Friday, 2 November 2012

Ash dieback: public urged to act now to help stop its spread to Lancashire

Over the last few days, news reports have revealed that British ash trees are threatened by Chalara fraxinea or ash dieback.  The disease causes leaf loss and crown dieback and can lead to tree death, and was first found at sites in East Anglia and could devastate the 80 million ash trees across Britain.

Lancashire has many ash trees and the county council is monitoring the situation closely, as organizations rally to warn the public of the issue which could be as devastating to our woodlands as Dutch Elm disease in the past.

Over 50,000 trees have already been burnt since the disease was found in the UK in February 2012.

Paul Bullimore, Lancashire County Council's woodland and forestry officer, said: "Ash is a common native tree across Lancashire and forms an important part of many of our woodlands.

"They are also commonly found as hedgerow trees. Although there have been no reported outbreaks in the North West, the Chalara disease has the potential to make a significant impact on our landscape.

"We are working closely with the Forestry Commission and district councils to monitor the situation and help to identify any potential outbreaks in the county."

"Lancaster City Council recognises the potential for a disease outbreak within the district and the adverse impact that this would have on the local landscape and tree population," Maxine Knagg, the council's Tree Protection Officer told virtual-lancaster.

"We are currently working to develop a strategic approach in the event an outbreak occurring and will continue to seek guidance from the Forestry Commission and other related authorities during this process, in order that we may respond promptly, effectively and within available resources.

"In the meantime, the council is assisting  the Forestry Commission and other related authorities in providing information to members of the public on what to look for and who to contact if an affected tree is identified via its website - www.lancaster.gov.uk/trees."


 Above: How to spot Ash Die-Back, courtesy of the Forestry Commission


Once trees lose their leaves, it’s much harder to spot the signs of ash dieback, so this coming weekend is vital: it could be the last chance to gather information about the health of our ash trees before spring. If you’re going for a walk in the woods this weekend,  you can help identify ash trees in danger.

Secretary of State, Owen Paterson MP, introduced a ban on the import and movement of ash across the UK last weekend and the Woodland Trust says it will do all they can to mitigate the spread of this disease in line with government instructions and advice, but there is still much more to be done.

"Unfortunately, we can confirm that the disease has been found in both the mature ancient woodland and woodland creation areas on our estate at Pound Farm in Suffolk," the Trust said in a statement. "In light of this discovery, we need government scientists to give urgent and clear advice to all woodland owners on how to manage the disease.

"We are now calling on the government to set up an emergency summit bringing together representatives from all areas of forestry, plant health and conservation. The Woodland Trust will play an active role in any task force that is created. Today ash is under threat, but tomorrow yet another of our precious native trees could be at risk.

If you come across a tree displaying symptoms of ash dieback, report it at once. The disease is most likely to be found in newly planted young trees.

You can report your findings to the following:

Forest Research Tree Health Diagnostic and Advisory Service Call: 01420 23000 Email: ddas.ah@forestry.gsi.gov.uk
Forestry Commission Plant Health Service Call: 0131 314 6414 Email: plant.health@forestry.gsi.gov.uk
•  Fera Plant Health and Seeds Inspectorate Call: 01904 465625 Email: planthealth.info@fera.gsi.gov.uk

Computer programmers at the University of East Anglia have also teamed up with tree experts to make a clever piece of software called AshTag, which lets people send in photos and locations of ash trees they think may have ash dieback. The photos are checked by a team of experts and then action is taken to try to stop the spread of the disease.

If you have a smartphone or a digital camera, it’s simple. If you spot an ash tree with signs of the disease, take a photo and send it in using the website or the AshTag app on your mobile phone.

If you have an iPhone you can download the AshTag app by searching the App Store on your phone for “AshTag” or by clicking here: if you have an Android phone search for “AshTag” in the Google Play store from your phone or use this link

If you don’t have a smartphone you can take a digital photo and upload it onto the website here: www.ashtag.org

"Government has taken a few steps to try and stop the spread of the disease but there is concern that these measures won’t be enough," said a spokesperson for campaign site 38 Degrees, that is promoting the AshTag app, "and without tracking tree health, we won’t know whether or not the government’s plans are working.

"In Denmark this deadly disease has wiped out 90% of ash trees. We need to make sure that doesn’t happen to our trees here. If thousands of us get out into our woods to get the facts, we’ve got a much better chance of heading off a disaster for Britain’s beautiful woodlands.

• Click here to help protect our woodlands and find out how to spot signs of ash dieback: www.ashtag.org

Councillors query Storey accounts discrepancies

See update 6/11/12 below; Council Comments

In October this year, the city council forfeited the lease of the Storey Creative Industries Centre Ltd (SCIC), and took possession of the Storey Institute as a result of the company going into liquidation.

Clouds lurk over the doings of SCIC however, which are currently being investigated by liquidators. In July the City Council’s Budget & Performance Panel asked Council Officers to answer questions raised by Cllr Roger Mace about their ‘due diligence’ when approving a £90,000 loan to SCIC in December 2011.

The £90,000 loan request was the subject of an exempt Urgent Business Report on 20 December 2011, prepared jointly by the Heads of Financial Services and Regeneration & Policy Services, which has since been released at Councillor Mace's request. It was dealt with by Chief Executive Mark Cullinan as an emergency.

Coun Blamire informed Council in her Leader’s Report that ‘This decision was a Key decision, but it had not been included on the Forward Plan. As such the Chairman of Overview and Scrutiny Committee agreed to this being treated as a matter of special urgency in accordance with Access to Information Procedure Rule 16, and gave approval for the Chief Executive to take the decision in advance of the usual five day’s notice. An urgent decision was taken on 20 December 2011. Additionally, the Chief Executive (in consultation with the chairman of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee) was asked, and agreed, to waive call-in in accordance with Overview and Scrutiny Committee Procedure Rule 17 (a).

Lancaster City Council has informed virtual-lancaster that all members of Cabinet were provided with the Urgent Business Report of 20 December 2012 and received an informal briefing which was not minuted. They have also explained that the decision was always an executive decision for Cabinet to take and was was undertaken in accordance with the Council's Constitution which is approved by Full Council.

The decision to grant the loan was reported to the full council on February 1st, the day before the loan agreement was actually signed, when it was touched on in the Leader’s Report to the Council, but not scheduled for discussion as the decision had already been taken. However, in July members of the Budget & Performance Panel raised some concerns regarding the 'due diligence' applied to the decision, and the Panel noted at their last meeting on Tuesday 23 October that:

"There are discrepancies between the figures in the company accounts as at 1 April 2011 (i.e. the closing figures in the company's accounts for 2010-11) and the starting point of the forecasts and projections produced by the company in support of the company's request for the £90k loan

"To summarise, the SCIC Ltd. Balance Sheet forecast in the report of 20 December 2011 - as presented to support the request for the loan - shows "opening actual" liabilities for April 2011 exceeding "opening actual" assets by £57,329. This is not consistent with the accounts for the year to 31 March 2011 (approved two days after the formal loan decision of the 20 December 2011), which report the liabilities of the company exceeding its assets by £8,295. The directors are responsible for the accounts giving a true and fair view of the state of affairs of the company.

"£57,329 and £8,295 cannot both be true. Either way there is a case for further investigation.

"The response to the question from the B&P July meeting about due diligence says "The company’s previous year accounts and management accounts were assessed. The company had produced a sustainability plan and that was appraised."

"The sequence of events relating to the loan included the following:-

  • 20-12-2011 Approval of loan under City Council's urgent business procedures.

  • 22-12-2011 Signing of annual accounts of SCIC Ltd. for year to 31 March 2011 by Ms J. Greaves (Director of SCIC Ltd.)

  • 22-12-2011 Signing of report to the Board by auditors: CLB Coopers.

  • Friday 23-12-2011 receipt of accounts at Companies House.

  • If the company had to meet a deadline of 31 December for filing its accounts at Companies House - that would help explain why the making of the loan was urgent from the company's point of view."


"These annual accounts contain the words at para 1.1 'The company made a loss of £7,394 in the year and at the balance sheet date the company's net liabilities exceeded its net assets by £8,295. The directors have prepared profit and cashflow forecasts and expect profits in the forthcoming year to exceed losses incurred to date. In addition, new sources of funding for future periods have been secured. Therefore in the opinion of the directors the financial statements should be prepared on a going concern basis.'

"The Council's agreement to grant the £90k loan repayable over three years is justification for the directors to say in the company's accounts "new sources of funding for future periods have been secured". The question to be investigated is whether the company was trading illegally - for example in the period preceding the approval of the loan.

"Recommendation 2 of the December 2011 report, delegating to the Head of Financial Services and the Head of Governance the agreement of the detailed terms and conditions attached to the loan to protect the council's interest was without substance as the loan was already fully agreed as set out in recommendation 1 of the report.

1-2-2012 Reference to urgent decision made in Leader's report to Council.

2-2-2012 Signing of loan agreement

3-2-2012 Payment of loan moneys to SCIC Ltd.

"As making a loan to the company was deemed to warrant the application of urgent decision rules in December, and an undated letter from Tom Clark (Chief Executive of SCIC Ltd.) asks to draw down the loan in December, it is strange that payment was not made until February."

The Budget & Performance Panel’s concerns have been forwarded to the Liquidator.

The Lancaster Guardian reported last week that SCIC director Councillor Abbot Bryning who is also the City Council’s Cabinet Member for Finance assured the Panel that he ‘never misinformed Cabinet, misrepresented the facts or withheld information’. There is no mention of the Storey or its crisis in the Cabinet minutes of 17 January 2012.

The case made in the December 2011 Urgent Business Report for SCIC’s hefty annual grants in previous years explained that it had been hoped that once the company started to turn a profit it would hand some of the money back. These forecasts had failed to materialise and by December 2011 SCIC already had debts totalling £130,000 to outside creditors – of which £32,000 was already owed to the Council.

It seems that during 2011 the Council had actually been withholding payments from SCIC relating to Lancaster Visitor Information Centre (LVIC) rent and service charges. The Urgent Business report explains that "This was tied in with seeking agreement on an acceptable repayment plan for monies owed to the Council for Npower and insurance related payments." Again, this does not seem like easy ground on which to negotiate a further £90k loan. But SCIC managed it.

In order to help buy planning time, in Autumn 2011 the Council decided to release monthly payments of around £2,000 for LVIC rent and service charges. It also released full payment of backdated service charges for previous years totalling £8,900, so that SCIC staff could be paid (£8,785) in November.

Despite the need, for tax liability reasons, for the Council to stay at arms length from the running of the not-for-profit business it had set up in 2006, SCIC CEO Tom Clark was increasingly coming back to the council for ad-hoc help with its bills and County Court judgements. These threatened the council with the even more costly failure of its project while it was already facing criticism of its management of Lancaster Market.

It’s not clear what happened to the planning time that was bought by the 4 year strategy of repeated hefty annual bailouts. The repayment plan proposal for the December / February loan depended on tenants accepting additional charges and the Heads of Finance and Regeneration recommended in their Urgent Business Report that:

"If approved, it is reasonable to assume that provided the SCIC at worst case continues to maintain its current occupancy levels, it can become a self sustainable operation based on its current financial projections.'

In caveat they added that there was no guarantee that this 'worst case' could be achieved. Their report did not engage with the possibility that it might not, although SCIC had a consistent track record of failing to meet its financial goals. In reality some tenants were already having difficulty meeting the current charges and the council itself had resisted paying them, which did not bode well for an increase. In fact the increase, implemented in early 2012, was demonstrably ill-received, with some tenants, included the largest, opting to leave. (see June 2012 news item: Storey Centre in Crisis as rent rises hit home.

Another plan began taking shape in the summer, when the SCIC crisis had become public knowledge. Locally-raised entrepreneur and Monaco resident Adrian Gott told VL that he began discussions with SCIC CEO Tom Clark and City Council personnel at that time regarding his possible involvement in the building’s future. Mr Gott told us with enthusiasm that although the operational management of the building really needed sorting out he saw the Storey as a great building with tremendous potential. However, he added, these discussions came to a halt when SCIC was wound up.

Lancaster Visitor Information Centre, which vacated the building when the financial difficulties of SCIC Ltd came to light in July, has already moved back to the building. Of the 10 remaining tenants, all of whom were confronted by bailiffs and served with eviction notices last month, seven have now signed interim licences to continue operating from the Storey and discussions are ongoing with others. FatMedia, the largest tenant, has moved out to premises in Spring Garden Street, a move planned since the Storey situation deteriorated at the start of the year. The Storey Gallery continues to operate, but LitFest has been holding its recent annual Literature Festival and regular events elsewhere. (LitFest is currently waiting to hear about its bid for a £35,585 council grant for accommodation).

The terms of the covenant under which the Storey building was originally donated to the city council are - 'for the purposes of the advancement in the Borough of Lancaster of science and art and technical and industrial education'. The benevolent public outreach of the two arts organisations alongside the opportunities presented by the Creative Industries Centre fulfilled that brief. Recently an EU funded 3 year joint urban regeneration project with Lancaster University (PROUD) has launched despite some impatience with ex-CEO Tom Clark on the part of the funders, who only discovered that their partner SCIC had collapsed when they read about it in online news media.

Over the past year and more the City Council has been faced with a number of complex challenges as austerity measures, adverse market conditions and pear-shaped business deals have hit home. Since taking over the running of the Storey council officers have held a number of meetings with tenants whilst sorting out the practicalities of managing the building, including room bookings, licensing arrangements, internet connections and interim marketing whilst evidently having difficulties with the SCIC records. A progress report for the November Cabinet meeting by the Head of Resources highlights that:

"establishing management arrangements for the Storey has taken a significant amount of time and effort from a number of Officers and it is inevitable that other tasks have been delayed. This situation will continue and although over time the nature of the work will become more proactive than reactive, at some point in the future there will need to be a reassessment of the staff resources needed to manage or oversee the building, depending on what the future arrangements actually are."

However while thousands of local residents must regularly endure having to traipse in person to the town hall during working hours simply to renew their visitor parking permits (10 minutes of staff time apiece before you even start calculating the impact on service users hours) one wonders how things will be, as Mr Gott put it ‘sorted out’.

Cabinet members will be presented with the progress report at its meeting next week (November 6, Item 8). Coun Janice Hanson currently holds the Regeneration portfolio. It is likely that a member will be appointed to hold a new Storey portfolio.

The PROUD project is currently carrying out consultations on development plans for Priory Fields and Quay Meadow. Their PICTURE THIS CO-Design Exhibition will be on show at The Storey from Thursday 15 - Tuesday 20 November. (afternoons until 6pm, closed Sunday).

For their assistance in finding out how not to plan, we refer them to our handy draft guide:

Opinion: How to tell if a development deal is dodgy?

Update 6/11/12: Lancaster City Council have informed virtual-lancaster that 'It is our understanding that the Budget and Performance Panel are satisfied that the decision making process was in accordance with the Constitution Council agreed.' They add that all members of Cabinet were provided with the Urgent Business Report of 20 December 2012 and received an informal briefing which was not minuted. They have also explained that the decision was always an executive decision for Cabinet to take and was was undertaken in accordance with the Council's Constitution which is approved by Full Council.

They have explained that the £90,000 loan decision made in December 2011 and paid on 3 February 2012 was not included in the Forward Plan as it was Urgent Business.

virtual-lancaster has also asked the City Council if the Council meeting of 1 February was informed on receiving the Leader's Report that the loan granted as a matter of urgency in December had not actually been paid yet. They explained that this information "was not relevant as the executive decision was being implemented."

Update 8/11/12: In an earlier version of this report, it was suggested the Storey Gallery organisation had decamped from the building. This was incorrect and we are happy to amend the news item above. Council Cabinet discussed the future of the Galley at their meeting on 9th October. Currently, the Council has agreed to funding the maintenance of the Gallery but any funding of the Organisation by them is dependent on funding from other bodies such as the County and the Arts Council and others.

Morecambe Musican plans towering music marathon


A Morecambe musician will be spending 24 hours in a tower broadcasting live to the world, thousands of miles from home.

Pete Moser, artistic director of More Music, will spend a 24-hour residency at the top of the Arts Faculty Tower at Hong Kong University on 12th November.

From 6.00am GMT, every hour he will create and perform a new song and broadcast it live to the world and at different times of the day and night he will be visited by a variety of musicians who will jam alongside him.

You will be able to follow this marathon via links on www.moremusic.org.uk or go to www.24hoursinatower.com. And if you want to send him ideas for the new songs – use facebook (pete moser) or twitter (@petemoser).

This project is similar to one commissioned  by Live at Lica’s Curate the Campus in 2011 when Pete spent 24 hours writing, performing and broadcasting from the top of Lancaster University's Bowland Tower.

His latest musical marathon  takes place during a three week visit to Hong Kong and mainland China as part of More Music International’s work.

More Music has been developing in China since 2006.This work began as a response to the Morecambe Bay tragedy of February 2004 when 23 Chinese workers lost their lives at sea.

During November, Pete will run workshops, perform and research the music and culture of Hong Kong and China.

In Macau, Pete’s one-man band will take part in the opening parade of the Macau Festival and in Hong Kong, a training event and shows will complete a six month songwriting project, Hong Kong Tales.

In Xiamen, new partnerships will be developed with funding from the British Council Connections through Culture scheme.

The whole journey will be documented as always in a blog on the site www.thelongwalk.info. Over the past eight years, more than 140 blog posts tell the story of this remarkable journey.

More Music is a community music and education charity based at the Hothouse in the West End of Morecambe, delivering workshops training, performances and festivals both in the UK and abroad.

Since 2004, when 23 Chinese cocklepickers died in the Morecambe Bay tragedy, More Music has developed a link with China and Hong Kong which began with four major community music projects involving hundreds of people in Morecambe, Liverpool, Gateshead and Hong Kong.

A result of the work in Hong Kong has been the development of a community music network with the Centre for Cultural Development.

More Music has been involved with two major projects in Hong Kong and Shanghai as well as many workshops and sessions across Eastern China. It is currently starting to build a further five years work in Hong Kong and along the coast of Fuijan Province.

Hunt for Lancaster underpass attackers continues, photos released

Police are again are appealing for information after a young woman was attacked and robbed by two men at knifepoint as she walked home in Lancaster last month.


An EvoFit of one of the attackers has been published and police have now released pictures of the items stolen.

The offence took place around 10.40pm on Saturday 6th October, when the 25-year-old victim was walking along Millennium Bridge towards Lune Street.

As she entered the underpass below Greyhound Bridge, she was attacked by two men who she had seen immediately before, sat on a bench by the underpass.

One of the men grabbed her from behind and pushed her against the wall, causing her to bang her head, then held a knife to her throat – while the second man removed her watch and engagement ring from her left hand and wrist followed by her bag.

During her ordeal the victim received a number of scratch marks to her face and upper body, she was also sexually assaulted and had personal items of property stolen, including a large brown deer skin bag with a gold ‘Prada’ badge embossed on it, a limited edition Cartier Tank Francaise steel watch, engagement ring, black Prada sunglasses and around £235 in cash.

Police have released items of the images and anyone that has seen them or been offered them for sale should contact police.




It is believed the men were disturbed by the headlights of a taxi that was travelling down Lune Street towards the underpass. Some items from the victim’s handbag were discarded as they made their escape.

Detective Sergeant Mark Stephens from Lancaster and Morecambe CID said: “This is a particularly violent incident against a lone woman and she has understandably been left traumatised by what has happened.

“We know that there were a number of people walking over the Millennium Bridge immediately prior to the offence and I’d ask these people contact to the police.

“I’d also urge anyone that knows any information about the incident, who can provide details of the offenders, or is aware of who the taxi driver could have been at that time to contact police quoting crime reference number BA1203350.

“I’d reassure people that we are doing everything possible to find the men responsible and have stepped up patrols in the area.”

The first man is described as being white, around 6ft tall and aged late 20’s to early 30’s.
He possibly had facial hair and was wearing a dark tracksuit with the hood up.  He was carrying a craft or Stanley knife with a bright red handle.

His accomplice was also white, around 6ft 2” tall, stocky build with defined arms and possibly mousy brown spiky hair.  He was wearing a short dark vest like top with a round neck like a tank top and had a large hand sized tattoo to his left upper arm which is described as black, solid and bold-like a tribal pattern.

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.

Hunt continues for fugitive Ivan Leach

A senior Lancashire detective has today reassured the public that the police are doing all that they can to catch fugitive Ivan Leach.

Police forces across England and Scotland are working together in an effort to track down the 47-year-old absconder.

Ivan Leach, also known as Lee Cyrus, went missing from North Sea Camp open prison, Boston, Lincolnshire on Tuesday 9th October after going on day release.

Posters have been distributed across England and Scotland appearing on buses, in shops, community centres, hospitals, and in bus and train stations. The appeal will be shown on the big screen at Preston North End’s cup game tomorrow (Saturday 3rd November) and we are working with other football clubs across England and Scotland to widen the appeal via their match programmes.

Detective Superintendent Paul Withers from the Force Major Investigation Team said, “I want to reassure the public that we are doing everything that we can to locate Ivan Leach and are working closely with other police forces across the country.

“We have a large team of highly trained detectives and police staff responding to reported sightings in our area including officers from our Mounted Branch. Officers are trawling through hours of CCTV footage to see if he has been captured on camera, and speaking to his known associates.”

The last reported sighting of Ivan Leach was in Nottingham city centre on the 20th of October however forces across the UK have received over 100 possible sightings since he went missing.

Leach was born in Preston and has connections across the city as well as in South Ribble.

He is known to have been in the city on a number of occasions since he absconded, but he could be anywhere in the country. Enquiries are also ongoing in Nottinghamshire, Lincolnshire and Tayside.

Officers have warned Leach should not, under any circumstances, be approached as he poses a significant risk. He is believed to have carried out a very serious sexual attack in Tayside, Scotland, since he absconded on October 9th, although further details cannot be released for legal reasons.

Detective Superintendent Withers continued; “We are liaising with a number of other forces across England and Scotland and have a huge number of resources dedicated to tracking him down and apprehend him but we need the public’s help.

“I want to reassure people that we follow up every potential sighting of him so I’d urge people to call police if you think you see him or know of his current whereabouts.

“I would also like to warn anyone who may be harbouring him that if they know where he is, and they fail to notify police, action will be taken against them.

‘‘At the same time I would appeal directly to Leach, wherever he is, to hand himself in. Police forces across the UK are alert to the fact that has absconded and given the publicity of the past two weeks, his face is now well known within communities across England and Scotland. He should do the right thing and give himself up.’’

Leach is described as white; around five feet 11 inches tall, of stocky build with cropped hair and hazel eyes. His has a distinctive scar on his top lip under his nose and two distinctive tattoos, one with the name ‘Annette’ on the bicep of his left arm and a figure of a barbarian woman on the back of his right shoulder blade.

Anyone with any information in England is asked to contact police by calling 101 if in Scotland, people are asked to call 999 (the 101 service is not yet available in Scotland)

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.

Affordable Warmth Project reaches out to vulnerable tenants

Lancaster City Council, with funding from North Lancashire PCT, is helping landlords to maintain their properties this winter to ensure vulnerable tenants aren’t left out in the cold.

The Affordable Warmth Project aims to improve the health of some of its most vulnerable residents with the view to reducing hospital admissions due to the cold weather.

For those living in private rented accommodation, landlords have a duty to maintain their properties to the correct standards of heating and insulation. As part of the project, a newly appointed officer will work with landlords and tenants in the district to provide advice and assistance to ensure those standards are met.

Suzanne Lodge, Head of Health and Housing, said: “As well as highlighting the responsibilities landlords have for ensuring and maintaining adequate heating and insulation in their properties, the council will also offer them assistance in providing energy efficient homes for their tenants.

“It is hoped that providing additional support for the landlords of older and vulnerable tenants will make a positive step towards reducing the health inequalities associated with fuel poverty and affordable warmth.

“However, landlords should bear in mind that if there are cases of non-compliance, the council will not hesitate in taking appropriate action.”

• For more information or to arrange a free visit please contact Lancaster City Council on 01524 582257 or by email: strategichousing@lancaster.gov.uk

"Picture This" exhibition to put Lancaster Castle ideas under the spotlight


More than 500 people have put forward their ideas about how to transform one of Lancaster’s most historic public spaces as part of the 'Beyond the Castle' project.

Their suggestions will be featured in a new interactive exhibition called Picture This, which will be held at The Storey CIC in Lancaster, from Thursday 15 to Tuesday 20 November.

Beyond the Castle is a scheme to enhance public spaces around the historic castle and priory, Vicarage Fields and Quay Meadows.

Over recent months, the project has listened to hundreds of ideas about how to improve this area of the city. There is no blueprint for the area - the aim is to develop the site based on people's views, drawings, stories and othe! r ideas.

The exhibition will allow everyone to interact with what’s on show and add further contributions, opinions and ideas.

Some of the ideas from this creative process, known as co-design, will be on display at the exhibition.

Dr Leon Cruickshank of Lancaster University is the UK project leader of Beyond the Castle.

 “We're delighted by the high level of interest in this project from residents and businesses close to the site, as well as people from across the city," he said. "There's a strong feeling that we should be doing something to improve the space, while protecting its integrity and history. We had lots of exciting and different views about the area and its future.

"This co-design approach will result in a shared aspiration and core values for the area to be taken forward. It will also suggest future directions for further work by Lancaster City and Lancashire County Councils."

Beyond the Castle is an example of close partnership working between the city and county councils. It is led by Lancashire County Council and is supported by a co-design challenge led by Lancaster University through PROUD, an EU INTERREG project. The work is an important element of the Lancaster Square Routes initiative, which is looking to improve streets and spaces across the city centre, being led by Lancaster City Council.

• The exhibition will be open to everyone on Friday 16th November from noon to 6.00pm.

• There will be a residents' workshop on Saturday 17th November from 10am to noon. The exhibition is open to the public on Saturday afternoon, between 1pm and 6pm, but is closed on Sunday. It's also open on Monday 19th and Tuesday 20th November, from noon to 6.00pm.

• You can follow Beyond the Castle at www.facebook.com/beyondthecastle or on Twitter at @PROUD_Lancaster, or visit www.imagination.lancaster.ac.uk/beyondthecastle

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Corrie writer re-imagines Treasure Island for The Dukes

A Coronation Street scriptwriter has embarked on a journey with The Dukes this Christmas - destination Treasure Island.

Debbie, who has written more than 100 episodes of the popular soap, has adapted Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic adventure for the Lancaster theatre’s Christmas production.

And having been brought up in the North West and recognising The Dukes proximity to the sea, Debbie has relocated Treasure Island to Morecambe Bay.

“I’ve been to The Dukes shows in Williamson Park and the view towards the sea is very evocative. Treasure Island is a seafaring story so it’s logical that I based it on Morecambe Bay,” said Debbie.

And that’s not the only twist to this modern retelling of the classic adventure. The central character, Jim Hawkins, has been replaced by a girl, Jem.

Treasure Island is a boy’s own adventure but when I discussed it with the director, we wanted it to be a more balanced show. We agreed it should be a six-hander – three men and three women – and that the main character had to be a young girl rather than a boy,” said Debbie who has been at The Dukes during rehearsals.

Debbie is making history by writing the first ever Dukes Christmas show to be performed in the round.

“I’ve performed in and written for theatre in the round before and what excites me is the proximity of the action to the audience,” she said.

Although best known for Coronation Street and writing iconic episodes including Becky Macdonald’s exit, the first Hindu wedding, and Mike Baldwin’s funeral, Debbie also has experience in writing for young people in theatre and on radio.

Brought up in Manchester, Debbie used to attend pantos regularly. Her mother, the late Gloria Oates, is a former High Sheriff of Lancashire whose shield hangs in Lancaster’s Shire Hall.

Debbie first met Treasure Island director, Joe Sumsion at university in Bristol – coincidentally where the original story is based.

Debbie was an actor before her writing talent was recognised. She has written episodes of Fat Friends, Robin Hood, Primeval, Crusoe and Drop Dead Gorgeous for television as well as original radio and theatre plays.

Her connection with Coronation Street began 10 years ago, after learning her soap writing craft at Brookside.

“Corrie is a lovely job,” Debbie said. “Often writing is lonely so it gives me chance to work collaboratively. The writers meet up every three weeks to devise storylines, it’s really creative and exciting. I can’t imagine working on any other soap. It’s amazing to hear Rita open her mouth and say something I’ve written.”

Treasure Island opens on November 23 and runs until January 5. For tickets, contact The Dukes box office on 01524 598500 or www.dukes-lancaster.org

Owen Road arson - police hunt firestarters

Police are appealing for information after a someone set fire to road traffic bollards outside a Lancaster home.

Between 2.30 and 2.50am last Thursday morning (25th October), the fire service and police were called to a fire outside the address on Owen Road where it would appear bollards had been set alight and the flames spread and set fire to the front door of the property.

The officers investigating are treating the fire as suspicious and are appealing for anyone with any information to come forward.

PC Phil Salliss said, “Fortunately, a neighbour saw the fire and called the fire service before it could spread any further but this could have been much more serious.

“I would appeal to anyone who may have seen anything at all suspicious in the area around the times of the fire to come forward and contact us.”

Anyone with information is asked to contact police by calling 101 or alternatively, information can be passed to the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

A Trio of Dance Treats at the Nuffield


Some of the best emerging talent from the North West contemporary dance scene end their first ever tour at Lancaster’s Nuffield Theatre on 22nd November.

12° North have played to sell out audiences at their home venue, Ormskirk’s Edge Hill University, and The Lowry in Salford and hope for similar success in Lancaster.

This North West graduate dance company – consisting of 12 dancers who’ve all got degrees and are from the North, hence the name – will be presenting a Triple Bill at the Nuffield.

This engaging programme features something for all contemporary dance fans from Article 1 - a new abstract work for 12 dancers fusing traditional African dance and street dance - to Bitter Suite, which combines daring physical theatre with quirky and visually striking choreography by acclaimed British talent, Gary Clarke.

Completing the bill is Ripe for the Picking by Critics Choice Awardwinner, Antonia Grove, which was commissioned for this year’s Kendal MintFest and involves the audience choosing the order of the dance routines.

Triple Bill, which is recommended for anyone aged 14 plus,  also includes a curtain-raiser performance by Ludus Youth Dance Company based in Lancaster.

Ludus is one of 12° North’s regional partners and has another link through Gil Graystone, from Lancaster,  whose association with Ludus began as a dancer in 1978 and ended in January after 12 years as head of touring.

Gil is now project manager for 12° North. This pilot project was created after extensive consultation and a report outlined  the need for a company which helped dancers bridge the gap between graduating and gaining more experience of other skills now expected of those working in the arts, including teaching and business acumen.

Such companies are few and far between and 12° North is unique in featuring only dancers who are originally from the North West.

• Web advance tickets for the Triple Bill are priced £10 (adults); £8(concessions); £7 (young person/student). Standard tickets are £11.50 (adults); £9.50 (concessions); £8.50 (young person/student). To book, visit www.liveatlica.org or contact the box office on 01524 594151, email boxoffice@liveatlica.org

Export Week offers local business chance to investigate new markets

Businesses in Lancashire are being encouraged to take part in a week of events aimed at boosting exports from the region.

UK Trade & Investment – the government body set up to help increase trade abroad – has teamed up with business leaders across the country for Export Week, taking place between Monday 12 and Friday 16th November.

Export Week is a national event supported by the Minister for Trade and Investment, Lord Green, as part of a drive to double UK exports to £1 trillion by 2020 and get 100,000 more companies exporting.


Countries, including Bulgaria, Croatia and Slovakia, are just two to three hours away from the UK on budget airlines and therefore considered ideal for forging new business relationships.

Although Lancaster Chamber of Commerce tell us they have no plans for a specific local event at present, they are aware of the initiative and offer Chamber members support and advice on export matters.

Events in Lancashire include a seminar on nine emerging markets in Central and Eastern Europe at The Pines Hotel in Chorley on Tuesday 13th November.

Other events taking place during Export Week include an International Networking opportunity in Clayton-Le-Moors with successful local exporters and business advisors from UKTI and the Chamber of Commerce, and a trip to the world’s largest event devoted to low-carbon building.

A search will also be launched for new Export Champions in the North West to inspire and mentor those businesses new to exporting, and there will be opportunities for new and novice exporters to visit one of 11 European countries for a nominal charge of £99 through UKTI’s new ‘Export Insight Visits’.

The trips will take place to Turkey (27 – 29 November), France, Germany, Spain and Italy (January 2013), Belgium, the Czech Republic and Denmark (February 2013), and Sweden, Poland and the Republic of Ireland (March 2013).

“The value of exports from North West businesses was estimated at more than £26 billion last year, providing a massive boost to the region’s economy," notes Clive Drinkwater, UKTI’s Regional Director for the North West.

“I hope the events taking place during Export Week will encourage even more businesses and entrepreneurs to start trading abroad, and I’m sure our new Export Champions will be able to provide the expertise and support companies need.

“We’ll be providing free advice throughout the week on how exports can help businesses to grow, and the Export Insight Visits offer a low-cost way of visiting potential new markets overseas.

“Virtually any company can export its products and services – from one-man operations to large corporations employing hundreds – and there are plenty of opportunities for North West businesses to get exporting.”

The following events organised by UK Trade & Investment are taking place in Lancashire during Export Week:

Tuesday 13 November• Emerging European Markets, The Pines Hotel, Chorley, Lancashire – nine emerging markets, including Bulgaria, Croatia and Slovakia, are just two to three hours away from the UK.

Wednesday 14 November• North West trade mission to Green Build Expo, San Francisco – a trip to the world’s largest event devoted to low-carbon green building with an estimated 30,000 people expected to attend.
• North West trade mission to MEDICA 2012, Germany – a trip to meet overseas buyers and distributors at the world’s largest medical trade fair.
• International Networking, Mercure Dunkenhalgh Hotel and Spa, Clayton-Le-Moors, Lancashire – networking event with successful local exporters as well as representatives from UKTI and the Chamber of Commerce.

• More information on Export Week and the Export Insight Visits is available at www.exportweek.ukti.gov.uk and www.embltd.co.uk/ukti

• Businesses can also get free help and advice on how to export successfully by calling UKTI’s North West International Trade Team on 0845 603 7053


• Lancaster District Chamber of Commerce is at Trade & Industry Commerce House, Fenton Street Lancaster Tel: 0524 381331. Web: www.lancaster-chamber.org.uk


Remembrance Sunday services announced


This year's Remembrance Sunday falls on 11th November and a number of services have been arranged in the Lancaster district.

Everyone is welcome to go along to remember all who died for their country in the two World Wars and also those injured or traumatised by more recent operations in Afghanistan, Bosnia and Iraq.

Remembrance Day services will take place as follows:
 
Lancaster

Garden of Remembrance, Town Hall, Lancaster commencing at 10.20am, followed by a service in the Priory Church at 11.30am.  There will be a parade and March Past leaving the Priory Church at approximately 12.25pm ending at Lancaster Town Hall.

Morecambe
Cenotaph, Marine Road – Procession will form up at the Platform at approximately 10.20am for a service at the Cenotaph at 10.55am.

Carnforth
Parade will leave the Carnforth Town Council offices at 10.35am for a service and wreath laying ceremony at the Cenotaph.

To help people to pay their respects, Lancaster City Council has suspended parking charges on the car parks at the Bay Arena in Morecambe and Nelson Street in Lancaster on this day.

• For further information about the services or to express an interest in laying a wreath contact the Mayor’s Office, Town Hall, Lancaster, LA1 1PJ, call (01524) 582070 or email mayor@lancaster.gov.uk

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Student Radio Hosts Police Candidate Debate

Bailrigg FM, Lancaster University’s student radio station is hosting a debate between the candidates for Police Crime Commissioner of Lancashire on Sunday 4th November at 10.00am, which locals off campus can follow online.

(Bailrigg FM broadcasts over air only within the University boundaries).

Candidates Afzal Anwar representing the Liberal Democrats, Tim Ashton of the Conservatives and Robert Drobny representing UKIP will all be in attendance. Clive Grunshaw of the Labour Party has other campaigning engagements and therefore will not be present.

‘The News on Sunday’ is usually a topical politics show with local guests from Lancaster’s political and cultural scene, hosted by second year student Nathan Marsh. This week’s special edition of the show will invite each candidate to answer students’ regarding the upcoming elections in the 15th November.

Executive Producer of ‘The News on Sunday’, Gabriella Mansfield, a second year student in Criminology said: “This show is a great opportunity for our student radio station, it will allow the students and locals of Lancaster to engage further within these elections.”

Bailrigg FM’s Station Manager Charlie Edwards said: “These elections affect everybody and anything we as a student body can do to engage is a worth while venture. I think Gabriella and her team have done a fantastic job to organise this and I can’t wait to listen in on Sunday.”

• You can listen in online at www.bailriggfm.co.uk




Nationwide poster campaign launched to trace Ivan Leach man


Police have launched a nationwide poster campaign to trace a man described as dangerous and predatory who is believed to have committed a serious sex offence while on the run.

Police forces across England and Scotland are working together in an effort to track down 47-year-old absconder Ivan Leach.

Also known as Lee Cyrus, Leach went missing from North Sea Camp open prison, Boston, Lincolnshire on Tuesday 9th October after going on day release.

Posters are now being distributed across England and Scotland and will appear in shops, community centres, hospitals and on bus and train stations. The posters will also be put up on all Preston Buses.

A £3,000 reward has also been offered by the charity Crimestoppers for information leading to his arrest and conviction.

Officers have warned Leach should not, under any circumstances, be approached as he poses a significant risk. He is believed to have carried out a very serious sexual attack in Tayside, Scotland, since he absconded on October 9th, although further details cannot be released for legal reasons.

The last believed sighting Ivan Leach was in Nottingham City Centre at 11:20am on the 20th October at a cash point outside Barclays Bank on High Street, however, forces across the UK have received over 100 possible sightings since he went missing.

Leach was born in Preston and has connections across the city as well as in South Ribble.

He is known to have been in the city on a number of occasions since he absconded, but he could be anywhere in the country. Enquiries are also ongoing in Nottinghamshire, Lincolnshire and Tayside.

Detective Superintendent Paul Withers from the Force Major Investigation Team said; “Whilst Leach remains at large he continues to pose a serious threat to members of the public. He has previous convictions for burglary, sex offences against a young girl, assault and robberies in which he has targeted elderly people in their own homes.

“We believe he could be sleeping rough and travelling extensively throughout the country, most likely on public transport – alternatively, he may be being housed by someone he knows.

“I would like to warn anyone who may be harbouring him that if they know where he is, and they fail to notify police, action will be taken against them.

“We are liaising with a number of other forces across England and Scotland and have a huge number of resources dedicated to tracking him down and apprehend him but we need the public’s help.

“I’d reassure people that we follow up every potential sighting of him so I’d urge people to call police if you think you see him or know of his current whereabouts.

“I would remind people that he is violent and should not be approached. We will continue to have officers out looking for him and we are doing everything we can to find him.

‘‘At the same time I would appeal directly to Leach, wherever he is, to hand himself in. Police forces across the UK are alert to the fact that has absconded and given the publicity of the past week, his face is now well known within communities across England and Scotland. He should do the right thing and give himself up.’’

Leach is described as white; around five feet 11 inches tall, of stocky build with cropped hair and hazel eyes. His has a distinctive scar on his top lip under his nose and two distinctive tattoos, one with the name ‘Annette’ on the bicep of his left arm and a figure of a barbarian woman on the back of his right shoulder blade.

Anyone with any information in England is asked to contact police by calling 101 if in Scotland, people are asked to call 999 (the 101 service is not yet available in Scotland)

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

University soap opera goes down under

An interactive ‘soap opera’ created by the University of Cumbria has become a worldwide hit.

A number of universities in the UK and abroad have bought into the online ‘drama’ which was created by University of Cumbria health and social care experts to educate a global audience.

A college and a university in Perth, Australia, and a technical college in Canada are now using the online programme, Stilwell, in their classrooms.

Stilwell is a web based virtual environment initially designed to support health and social care students and Continuous Professional Development at the University of Cumbria.

As the programme was so successful, it was rolled out to support training in organisations such as Cumbria Constabulary, the NHS and Cumbria County Council.

Real life scenarios are played out by real actors and the web based environment features video, audio, profiles, newspaper articles and background health and social reports.

Students use the situations to make informed decisions about the best treatment for the characters.

Dr. Mike Walsh, the creative director of Stilwell, has developed a variety of resources, incidents and scenarios that span a wide range of health and social issues from domestic abuse, mental health issues, child protection and long and short term health problems, all of which help students to deal with difficult topics.

Ian Corrie, Stilwell project manager for the University of Cumbria, has been involved in the development and commissioning of the project.  He said: “We started off by offering it out locally and it was used by both Cumbria Police and Cumbria County Council.  Now the appeal is reaching much wider as organisations look for interactive experiences for their staff or students.

“The best thing about Stilwell is that it allows the students to make decisions in a safe environment and they can learn from the decisions that they choose. This builds their confidence and experience for when they are faced with the real life situations in their career.”

• For more information and a video about Stilwell visit www.stilwelleducation.com

Police waarning on fake notes

Police are warning people to be vigilant after receiving information that counterfeit £20 notes could be in circulation in the Lancaster and Morecambe areas.

Shoppers and businesses are being urged to be extra vigilant when accepting £20 notes, or being asked to exchange them for smaller denominations.

Detective Sergeant Colin Forsythe said: “We were acting on information that counterfeit notes could be being used in the area.

“I appeal to shoppers and businesses to be extra vigilant when handling money and report anything suspicious to the police.”

Anyone with information can contact police on 101, alternatively, information can be passed to the independent charity, Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Appeal after John O'Gaunt Rowing Club's boat engines stolen

Police are appealing for information after two valuable boat engines were stolen from a rowing club in Skerton at the weekend.

It is believed the John O'Gaunt Rowing Club building on Halton Road was broken into sometime overnight between 3.00pm on Friday 26th October and 9.30am on Saturday 27th October.

Both engines that were taken were Tohatsu M9.8 2 stroke engines and are worth around £1,000 each. One was grey, made in around 2005 and a black one, made in around 2007. Both should be uniquely identifiable as they have drill holes which have been made to take the propguards on the lower assembly.

A small amount cash from the till was also taken from inside and police are appealing for anyone with any information to come forward.

Three kayaks were stolen from the Scout clubhouse on the same road last month and although it is unclear whether the offences are linked, officers are appealing for anyone with any information about either offence to contact them.

“I would urge anyone who has seen anything at all suspicious in the area, particularly, any suspicious vehicles, to come forward,” urged PCSO Nicolle Croft.

Anyone with information can contact police by calling the new non-emergency number 101 quoting crime reference number BA1203264.

 

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Gang jailed for over 34 years following poker game robbery

Five men involved in a robbery where poker players were threatened with machetes have been jailed for a total of 34 years and seven months.

A group of men had been playing poker at an address on Robin Crescent, Heysham, on Sunday 22nd May 2011, when they were targeted by the gang, who had been made aware of the game through their associates.

Brothers Jason and Richard Diprose attempted to get a taxi to the address, but finally enlisting their friend Lee McDermott, who switched off the GPS device in his vehicle and took the men to Robin Crescent.

Shortly after 11.15pm, the homeowner answered a knock at his door and was confronted by a man holding a pizza box. He was then sprayed in the eyes with a noxious substance.

The gang burst into the house wearing dark clothing, black balaclavas and black gloves. A number of them were carrying machetes. One of the men then went upstairs and threatened a female resident, who was dragged out of her bed.

Mobile phones and around £2,000 in cash were stolen before the gang made off.

Balaclavas were later found at the Austwick Road home of Neil Bradley. Machetes were found under a shed at the home of Richard Diprose. Harry Ralphs was picked out in an identity parade as the person who had squirted the homeowner with the liquid.

Appearing at Preston Crown Court, the men pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit robbery.

Today, 26-year-old Jason Diprose, formerly of Clare Road, Lancaster and currently HMP was jailed for five years. This will run consecutively with a 16-year sentence he was given earlier this year for conspiracy to supply cannabis and cocaine.

25-year-old Richard Diprose, of Austwick Road, Lancaster, was jailed for eight years and six months.

21-year-old Harry Ralphs, of Dee Road, Lancaster, was jailed for seven years and eight months for the robbery. Ralphs was also sentenced for two burglaries in May and September last year and had 43 other offences taken into consideration. His total sentence was nine years and four months.

26-year-old Lee McDermott, of Haylot Square, Lancaster was jailed for five years and nine months.

21-year-old Neil Bradley, of Austwick Rd, Lancaster, was jailed for seven years and eight months for the robbery. Bradley was also given a consecutive sentence for possessing a shotgun and a bladed instrument, found in a holdall on Austwick Road in June last year. His total sentence was nine years and six months.

Speaking after the sentencing, Detective Sergeant Colin Forsyth, Lancaster police, said: “Once the gang became aware that there was a large amount of cash in play at the poker game they came up with a plan to rob the victims. The following raid was a frightening experience for those who were at the house, particularly the young woman who was woken up by a masked man.”

He added: “The sentences that they have been given reflect the severity of their actions and the fact that they used violence, threats and intimidation while armed with weapons in order to plunder a quick source of cash. This is an organised gang who have caused numerous problems, not just on the Ryelands estate where they live but also across the city, and they are more than willing to use weapons and violence to carry out their criminality.

“The city’s streets are a safer place now that they are in prison and we hope that this will have a positive effect on the local community, particularly on the Ryelands estate. We are committed to tackling organised crime groups and putting them behind bars and ask that residents continue to support us by coming forward with any information they may have.”

The 30-year-old female victim of the robbery, said: “It was horrific to have men force their way into my home with machetes and balaclavas. It was a terrifying ordeal and it has had a great effect on me. I am relieved that these men are now behind bars as it means I can move on with my life.

“I have never had any dealings with the police before this and I would like to thank them for the help and the support they have given me both during the investigation and when the case came to court.”

Caton public toilets vandalised again, Council counts cost

Public toilets at the Bull Beck picnic site in Caton could be closed indefinitely, following a further spate of vandalism to the building this weekend that will cost Lancaster City Council thousands to repair.

The attack is believed to have taken place at around 2.00am on Sunday morning when the locked metal security gates were ripped off their hinges by the intruders.

During the attack, toilets were smashed, water pipes ripped off the wall and paper dispensers and door locks broken. The litter bin outside the block was set on fire causing further damage to the building.

Clearing and replacing the broken toilets and associated facilities is likely to cost in the region of £2,000.

"This particular toilet block has been subjected to mindless acts of vandalism for many years now as well as being a hotspot for antisocial behaviour," says Mark Davies, the Council's Head of Environmental Services.

"Regardless of the fact that the toilets are located on a popular picnic area used by many during the day, the council simply cannot continue spending council tax payers money on making repairs to the toilet block, only for it to be damaged again during the night.

"Once again, the police have been informed and if caught, the city council will take action, including legal, against those involved.

"If anyone has information which will lead to those responsible being caught, I would urge them to contact Lancaster police on 101."

The toilet block will remain closed for the time being.

Local graduates land job roles through knowledge exchange

Knowledge partnerships between the University of Cumbria and a local business are resulting in exciting employment opportunities for local graduates.

26-year-old Dan Strong from Penrith, has landed a role as Director of IT for Keswick based M&K Update, a company providing clinical and medical training for healthcare.

The University of Cumbria IT graduate began working on an 18 month Knowledge Transfer Partnership programme with the company in 2010 after completing his BSc Applied Computing course.

The aim was to create an e-learning platform for their medical courses, supported by the skills and knowledge of Charles Dobson, senior lecturer at the university, which has one campus in Lancaster.

Dan said of the opportunity: “Without the KTP, the job would have been much more difficult and it may not have had a structured approach. This was key to completing the project and achieving results.

“Through the KTP I have also had the chance to do a management and leadership diploma and I am about to start a master’s degree in database administration. The KTP has given me a focus on where my career is heading in the future.”

Ken Russell, Managing Director of M&K Update said: "It has been a great experience working with Dan on this KTP project. He has played a fundamental part in developing an IT platform for the business, and we are pleased to be able to offer him a senior position within the company.

"Working in partnership with the University of Cumbria has grown our business and the KTP has built foundations from which we can build."

Charles Dobson said: “As a KTP supervisor you get to work with graduates, often fresh out of university. They are full of ideas and enthusiasm and are familiar with being given direction and then working independently. Interacting with such an individual over the course of a KTP is very rewarding and as an academic you get to see a graduate develop into a highly capable, adaptable, well rounded employee”.

Other successful job offers went to Kaz Stuart of Keswick who became the head of research and evaluation at Brathay Trust, and Tom Liversedge, 25, who is now divisional project manager at East Lancashire Hospitals Trust. Kristina Gash, 24, from Carlisle was also employed at Triveristas Ltd as their business systems co-ordinator after successfully launching an electronic resource platform.

Each of the graduates began working for the companies through KTPs initiated by the University of Cumbria.

• KTP opportunities are available to recent graduates and local businesses. For more information contact: 01524 384626 or email enterprise.services@cumbria.ac.uk.

Monday, 29 October 2012

Reward offered as manhunt for dangerous and predatory offender continues


CrimeStoppers have offered a reward for information about wanted man Ivan Leach.
The charity is offering up to £3,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Leach, who is on the run from an open prison.

Leach, 47, who is also known as Lee Cyrus, is described as a dangerous and predatory and is believed to have committed a serious sex offence while on the run.

Leach went missing from North Sea Camp open prison, Boston, Lincolnshire on Tuesday 9th October after going on day release.

Officers have warned Leach should not under any circumstances be approached as he poses a significant risk. He is believed to have carried out a very serious sexual attack in Tayside, Scotland, since he absconded on 9th October, although further details cannot be released for legal reasons.

The last confirmed sighting of Leach is on the evening of Friday 19th October in Lea, Preston but despite a nationwide appeal he remains at large.

Police are urging the public to be vigilant and to come forward with information about his possible whereabouts.

Leach was born in Preston and has connections across the city as well as in South Ribble.
It is known he has been in the city on a number of occasions since he absconded, but he could be anywhere in the country.

Enquiries are also ongoing in Nottinghamshire, Lincolnshire and Tayside.

Lancashire Police are investigating reports that two schoolgirls were approached as they sat at a bus stop around 6.30pm on Lancaster Road in Preston city centre on Wednesday 17th October. The girls were approached by a man matching Leach’s description who made sexual remarks towards them and encouraged them to participate in sexual activities with him. Fortunately the girls boarded their bus and reported the incident to the police.

Leach was jailed in 2005 for robbing a 90 year old woman in her home in Ribbleton, Preston. He was given a life sentence with a minimum tariff of five years. He also has convictions for burglary and robbery and assault.

Detective Supt Paul Withers, of Lancashire Police’s Force Major Investigation Team, said: “While we have been encouraged by the information provided by the public about Leach so far he remains at large and continues to pose a serious threat to members of the public.

“Hopefully this reward will encourage more people to come forward and help us track down and catch him. We will follow up every potential sighting of him so I’d urge people to call police or Crimestoppers if you think you see him or know of his current whereabouts.

“I would remind people that he is violent and should not be approached. We have extra patrols in the city and continue to have officers out looking for him round the clock and we are doing everything we can to find him.”
Leach has a number of friends, family and associates in Preston and prior to his sentence lived and offended in the Preston area so it is likely that he will gravitate back to the city.

Lancashire is liaising with a number of other forces and have a significant number of resources dedicated to tracking him down.
Leach has previous convictions for burglary, sex offences against a young girl, assault and robberies in which he has targeted elderly people in their own homes. He could be sleeping rough and travelling extensively throughout the country, most likely on public transport.
His appearance is likely to have changed over the past few weeks as a reflection of his current lifestyle and police believe he may have stubble or may now have grown a beard and look unkempt.

Leach is described as white; around five feet 11 inches tall, of stocky build with cropped hair and hazel eyes. His has a distinctive scar on his top lip under his nose and two distinctive tattoos, one with the name ‘Annette’ on the bicep of his left arm and a figure of a barbarian woman on the back of his right shoulder blade.

He was last seen wearing a black waterproof jacket, dark trousers and carrying a full rucksack.
Anyone with information is asked to contact police by calling the new non emergency number, 101. Alternatively, people with information can 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.

The reward only qualifies if the information is passed through the Crimestoppers number.

Jail for Lancaster canalside robber

Nathan Holden
21-year-old Heysham resident Nathan Holden has been jailed for four years his part in a robbery on Lancaster Canal earlier this year.

Holden was with two teenagers when the group targeted a man walking along the canal back in late April. The trio asked the man for the time and when he got his £200 mobile phone out to respond it was taken from him. He was then punched to the head, a £500 camera was stolen from him and he was threatened with a pair of scissors (see news story).

Appearing at Burnley Crown Court on Friday, Holden, of Delamere Avenue, Heysham, was jailed for four years for robbery. A 17-year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was given a two year youth rehabilitation order and a 15-year-old, who also cannot be named, was given a two-year youth rehabilitation order with two year supervision, a curfew for two months and a 91-day activity requirement.

Speaking after the sentencing, Detective Constable Sue Palmer, Lancaster CID, said: “This was a frightening encounter for the victim, who was attacked and threatened in order for the group to get their hands on his property. As Holden now knows, the police and the courts will not tolerate this behaviour and offenders face going to jail for their violent actions.”

Local author Christie Cavendish set for new library event

Morecambe Library is hosting a new local crime author event on Saturday 3rd November 2012. It's a chance to meet local writer Christie Cavendish, whose first novel, Family Deceit, has just been published by London-based Olympia.

Perhaps better known to date for her award-winning poetry, romantic lingerie seller Christie has been involved in Creative Writers Workshops, teaching the art of performance and took part in previous Dance and Art Festivals in Morecambe.

Over the years she's been an active stage performer with Morecambe Amateur Dramatics and has worked as a Legal Adviser and Debt Specialist for The Citizens Advice Bureau and sat on the board of Governors for the Lancaster and Morecambe College.

The event will offer the opportunity to discuss – and buy – Family Deceit and Christie will also be doing signings.

In Family Deceit, when eight year old Katy Sinclair is the unwitting witness and sole survivor to the brutal assassination of her family and best friend, the trauma leaves her without speech for many years, but she gradually begins to recover with the help of her loving uncle. Katy is left with a need to know why this had happened, and also who had perpetrated this heinous crime.

With the help of a few trusted friends she manages to solve the mystery, and 20 years after the crime, Katy invites a number of ‘guests' to her family home, where the massacre took place.

As Katy begins to address her unwilling audience the true horror of what really happened is revealed, and the conclusion comes at a terrible price.

Lancaster gets set to 'Light Up' with major local arts promotion


It’s not only fireworks that will be lighting up Lancaster this November.

On Friday 2nd November – the night before Lancaster’s Fireworks Spectacular – the city hosts a new free family event – Light Up Lancaster.

Organised as part of the Lancaster Arts City campaign launched in October, Light Up Lancaster promises an evening stroll with a difference through the city, launching a spectacular weekend of free family entertainment across the city.

Discover corners of the city which often go unnoticed, hear the rhythms and sounds at the beating heart of the city or stumble upon a story from Lancaster’s past.

You can enjoy Light Up Lancaster at any time between 7.30pm and 9.30pm. Collect your guide to all the events in Dalton Square from 7.15pm on the night.


Dalton Square itself will be just one of the city centre outdoor venues lit up for the occasion thanks to fire poi performers and More Music’s illuminated instrumental Bell Tower.

Market Square will feature giant lanterns and the latest exhibition at the City Museum – Recuerdos De Mexico by Melling-based artists Sue and Pete Flowers - will be turned inside out as images are projected on to the historic building. The Northern Lights Orchestra will provide live music to accompany your autumnal stroll.

In nearby Marketgate, a Chinese ensemble orchestra lit by Chinese lanterns will play.
Sun Square will become the setting for the screening of two films on the night. A dance film produced by Ludus Dance will be projected in the Square and a specially commissioned film by Lancaster-based theatre company imitating the dog will be projected on to the Music Room café.

Also during the evening, there will be dance flashmobs appearing across the city and the windows of some empty shops will be transformed to recreate stories from Lancaster’s past.
Light Up Lancaster is a First Friday event organised to promote Lancaster Ar ts City and is supported with funding by Lancashire County Council. Every First Friday of the month, Lancaster Arts Partners aim to offer a range of free events encouraging residents and visitors alike to see the area afresh and try out something new on the arts scene.

There’s also a new Lancaster Arts City free app which can be downloaded by registering at www.artscity.co.uk. The app is simple to use and includes helpful search features and a map featuring all the participating venues such as Lancaster’s Grand Theatre and The Platform in Morecambe.


Following Friday's events, watch out for other witches and Guy Fawkes themed activities, organised by Lancaster City Council, Lancashire County Council and various partners, throughout the day on Saturday in the city centre – including guided walks and tours, storytelling, arts and crafts and lantern making workshops.

And from 8.00pm, Lancaster Fireworks Spectacular takes place from the roof of Lancaster Castle for the first time ever.

Lancaster’s beautiful buildings and squares will be seen in a new light as they are animated by music, film, dance and art.

• For more information on Lancaster Arts City, First Fridays and the free app, visit www.artscity.co.uk