Friday, 9 December 2011

Former Lancaster man wanted on prison recall

Police are appealing for information about a man who is wanted on prison recall.

Ronald Grimes, 34, formally of Green Street, Lancaster, was originally jailed for robbery in May 2004 when he was imprisoned for six years, having been convicted and sentenced at Preston Crown Court.

He was later released from prison on licence in April 2011 but has since breached the terms of that licence and has therefore been recalled to prison.

As well as being wanted on prison recall, he also is wanted for questioning in connection with an assault that happened in Blackburn in May 2011.

Grimes is described as around 5 feet 10 ten inches tall, with blue eyes and a Merseyside accent. He has four large scars on his lower left arm, and Chinese letter tattoos on both of his arms and a four inch scar on his right knee.

Although he is known to frequent Lancaster, we believe he has strong connections in Birkenhead and Netherton in Merseyside.

Detective Sergeant Paul Greenhalgh said, “We would ask the public, particularly in the Merseyside area to be vigilant and report any sightings to the police - any details could be crucial.”

• Anyone with any information can be passed to police on 08451 25 35 45 or alternatively, people can call independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or on-line at Crimestoppers-uk.org. No personal details are taken, information is not traced or recorded and you will not go to court.

Following in a Giant’s Footsteps!

Even giants have to do a spot of Christmas shopping as hundreds of people visiting Lancaster city centre have discovered.

When not entertaining audiences at The Dukes theatre, The BFG has been spotted in St Nicholas Arcades and Marketgate Shopping Centre…or at least his giant footprints have.

It’s rumoured he arrived in Lancaster from Giant Country by train as dozens of passengers have also  walked in his footsteps at the city’s railway station.

Six-year-old Oliver Stephens from Burton-in-Kendal couldn’t believe his eyes when he came across The BFG’s footprints in St Nicholas Arcades as he’s currently reading the Roald Dahl classic story.

The BFG, which is The Dukes 40th annual Christmas show, is currently delighting audiences young and old. The heartwarming tale of friendship and bravery features a talented cast, amazing puppetry, lots of fun and plenty of surprises.

The BFG runs until 7th January, 2012. For tickets, ring The Dukes box office on 01524 598500 or www.dukes-lancaster.org

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Appeal after woman is sexually assaulted in Morecambe

CCTV taken from a filling station
on Oxcliffe Road
Police are appealing for witnesses to come forward after a woman was sexually assaulted as she sat at a bus stop in Morecambe last month.

The offence is alleged to have taken place on Fairfield Road at Heysham between 6pm and 11.15pm on 19th November when a 26-year-old woman was approached by a man as she sat at a bus stop.

The man said hello to her before groping her breasts and trying to put his hand up her jumper. Fortunately, the victim fought him off but sustained a head injury.

Police have released a CCTV image of a man they are keen to speak with in connection with the incident.

PC Iain Arnott said: “This is an opportunist incident on a vulnerable young woman and I would appeal to people to take a close look at the CCTV image and if they recognise this man or have any information that could assist with our investigation please contact Lancashire Police on 08451 25 35 45.”

• People with information can also contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or on-line at Crimestoppers-uk.org. No personal details are taken, information is not traced or recorded and you will not go to court.

Don't let sneak thieves ruin Christmas, Lancaster police warn

Police are warning residents to make sure they lock their doors and windows this Christmas after a young woman’s insecure home was targeted by thieves.

The 20-year-old had her Hinde Street home in Lancaster targeted by burglars on 30th November after her back door was left unlocked. The thieves made off with a £200 television and a £300 notebook computer. They also took food from her fridge and dropped it over the kitchen floor.

"Leaving doors and windows unlocked means you are making it easier for thieves to target your home and your treasured possessions," Detective Inspector Martin Pearson, Lancaster Police warns.

"At this time of year, thieves know that many homes will have expensive presents being kept inside them. An unlocked door is almost an invitation for them to make an attempt to steal these items, which you have bought with your hard earned cash.

"Even if you are in your home, you should keep doors and windows closed and locked so that your home is secure."

Other tips for beating the burglars and keeping your home safe include -

  • Take the frame numbers of new cycles and the serial numbers of new electrical equipment for future reference
  • Remember, empty boxes left outside advertise that you have new goods inside - dispose of packaging carefully
  • If you go out for the evening - make it look like someone is at home by turning on lights and the radio. Don't leave curtains open so people can see your decorations as potential thieves can see in.
  • Consider fitting security lighting to the outside of your property and make sure hedges, fences and gates are in a good condition, with a strong padlock on where necessary.
  • If you go away for the holiday period, use an automatic timer for lights and ask a trusted neighbour to watch your home.
  • Finally, don't forget to cancel newspapers and milk if you have them delivered and either redirect your mail through the post office or have your neighbour take mail into the house - unopened Christmas cards and mail are a sure sign that a house is empty.

New figures suggest 'Bedroom Tax' could cost poor families in Lancaster up to £1015 per year

Plans to penalise social tenants living in homes deemed too large for their needs could cost families in Lancaster up to £1015 per year, new figures reveal.

The Government has previously estimated that 120,000 families across the North West will lose an average of £624 per year under the new social sector “size criteria”.

But analysis by the National Housing Federation, which represents housing associations, shows for the first time the true extent of the cuts faced by many families.

Based on cuts of up to 25 per cent of a family’s housing benefit that the Government is considering introducing in 2013, a household deemed to be under-occupying a three-bedroom home in Lancaster faces losing up to £20 per week of their housing benefit – or £1015 per year.

Such a household would be forced to choose between going into debt, struggling to meet payments by cutting back on essentials, or trying to move – even if no suitable alternative properties are available.

Under the current system, social landlords allocate families a home based on an assessment of their needs. This may mean that teenagers are given their own bedroom and an additional bedroom may be provided to young couples planning to start a family. Where a family is out of work, housing benefit covers the rent, which is far lower than in the private rented sector.

Under the new size criteria, a family may be penalised for “under-occupying” even where every bedroom in the home is in regular use. For example, benefit may be cut where teenagers have been given their own bedroom, rather than being forced to share. Separated parents will be penalised for keeping a “spare” bedroom for when their children visit. And foster parents will receive a cut even where their bedrooms are occupied by foster children, who for benefit purposes do not count as part of the household.

Anyone deemed to be under-occupying by one bedroom stands to lose up to 15% of their housing benefit and those considered to have two or more “spare” bedrooms – even if they are in use – will lose up to 25% of their benefit. Two-thirds of those affected are disabled, the Department for Work and Pensions has admitted.

Federation analysis, using new figures from the Department for Communities and Local Government, shows that the average social sector rent for three-bedroom properties in Lancaster is £78. This means affected families face losing between £12 and £20 per week – or between £609 and £1015 per year.

The under-occupation penalty, part of the Welfare Reform Bill, will hit 670,000 working-age families across the country when it comes into force in April 2013. The total affected is forecast to rise to 760,000 by 2020 as the state pension credit age increases.

Ahead of the Bill’s Report Stage in the House of Lords, scheduled to begin on 12th December, the National Housing Federation is calling on the Government to make the rules more flexible, to allow one additional bedroom above that permitted by the proposed criteria. Crossbench peer Lord Best plans to table an amendment to this effect but it will need the support of peers from across the political spectrum to stand a chance of making the statute books.

Jon Longden, lead manager for the North West for the National Housing Federation, said: “We have been deeply concerned about this bedroom tax for some time but these new figures show the damage will be far worse than previously thought.

“Hard-up families in Lancaster face penalties of up to £1015 a year simply because the Government have deemed their homes are suddenly too big for their needs.

“This will have disastrous implications for a huge number of people already struggling to make ends meet in the tough economic climate, including foster carers, grandparents, disabled people and smaller families.

Mr Longden added: “In the vast majority of cases, people will simply not be able to make up the shortfall themselves and could end up being sucked into poverty and spiralling levels of debt.”

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Police appeal following serious assault in Morecambe

Police are appealing for information following a serious assault in Morecambe.   

The incident happened at around 8:30pm on Monday 5th December at an address on Waterside Place.   

Two men have approached the house and gained entry to the property and have assaulted the 40 year old man in front of his own family, including his two young children. The victim sustained a broken arm during the assault after being attacked with a metal bar.   

The attackers are described as being in their late teens and one was wearing a balaclava and the other was carrying a knife.   

Detective Inspector Joanna Dent from Lancaster CID said, “I would appeal to anyone who has information about this incident to come forward and contact police.   

“This is a sickening assault on a man in front of his young children. It must have been a terrifying ordeal for the man and his family and an investigation is underway to identify those responsible.”   

Anyone with information is asked to call Morecambe police on 0845 1 25 35 45.  

People with information can also contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or on-line at Crimestoppers-uk.org. No personal details are taken, information is not traced or recorded and you will not go to court

Police appeal following assault in Morecambe pub

Police in Morecambe are appealing for information after a man was assaulted at the King's Arms Pub on Marine Road.

The incident happened between 2.00 and 2.30am on 19th November. The victim, an 18 year old local man was attacked by another man and punched to the face and kicked. He received cuts and bruises and a fractured cheekbone.

Officers have searched CCTV and released images of a man they would like to speak to in connection with the attack.

PC Nicola Hayton from Morecambe Police said, “I would appeal to anyone who recognises the man in the picture to come forward and contact police. I would also ask anyone who witnessed the incident or has information that will assist our investigation to come forward.”

Anyone with information is asked to call Morecambe police on 0845 1 25 35 45. People with information can also contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or on-line at Crimestoppers-uk.org. No personal details are taken, information is not traced or recorded and you will not go to court.
 

Christmas refuse and recycling collections

Don’t forget to check your collections calendar as there will be changes to refuse and recycling collections over the Christmas and New Year period.

From Monday 26th December to Friday 6th January, all collections will be one day later than usual.

Christmas 2011

• Normal collection day: Monday December 26   Will be collected on: Tuesday December 27
• Normal collection day: Tuesday December 27   Will be collected on: Wednesday December 28
• Normal collection day: Wednesday December 28   Will be collected on: Thursday December 29
• Normal collection day: Thursday December 29   Will be collected on: Friday December 30
• Normal collection day: Friday December 30    Will be collected on: Saturday December 31


New Year 2012

• Normal collection day: Monday January 2    Will be collected on: Tuesday January 3
• Normal collection day: Tuesday January 3    Will be collected on: Wednesday January 4
• Normal collection day: Wednesday January 4  Will be collected on: Thursday January 5
• Normal collection day: Thursday January 5    Will be collected on: Friday January 6
• Normal collection day: Friday January 6    Will be collected on: Saturday January 7
                 
Remember to recycle as much as possible this festive season.  Most of the additional waste generated at Christmas can be recycled including glass, cans, plastic bottles, Christmas cards and wrapping paper, and not forgetting your food waste.

Although no additional recycling service will be provided, Lancaster City Council will always collect extra recyclables put out for collection.  Additional paper, card, cans and plastic bottles can be put out in separate, clearly labelled carrier bags, but please ensure all glass is inside a recycling box.

If you need a collection calendar please visit www.lancaster.gov.uk/bins or phone customer services on 01524 582491.

Christmas trees can be recycled at Keer Bridge or Salt Ayre Household Waste Recycling Centres, or can be cut down to fit into your green garden bin. 

Alternatively, St John’s Hospice will once again be collecting recycling Christmas trees during the weekend of 7 and 8 January, in exchange for a donation of £5 to the charity.  Collections must be booked in advance.  For more information visit www.sjhospice.org.uk or telephone 01524 382538.

Police appeal after man abused and assaulted

CCTV of a man and a woman police want to speak with in connection with an incident in which a man was racially abused and assaulted outside McDonalds, Lancaster, last month.
Police are appealing for information after a man was racially abused and assaulted outside McDonalds in Penny Street, Lancaster on Saturday 19th November 2011.

The 29 year old victim, who is Indian, was alone when he was approached by a man around 4.30am on Cheapside who shouted racist comments at him. When he  challenged the man he was punched to the chest and neck.

The offender has then made off towards Skerton where he has continued to shout abuse at the victim.

Police have released a CCTV of a man and a woman they want to speak with in connection with the incident.

"This is a completely unprovoked attack which has left the victim very frightened and upset," says PC Phil Ladlow. “I would urge people to take a close look at the CCTV image and if they recognise either the man or woman I would ask them to call police on 08451 25 35 45.”

The man is described as white, medium build, with short dark hair and wearing a black jumper.

• People with information can also contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or on-line at Crimestoppers-uk.org. No personal details are taken, information is not traced or recorded and you will not go to court.

Local residents launch community-shared Fibre Optic Broadband Company

Photo courtesy B4RN
Broadband for the Rural North, an exciting community initiative, initially across eight parishes of rural Lancashire, to deliver a world class hyperfast fibre optic broadband network is being launched at The Storey, Lancaster on 15th December.

Broadband has become essential for every sector of the community and increasingly important for our daily lives. Government and the large telecom companies plan to upgrade broadband to ‘superfast’ but not in many rural areas, where limited internet and mobile coverage affects businesses, homes and farms. The difficulty is reaching economic viability when private companies’ costs are so high and subscriber numbers are low.

Broadband for the Rural North (B4RN) plans to lower the costs, both in the building of the broadband network and to the end user, by using local contractors and the community.

“Farmers and local people have the skillset we need for this project,"says B4RN Chief Executive Professor Barry Forde. "They know the land and people, and have been offering to work for shares, which means the digging for the core network can start early in 2012."

A networking expert with many years experience of designing, building and operating high performance networks, the professor was responsible for the CLEO network which provides connectivity to over 1000 schools and public sector sites across Lancashire and Cumbria.

"We expect this [core newtwork build] to be completed in approximately three months, weather permitting, and then we will begin to connect the first users,” he added.

Phase 1 rollout map of the B4RN project
B4RN has been more than three years in the planning and development stage, aiming to bring a state of the art, fibre optic broadband connection to the rural communities long before most of the urban areas. Rural Lancashire plans to be a world leader in “hyperfast” and shares in the company will be available from 15th December.

B4RN’s plans are for a hyperfast broadband network fit for purpose far into this century. A 1 gigabit (1000Mbps) connection will ensure that any interaction with the Internet will be quick and easy. Television, films, cheap phone and video calls over the Internet, the ability to extend local mobile phone networks to cover black-spots, local security, telehealth and medicine applications - all will become possible. B4RN will be initially be providing the broadband connection and VoIP telephony, with further services to follow as the network rolls out over the coming years.

Barry Forde, B4RN Chief Executive, will explain the project and launch the share offer in the company at the event to raise the necessary capital required over the next few months. Representatives from the first phase communities of Melling, Arkholme, Quernmore, Abbeystead, Wray, Tatham, Roeburndale, Wennington and Caton with Littledale will be at the event as well as local dignitaries and celebrities.

B4RN is a community benefit company, owned by its shareholders. Income made will be re-invested in the service and spent within the communities the company serves. The shares are being made available under the EIS (Enterprise Investment Scheme) that offers 30% tax relief, with a minimum investment of £100 and maximum of £20,000.


A target of 662 registrations of interest were required for a green light and this was passed in just three months. The project moves one step closer to implementation with the launch of the Share Issue. “The phased network will be built by the community over three years for the seven phases.

"Now we have passed our target of over 700 registrations of interest in investment and taking a service at £30/month for 1Gbps, we can proceed to raise the capital required for Phase 1,” says Barry.

B4RN hopes to attract the support of local, national and international investors, whilst remaining a truly community-run business, bringing fast, future-proof, sustainable Internet access to the rural uplands, for this generation and those to come, leaving a lasting legacy for the area.

Christine Conder, a farmer’s wife and rural broadband pioneer, who successfully dug and installed the first rural fibre cable to her farm in Wray in 2009, knows it can be done and sums up the enthusiasm and ethos of B4RN,

“If we don’t do it ourselves then it will never get done, so B4RN is the answer, let’s all JFDI.”

The full business plan is available on the website, along with details of the pricing and payment structure for local residents and businesses. This includes bonuses of free install and connection for 12 months with a £1500 investment, three further free months for early bird investors, and payment in shares for involvement in the deployment of the project.



• Further information and share application forms will be available on the B4RN.org.uk website on 15th December

Monday, 5 December 2011

Court Watch: man charged in connection with bus assaults

32-year-old Sherif Elsayed has been charged with six counts of sexual assault on a female following a police appeal last month.

Elsayed, a student at Chester University, appeared at Preston Magistrates Court on Saturday (3 December).

Police appealed for information after two indecent assaults on buses in Lancaster, both on young women believed to be students at Lancaster University, in early November.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Lancaster Cold Call Burglar gets four years

James Stovold
A burglar who targeted an elderly woman days after being released from prison for an earlier offence against her has been jailed for four years.

James Stovold, of Windholme, Lancaster, has also been handed a CRASBO which will prevent him from cold calling at people’s homes to try and carry out building or maintenance work.

On 27th July, 28-year-old Stovold called at the Beaumont home of a 78-year-old woman who suffers from dementia and after gaining access to the address told her that she owed him money for work that he had done on her house. Stovold had in fact not carried out any work and a maintenance man who was legitimately in the property became suspicious and contacted the police.

Officers quickly established that the caller at the property was Stovold as he had previously targeted the pensioner and had only just been released from prison for the offence.

At a previous hearing at Preston Crown Court, Stovold pleaded guilty to burglary with intent to steal. Appearing on Friday for sentence, Stovold was jailed for four years. He was also given a 10-year CRASBO which bans him from calling at private dwellings uninvited in order to secure or carry out building repairs or maintenance work. It also prevents him from contacting his previous victims. The conditions will come into force when he is released from prison.

Speaking after the sentencing, Detective Constable Sue Palmer, Lancaster CID, said: “Stovold saw an opportunity to prey on a vulnerable woman who he had already stolen from and who he knew he could take advantage of. His intentions were brazen and callous. Fortunately the quick thinking of a man who was legitimately working at the property prevented this from happening.

“The sentence handed to him should act as a deterrent to other criminals and also provides protection to the elderly members of our community.”

Local Councillor welcomes Disability Living Allowance changes

Local Councillor for Harbour Ward Ian Pattison has hailed the decision to preserve the mobility element of Disability Living Allowance.

The mobility element of DLA currently amounts to £51 per week and ensures approximately 80,000 people across the country with a large proportion in the Lancaster and Morecambe area are given the additional support that they need to live a comfortable life.

Labour Party Councillor Pattison joined local disability campaigners earlier this year on a mass rally of the Hardest Hit by cuts to disability benefits in Manchester. Campaigners are concerned about the impact of the Government’s welfare reforms on their independence and benefits.

“I have been working with campaigners in Lancaster and Morecambe and we intend to launch a Hardest Hit campaign here in the district to press the Government into keeping services and funding for the most vulnerable," he said. "The mobility element of DLA is a lifeline for disabled people in Lancaster and Morecambe and ensures that disabled people have the opportunity to lead independent lives.”

“This u-turn by the Tory-led Government shows that their policies simply need to be thought through and planned out with more consideration for the people that will be affected. The Low Review which has proved that the Government’s plans to scrap the mobility element of DLA would critically reduce the ability of disabled people to have control of their lives.”

The Government confirmed to MPs that the plans to cut the mobility element of DLA would now be withdrawn from the Welfare Reform Bill.

“It is crucial that the most vulnerable people are protected from Government cuts," Councillor Pattison added, "and I will be working to make sure provisions and services for disabled people are maintained.”