Friday, 3 December 2010

Lancaster Protest March Against Cuts On Saturday 4 December


72% of the cuts being brought in by the Con-Dem coalition will come from women's pockets, claim a new Lancaster group 'Women Against the Cuts' who will be joining the protest march through Lancaster City Centre at noon tomorrow in their unions, community groups and side-by-side with a city unsettled by the proposed job losses and savaging of public services and benefits to the poorest and most vulnerable in our communities.

The march has been organised by Lancaster & Morecambe Against the Cuts, an umbrella organisation of trades unions, voluntary and community groups, to protest the unfairness of the outcome of the government's spending review which they believe is set to widen the gap between rich and poor and create a two nation state where unemployment, homelessness, destitution, lack of education and isolation will become the order of the day for those who don't or can't fight back for themselves and their families.

Students and schoolchildren who face loss of Education Maintainance Allowances for the poorest 16-19 year olds and a trebling of higher education tuition fees will be joining the protest in the lead up to their own Day of Action on 9 December when a vote on tuition fees will be taking place in parliament.

A Lancaster Feminist group has been tracking the effects on women of the cuts researched by the Fawcett Society, which reports to the government on the differential impacts of polices on women. Summarising this research, Lancaster Women Against the Cuts explain:

"Because of pregnancy and family care, women are still disadvantaged in the labour market and too many are in the part-time, low paid jobs that are always the first to go. Women rely on benefits twice as much as men do.

"Cuts in Child Tax Credits, Working Tax Credits, Child Benefit, Housing Benefit and pensions will disproportionately hurt women. The two most vulnerable groups have been identified as lone parents, 90% of whom are women, and women single pensioners.

"Women make up 73% of local authority services employees and 77% of the NHS workforce. Cuts to these services depend on the unspoken assumption that women will just be forced home to fill the gaps, taking on more and more unpaid care and domestic work to support the whole family’s caring needs. And our neighbours’ too, unless we want to watch them suffer.
The Tory / Lib Dem plans rely on women’s unpaid coping work at home and in the community replacing paid jobs.

"The quality of care services for all elderly people in this country is a national scandal but because women tend to live longer than men and women’s pensions are on average 60% less than men’s, older women are particularly vulnerable to cuts in care services.
Public services are not ‘charity’. They are our right!

"The annual deficit is £70bn - but the 1000 wealthiest individuals make £77bn in a year and £120bn of tax is dodged by the rich. Yet they are still fixing 72% of the cuts to the budget to come from women’s pockets. These cuts are stealing the progress made by women over the past fifty years and blighting the hopes of future generations of girls who will have to pick up what we leave."

"We’re not having this. We’re not here just to be exploited. We’re going to pull together and fight back in our workplaces and communities – everywhere!"

Visit the lancaster and Morecambe Against the Cuts website at http://www.lmatc.org.uk/.

You can contact Lancaster Women Against the Cuts by emailing
womenagainstcuts[AT]lists.aktivix.org

Police stalking festive poachers

Police are asking residents and visitors to help hunt down poachers who commit additional crime while filling up on festive bounty - and have made a number of arrests recently.

Deer and game poaching tends to increase at this time of year, as poachers look to fill their Christmas tables with stolen meat.

Officers in rural areas in the north of the county have been carrying out high-visibility patrols, particularly around the border areas with Cumbria and Yorkshire, in a bid to reduce poaching and the accompanying crime that comes with it.

Poachers often commit criminal damage to rural properties, and can also be responsible for thefts from residential homes and farm buildings.

Members of the public are being asked to assist officers in their fight against poaching by reporting any suspicious activity to the police.

PC Antony Marsh, community beat manager for Silverdale and Warton, said: “While hundreds of deer are lawfully and professionally culled by trained deer stalkers every year, many more are cruelly killed by poachers looking to sell the meat on the black market. We tend to see a peak in this trade during the weeks surrounding Christmas.

“As well as taking animals, poachers are often responsible for thefts from farms and rural areas, so it is not just the local wildlife that is affected by them but also rural residents. There are also the associated problems of threats to farmers and game keepers, along with damage to property and crops.

“During our latest joint operation between Carnforth and Lancaster Rural NPTs, with the support of North Yorkshire Police and Cumbria Constabulary, six searches of people and vehicles were conducted, 12 traffic offences dealt with, and four arrests for theft offences were made," he added.

"This just highlights that other types of crime arise from poaching activity and we would really urge the public to support us by contacting us whenever they see something suspicious.”

• Poaching can also be reported to police on 0845 1 25 35 45, or on 999 if a crime is in the process of being committed. Information can also be given anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Appeal continues for information on Missing Senior Citizen

Updated, 11:19 -  this missing man has now been traced in the Kendal area.

Police continuing the search for missing man, Ronald Shearer from Larbert, believe he may be heading to the Lancashire area.

Officers now think that 75-year-old Mr Shearer is heading to or has already arrived in the Lancaster or Morecambe areas, with a view to then heading back up the coast towards Scotland.

Prior to this, he's believed to have travelled through the Dumfries and Cumbria areas.

A spokesman for Central Scotland Police said: "Mr Shearer has been missing now for over a week and there is a strong possibility that he doesn't realise he has been reported missing or that his family are worried for his safety and well-being.

"All we would ask of him is that he gets in touch with police or his family to let them know he is safe and well.

"We are keen to speak to anyone who knows the whereabouts of Mr Shearer, in particular, we are asking proprietors if guest houses and hotels to look out for him. Some-one may have given him a lift or seen him on public transport and we are asking anyone who can assist with information, to contact us."

Mr Shearer was last seen on Wednesday 24 November at Torwood Avenue, Larbert. At the time he was wearing hillwalking clothes, including dark waterproof trousers, a dark hat, walking boots and was carrying a black backpack with red trim. He is described as 5 ft 2 inches tall with dark, short hair and is balding. He has a tattoo of a lion on his left forearm.

• Anyone with information regarding Mr Shearer is asked to contact Central Scotland Police on 01786 456 000.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Local bin collections hampered by bad weather

The recent bad weather conditions is causing difficulties for the refuse and recycling collecting from many areas of the district, but Lancaster City Council say they are doing their best to return to collect missed refuse and recycling collections as quickly as they can.

Many of the side roads taken by the collection vehicles are too dangerous to drive along given the icy conditions. As the collection vehicles weigh up to 20 tonnes they could cause considerable damage, to other vehicles, property and pedestrians if they were to slide on the ice.

In the mean time, the Council is asking people not to report a bin as missed until 24 hours after its normal collection time. If your neighbours' bins have also been missed it is likely due to hazardous road conditions in your area.

• For further information on refuse and recycling collections please visit www.lancaster.gov.uk/bins or phone customer services on 01524 582491

• The Council has also put together a page with links and information on winter services in the district at www.lancaster.gov.uk/severe-weather

Midland Hotel proves a winner for short story writer David Constantine



Morecambe's Midland Hotel has helped inspire author David J. Constantine to win the 2010 BBC National Short Story award with his Tea at the Midland this week.

The story centres on the Midland and the famous Eric Gill stone relief of Odysseus being welcomed from the sea by Nausicaa.

A couple visit the hotel for a romantic break, but their afternoon soon turns into an afternoon fraught with tension as discussions about the Eric Gill artwork exposes fundamental differences in their outlooks on life.

A freelance writer, poet and translator, David Constantine was born in Salford, Lancashire, in 1944. His poetry books include Watching for Dolphins, Caspar Hauser and Something for the Ghosts. His novel Davies (published in 1985) won the Southern Arts Literature Prize and his non-fiction book, Early Greek Travellers and the Hellenic Ideal (1984), won the 1986 Runciman Award. He is also co-editor of the literary journal Modern Poetry in Translation, and author of the collection of short stories, Under the Dam.

Constantine said his win was "deeply satisfying. I don't think I write in a way that's realistic, naturalistic, streetwise, and modern, so it's a confirmation of what I do – and I couldn't do it any other way, the national Guardian reports.  He also called the award "an immense boost" to his publisher, Comma Press, which had sought him out specifically because they wanted to publish short stories, a form often neglected by publishers.

Coun June Ashworth, Cabinet member with responsibility for tourism at Lancaster City Council, said: “We’ve always known that we had something special with the Midland and this award once again proves how blessed we are.

“Since it reopened in 2008 the hotel has attracted thousands of people to the town, and the publicity that this award gives to the Midland and Morecambe will hopefully attract thousands more.”

Listen to David's story Tea at the Midland on YouTube

Tea at the Midland is also available to buy as a download from www.audiogo.co.uk

• Order David's most recent collection, The Shieling here  on Comma Press
 
Take part in National Short Story Day (21st December)

Keeping a lid on recycling

As the food waste recycling scheme continues to be rolled out across the Lancaster and Morecambe district, the majority of households should have received their silver kitchen caddies and those without green garden bins, a green outdoor caddy.

All types of food can be included in the food waste collection – cooked and uncooked – including leftover or out of date food, peelings, egg shells, tea bags and coffee grinds, meat, bones, fruit and vegetables, and much more.

The silver kitchen caddies can be lined with newspaper or compostable bags, bearing the compostable logo, that can be purchased from supermarkets or online.  Unfortunately bags which are not compostable will not be collected.

Once full, the contents of the kitchen caddy  including the newspaper or compostable bag, should be emptied into either the green wheelie bin or the outdoor caddy.  The green wheelie bin should be put out for collection as normal, and residents who have an outdoor caddy should put these out for collection in the same place as their recycling boxes.

The city council is also trialling some new replacement lids for kerbside recycling boxes.  The new lids, called box hats, are waterproof covers which are tied to the recycling box.  The lids are being issued to replace damaged or missing lids and it is hoped that these will reduce the number of lids needing to be replaced each year due to bad weather.

• Further information about what can and can’t be recycled is available from www.lancaster.gov.uk/foodwaste or by calling the city council’s Customer Services on 01524 582491.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

On-line shoppers urged to guard against festive fraudsters

Online shoppers are being urged to take precautions when buying presents from the web this Christmas.

Tips on how to protect yourself while internet shopping are being given out ahead of the UK’s busiest on-line shopping day – ‘Mega Monday’ on 6th December.

The increased web activity is often a boost for local businesses but can also raise the risk of buyers losing money to criminals and each year, shoppers fall prey to legitimate looking websites which actually sell  counterfeit goods - or no goods at all.


Previous reports to Action Fraud (www.actionfraud.org.uk) and other agencies suggest smart phones, digital cameras, designer goods (including jewellery and branded boots), laptops and PC notebooks and video game systems are the goods most likely to feature in online shopping and auction fraud:

“There can be a lot of disappointment on Christmas Day when goods bought in good faith from bogus websites turn out to be fake and shoddy – or perhaps they won’t turn up at all," notes DC Tony McClements of Lancashire Constabulary’s Serious and Organised Crime Unit. "However, there are a number of steps that on-line shoppers can take so that they don’t fall victim to the festive fraudsters and ensure that they and their families have a Merry Christmas.”

To make sure your online shopping is safe and secure remember these top tips:

• Use secure websites that you trust. Do your research before making a purchase. Check online forums for feedback
• Do they have a real-world presence – ie do they have a shop on a high street or a warehouse in the UK? Can you see their address and phone number? Is it a valid UK registered phone number?
• Check the browser address changes from 'http' to 'https' to indicate you have a secure connection and look for a padlock or an unbroken key symbol on your web browser

If website prices for designer items, games and smart phones seem too good to be true, they probably are. Legitimate popular technology and designer items are rarely discounted

• For further advice and to report fraud, log onto www.actionfraud.org.uk or call 0300 123 2040, Textphone 0300 123 2050. Visit www.getsafeonline.org.uk for other tips on staying safe online.

Christmas drink and drug driving crackdown begins

Lancashire Constabulary’s Christmas drink and drug driving campaign gets underway today (Wednesday 1st December).

The festive crackdown will see high profile enforcement activity taking place across the county throughout the month of December, including checkpoints at key locations where officers will administer drink and drugs tests.

In addition, a high profile radio campaign and hundreds of posters and beer mats, funded by the Lancashire Partnership for Road Safety, will be distributed to pubs and clubs across Lancashire warning of the dangers of drink driving.

“We want people to have fun this Christmas but to remember the consequences of driving whilst under the influence of alcohol or drugs," commented Superintendent Peter O’Dwyer.


“Between 1 January and 1 October this year, there were 35 fatal collisions in Lancashire. Six of these involved drink or drugs and this is simply not acceptable."


Nationwide in 2009, it was estimated that 11,990 reported casualties (5 per cent of all road casualties) occurred when someone was driving whilst over the legal alcohol limit. The provisional number of people estimated to have been killed in drink drive accidents was 380 in 2009 (17 per cent of all road fatalities), which although a decrease of 20 fatalities compared to the final 2008 estimate is still 380 too many.

“The consequences of drink driving are high," Superintendent Dwyer added. "If you drive at twice the legal alcohol limit you are at least 30 times more likely to cause a road crash than a driver who hasn’t been drinking, potentially resulting in serious injury or death.


A conviction for drink driving will result in a minimum 12 months driving ban or a minimum of a 3 year driving ban if you have a previous drink driving conviction in the past 10 years. You might even end up in prison for up to six months or face a fine of up to £5000.

“A conviction could also mean that you lose your job, home, family and friends.  The consequences can be absolutely devastating.”

County Councillor Tim Ashton, Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport added: "We want everyone in Lancashire to have a happy and safe Christmas and New Year.

"Our advice to those people out celebrating and drinking over the festive season is to leave the car at home and use public transport or a taxi. Getting behind the wheel after even one drink is not worth the risk and could have many serious consequences.  

“It is also important that people think about their plans for the following day. If you are drinking late into the night then people need to remember that they are more than likely to still be over the limit the morning after.”

The number of people caught drink and drug driving continues to fall in Lancashire, with 2.2 per cent of those tested during last year’s Christmas campaign failing or refusing a test – despite more tests being carried out.

Supt O’Dwyer added: “Whilst the figures suggest that there are now less people getting behind the wheel after drinking, one person drink or drug driving is too many.
“Our message is simple – do not drink and drive and do not take drugs and drive.”

Police are also urging revellers to take care during the party season and have issued the following advice:

• If you are going out and drinking plan how you are going to get home and stick to that plan.
• Try to keep to busy well-lit areas and don't take short cuts and walk away from bushes and buildings.
• Where possible, don't walk alone after dark.  Take someone you know with you.
• Always walk facing oncoming traffic.
• To avoid delay, have your keys ready when you are approaching your car or home.
• Never accept lifts from strangers.
• When telephoning for a taxi, ask for the driver's name and check this when he/she arrives.

• If you would like to report someone who you suspect of driving whilst under the influence of alcohol or drugs, contact the police on 0845 1 25 35 45.

Road Casualty Statistics

Reported Road Casualties Great Britain: 2009 (pages 61-83, PDF)

Reported Road Casualties Great Britain: 2008 (pages 58-84, PDF)

DrinkDriving.org: Statistics
(This site which does not condone drink driving, provides an open online community and a comprehensive information resource for all people who have been affected by drinking and driving in any and every way imaginable)  

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Lancaster Comedy Club offers Nige, Chris Stokes, Kent Valentine for Decemeber

Nige - the creation of
comedian Keith Carter
As December approaches The Lancaster Comedy Club at the Borough in Dalton Square has ensured that the extremely high standards it has set for stand up aficcionados in the area is well and truly maintained. The venue have two shows on offer, one on Sunday 12th December and one on Sunday the 19th. As always, there's the option of dining first at this Michelin recommended venue or just going for the comedy only option.

Nige, who has provided tour support for Ricky Gervais and Johnny Vegas, is the comic creation of Keith Carter and headlines the 12th December date. The Scouse Super Scally will regale you with tales of life as an up and coming (failed) musician and the best way to enjoy a life of leisure (unemployed) in Liverpool. He will also perform some songs that should only ever be heard by broad minded adults and the deaf.

Also on the bill is Chris Stokes whose calm, laid back demeanour combined with a hilarious and erudite turn of phrase has seen his act flourish in numerous venues across the country. Equipped with superb material, and the style to match, his is an act both extremely funny and original.

Keith Valentine
With an infectious mix of irreverence and enthusiastic optimism, Kent Valentine (appearing Sun 19th December) is one of the most dynamic comedians on the Australian comedy landscape – and now he’s arrived on the British comedy scene.

With his rapid-fire and quick-witted routine, Kent worked extensively in Australian comedy clubs and appearing for several years at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival in addition to writing and editing a satirical website. He also made several appearances on Australian TV. He's now firmly established as a very welcome addition to the UK comedy scene.

Tim Clark is widely regarded as one of the fore fathers of modern comedy. As the frilly shirts and mother-in-law gags were swept away by a new generation of comedy in the Eighties, Tim was one of the pathfinders and one of the first comics to appear at the celebrated London Comedy Store alongside luminaries of laughter such as Alexi Sayle and Ben Elton.

 Tim has written gags for personalities including Jonathon Ross, Phill Jupitus and Mark Lamarr, and has also developed an excellent reputation as a speechwriter, writing for former England football manager Graham Taylor, footballer Neil Ruddock and a certain Gordon Brown!

• Both shows come complete with compere and one of the best up and coming acts on the circuit. The shows starts at 8pm prompt and admission is £8 on the door or £6 in advance on 01524 64170 or www.wegottickets.com

Monday, 29 November 2010

Motorists warned to Take Care in the Cold

Lancashire police are urging motorists to take care now the weather has turned wintry.

They say that extra attention is needed now the snow and ice have arrived, particularly with the roads being very busy with people finalising their plans for the Christmas holiday.

Inspector Martin Bishop from Lancashire Constabulary’s Road Policing Unit said: “Luckily we have not had any major incidents so far this winter, however the roads are extremely busy and weather conditions are varying across the county.

“I would ask people to make sure they fully defrost their cars before they set off on their journey and check things like tyres and lights to make sure they are in good working order.

“Motorists should also allow extra time for their journeys where necessary and be patient with other motorists. Make sure you keep your distance from the car in front of you and drive at an appropriate speed.

“Snow and ice make conditions very difficult for motorists so it’s important people adjust their driving accordingly.”

Officers are also advising pedestrians to make sure they take extra care during the snow.

Inspector Bishop added: “Pedestrians must take extra care too, especially those who are out walking their dogs or perhaps listening to their ipods or on their mobile telephones. You should make sure you are highly visible to other road users and take extra care when crossing busy roads and beware of the icy, snowy conditions.”

Advice to motorists
- Have in your boot a shovel
- A bottle of water
- A blanket
- Outdoor footwear
- A torch
- A charged mobile phone

Two teenage girls killed in Garstang Road crash

Police appealing for witnesses after two teenage girls from Blackpool were killed in a road accident last night.

At approximately 10.15pm police were called to reports on a road traffic collision on Garstang Road in Poulton.

On arrival, police found a Renault Clio had left the road and collided with a tree before ending up in a field. Sadly the two girls, believed to be both 17 years of age who were in the car were pronounced dead at the scene.

Police say the girls will be named later today.

Two men, aged 18 and 20 who were travelling in an accompanying vehicle have been arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving and are currently being questioned by police.

Garstang Road is currently closed between Poulton and Singleton for accident investigation and is likely to remain closed until around midday today.

Police are appealing for anyone who saw the vehicles travelling prior to the incident, and for a pedal cyclist who was at the scene but then left before passing his details to police to get in touch.

• Any witnesses to the collision are asked to call 08451 25 35 45