How Bad Are Bananas:The Carbon Footprint of Everything on Tuesday 21st September.

How Bad are Bananas, published earlier this year by Profile Books, unearths some surprising facts about the carbon footprint of all aspects of life - from the everyday (such as bananas, sending a letter, a pint of beer) to the more unusual (volcanic eruptions, the Iraq war and bushfires).

You may be surprised: for example, plastic bags have the smallest carbon footprint of all the items listed, while a block of cheese can be bad news for the environment. 

There will be plenty of time for questions and discussion and to get some facts to help make carbon-savvy purchases and lifestyle decisions. It's also a great opportunity to enjoy some food and a drink in this uniquely informal yet informing atmosphere.

Word has it that the Gregson do a good dinner (click here to see their website and menu) so get along and join in from 6.30pm.

Mike Berners-Lee, author of the new book How Bad Are Bananas:The Carbon Footprint of Everything is also Mike the director, principal consultant for  Lancaster University-based Small World Consulting, and an expert in greenhouse gas footprinting and organisation.


How Bad Are Bananas:The Carbon Footprint of Everything, from 6.15pm. Speaker 7.15pm on Tuesday 21t September 2010. Admission free (donations invited). Food and drink available. Wheelchair access at side entrance.

• One of a series of Transition Cafes sponsored by Transition City Lancaster. More info: www.transitioncitylancaster.org