Saturday, 12 May 2012

Students reassured after sex attacks

Local students are being reassured that reports of sexual assaults will be taken seriously by police after a man appeared at court for sentence.

In two separate incidents on 6th December last year, 38-year-old Shaukat Khattack approached female students from behind as they were walking alone in dimly lit areas close to Lancaster University’s campus.

Khattack, of Hutton Way, Lancaster, approached his first victim on Hazelrigg Lane and the second on the pathway leading towards Galgate village. He then made forceful and physical advances towards the women, trying to kiss them against their will.

Appearing at Preston Crown Court this week charged with two counts of sexual assault, Khattack was given a 12 month community order, a six week curfew from 8.00pm to 6.00am and a requirement to be on the sex offenders register for five years.

“These two offences were deeply distressing for the two students involved," commented Detective Constable Brian Shepherd, of Lancaster CID. "They occurred when the girls were alone, and in dimly lit areas where no other people were around. One of the victims was so distressed she is still receiving counseling.

“I am really grateful that the girls had the courage to come forward and report this to us," he added, "and I am also grateful to Lancaster University, who gave us their fullest cooperation in this enquiry. Both the police and the university take these kinds of incidents very seriously and I would urge students to report any sexual assaults to us.

”I want students to know that incidents of this nature are rare and Lancaster University is an extremely safe environment to live and study. However, I would urge all students to consider their personal safety whenever they are off campus. Think carefully about the route you are taking, avoid being alone in quiet and unlit areas and if you are on a night out take enough money for a taxi home - making sure that you use an official taxi firm for your lift.”

- Students can find further safety advice at www.lancs.ac.uk/sbs/welfare/safety.html .



Thursday, 10 May 2012

Appeal for Morecambe man wanted on prison recall

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

Patrick Joyce, 30, formally of James Street, Morecambe, has been wanted since 18th March 2012 and police are appealing for information about his whereabouts.

Joyce was jailed for six years with an extended licence period of five years at Isleworth Crown Court in September 2008 for a robbery in Southall.

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

Mark Stott from Lancaster and Morecambe Intelligence Unit said: “We would ask the public to be vigilant and report any sightings to the police - any details could be crucial.”

Joyce has connections to both Middlesex and Northern Ireland. He is described as being around 5ft 11inches tall, average build with blue eyes and short light brown hair. He is usually clean shaven and speaks with an Irish accent.

Anyone with any information should call Lancashire Police on 101.

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.

Follow the Queen's Lancashire visits on Twitter

Lancashire residents hoping to catch a glimpse of the Queen when she visits Lancashire next week are being encouraged to follow the police on Twitter @LancsPolice.

The Constabulary will be using the social network site to keep people informed about important traffic news, road closures and how busy venues are when Her Majesty the Queen, His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh and His Royal Highness The Prince Of Wales, come to the county next Wednesday 16th May.

And, with just over two weeks to go before the Olympic torch passes through the county, police will also using the Twitter feed to keep people informed.

“2012 is an extremely busy year for Lancashire Constabulary with some major events taking place across the county," a spokesperson for Lancashire Constabulary said.

“Clearly a great deal of planning has to be done to accommodate events of this scale and our priority will be to ensure the safety of visiting guests, whilst keeping people informed about traffic news and any other relevant information.

With over 14,000 followers, Lancashire Constabulary regularly use Twitter to share news of different policing operations and to appeal to the public to help find missing people or solve local crimes. But they've also found it to be most useful to inform the public when there are major events and demonstrations in the County.

“We are encouraging people to follow us on Twitter @LancsPolice so they can view the information we give out and, if they want, they can share it too - by re-tweeting it to their friends and family – and tweet back at us. It will be a fantastic way to keep up to date with what’s happening and to play an active role within the community.”

Twitter was launched worldwide in July 2006 and has seen hundreds of thousands of people and organisations use the site to share news and views including Lancashire Constabulary that launched its page in October 2009.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Thieves target Happy Mount Park

Police are appealing for information after a special bike that pedals a waterfall at Happy Mount Park in Morecambe was damaged last week.

Between 8.30pm on Thursday 3rd May and 3.30pm on Friday 4th May the bearings on a child’s bicycle were removed at the Happy Mount Park, necessitating the whole of the pedal system to be replaced.

The bike is one of two concreted into the ground which, when pedalled by children, make a waterfall work.

Both bikes are maintained and funded by the Happy Mount Park Volunteers and unfortunately due to persistent damage to the bikes, the volunteers are faced with the likelihood of having to remove them from the site.

This is not the first instance of vandalism in the park (or indeed, other local parks) and the Council is currently advertising for an Outdoor Ranger to oversee and supervise  the City Council’s parks, playing fields, recreation grounds, promenade and coastal areas. Their remit will include organising mobile and pedestrian patrols as a deterrent to vandalism.

“The theft of these bearings is an offence that impacts on a large number of local families," says PC Jo Clement from Lancaster Police. “Understandably, the volunteers cannot afford to replace the bike and I would appeal to anybody that witnessed the bike being tampered with or with any information about this incident to come forward.”

Anyone with any information should call Lancashire Police on 101.

More about Happy Mount Park on the Lancaster City Council web site

Where have all our bus time tables gone?

Green councillors are urging Lancashire County Council must re-think their apparent decision to remove bus timetable information from many of the bus stops across the district - replacing them with an advertisement for a mobile phone  service costing 25p for each enquiry.

There is no longer any information to say what services call at the stop posted on bus shelters, or where they are going, leaving people who are unfamiliar with local bus routes literally clueless.

Instead, the familiar timetables have been replaced with a poster telling bus users to send a text to find out when the next few buses are coming, check online, or call a helpline on an 0871 number.

Bizarrely, at some stops there is also a second poster advertising the County Council's membership of TravelWise, a national campaign which encourages people to cut down on their car journeys and use sustainable transport such as buses.

"I asked County Councillor Tim Ashton, Cabinet member for Highways and Transport, for an explanation on the 24th April and have yet to receive a response," says County Councillor Sam Riches.

"I can only assume that this change is permanent, making this the second backward step for bus users in recent months, following the decision last year to switch off the bus information boards at Lancaster Bus Station.

"If the County Council were serious about promoting sustainable transport they would be making it easier to use buses, not harder."

"The assumption seems to be that all bus passengers have mobile phones or can research their journeys on the internet, but this is not the case," adds Councillor Dave Brookes said. "Buses are a lifeline for a lot of older people, who are the least likely to be users of the latest technology.

"Bus timetables don't just tell you when the next bus is, they tell you where it goes to and when it's going to get there, neither of which is provided by the text message.

"Advertising the text service as 'only' 25p plus network charge is adding insult to injury - who wants to pay a premium on top of their bus fare for substandard information that used to be free?"

"I have already heard a complaint from a young woman who went to catch a bus late one evening and was shocked to find that she had no way of knowing when or even if one would come," Councillor Ceri Mumford revealed. "Removing the timetables isn't just incredibly unhelpful, it's potentially dangerous."

• Texts to the bustxt service cost 25p plus standard network charge and provide times for the next three or four buses from the stop. At stops served by multiple services this does not necessarily provide a time for the service wanted.

• Calls to the 0871 Traveline number cost 10p per minute plus standard network charge.
• Information on TravelWise can be found at www.lancashire.gov/travelwise

Dog Control Orders consultation ends on Friday

The City Council's consultation on its plans to extend Dog Control Orders ends on Friday - and local dog owners are trying to put a stop to some of the proposals.

As we previously reported, the Council is looking to increase dog control measures, replacing and extending powers under the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005.

These powers are intended to help counter problems created by irresponsible dog owners, such as dog fouling, and aggressive or out of control dogs - but some of the proposals, which include increased demands for dogs to be kept on leads, are proving controversial.

Dog owners virtual-lancaster spoke to on the cycle path to Halton this weekend felt the proposal was a bad idea, with some claiming it was penalizing responsible dog owners in favour of cyclists.

Last month, Green Councillor Jon Barry said that if the new dog control orders mean that dogs have to be on lead on all of the district's cycleways then this will blight the lives of many of the responsible dog owners in the district.

He also feels it will also mean that dogs will not get proper exercise and be more likely to be aggressive.

"I am a heavy user of cyclepaths in the district," he explained. "My experience is that the vast majority of dog owners have their dogs under control and are extremely responsible in terms of avoiding conflicts with bikes.

"The current system is not perfect but the majority of the time dogs, dog walkers, cyclists and pedestrians exist well together - the key is that everyone needs to be aware of and have respect for other users."

"If this order is brought in it will mean that responsible dog walkers in places like the Crook O'Lune, Conder Green and many parts of the canal will be forced to not exercise their dogs properly and be punished for the potential activities of a minority."

Many people have welcomed other aspects of the new orders - but feel the restrictions on cycleways seems to be a step too far.

"We need to educate cyclists and dog walkers to behave responsibly rather than imposing these restrictive rule," Jon suggests. "I think that the emphasis should be on dogs being under control rather than on a lead - although if people want to keep their dog on a lead then it is perfectly fine."

"As a cyclist, I would rather that dogs were off-lead than on a flexi-lead. I remember that only a few years ago, a young boy had a serious neck injury after cycling into a flexi-lead." (See news story)

• If you want to have your say, visit www.lancaster.gov.uk/dogcontrolorders for information.  This information is also available at Lancaster and Morecambe Town Halls and local libraries.

Do we have too many councillors? (Or not enough?)

Views sought on councillor numbers

Lancaster City Council is urging local people to have their say on the number of councillors they think should represent the district from 2015.

The Local Government Boundary Commission for England has started an ‘electoral review’ to determine the number of councillors who should sit on the council in the future.

Currently, 60 councillors represent the district on the council from 28 wards.  The review will determine if this is still appropriate or should be reduced to 50 or 40.

Local people are being invited to give their views as part of the process.

The consultation ends on 11th June 2012 and the Commission will then consider the evidence provided by local people and organisations, publishing its proposal on the total number of councillors in July 2012.

Following this, information will be gathered from local people and organisations on new ward boundaries across the Lancaster district.

For more information on the review, and to have your say, visit www.lgbce.org.uk or write to:

The Review Officer (Lancaster)
Local Government Boundary Commission for England
Layden House
76-86 Turnmill Street
London
EC1M 5LG

Views can also be submitted by email to reviews@lgbce.org.uk

Monday, 7 May 2012

Storyteller Ben Hegarty in Lancaster

Internationally renowned storyteller Ben Haggarty, writer of The DFC's Mezolith strip, returns to Lancaster on Thursday 10th May with the epic tale of Gilgamesh.

Possibly the oldest story in the world, this ancient masterpiece will be presented by Ben in a powerful performance at the Litfest Auditorium in The Storey.

The ultimate quest story, Gilgamesh tells of a bored tyrant ruling a city so beautiful that even the Gods choose to make it their home and explores mankind's eternal struggle with the fear of death.

Comic creator Ben Haggarty is a central figure in contemporary UK storytelling and has been featured on numerous radio programmes including BBC Radio 4’s Midweek, A Good Read, and The Today Programme. He is internationally respected for his passionate and lively performances.

- Ben Haggarty presents Gilgamesh: Litfest Auditorium, The Storey, Meeting House Lane. Not suitable for under 12's. Tickets cost £7.50 (£6 concessions) and can be booked through www.litfest.org or by calling 01524 62166.





Sunday, 6 May 2012

Free Lancaster Food and Drink Festival this weekend

The free Lancaster Food and Drink Festival is taking place today (Sunday 6th May) and tomorrow Monday at Lancaster Leisure Park.

Sponored by Asda, this gastronomic celebration will be a regular event on any foodie fans calendar and features top quality local producers, growers, artisans, bars and respected food retailers, joined by six well known celebrated chefs in a packed timetable of foodie festivities over the two days.

This morning, Head chef and co-owner of the Parkers Arms in Clitheroe Stosie Madi will be cooking up a treat with her inspirational demonstration. Stosie believes in cooking simple, modern food using only the best local produce in the Ribble Valley. She is the official chef to the British High Commissioner, and has cooked for Princess Anne and Prince Edward, as well as high level admiralty and dignitaries. Her restaurant has been awarded with the highest accreditation from Taste Lancashire for the last 4 years running!

Later at 1.00pm, Rob Talbot from the Lune Valley Smoke House and the Redwell Inn will showcasing some of his products from the smoke house, allowing viewers to come and taste them. His entrepreneurial streak culminated with the purchase of the Redwell Inn where he cooks good honest food. He is passionate about flavours and his love for food production led to the smoke house which produces cured & smoked fish, meats, poultry and cheeses.

On Monday, Chris Yates from the Shoulder of Mutton in Bury will be headlining the show with his exceptional culinary talent. Chris was a finalist in the Gordon Ramsay Scholarship and has won numerous awards including Best Newcomer in 2009. Also on Monday, Justine Forrest will be cooking for us and telling us her remarkable story.

Cooking healthier meals for her husband and three children she lost over 14 stone in weight and is proof that you can lose weight without faddy diets or impacting on important family meal times together.

 

During both days Philippa James, Lancashire Life’s renowned food editor will be giving cookery demonstrations, bringing her enthusiasm for well-cooked food to her hungry audience. Philippa has won many prestigious awads, including "Producer of the Year Award" and in 2007 she became a UKTV Food Hero. A food consultant for Booths and regular guest on BBC Radio Lancashire, Philippa is known as an ambassador for our region, it's farmers and their local produce.

Also generously giving his time to share his culinary ideas over both days, is Craig Johnson from the Sun Hotel in Lancaster. Inspirational Craig is a young, exciting, energetic chef who’s so passionate about local, fresh food that he’s often out shooting or fishing for produce that appears on the Sun Hotels’ menu later that day.

In the demonstration kitchen area tutored tastings will take place throughout the weekend giving our visitors a chance to taste and try some mouth watering Lancashire specialties.

It’s a fantastic opportunity to get up close and personal with the experts, get new and exciting recipe ideas as well as see the professionals at work!

The majority of the show, set in Lancaster Leisure Park’s grounds is undercover and in various marquees there will be displays of meats including fish, game and beef, baked goods such as bread, biscuits and cakes as well as many spices and oils. In the drinks tent, there’ll be locally brewed beers, ciders, fruit juices, natural cordials and locally ground coffees.

The Bay Roadshow will be on site on Sunday, hand keeping the timetable for the day and directing visitors to the different attractions and shows, Whilst on Monday "Hum, Holler and Sing”, a 30 strong Lancaster based choir will be treating us to an alfresco performance.

The main sponsor of the event is Asda, but associate sponsors are Thwaites, Lancaster Brewery, GB Properties, GB Antiques Centre and Fat Media who are marketing the event.

All the celebrated chefs demonstrations are free of charge, but the shows are ticketed so the organisers can monitor numbers and interest. Tickets for the100 seat, hour long demonstrations can be collected on the day (first come first served).

All events take place in the VIP Marquee and may fill up quickly but don’t be disappointed, the cookery demonstrations also have live streaming to our giant video screen in the centre of the park and the celebrity chefs will be available to talk to after each show.

If you would like a ticket for any of the special events, they are available from Sunday morning at the festival. Any enquiries, please call: 01524 844734.

- More info: http://www.lfdf.co.uk/