Saturday, 15 September 2012

Lancashire Police & Crime Commissioner Candidates


Afzal Anwar, Tim Ashton and Clive Grunshaw
 On 15 November Lancashire will vote to elect its first Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) with the successful candidate announced the following day. The PCC will replace the current Lancashire Police Authority. You can find out more about this and also how to stand for election yourself at http://www.lancspcc.co.uk/

So far three candidates have been announced; Afzal Anwar (Lib Dem), Tim Ashton (Conservative) and Clive Grunshaw (Labour).

Do you have questions you would like to put to them on issues of Crime and Policing?
Email your questions to Virtual Lancaster and we will compile a selection to send to Lancashire PCC candidates when nominations close on 18 October.

Friday, 14 September 2012

New Council Tax Benefit Schemes - Your Views Sought

Under Government plans, Council Tax Benefit is due to be abolished in April 2013 and local councils have been told to develop new localised replacement schemes.

The Government has also said that it will reduce the amount of funding it gives to councils to fund their schemes by 10% - or £1.112million – in the amount it receives.

The Government has however insisted that the changes must not affect pensioners,  so the reduction in Government funding means that people of working age will see the amount of help they receive cut as a result and this may be by about 18% on average.

Lancaster City Council is now asking people for their views on three proposed options for its localised scheme before a final decision is made.

Coun Eileen Blamire, leader of Lancaster City Council, said: “The city council would not want to make any changes to the way we currently pay out Council Tax Benefit, but given that our funding from Government is being cut we don’t have any option.

“Our challenge is to create a scheme which has the least impact on the most vulnerable and we need local people to let us know their views to help us do that.”

• More details on the proposals can be found on the council’s website at www.lancaster.gov.uk/counciltax-changes and there is also an online questionnaire for people to fill in.

• Alternatively the proposals will be available to view at the town halls in Lancaster and Morecambe from Thursday 13 September. The consultation closes on 26 October 2012 and anyone can complete the survey regardless of whether they currently claim Council Tax Benefit.

City Council on The Storey Institute - Tourist Information set to return to Centre

Lancaster City Council has just issued this statement about the future of the Storey Institute, confirming its future as a creative industries centre, a decision which has been welcomed by current tennants.

The Storey Institute in Lancaster will continue operating as a creative industries centre.

This decision was made Full Council when it met this week (12th September).

This decision follows a meeting of Council in July when a decision was taken to withdraw support for the Storey Creative Industries Centre Ltd, the company that managed the building, to forfeit the head lease from SCIC in the event that it had ceased trading, and also request a report back on all future options for the building.

Since SCIC ceased trading on 15th August, the sub tenants have taken the necessary steps to ensure the safe running of the building for a temporary period.

Earlier this month, a meeting of SCIC’s creditors took place and it is understood a liquidator has now been appointed.

Councillors agreed that subject to the outcome of the liquidation process for SCIC and assuming that the headlease be forfeit, or otherwise terminated, their preferred direction for the Storey Institute is to seek to continue operating as a Creative Industries Centre, without excluding other options, in order to make the building sustainable. It was also agreed that the council works productively with the tenants and other stakeholders, to achieve these ends.

Coun Eileen Blamire, Leader of the Council, said: "It is very pleasing that the council has given its wholehearted support for the vision for the Storey Creative Industries Centre and will work with its tenants and other stakeholders to explore ways in which the building can be run to help build a strong and sustainable operation.

"The aim should now be to secure a brighter future for the Storey and its tenants so it can continue to provide a centre of expertise and knowledge hub for the creative industries sector."


Tennants at the Storey have welcomed the decision.

"There's still a long way to go but this is a good first step," one told virtual-lancaster. "We're still waiting for the Council to get the lease back - which could take weeks - and in the meantime we're still having to run the place ourselves. Baby steps..."

virtual-lancaster has also learnt the Council hopes to move Tourist Information - currently based in Lancaster's Reference Library on New Street - back into the Storey.

"When it can be guaranteed that the Storey Institute doors will remain open, it is our intention that the Lancaster Visitor Information Centre will return to the building," a Council spokesperson told virtual-lancaster. "This will be once the headlease is back with the council."

Meet the Bard Heads

Finding the Will are shaking up Shakespeare, giving him a modern day setting and bringing him to Arnside Educational Institute next month.

Macbeth, Hamlet and Twelfth Night are three of Shakespeare’s most famous plays. In three new monologues, Bard Heads takes an up-to-date look at what might’ve happened next to some of the plays much loved characters. Macbeth’s witch is now a cookery writer, Malvolio from Twelfth Night is bent on revenge and Hamlet’s courtier, Osric reveals all in therapy – will the history books have to be re-written?

Each 50-minute monologue is full of laughter, tears and quite a few surprises. They explore the full gamut of human emotions and remind us that Shakespeare wrote great stores that are still relevant today.

Bard Heads has been written so that it can be understood and enjoyed without knowledge of the parent plays and is suitable for ages 14+.

Written and performed by Jules Hobbs and Richard Curnow, Bard Heads is touring to village and community venues across Cumbria and Durham with each village hall showing two of the three solo pieces. In Arnside the pieces are from Twelfth Night and Macbeth.

- Bard Heads: Sunday, 14th October 7.30pm, Arnside Educational Institute, Church Hill, Arnside. Tickets: Children £4.50, Adults £7, Family £19. Bookings: Sue Hayward sdhaywardATtiscali.co.uk or 01524 762254.

 

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Welcome to Pri-Market?


Award-winning retail store Primark could be heading to Lancaster, tsking over the Lancaster Market building, virtual-lancaster understands.

Sources report that Allied, owners of the Lancaster Market building, are in advanced talks with the company which has nearly 160 stores in the UK and has seen rapid expansion abroad in the past three years.

Lancaster Market closed last Saturday, slightly ahead of its planned final day. Council officers say they had been told campaign group Occupy Lancaster might try to stage an "event" on its planned closing day of Tuesday 11th September and decided to close the building earlier, apologizing to the remaining six tenants still trading.

The fate of the Market building was discussed behind closed doors at Wednesday's full Council meeting, with press and public barred from listening to the debate. However, we are informed the Council will pay Allied over £11 million to extract itself from its long-term lease on the building. This figure is much less than the £20 million previously expected.

Primark has operations in the UK, Spain, The Netherlands, Portugal, and Germany.  New stores in the UK include Edinburgh and Stratford City.

Storey stays Creative

Lancaster's Storey will remain a creative hub, after councillors voted  against redevelopment and sell off.

The decision will be welcomed by current tenants, who argued it should continue to operate, offering detailed and powerful arguments in favour of the option (see news story).

At a city council meeting yesterday councillors voted unanimously to support the tenants and decided not to back council officers preferred option to seek redevelopment of the building to complement future uses of Lancaster Castle.

The Lancaster Guardian and Morecambe Visitor both report the city council will now investigate exactly how the Storey will be run and paid for, after Storey Creative Industries Centre Ltd (SCIC), which managed the building, went into liquidation in August.

Coun Abbott Bryning, a former board member of SCIC Ltd told the meeting selling the building off, which was also suggested, would be a public relations disaster for the Council.
 
“If you decide to sell it off, you’ll have thousands of Lancastrians round your neck,”  he told councillors.

Security Lancaster leading local fight against cyber crime

Photo: InfoLab21

Experts from academia and industry shared knowledge about how to keep UK businesses safe from cyber threats at a Cyber-Security Challenge event held at Lancaster University recently.

According to a BBC news report last week, UK businesses lose around £21bn a year to cybercrime and cyber-attacks are becoming increasingly more sophisticated – and the government is issuing advice to British business leaders on how to protect themselves from cyber threats.

Lancaster University’s Security Lancaster, the only organisation in the north of England and Scotland and one of only eight in the UK to be recognised by government and awarded Academic Cyber Security Centre of Excellence Status, fully recognises the need to create a more security-conscious culture.

More than 85 delegates attended the cyber-security conference  ‘protecting your business in an insecure world’ which set out to raise awareness of potential threats and help businesses make informed choices about how they protect themselves.

Security Lancaster and InfoLab21 Lancaster University's Information Communications Technologies Centre of Excellence hosted the event in partnership with the ICT Knowledge Transfer Network (ICT TKN).

According to speakers at the conference some of the top threats to a business include:

  • data loss - whether it is your own data, or your customers’, the repercussions can be far reaching
  • new technology – be aware that people will not always use new technology for the purposes the designer intended 
  • internal threats – not all cyber security attacks come from outside a business. Ex-employees or those suspended from duties can pose a real security risk if they are not managed quickly and effectively
  • mobile computing – data is increasingly likely to be stored on mobile devices from laptops to mobile phones rather than in an office on a desktop computer 
  • social networking – many businesses depend upon it. However, with all these benefits come risks, as first-generation security solutions are failing to stop the invasion of new and sophisticated threats

“Cyber security is not a bolt on to businesses but an important part of it," argues Dr Daniel Prince, Associate Director of Security Lancaster and Partnerships Manager, "which should be embedded into your business model and business processes.”

“It is a very difficult financial climate for SMEs in the UK, and they need to counter cyber threat to ensure they operate at maximum effectiveness and retain valuable intellectual property and assets," added Tony Dyhouse from the ICT KTN.

"At the same time, their need to focus on core business limits the resource they have to gain an understanding of the threat and how to protect themselves. This conference imparts such information with maximum effectiveness in the minimum time, providing recommendations from cyber experts on hand.”

The event was supported by InfoLab21 as one of a series of Northwest technology events as part of the InfoLab21 Strategic Technology Exploitation Programme (ISTEP), a Solutions for Business product which provides a range knowledge exchange activities to identify and  support collaboration between Northwest Digital & Creative companies and the 270+ strong research community at InfoLab21.

Attendees were all also asked about what assistance they would find most useful to protect their organisation and the findings will be reviewed in detail in a subsequent workshop and publicised as a industry report later on this year.

Catch the conference online. Videos of the presentations and interviews from CSC2012 are now online and can be viewed on the conference website and on YouTube. You can also have a look at the photographs on Flickr or on Facebook.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

In Review: A Taste of Dickens - Grand Theatre

Michael Nunn

Lancaster Theatre Productions: A Taste Of Dickens
An Evening of Rehearsed Readings to celebrate the bicentenary of the birth of Charles Dickens (1812 – 1870)
Devised, written and directed by Michael Nunn
performed at The Grand Theatre, Lancaster,
and served with a Victorian Buffet in the Interval.
Part of the Lancaster Heritage Open Days Festival
Friday 7 September 2012 at 7.30pm
£15 / £12
Reviewed by Frank Ledwith

Is it possible to portray the life and works of Charles Dickens, one of our great and most prolific novelists, in one evening of readings?  This was the ambitious aim of Michael Nunn who wrote and directed the performance of ‘A Taste of Dickens’ at the Grand Theatre, Lancaster.

He did make the task somewhat more manageable by narrowing the focus to Dickens and his portrayal of food and eating but then, which is as praiseworthy as so seldom done, included input from the author’s Scottish wife Catherine, who wrote ‘What Shall We Have for Dinner’- a book of sumptuous and straightforward recipes which in its day rivalled Mrs Beaton’s books in popularity.

In addition to the ambition of the project, there was a delicious interval buffet, provided by The Borough on Dalton Square, which gave the audience a taste of the beef, fish, cakes and sweets mentioned in the readings which were the staples of middle-class families in the Victorian era.

The entertainment consisted of a series of largely chronological readings from Dickens, enlivened by gesture and actions, performed by a cast of local actors.  These were linked by a perceptive narration of the author’s life and works.  In the first half of the show we were entertained with stories with larger than life, even grotesque characters in which were portrayed many vivid, even cinematic details of such things as rapacious dogs or boozy passengers on a stormy ferry outing on the Thames.

In the second half, the mood darkened to portray something of Dickens’ later and great novels and the cheerful laughter of the audience was changed into a more thoughtful and reflective response.  Here we were dealing with the some of Dickens’ blackest villains such as Bill Sykes, with the appalling starvation of orphans in the workhouse and with the tensions between husband and wife in managing the household servants.

As an extra, local bonus we enjoyed a description of the stay by Dickens and fellow writer Wilkie Collins at a hotel in Lancaster, and his account of the wretchedness of the inmates of the Moor mental hospital.  The final act of the entertainment was a reading by Michael Nunn of the poignant farewell speech given by Dickens at his last public reading.  For us listening, it sounded like the author’s death-bed speech and in some ways it was since, within a few months of giving it, he was dead.

Overall it was an entertaining evening, with the man and his writing put within a historical context and with a great deal of detail about the surprisingly healthy (and large!) appetites of the Victorian well-to-do.  The drama was very much an ensemble piece with all the actors delivering in a free flowing and energetic style.  It would  be invidious to single out individuals so I would offer congratulations to all the cast for the enormous amount of work which clearly went into producing and performing what was aimed to be (and was), an enthralling family entertainment which gave a taste of Dickens in a whole variety of ways.

Frank Ledwith

Morecambe burglary leaves wedding plans in ruins

Morecambe Police are appealing for information after an engaged couple’s home was burgled in Morecambe over the weekend, and the theft of a safe left their wedding plans in ruins.

The stolen safe contained $3,000 US dollars, their two wedding rings and their passports.

The burglary took place at the couple’s flat on Hampsfell Drive, Morecambe sometime between 1.00pm on Friday 7th September and 6.00pm on Sunday 9th September.

The couple are due to get married in Las Vegas in less than four weeks’ time and police believe their home had been deliberately targeted.

PC Mark Nelson from Lancaster Target Team said: “It would appear that the offenders knew what they were looking for as they have left the TV, computer console and laptop untouched in the front room.

“This crime has obviously affected the couple’s wedding plans and they are devastated," he added. "They are desperate to recover their property, particularly their rings and passports.

“I would urge anybody that witnessed anything suspicious in the area around the time of the offence or knows anything that could assist with our investigation to get in touch.”

• 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.

In Review: Sue Seddon - Mrs Dickens Presents...


Mrs Dickens Presents..
A Performance of Monologues by Mrs Catherine Dickens
written and performed by Sue Seddon
at St John the Evangelist Church, Lancaster
as part of Lancaster’s Heritage Open Days 2012
Sunday 9 September 2012 at 1pm, 1.30pm, 2pm and 2.30pm
Free
Reviewed by Michael Nunn

Local writer, teacher and performer Sue Seddon (http://www.sueseddon.co.uk/) has also contributed to Lancaster’s own celebrations this weekend of the bicentenary of the birth of Charles Dickens.  On Sunday afternoon she presented in the historic and Grade II listed Church of St John The Evangelist, her newly-written performance of Mrs Dickens Presents.., a monologue based on the life, loves and recipes of Catherine, the Scottish wife of the eminent, ‘Inimitable’ writer.

Sue gave us a witty and succinct chronological account of Catherine’s relationship with the writer, an arrangement that was not without its problems, and of Catherine’s own cookbook, ‘What Shall We Have For Dinner?’, published in 1851.  Sue also told us about the catering arrangements in the marital home.

Lucidly, intelligently told, she cited scholarly and contemporary accounts of the household, husband and her legacy.  Ellen Ternan, Dickens’ ‘mistress’ has also been named ‘Invisible Woman’, and also entered the narrative.  Whilst it is difficult even now to form a clear factual picture of what really went on, there is still much debate about her place in Dickens’ life, and, indeed his bed.

Placing Catherine in the context of creative women in the nineteenth century, such as the Brontë sisters, Mrs Gaskell and Jane Austen, she entertained us with a professional delivery to a humane and articulate story which bravely and justifiably placed Catherine Hogarth (later Mrs Dickens) as a figure in her own right.

Another welcome, impressive and entertaining contribution to the City’s celebrations of one of the country’s most famous writers.

Michael Nunn

In Review: Seditius, Durge and The Fighting Keegans. ECP Promotions


Seditius
ECP Promotions presented
Seditius
Durge
The Fighting Keegans
At the Yorkshire House, Lancaster
Thursday 6 September 2012
£3
Reviewed by Reza Mills

It's a miserable wet and cold Thursday evening in Lancaster. What the hell else was I going to do? Sit inside watching a bunch of idiots sitting inside a house sprouting B.S.? Simultaneously hating myself and my wretched existence for giving this rubbish the time of day?

Nope, down I go to The Yorkshire House, in the rain and wind and you know what? I don’t mind, because it's ECP Promotions first ever Metal show and I’m not talking about your average bog-standard Judas Priest / Iron Maiden type affair. You know what I’m talking about; mullets and solos that last for an eternity, the kind of stuff that makes you ashamed to admit you like metal; depressingly clichéd and predictable. No siree bob! Instead we have what promises to be a night of awe-inspiring heaviness. I for one cannot b****y wait!

First up we have a duo named The Fighting Keegans, which is the sort of name that conjures up images of tough, Irish-American Oi! / Punk ala The Dropkick Murphys. Luckily nothing could be further from the truth, what we got instead was groove laden Grunge / Stoner rock that brought to mind The Melvins and Desert rock heroes Kyuss and Queens of the Stone Age. Make no mistake about it, this is heavy, but there were also some nice melodic touches which helped prevent the music from becoming too repetitive. The band are local and quite new, having only formed in January this year, and consist of Rory Violence on guitar / vocals and Max Density on Drums / vocals.  Ones to watch I would say.

After a short interval was the band I’d been waiting to see.  Durge are a trio from Kendal and feature Jeff Bond on Guitar / Vocals, Oli Greenband on Guitar and Dave Callaghan on drums. Having heard their killer demo on bandcamp (http://durge.bandcamp.com/) I knew I was in for something special. The band combines black metal in the vein of Burzum with some ultra-heavy doom in the fine tradition of early Cathedral and Electric Wizard.

It's rare that I move any limb or part of me during a gig, but I was head banging along at the front as the glorious cacophony of noise emanating from these 3 guys enveloped me.  Jeff has a very harsh, shrieking vocal style which wouldn't be out of place on any early 90s Norwegian black metal album. This ensures that the band aren't going to be poster boys in the NME anytime soon and - you know what - it doesn't matter. Because when the music is this good, fresh and exciting, it gives you faith that music can still be vital.

Talking to drummer Dave afterwards it's clear that they will have some recorded product out at some point. I for one will be there with debit card in hand when that day comes about.

And so finally onto headline act Seditius, of whom I don’t know what to expect. The band is from Italy and features Mat on guitar, Apu on drums, Nerchia on bass and, last but not least, Noodles on vocals. Seditius have more of a hard-core punk sound in comparison to the other bands who have played tonight.  This is certainly evident in some of the bands they have played with, which include punk legends such The Adolescents, D.O.A. and The UK Subs. Frontman Noodles was a whirlwind of energy, leaping about the stage like Keith Morris in his Black Flag / Circle Jerks heyday whilst the band hammered out some sick punk-metal behind him. With no small amount of speed, the band made a nice contrast to the music that preceded it. The last song had a very nice Rage against the Machine (‘Evil Empire’ period) groove going on. The only minor quibble that I could find was their set was so darn short! I wanted to hear more guys!
http://www.seditius.com/

Nevertheless I had a fantastic evening. It made a real change to have something a bit heavier in Lancaster and it's all credit to Marc and Al from ECP Promotions for putting this together.
For further information about ECP Promotions you can visit the obligatory Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/ecppromotions), or the website which is http://ecppromotions.webs.com/.
To hear Marc’s dulcet tones, you can have a listen to the radio show on http://www.mixcloud.com/ecppromotions/.

Reza Mills

Image courtesy of ECP

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Saving the Storey: The Case for a Creative Hub

Lancaster City Council meets later this week to discuss the future of a number of key sites in the City, including the Storey Creative Industries Centre - and tennants are urging it should continue to operate, offering detailed and powerful arguments in favour of the option.

They also point out that changing its use could also expose the Council to a number of demands for a return of monies provided by the European Union and other bodies in the first place - which could have wider impact on Council services.

The fate of the building was thrown into the air after the company that ran it, Storey Creative Industries Centre Limited, went into liquidation after protracted financial difficulties.

The Council will be discussing the future of the Centre on Wednesday, and a report from its Chief Executive favours the redevelopment of the Storey to complement future redevelopment of Lancaster Castle.

Other options up for consideration are that Council should seek to continue operating the building as a Creative Industries Centre - favoured by its tennants - or sell the building, winding up the creative industries centre, obtaining vacant possession, giving sub-tenants appropriate time to relocate, and addressing all clawback and restrictive covenant matters - all of which could prove protracted and expensive despite the potential value of the building.

The report also urges Council to investigate the removal of the restrictive covenant to give the building as wider use as possible - no matter what course is decided n Wednesday. Currently, the covenant bequeathing the Storey to the City includes conditions in favour of it being used to promote creative industries and the arts - which is why it includes, for example, gallery space.

Removing the covenant would enable the Council to have the option to sell off the building, which could mean it would be converted for another use.

Despite the current status of the Storey, it could form a vital part of the City's future development, particularly given the opportunities any new use of Lancaster Castle may offer, the report suggests.

The report notes that "strategically, the building could make a significantly larger contribution to the Council’s regeneration priorities than it has in recent times and it could work in financial terms. In order to achieve this, however, it is not necessary for the building to remain as a Creative Industries Centre or stay under the Council’s control - the private and other sectors could have a role."

Keeping the Creative Hub: The Tennants' View

The business tenants and creative enterprises based at The Storey have commended the Councillors for their decision to create a viable creative industries centre for Lancaster.

"It was the right decision five years ago, and it is the right decision now," they say in a joint statement sent to every councillor.

"For that reason, we urge Councillors to recommend Option 1 in the Council's report on future uses of the Storey Institute; namely, for it to continue operating as a creative industries centre.

"The creative industries constitute one of the fastest-growing sectors in the UK economy, and those based at the Storey constitute a high-growth, high-value economic driver that brings money into Lancaster from across the UK and overseas.

"The Council report rightfully recognises that the failure of SCIC Ltd does not undermine the viability of a creative industries centre moving forward. In fact, the only failing business here is the leaseholder - and that obstacle to progress is now being removed by the appointment of the liquidator.

"According to the CBI, 'The creative industries - ranging from advertising to architecture and fashion to film - contribute 6% of GDP, employ over two million people and export over £16bn annually. If the UK is to achieve a balanced, high-growth economy, it is vital that the key strengths of businesses in the creative sector are nurtured and championed by government.'

"The Storey creative hub has established productive links between Lancaster University, with its wealth of academic, research and business knowledge, and the City itself. Such relationships are proven to generate employment and increase graduate retention.

"It is important to note that the Storey hub is perfectly financially viable if properly managed. Similar creative hubs, such as the Watermark in Preston, Woodend Creative in Scarborough and the Sharp Project in Manchester, are positively thriving. The Storey had almost full occupancy before the leaseholder's mismanagement drove businesses away."

Having reviewed SCIC Ltd's accounts and practices, the Storey's tenants have identified numerous cost savings, procedural efficiencies and income-generating opportunities which would enable the creative industries centre to prosper.

"We have a wealth of relevant business experience and a commitment to making the Storey project succeed," they say.

"To that end we have already taken the steps necessary to keep the building open during the transition period, assuming responsibility for vital utilities, health and safety and insurance - in some cases, at significant cost and inconvenience to ourselves. While this should be viewed purely as a temporary stopgap measure, it underlines our commitment to the Storey and has illuminated the issues involved in making it a viable, financially self-sustaining enterprise.

"All it requires is vision, will and competence."

The tennants are wary of allowing the Storey's future to be determined solely by the Duchy's eventual plans for the Castle, as suggested by Option 3 in the Council's report. This could, they argue, have severe negative consequences for resident businesses, and could incur long-term financial and reputational fallout for Lancaster City Council.

"The Council would risk clawback of over £3 million in funding from such cash-strapped bodies as the EU and Arts Council England if the Storey does not remain dedicated to its stated purpose as a creative hub," they point out.

"Similarly, over €200,000 of European PROUD funding depends upon the Storey remaining a creative industries centre. Losing this would set back Lancaster's regeneration and economic development, and could well damage relations with Lancaster University. "

Successful companies being thrown out of a Council-owned building would, they also argue, be a chilling indictment of Lancaster's viability - or lack thereof - as a place to do business.

"It should also be noted that the Storey remaining a creative hub would not in any way jeopardise future plans for the Lancaster Castle development. With the gallery, bar, restaurant - and, ideally, the Visitor Information Centre - so close to the railway station and Castle, the Storey would only add to Lancaster's visitor offer.

"Thomas Storey bequeathed the building to the people of Lancaster in 1891. If the protective Covenant is revoked, the building would be exposed to the risk of redevelopment by private buyers, and Lancaster could lose a major landmark and valuable resource - including the City's only dedicated gallery. Nobody wants to see this beautiful Grade II listed building lost to the public.

"We therefore urge Councillors to stand by their original commitment to a vibrant creative industries hub for Lancaster... We would welcome a positive, productive, forward-thinking exploration of the many viable options for the future of the Storey that will generate numerous economic benefits for Lancaster’s wider economy.

"The UK boasts the biggest creative industries sector in Europe. Is Lancaster open for business?"

What About That Covenant?

The advice from the Council's legal team in the report regarding the restrictive covenant notes suggests it might find itself caught up in quite a legal battle if Council tried to remove it and sell off the building.

"The Court upon application can discharge or modify a restrictive covenant," the report notes. "Under the legislation a covenant is obsolete, and will be removed where it is no longer possible for it to serve its original purpose, by changes in the character of the property, or the neighbourhood, or other circumstances of the case which the court may deem material.

"The particular nature of the transfer of the Storey to Council would suggest that the land is held under the terms of a charitable trust and Counsel’s opinion obtained some years ago advised that the trust cannot be dissolved and must be followed, unless there are grounds for applying for a cy –pres scheme as set out in section13 of the Charities Act 1993. (A cy- pres scheme is created when the benefit of the trust are transferred to another property and releasing the incumbent property from the trust).

"In these circumstances the process for removing the covenant are complex and would require specialist legal advice to establish whether such an application would succeed for the purposes of the Council’s proposals."

Whatever the outcome of the meeting - which at this stage seems in part to be looking at a decision which opens the way for further discussion and investigation - the building's future as a Creative Industries Hub would appear to hang in the balance.

- View the Council Report on the Storey (Item 13 on the agenda for the meeting)