Friday, 3 May 2013

Four years for Morecambe man who shot neighbour in the head

David Bradburn

60-year-old Morecambe David Bradburn has been jailed for four years after he shot his neighbour in the head with an air pistol.

Bradburn, of Lancaster Road, pointed the gun at the man in a communal area where they both lived on the afternoon of Wednesday 20th March.

Bradburn claimed the man looked at him wrongly, asked if he knew what the gun was before he shot him in the head six times. Even when the victim ran away, Bradburn carried on shooting and the neighbour ended up having to have surgery to remove the pellets.

Bradburn pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to a charge of assault causing actual bodily harm as well as possession of an air weapon with intent to cause fear of violence.

He was sentenced at Lancaster Crown Court earlier today (Friday 3rd May).

Speaking after the sentencing Sergeant Fiona Jackson said: “This was a shocking and unprovoked attack. The victim required surgery to remove the pellets and was lucky he was not more seriously injured. I am pleased a custodial sentence has been given today and hope it acts as a warning to other people to highlight just how dangerous air pistols can be.”

Greens hold Bulk Ward - just.

Lancaster City Council  has announced the winner of the Bulk Ward by-election which took place on Thursday 2 May.

The results were:

    Bob Clark (Labour) - 753
    Caroline Jackson (Green) - 769 ELECTED
    Kevan Stuart Walton (Conservative) - 142

Caroline Jackson holds the seat for the Green Party with a majority of 16 votes.

Election: Lancs County Council Hangs, Labour Gains.


Lancashire County Council has announced a hung council and a shift towards Labour with the following election results:

Labour  39
Conservative 35
Liberal Democrat 6
Independent 3
Green 1

43 seats are required for a majority. Your local County Councillors are now:

   Lancaster Central Gina Dowding Green Party
   Lancaster East Richard Newman-Thompson Labour
   Lancaster Rural East Susie Charles Conservative
   Lancaster Rural North Alycia James Conservative
   Lancaster South East Chris Henig Labour
   Skerton Niki Penney Labour
   Morecambe North Tony Jones Conservative
   Morecambe South Darren Clifford Labour
   Morecambe West Janice Hanson Labour
   Heysham  Ken Brown  Conservative

For a full breakdown of the election results visit
http://www3.lancashire.gov.uk/elections/?sysredir=y

For a list of local candidates ward by ward see
http://virtual-lancaster.blogspot.co.uk/2013/04/nominees-published-for-lancashire.html

Phil Halsall, chief executive of the county council and returning officer for the election, said: "As no party has a clear majority, the main parties will need to consider the options for the future political governance of the council.

"These discussions will be taking place as a priority and an announcement will be made as soon as possible."

The leader of the council is due to be formally appointed at the next meeting of the full council, which takes place at County Hall on Thursday 23 May.

Residents urged to ‘spring’ into action to protect Lancashire’s wildlife

Lancashire Police are calling on local residents to spring into action when it comes to protecting wildlife in the county.

The Constabulary’s Wildlife Crime Officer Mark Thomas is reminding people living in the countryside of their responsibilities whilst appealing for their continued vigilance in the fight against wildlife and rural crime.

“We know that at this time of year, most species are producing young and are at their most vulnerable," he said, "so I'm appealing for the public to help us combat wildlife crime by reporting any concerns or suspicious incidents to the police.

“As it is lambing season, we also need to remind people that the control of crows such as Magpies is legal at this time of year and that Larsden and Ladder traps and their derivatives should be left alone.

"There have been several instances of these traps being deliberately destroyed in the misguided effort to stop this form of legal pest control so, if people are unsure, please leave traps alone and report the matter to the police.

“We are extremely grateful to the public for their support and would ask for their continued vigilance to help protect the wildlife in and around Lancashire.”

Saving NHS services: March & Rally, plus a 38 Degrees Public Meeting and an NHS Consultation


On Saturday 4 May the annual Lancaster & Morecambe TUC March and Rally will be marching to protest proposed cuts to local NHS services and all who are concerned with this issue are invited to join in,  assembling in Dalton Square at 11.30am to march at noon with music and banners, followed by a rally and speakers from 1pm.

The new local Clinical Commissioning Group is holding public consultations over the next few days and NHS campaign group 38 Degrees plans a public meeting in the Lancaster Library on Thursday evening (see details below). If you use or are thinking you might eventually require National Health Services it is time to put your oar in, or face ending up in an unsavoury place without one.

TUC condemns health profiteering
The North West TUC has condemned the huge private profits extracted from PFI deals that have brought the NHS to its current financial crisis and plans an active campaign to combat to any further privatisation and dismantling of the NHS, and demands the repeal of the Health and Social Care Act.
Over 200 parliamentarians (MPs or Lords) have recent past or present financial links to private companies involved in healthcare and all were allowed to vote on the Health and Social Care bill, turning it into an Act.

System failures at A&E as finances critical
The budget for the Morecambe Bay NHS Hospital Trust at the start of the  financial year 2012/13 was £245m.  The trust had a target through the government’s Cost Improvement Programme (CUT) to save £18m in 2012/13 and another £18m in 2013/14.  However by Autumn 2011 the programme was in disarray as it became apparent that records had been manipulated in an attempt to conceal a series of avoidable deaths at Barrow General maternity unit. Administrative failures meant that patients areawide were not recalled for necessary checks and the state of Lancaster A&E among other issues of very grave concern led to a damning report and sanctions by the Care Quality Commission, the forced 'resignation' of several of the trust's board members and the Hospital Trust being placed in the temporary care of Monitor, the independent NHS regulator.

Local NHS must save over 10% off this year's budget
In 2012/13 the Hospital Trust had to address some of its worst failings and fell far behind in its savings (cuts) programme. This financial year (2013/14) the trust must find £30m worth of savings  – cutting more than 10% of its budget. The new Chair of the trust has confirmed that this will result in job losses and that in terms of public health services ‘nothing was ruled in, nothing was ruled out’.  Over 250 job losses are in the pipeline and critical and urgent health services across the whole trust are under threat from proposals to cut them or move them out of the area. We are hearing from central government now of new charges proposed, initially for hospital meals and GP home visits. The Conservatives pre-election manifest pledged that there would be no cuts to the NHS budget, but in Lancaster & Morecambe the cuts are visible and condemned by the Royal College of Nursing.

Disgraced former CEO still getting £150,000 salary
Tony Halsall, the Trust's then Chief Executive was forced to step down in February 2012 and has been replaced - but, as the Lancaster Guardian recently reported,  he will continue to be paid his £150,000 a year salary until October 2013 and continues to receive benefits including a lease car and the costs of career management advice up to £5,000.

New Clinical Commissioning Group Takes Over
The new Health and Social Care Act has radically changed the structure of the NHS in a reorganisation costing £3.5bn to date.  A new NHS Lancashire North Care Commissioning Group (CCG) has been created. Made up of 13 GP practices it covers a population of approximately 170,000 people in Lancaster, Morecambe, Carnforth and Garstang. It is responsible for commissioning (buying) healthcare for the people of Lancashire North.

Local Consultation Dates
Along with other local NHS organisations including Lancashire North Clinical Commissioning Group and Cumbria Clinical Commissioning  the CCG is carrying out a review of local health services with the comforting title of  'Better care, together’.  Their consultation bus has been calling in a local venues and is due at the Festival Market, Morecambe on Thursday 9th May from 11am -3pm. They will also be at St Nicholas Arcade, Lancaster on Wednesday 15th May, from 11am-3pm and would like to hear your views.

You are also invited to contact your GP surgery to find out if they have a Patient Participation Group to which you can contribute your views.

City Council opposes axing of local Dementia services
The City Council has called on the Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust to reverse its recent decision to close Morecambe's Altham Meadows Dementia Centre (see story). The Care Trust has offered two options for addressing dementia community and inpatient services. The first proposed a single site in Blackpool with 'extensive community services'. Lately it has favoured a central Lancashire site, in Bolton or Blackburn. For many elderly people and their elderly partners, relatives and  friends who love and care for them these might as well be in the Congo as far as accessibility and maintaining regular contact is concerned.  But as one of the the most vulnerable social groups, least able to organise and protest, they make an easier target.

Patients who are admitted to hospital needing treatment for illness or accident who also suffer from dementia are difficult to care for adequately and humanely and inevitably deteriorate further on mainstream wards  without appropriate support and where staffing is already overstretched, or when removed to strange units far from the familiar faces.  There are currently 17,607 people aged 65 and over in Lancashire with dementia and at least 317 people with dementia in Lancashire under the age of 65. Numbers are expected to increase to 25,611 (by 2025), a projected increase of nearly 50%.  Yet NHS Lancashire argues evidence shows there is a clear reduction in the need for specialist dementia inpatient beds and wishes to withdraw dementia services into a single central Lancashire site.

The County Asylum (revisited)
It took 20 years to dismantle the old regional mental asylums with their systemic abuses. The need for local  services that enabled people to remain in their home communities underpinned the philosophy of the Care in the Community reforms of the 1980s and 90s. However no government has addressed the gaps between Social Care and Health Care that can leave vulnerable and chronically ill people isolated.  If you have a long term illness, such as unstable diabetes or advanced Crohn's Disease, or dementia, or cancer, does the fact that you need help with food preparation or personal care count as a social or a nursing need? Or does it simply depend on where you are? Social Services home care is delivered by private agencies, usually with a high turnover of employees on minimum wage zero-hours contracts. Many do it well and many simply must do it. A high proportion of disabled, chronically ill and / or frail elderly people must pay £11 an hour for such minimalist home care services, which may be their sole human contact, or do without. Coping with a succession of different carers to whom everything must be re-explained.  The CCG has suggested that it can tackle this issue although it is as yet unclear how will be organised, delivered or paid for.

Pensioners facing home care crisis
Care in the home faces further cuts, and the Lancaster District Pensioners’ Campaign Group (LDPCG) has condemned the government’s plan to reform social care funding saying that the system is dogged by means-testing, a postcode lottery of charges, a rationing of services and poor standards, and that it does not have sufficient funding to tackle the problems that pensioners face. The Lancaster District Pensioners' Campaign Group can be contacted by emailing: mejnlancs@yahoo.co.uk  or tel:  01524 61585.

The Crow Road
There have also been discussions about centralising other hospital services, such as Coronary Care and Maternity. The impressive speeds at which it has been proposed that an ambulance carrying a patient in cardiac crisis can travel between Lancaster / Morecambe and Kendal or Preston makes one wonder why anyone ever even thought of suggesting a Link Road.  Nothing is ruled out.

38 Degrees Lancashire NHS Campaign Public Meeting in Lancaster
Campaign group 38 Degrees is holding a Public Meeting in Lancaster Library next Thursday, 9 May, from 7-9pm to discuss how the group will follow on from its work petitioning the Lancashire North CCG to protect our NHS. Anyone who is part of or interested in in joining the campaign is welcome. If you would like to like to join the contact list to find out about future local NHS actions please contact Tim by email at tim.snashall@gmail.com.

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Lancaster's First Age Comics gets set to celebrate Free Comics Day


Lancaster's very own comic shop, First Age Comics, have supported Free Comic Book Day - a day when you can drop in and pick up a free copy of comics from top US publishers like Marvel and DC Comics, among others - every year since they opened in June 2006 and they'd like to invite you to celebrate comics with us once more this Saturday (4th May).

"The day is a fantastic way to thank our amazing customers who have supported us throughout the year," says Mark Braithwaite, "as well as encourage new readers to discover comics for the very first time."

There's an incredible range of free comics up for grabs this year from the comic shop, based in the Assembly Rooms, King Street, as well as an assortment of other giveaways too. This year sees Free Comic Book Day coincide with the traditional Star Wars day (May The Fourth) and appropriately there is a Star Wars title up for grabs.

Other Gold Sponsor titles include Marvel's Infinity, Bongo For All, Sesame Street, Superman, Walking Dead and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

In amongst all those titles there's the annual offerings from 2000AD, Image (Aphrodite IX), Top Shelf Kids (Owly), Red 5 (Atomic Robo) and DC Nation (Batman). Also available will be the extremely sought after Iron Man III Mk42 Heroclix piece.

There'll be plenty of fun and a number of special guest appearances from some well known comic characters throughout the day (and anyone who fancies appearing in costume will be every welcome) so come along and celebrate all things comics on Free Comic Book Day!


Check out First Age Comic son Facebook

Broadcaster Stuart Hall admits sexual offences against young girls

An 83 year old man has admitted 14 historic sexual offences against young girls.

Stuart Hall, of Prestbury Road, Wilmslow, Cheshire pleaded guilty to the offences of indecent assault when he appeared at Preston Crown Court on Tuesday, April 16th but reporting restrictions mean this can only be reported from today.

Hall was arrested on 5th December last year and charged with three offences of indecent assault. These offences were committed between 1974 and 1984 and involved three girls aged between nine and 17 years old.

He was subsequently arrested a second time on 22nd January and also charged with one offence of rape and 14 offences of indecent assault.

These indecent assault offences were committed between 1967/68 and 1986 and involved 10 girls aged between 9 and 17 years.

Hall initially denied all the offences but has now pleaded guilty to all of the indecent assault charges (four of the charges were rolled into one indictment, hence the discrepancy between charges and guilty pleas).

He denied the offence of rape against a 22 year old woman and in all the circumstances it has been decided this will not be proceeded with and has been left to lie on file. Hall will be sentenced on 17th June.

Detective Chief Inspector Neil Esseen, of Lancashire Constabulary’s Force Major Investigation Team, said: “The admissions of Mr Hall will at least spare his victims the ordeal of having to recount their abuse at a trial. They have lived with what happened for a long period of time and it cannot have been easy for them to come forward, especially as when they did so, they did not know there were others who had also suffered abuse. I would personally like to pay tribute to the victims for their bravery in coming forward to report these crimes.

“The fact that these convictions have come a long time after they were committed shows that we will always take any allegations of sexual abuse extremely seriously and will investigate them thoroughly no matter how long ago they happened. We will always strive to protect our communities, no matter the status of the alleged perpetrator.

“I would encourage people with any information about sexual abuse or who has been a victim of sexual abuse to come forward and report their concerns confident in the knowledge it will be investigated appropriately and with sensitivity.”

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Carnforth man jailed for possessing child porn

Craig Pilling
Craig Pilling has been sentenced to four and a half years (54 months) imprisonment for possessing indecent images of children.

Piling, 59, of Packet Lane, Carnforth, was sentenced at Preston Crown Court today after he was found guilty of two counts of possessing indecent images of a child.

He also pleaded guilty to breaching his Sexual Offences Prevention Order at an earlier hearing.

Pilling was arrested in August 2012 after it was discovered that he had been in contact with a 16 year old girl from the Lancaster area, who he had met on two occasions when she had been reported missing from home. This was a direct breach of his SOPO which prohibited him from having contact with children under the age of 18.

Speaking at court after the sentencing, DC Colin Gaskell from the Public Protection Unit said: “We are pleased with the sentence given today and hope that, with Pilling behind bars, it means that more youngsters are protected and that this serves as a warning to others who are subject to SOPOs that if you breach the order, we will find you and bring you before the courts.”

Lancaster Steiner School May Fair Carnival and Maypole Dancing

Photo courtesy Lancaster Steiner School
Lancaster Steiner School’s annual May Fair will be held at the school on Lune Road, on Sunday 12th May at 11am – 4.00pm. There will be a range of activities for children, including craft stalls, carnival entertainment and traditional may pole dancing.

For adults there will be a cafe with delicious cakes and savouries. Entry is just 50p.

The May Fair is also an informal opportunity for parents to find out more about the school’s free school status bid to become state-funded. Representatives of the school recently attended interviews with the Department for Education in London and the school is now awaiting the DfE’s decision on the bid.

Web: www.lancastersteiner.org.uk

Arnside readeies for Natural History and Wildlife Weekend

Fallow deer at Dallam Park near Milnthorpe by Paul Glading

The Landscape Trust of Arnside and Silverdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is holding a weekend long celebration of the local natural history and wildlife, at Arnside Educational Institute on 11 and 12th May.

There will be fun, free activities for young naturalists on the Sunday morning: live bat and moth trap demonstrations. A free exhibition will show stunning photographs by top wildlife photographers, and there will be stands showing the work of local wildlife and landscape organisations including Arnside & Silverdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the National Trust and the RSPB – Leighton Moss.

For those interested in learning more about the local ecology and natural history, there is also a study day and field trips on the Saturday. Lectures will cover topics including: ecology principles, woodland, soils, climate and geology; and specialist lectures on shade tolerant flora, deer, the estuary, food chains, birds and butterflies. Field trips to associated locations will take place in the afternoon for those who have attended the morning lectures. Cost £5 for lectures, £5 for field trips.

• The Institute is open on Saturday 2pm-6pm, Sunday  10am-5pm. More information (and a booking form for the study day) is available on the Landscape Trust website:  www.arnsidesilverdaleaonb.org.uk/AONB/Support/AONB-Landscape-Trust.htm or by emailing: LTeventsATarnsidesilverdaleaonb.org.uk or you can call Arnside and Silverdale AONB on 01524 761034.

Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Campaign Group challenges Link Road decision

Photo: TSLM

Local campaign group Transport Solutions for Lancaster and Morecambe has lodged a legal challenge to the decision to approve the Heysham M6 Link Road.

The new road will connect the Heysham and Morecambe peninsula directly to the M6 and provide improved access for residents, businesses and tourists to the area. Lancashire County Council says that as well as easing congestion in and around Lancaster, the project will also deliver on a number of associated improvements, including a park and ride scheme with buses running into the city centre.

TSLM's challenge is based on five grounds, where legal advice is that the decision to give the project the green light was was wrong in law.

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin announced on 19th March that he had granted approval for the Heysham M6 Link Road. His decision was based on the report from the Planning Inspectorate’s Peter Robottom, following the Examination in Lancaster Town Hall in the summer of last year.

“The decision was a great disappointment to opponents of this controversial project,” said David Gate, Chair of TSLM. “It is the wrong solution to the district’s transport problems. But we have sought legal advice, and that advice is that the decision is wrong in law, too. The consensus opinion is that there are five very substantial grounds on which the decision should be challenged, ranging from incorrect treatment of European nature conservation designations to the fact that the scheme is not and never was a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project. These areas of concern call into question the legality of the decision made by the Transport Secretary.”

Transport Solutions for Lancaster and Morecambe s the local campaign Group which opposes the construction of the Heysham M6 Link Northern Route, and favours instead non-damaging sustainable transport solutions for the 21st century.

TSLM has already had many pledges of financial support for such a Review, and that support makes the challenge a viable one.

“There is still so much opposition to this damaging scheme.” said Mr Gate, “We owe it to the many people who have objected strongly to follow the legal advice we are receiving.”

TSLM is not undertaking the legal action lightly and is applying for an order to cap the amount of money it would have to pay if the case were lost.

David Gate concluded: “Judging by the reaction to the decision to go-ahead, there are thousands of people who find that decision perverse and ill-founded on transport, environmental and economic grounds. The decision should be tested, and our challenge will test it.”


The decision to give the greenlight the road project was welcomed by local business.

• TSLM web site: http://heyshamm6link.btck.co.uk

The grounds of the challenge are:
1)      The scheme is not a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project, under the Planning Act, so should not have been dealt with by IPC/NID.
2)      Consultation was inadequate because Lancashire County Council ruled out discussion of the principle of the scheme and the route chosen.
3)      National Policy Statements on Ports and Nuclear Power were used to justify the scheme, but were not relevant in the absence of any definite plans.
4)      The Western Route was wrongly dismissed, without going through the appropriate procedures.
5)      Lancashire County Council failed to carry out surveys of otters, a European Protected Species, as they were legally obliged to do, so failed to assess potential harm to them.

Monday, 29 April 2013

Waving Cat Set To Charm Youngsters


A fantastical Eastern adventure story told by puppets is set to delight young audiences at Lancaster’s Dukes theatre in May.

The Waving Cat of Japan is a visually exciting new show featuring the curious Japanese figurine of folk tales and legends which is said to bring good luck.

The Bunraku puppet-style theatrical fantasy mixes in traditional Japanese images borrowed from the ‘Noh’ and ‘Kabuki’ theatre and features a wicked sorceress, a not-so-smart prince and three tricky tasks to perform before midnight. Luckily, Maneki Neko, the Waving Cat, is on hand, or paw, to help.

The Waving Cat of Japan is presented by Krazy Kat Theatre Company who are unique in the UK for using sign language in all their performances. Their shows are accessible to all children and young people and are presented by an integrated company of deaf and deaf aware performers.

The Waving Cat of Japan is part of the Sign Me Up a Story project which continues this unique hearing-led and deaf-directed company’s 30th anniversary celebrations.

The show is ideal for ages 3 plus and will be fully signed.

• Tickets are £7/£5(concessions). For more information and to book, call The Dukes Box Office on 01524 598500 or visit www.dukes-lancaster.org

Local Writers invited to explore county's past

Creative writers from across Lancashire are being invited to spend a day re-imagining people and events from the county’s past.

On Saturday 11th May, Lancashire County Council's Archives Service on Bow Lane, Preston, will host Clitheroe Writing Group's 2013 spring workshop.

From 10am to 4.00pm, writers will have the opportunity to hunt for creative clues to past lives in historical documents such as wills, court records, family letters and business archives.

The workshop will be led by Maureen Fenton, who will help writers to conjure characters and events into prose, poetry or drama.

Senior archivist Vicci McCann, who is organising the workshop, said: "Our archives service has one of this country’s richest collections of historical records.

"In recent years, we have introduced new and creative ways for people to engage with this very special resource.

"For example, bringing writers into the archives is one way of giving new life to characters and events from our history, and we are pleased that Clitheroe Writing Group is inviting other local writers to join them on this excursion into our area’s past."

Maureen Fenton added: “The glimpses we get from the archives of how people lived in the past – going back more than 400 years – can suggest to the writer a story that begs to be told, whether through prose fiction, poetic impressions or given dramatic voice.

"The workshop activities will support participants in shaping character, historical context and expressive form to make that story speak to the twenty-first century reader.

"We intend that the writing which results from this workshop will be taken to a wider audience, possibly through a reading or by posting it online."

The workshop will cost £10 per person. For more information or to book a place, please contact Maureen Fenton at maureenfenton@tiscali.co.uk or on 07710 409457.

• For more information about Lancashire County Council's Archives Service, please phone 01772 533039 or email record.office@lancashire.gov.uk. Alternatively, please visit www.archives.lancashire.gov.uk