Friday, 28 June 2013

July's Arts First Friday Line-Up: Art, Arts - And More Arts!

The Dukes Walkabout Theatre
present 'Robin Hood'
in Williamson Park
You'll be spoilt for choice with Music, Art and Theatre in the range of First Friday events across Lancaster and Morecambe on July 5.

 July 5 sees the first night of The Dukes' return to Williamson Park after a year’s break with their outdoor walkabout version of Robin Hood from 7.15pm. For tickets priced £7-£22, phone 01524 598500 or visit:
http://www.dukes-lancaster.org/theatre/RobinHood

If you fancy a pre-walkabout treat, Lee Affen will be playing a free acoustic guitar session for diners at the Pavilion Cafe in Williamson Park from 6-7pm. Tables can be reserved by ringing 01524 33318.

Meanwhile, Lancaster’s Grand Theatre is staging Carrie’s War, Nina Bawden’s classic tale of two siblings evacuated to a Welsh village during World War Two. The play begins at 7.30pm and to book tickets priced £8-£9, ring 01524 64695 or visit http://www.lancastergrand.co.uk/.

Across town at The Storey Institute, there’s a performance of M.A.I.R.O.U.L.A, a collection of one woman’s comedic and dark stories serving as a metaphor for the crises faced by modern Greece, and by us all. Tickets are priced £3-£5 and the performance begins at 8pm. Click here for more

July's First Friday has plenty of music about it too as the official launch of Lancaster Jazz Festival takes place at The Hall in China Street where the powerful and introspective quintet ACV will be playing, as the organisers of September’s Lancaster Jazz Festival announce details of the forthcoming programme from 7.30pm. Tickets are £3-£5.

And at south Lancaster’s hidden gem, Forrest Hills, music fans are invited to The Jazz Mansion from 8pm, an evening of jazz, swing and fusion bands and DJs.  Tickets are £15 including food.

In Morecambe, More Like Trees who draw on a range of musical influences to create ‘Strum & Bass’ acoustic music, play The Hothouse from 7pm. Tickets are priced £5-7. Phone 01524 831997 or click here for more information.

Also at The Storey Institute on the same night is the free official opening of the latest exhibition by Lancaster & District Art Society in the Thomas Storey Room at 6pm.

And if you want a free multi-arts experience, get along to Scratch at The Ashton, a new artist-led evening of music, theatre and performance featuring artists from across the North West converging at The Lord Ashton pub in North Road from 7.30pm.

First Fridays are organised by Lancaster Arts Partners and take place every month. They offer special events, most of them free, to encourage more people to experience the wide variety of arts activities available in the district. First Fridays also promote Lancaster Arts City.

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

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Call to arms for Castle's re-enactment weekend

David Noblett of Croix du Nord in full Norman warrior gear.

Ancient and modern armed forces will be out in force at a weekend of activities at Lancaster Castle.

This weekend - 29th - 30th June - sees Lancaster-based Saxon and Norman re-enactment group Croix du Nord occupying the castle courtyard for a Medieval village recreation with displays of weapons, cookery, medicines and even a mock slave auction!

And, on Armed Forces Day, this Saturday 29th June, modern day army cadets will be raising money for the Help for Heroes and Combat Stress charities at the castle and in the city centre.

Lancaster Military Heritage Group is also holding a raffle to raise finds and there will be a Ferret scout car and an armoured fighting vehicle outside the castle gates.

• More about events at Lancaster Castle: www.lancastercastle.com and on Facebook: www.facebook.com/LancasterCastle

Carrots among the cuts: government plans to improve North West infrastructure

Although critics of the Coalition government and its latest Spending Review-inspired cuts, announced yesterday, have plenty to raise concern at, today saw news of a number of infrastructure projects that could boost the North West economy. Some salve, at least, to an otherwise otherwise appalling vision for the future public services and local government.

Speaking in the House of Commons today, Danny Alexander announced that among several infrastructure projects intended to ensure the "British economy can succeed in the global race by creating balanced growth and delivering lasting prosperity," among them is further electrification of the West Coast Main Line, as part of continued rail improvements.

"Network Rail is conducting a feasibility study into electrifying the Lakes line between Oxenholme and Windermere," he stated, while also announcing an obscene increase to the rich man (or woman)'s railway project HS2 and a further £2 million for London's Crossrail project.

While he did not identify the M6 Link to Heysham specifically - it go ahead currently set for a legal challenge - Mr Alexander said the government would "deliver all the major projects in the Highways Agency’s pipeline, as well as increasing the amount spent on road repairs across the country - good news, hopefully, for anyone, driver or cyclist, who has suffered an accident or damage caused by potholes.

"We will add two lanes to the busiest motorways, bringing another 221 lane miles to our road network, and we will tackle some of the most congested parts of our network, through projects such as the £1.5 billion A14 scheme between Huntingdon and Cambridge."

He also announced more road building: the A19 between Newcastle and South Shields, the A63 in Hull, the M6 junctions between Birmingham and Manchester, the M5 junctions from Bromsgrove to Worcester, the A38 Derby junctions, the M1 junction near Long Eaton and south of Rugby, the A21 between Tonbridge and Pembury, junctions on the M4, the M23 Gatwick junctions and the A27 Chichester bypass.

Also announced:

•  A further £250 million to ensure that fixed superfast broadband reaches 95% of the population by 2017. "We will work closely with industry to ensure that at least 99% of the UK population have access to superfast broadband, said Mr Alexander, "whether fixed, wireless or 4G - by 2018." This could be good news for Lancaster's rural areas, which has taken its own initiative with the B4RN project

• Further investment in low-carbon technologies, and a Green Investment Bank to back green energy projects. "This country has massive potential in wind, wave and tidal. We need to harness it. We are putting in place a comprehensive energy policy through the Energy Bill that is in front of this House. This is an approach that we know will work for consumers and investors alike."

• Bad News: a continued belief in shale gas, no doubt helped news that the British Geological Survey has identified some 1,300 trillion cubic feet of shale gas could be drilled —double the previous estimate — which "confirms its huge potential for the UK"

The statement was welcomed by many MPs, but immediately criticised by Labour's Chris Leslie who described it as "hot air". 

"Haven’t we heard it all before?" he challenged. "Plenty of empty promises. But I must ask; when will the Government pull their finger out and actually start to build some of these things?

"The Chief Secretary to the Treasury has been sent out with this long-winded statement to talk and talk and talk about infrastructure investment, but all the evidence shows that the Government are failing to deliver."

Read Mr Alexander's full "investing in Britain's Future" statement


Up with the Jolly Roger! Success for school's pirate themed canal trip


Sailing under the Jolly Roger, a coach party of 55 children from Heron Hill School, Kendal, enjoyed trips on Lancaster canal in the narrow boat ‘Waterwitch’ from Crooklands Bridge landing stage this week. 

The trips were well organised by the school and split into groups of 11 children and one Teacher/minder to accommodate all would be buccaneers.          

Whilst waiting to board Waterwitch, the shore part groups took part in nature walks and talks by the Lancaster Canal Trust volunteers about the canal.

Lancaster Canal Trust volunteer ‘boat people’, namely the crew of Waterwitch, gave a commentary along the way. Talks on the wildlife, beauty, and history of the canal are a feature of these trips.

Close to the launch point for this week's school trip is Wakefield Wharf, where gunpowder from several gunpowder works in the area were transhipped to Lancaster, Glasson Dock and Preston - then abroad.

The Lancaster canal earned its name ‘Black and White’ by carrying coal from Wigan coal fields and Limestone from Kendal quarries. Ends.

• Further information about Lancaster Canal Trust: www.lctrust.co.uk

Free 'Drive Safely for Longer' course for over-65s

Places are available on a popular course which helps older people to keep driving safely for longer.

The course has been developed by Lancashire County Council to boost confidence and improve safety for people aged 65 and over.

In Lancashire, there has been a considerable reduction in road user casualties among people aged under 65 over the past five years, but this has not been matched by a corresponding reduction in older casualties.

There are still spaces left on the free Drive Safely for Longer course which will be allocated on a first come-first served basis. The course has received great feedback from the more than 600 people who have completed it over the past two years.
For more information contact Lancashire County Council's Road Safety Team on 01772 456412 or email olderdrivers@lancashire.gov.uk.

For further information please contact: Mike Warren on 01772 533537
mike.warren@lancashire.gov.uk

Have your say on Morecambe’s Happy Mount Park

Two consultation events will be taking place at Morecambe’s Happy Mount Park as part of the first stage in creating a masterplan for the park.

The events will take place on Tuesday 9th July from 3.30pm to 6.30pm and Saturday July 13 from 11am to 3pm and will ask park users for their views on its future.

There will also be a chance to sign up to a new Friends of Happy Mount Park group.

Councillor David Smith, Cabinet member with responsibility for parks and open spaces, said: “These events are the perfect opportunity for people to have their say on the future of one of Morecambe’s most popular and well-loved attractions.

“The park means different things to different people and we want to capture all of these diverse experiences and views.

“We also want to know what attracts people to the park and what they would like it to look like in the future.”

The public events will be followed by consultation with specific groups with an interest in the park including the current volunteers, leaseholders, bowlers, police and councillors to ensure everyone has the chance to have their say.

There will also be further opportunities as the masterplan starts to come together.

• If you’re not able to make it to one of the two consultation events you can submit your views to Helen Ryan, public realm officer, at hryan@lancaster.gov.uk or telephone 01524 582822.

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Police Commissioner on latest proposed budget cuts: "Enough is Enough"

Lancashire's Police and Crime Commissioner Clive Grunshaw has hit out at the Government after the scale of potential cuts facing Lancashire Constabulary was revealed earlier today by Chancellor George Osborne.

While some public service budgets have been protected from spending cuts, such as schools, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport faces a 7% cut in funding, Energy 8% and Environment 10% - and millions of public sector workers face losing automatic annual pay increases.

Like the Departnent of Business, the Home Office face a 6% cut to its budget - a reduction which means the policing budget for Lancashire could be reduced by a further £11m.

This means the force will have potentially lost a staggering £74m from its overall budget between the May 2010 elections and 2016.

And today Clive Grunshaw sent a clear message to Westminster - residents in Lancashire are not prepared to tolerate any more cuts.

He said: "It is time to say, enough is enough.

"These cuts are on an unprecedented scale, and have now reached a stage where policing is being put at risk.

"It is clear this Government refuses to wake up and realise there is a tipping point – a point at which continued cuts do not just become about making savings, but about fundamentally redesigning the police force.

"There seems to be an assumption no matter how much is cut from budgets, services will adapt and continue to perform at the same level – that is no longer the case.

"This latest round of cuts puts policing in the county under threat, and undermines the work the Constabulary does to protect its residents.

"The call to save what could potentially be another £11m comes at a time when, here in Lancashire, we have already been cut to the bone. And it means we have now reached a point where consideration will have to be given to whether police functions previously seen as vital – such as the mounted branch or the dog unit – have to be cut.

"People in Lancashire rightly expect the police to deliver them a high quality service which keeps them safe from harm. But with fewer officers and fewer resources, it may be for this Government to explain to communities why the service they are receiving from their force has had to change.

"We have already closed front counters, shut Fleetwood Custody Office, sold off rural police stations, reshaped our Neighbourhood Policing Teams and changed how we respond to incidents, as well as streamlining and redefining functions, in order to save the millions already asked of us.

"Despite all these cuts, the hard work of officers and staff in Lancashire means crime has still continued to fall. But, if another £11m comes out of the budget, it will be an almost impossible task for that high level of performance to continue.

"Policing has always been about resilience, managing threat and making sure residents feel safe in their communities – and I know that is what the residents of Lancashire want from their police force.

"However, it is clear this Government is ignoring the wishes of the electorate and pressing ahead with cuts that will fundamentally change the service our communities receive.

"This potential cut of up to another £11m is going to be incredibly difficult to find, and we are going to be forced to make difficult decisions about what services the police can continue to provide."

The Government has said police budgets will be cut by "less than six per cent". The exact details of the cuts facing the county's police and crime budget will be revealed later in the year.

Following the May 2010 elections, public services were required to identify savings in the region of 20 per cent over a four year period. For Lancashire Constabulary, this equated to a budget reduction of approximately £43m.

By the end of last year significant changes had already been made to realise savings of £38.7m including the closure of 15 front counters, the sale of rural police stations, the closure of Fleetwood Custody office, the reshaping of Neighbourhood Policing Teams and changes to the way calls and incidents are responded to.

In December 2012 the Government made it clear the austerity period would now stretch to 2016/17 and the Constabulary's funding gap increased to £63m.

A review is currently underway into how those additional savings will be found, with £10m needed to be cut by April 2014.

Today's announcement means the Constabulary may now have to find up to another £11m of savings, on top of the ongoing review.

Roll up roll up for another family fun weekend at Morecambe’s Festival Market

Roll up, roll up - for this year's Festival Market Family Fun Weekend taking place in Morecambe on Saturday 6th and Sunday 7th July.

There will be family friendly entertainment all weekend at the Festival Market, including the Astral Circus, Punch and Judy shows, gladiator jousting and other inflatable fun as well as trials bike displays and live entertainment from local dance troupes.

Throughout the weekend you can try your luck at one of our competitions or have a go on the tombola. Lancashire Fire and Rescue will also be on hand with a display.

For the first time ever, the market with play host to its very first charity bake off event, when budding local bakers will be given the opportunity to show off their cake and biscuit making skills and be in with a chance of winning some great prizes.

The Bake Off will take place on the Sunday and there are several categories including best cupcake, best biscuit, best scone and most unusual cake as well as a prize for the best cake made by under 12s.

The winner of each category will receive £10 worth of market vouchers and the overall winner will find themselves sampling afternoon tea delights for free at town's iconic Midland Hotel. Everyone who enters will receive a free cotton market shopping bag for taking part.

Masterpieces should be brought along on the day for exhibiting and judging will take place at 12 noon on Sunday 7th July.

Free entry forms and instructions for the Bake Off are available from the Festival Market office and to download at www.lancaster.gov.uk/festivalmarket

All the entries will be on sale once judging has taken place to raise money for St. John’s Hospice in Lancaster.

The family fun weekend has been organised by Lancaster City Council with funding from Morecambe Town Council.

Admission to the festival is free.

• For more information visit www.lancaster.gov.uk/festivalmarket

Police hunt attackers of 16-year-old boy

Police are appealing for witnesses after a 16-year-old boy was assaulted in an unprovoked attack Morecambe.

At 9.30pm on Tuesday 18th June, the teenager was walking along Out Moss Lane, near to the Trimpell Club when he was approached by another male, possibly in his late teens, who punched him.

As the 16 year old tried to defend himself, a female then lashed out at him with a bottle and, as he held up his hands to protect himself, the bottle smashed causing cuts to his hands.

The male and female were then pulled away from the victim by two other people they were in company with and they all left in the direction of Newlands Road.

The male is described as having an Irish accent, with collar length, dark brown, greasy hair and was wearing dark trousers. The female is also described as having an Irish accent, with straight, shoulder length, blonde hair and was wearing black jogging bottoms and a black cardigan.

PC Ben Hanley said: “This was a nasty, unprovoked assault which has left the teenager with cuts to his hands and slight injuries to his face, as well as being understandably shaken by the incident.

“If anybody was in the area at the time and thinks they may have seen this group and in particular the male and female involved then I would urge them to come forward.”

• Anybody with any information can contact police on 101 or 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.

Uncovering Hiddden Lancaster - new film released



Heritage Video have just released of Hidden Lancaster, the latest work from award-winning heritage film director Chris Abram, taking viewers behind the scenes of some of Lancaster’s landmarks and historical events.

"Lancaster is a hidden gem and is not on the main Japanese or American tourist route," says Chris.

"That's all about to change with one of Britain’s most prestigious castles opening to the public," he feels.

Chris has a background in public relations, event staging and running his own award winning heritage tourist attraction. When he retired to his beloved northern England, he decided to use his experience to make films about various aspects of life and heritage of the area. Hidden Lancaster is his latest work and he told virtual-lancaster it took him over a year to make.

Lancaster Castle is an important part of British history and has been a prison for many years with only a small section open to the public. That is now changing, with tours of more of the Castle already intriguing visitors, even though there is still plenty of work to do as the Duchy of Lancaster considers its options for the buildings.


Chris has been behind the walls and flown over it, to record its hidden side when the prison closed and before it becomes a tourist venue and hotel. He also visited the original cell that the “Pendle Witches” were held in and we see just how modern prisoners lived in his new film, which also features the Roman Werry Wall and Bath House and St. George’s Quay.

"We have a behind the scenes look in the Maritime Museum and meet harpsichord maker Robert Deegan," says Chris. "We see the ancient art of Viking Haaf Net fishing from 1966 and the current day. You'll experience the Quaker slave traders, the profits they made and Sunderland Point and Sambo.


Chris Abram at work
"Uniquely we experience their friendliness in Georgian times with a visit to a unique four seater “thunderbox” toilet. There's also unique film of the last lady lighthouse keeper of Cockersands."

If you don't already know the location of Lancaster’s famous Observatory and what can still be seen, or where the historic Mill Race still runs under the streets of the city, then this is a DVD you'll want to buy.

Where can you see hand carved wooden spars for a wartime Mosquito fighter bomber? What goes on behind the scenes at the Judges Lodgings or Atkinson’s coffee shop on China Street?
Where was there an internment Camp in Lancaster? Who is honoured on the Cavalry Stone and who was it for?

There's also film shot inside Mitchell’s Brewery when it was in full production and a look behind the scenes of its modern successor, the Lancaster Brewery.

Chris has worked very closely with the North West Film Archive on this DVD to include historic footage of times past, melded with his stunning aerial footage of the city, offering a truly captivating view of the hidden treasures of Lancaster.

• Hidden Lancaster is available for purchase from local Visitor Information Centres in Lancaster and Morecambe as well as from the Carnforth Bookshop. It is also available direct via www.heritagevideoproductions.co.uk using Paypal.

All images courtesy Chris Abram and Heritage Video

On Target: Robin Hood takes a flight...

Noel White practices archery for his role as Robin Hood.
Photo courtesy The Dukes

Robin Hood has been honing his archery skills to ensure he’s right on target for a fantastic summer in Lancaster’s Williamson Park.

Noel White, who plays the great outlaw in this year's Dukes outdoor walkabout theatre production, has been learning from the local masters - John O’Gaunt’s Bowmen.

“Using a bow and arrow is like second nature to Robin Hood," says Noel, "but the last time I picked up a bow was as a kid so the archery lessons have been useful.”

As well as learning the traditional skills of archery, Noel has also taken to Tweeting in character as Robin Hood. Anyone who’d like to find out more about the outlaw’s journey as he approaches opening night of the UK’s biggest outdoor walkabout theatre event, should follow him @RobinHoodLancs.


A long established Target Archery Club, the origins of the John O'Gaunt's Bowmen are thought to go back beyond the recognised reformation date of 1788. Proof is difficult as many of Lancaster's records were destroyed in disastrous fires in the 16th and 17th century. It was also known as a Society not a club.

As well as actors the Club welcomes beginners (ideally, juniors should be at least 11 years old and accompanied by an adult). They have a good selection of equipment that can be borrowed / hired, and a number of experienced archers willing to give tuition. Disabled archers are also welcome. The club currently has a visually impaired member.
         `
Robin Hood opens on 5th July 5 and runs until 10th August. To book tickets, ring The Dukes box office on 01524 598500 or visit www.dukes-lancaster.org

John O'Gaunt's Bowmen - Official Site

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Pao Pao Lancaster closes its doors, lease up for sale

The Pao Pao coffee shop on King Street, part of the complex that includes Tesco Metro and the Travelodge hotel in Lancaster, has closed and the company's web site is currently a blank slate.

A notice on the door reads "Closed due to unforseen circumstances".

We understand that the business, which opened last January in Lancaster, is partly owned by either the landlords or Reco-Build, the fit out firm.

As with other Pao Pao outlets in the north west, the leasehold on the business is up for sale - for £150,000 - with the sellers enthusing that "the level of footfall that the business receives is one of the main reasons why the business is so desirable."

Obviously not enough footfall for them to stay open... but unlike one scathing reviewer of Pao Pao Manchester, we don't think the "unforseen circumstances" have anything to do with a plague of zombies.

Established in 2010, the privately-held brand (Pao Pao means "daily dose" in Brazilian), which had some 50 employees, had been in a phase of expansion across the North West, rapidly acquiring sites in key locations.

I-Am Wow LTD & Curveline Design worked closely on this look of the Lancaster outlet, along with the Pao Pao team, "to deliver their vision and expectations".

Crook O'Lune bridge birds fly their nests, restoration work resumes

Restoration work on the old rail bridge over the Crook O'Lune has resumed this week, after nesting birds moved on.

Lancashire County Council engineers began work on the East cycleway bridge in April, but it had to be halted earlier this month after engineers found blue tits and jackdaws underneath it.

Now the birds have moved, demolition work resumed yesterday (Monday 24th June).

Kim Whalley, Lancashire County Council's senior bridge engineer, said: "We spoke to an ecologist when we found the birds nesting under the old bridge deck. Following their advice, we decided to call a halt to the work.

"Now that there is no threat to the wildlife, we can carry on with demolishing the bridge.

"This has set us back a few weeks, but we are looking to find ways to recoup some of the lost time to minimise any inconvenience."

The bridge is a listed structure, which links Caton with the River Lune Millennium Park. It was originally closed for safety reasons in March 2011 after an inspection unearthed problems, particularly with the timber beams underneath.

The restoration will see the timber decking replaced, ironwork repainted, and the masonry re-pointed.

A diversion currently redirects people over the Caton Lune Bridge on Low Road, where a temporary walkway allows them to cross alongside the traffic.

Lancashire is 'Up for Arts'

Lancashire's stitchers, knitters and crochet enthusiasts are being challenged to create a unique textile artwork as a patchwork representation of the county.

The artwork is the latest in a series of activities that form Up for Arts, a year-long project between Lancashire County Council, Voluntary Arts England, and BBC Radio Lancashire.

The finished squares will be stitched together by Thornton Craft and Chat group and will be displayed in the autumn at libraries and community venues across Lancashire.

The Up for Arts project will focus on different art forms over the next year and include activities such as dancing, knitting, sewing and singing.

The project aims to deliver a high profile programme of comm! unity events across the county. It will bring together the professional and amateur arts sector through a series of fun workshops that everyone can join in with.

This month Lancaster-based professional dance organisation Ludus Dance has held dance taster workshops throughout the county on their mission to inspire, motivate and engage people through dance.

The dance sessions are open to anyone over the age of 16 who wishes to take part – and it's a great form of exercise!

• If you would like to get involved with the People's Patchwork, contact BBC Radio Lancashire's helpdesk on 0345 305 9000. People can also find out what Up for Arts activities are happening each month by visiting www.lancashire.gov.uk/events.


For help and advice on funding available to arts and crafts groups, please contact Lancashire County Council's arts development team on 017! 72 533040.

Luneside Studios art on show - in Settle

Carry On - work on glass by Sid Barlow
© Sid Barlow
Settle's Gavagan Art Gallery is currently hosting an exhibtion of work from artists working from Lancaster's Luneside Studios.

The Studios, which provide space for visual artists working in various media, are celebrating their 30th anniversary this year. Originally sited in an old warehouse on the quayside on the banks of the River Lune, the recent redevelopment work has seen them relocateinto premises close to Lancaster’s historic castle area.

Mary Gavagan (of Gavagan Art), who has organised this exhibition, is based at the Linton Court Gallery in Settle and has known many of the artists for a number of years, having exhibited their work previously in exhibitions at Lancaster University.

The exhibition brings a range of styles and artistic interests together in one show with artists exhibiting in this exhibition including John Baldwin, Sid Barlow, Ian Hastings, Emma Hunter, Nik Ingham, Glyn Jones, Pol Marshall, Simon Nixon, Iain Sloan, Norman Trewhitt, Neil Wilson, Cathy Wilson, Debbie Yare.

• Spotlight on Art from Lancaster's Luneside Studios runs until 13th July 2013 at Gavagan Art, Duke Street, Settle, North Yorkshire BD24 9DW. Tel: 01729 824497 Email: info@gavaganart.com. Web: http://gavaganart.com/

Creative Lancashire aims to boost digtal jobs with networking event


A special event in Lancaster to help digital businesses understand how to find, attract and retain talent takes place tomorrow.

Lancashire Digital Network: Growing Pains - Skills and Talent Development, has been organised by Creative Lancashire, in collaboration with Manchester Digital and will take place at the Storey Creative Industries Centre.


Speakers at the free event (which you need to register with to attend) will include Michael Gibson from Lancaster-based Fat Media and Jeremy Coates from Preston-based Magma Digital.

Lack of digital skills is the number one obstacle to business growth in the North West, according to a recent survey carried out by Manchester Digital. The organisation will share their findings from their recent skills survey at the event, before handing over to a panel of experts to address topics such as the challenges for digital and creative organisations; and competing to attract talented professionals at a time when they are in short supply.

They'll also look at how to keep staff updated on the latest tech developments when training budgets are tight and how universities and schools are preparing the next generation of talented digital professionals.

Creative Lancashire is a service provided by Lancashire County Council, through its economic development company, Lancashire County Developments Ltd.

"It's important that businesses working in the digital sector are aware of what schemes and mechanisms there are to help them," says Ruth Raban from Creative Lancashire. "It's also important that they can bring in the right talent and keep their staff updated on changes in the industry, so that they can be at the forefront of the digital sector."

Skills and Talent Development is the first in a series of Growing Pains events to launch the Lancashire Digital Network and the collaboration between Manchester Digital and Creative Lancashire.

The new initiative will bring together organisations and individuals from all parts of the industry - from creative to technical, from software to media, from telecommunications to marketing - to share expertise and enhance the reputation of digital businesses in the region.

Over the coming months, there will be a series of events, initiatives and projects designed to connect, enhance and retain digital talent in the region.

An event with BBC North will examine the impact of Media City and opportunities for the region's creative and media businesses.

• Lancashire Digital Network: Growing Pains - Skills and Talent Development 6.00pm Wednesday 26 June in the Storey Creative Industries Centre, Meeting House Lane, Lancaster, LA1 1TH

• The Lancashire Digital Network event is free to attend, but registration is essential. You can register via the event page on the Creative Lancashire website

• For more information, visit www.creativelancashire.org. You can also follow them  @CreativeLancs

Police Commissioner prepares to face the public


Lancashire's Police and Crime Commissioner Clive Grunshaw is hitting the road this summer – and he wants residents' to give their views on everything from local policing to volunteering.

From Blackpool to Burnley and Pendle to Preston, Mr Grunshaw will be touring the county throughout July.

Clive Grunshaw and his team will spend the month visiting every one of Lancashire's 14 districts, chatting to residents about policing in their area, what they want from him as Commissioner and the volunteering opportunities available through the new Citizens in Policing programme.

The roadshows will run July 1 – 30, and the Commissioner said: "I'm very much looking forward to having the opportunity to meet the county's residents, and get their views on crime, policing and their communities.

"This is my second series of roadshows, and reflects the fact that community engagement is a vital part of my role. I need to know what the public is thinking and where their concerns lie in order for me to be able to represent them, and I hope as many people as possible will take this opportunity to come and meet with me."

The Commissioner and Lancashire Constabulary recently joined forces to launch the Citizens in Policing programme, which promotes opportunities to volunteer with the force as a Police Cadet, Volunteer or Special Constable.

And the roadshows will give people the opportunity to find out more about the programme and whether it would be right for them.

Clive Grunshaw added: "Whenever I meet with residents, they tell me they want to be more involved in policing.

"This programme is offering them the opportunity to do that, and to make a real difference in their communities and the county as a whole.

"I hope people will use the roadshows as an opportunity to find out more about the programme and how they could get involved."

The roadshows will take place in conjunction with local Community Safety Partnerships at the following locations:

July 1
10am-12pm – Market Square, Lancaster
2pm- 4pm – Outside Regal Hotel, Cleveleys
July 2

10am-12pm – Outside Accrington Town Hall, Accrington
2pm-3.30pm – Rawtenstall Town Square, Rossendale

July 11

10am-12pm – Fylde, TBC
2pm-4pm – Blackpool, TBC

July 15

10am-12pm – Outside Marks & Spencer, Burnley
2pm-3.30pm – Outside entrance to Pendle Rise Shopping Centre, Nelson

July 23

2pm-4pm – Outside Town Hall, Blackburn

July 24

11am-12.30pm – Flag Market, Preston
2pm-4pm – Beatsweep in Digmore, Skelmersdale

July 29

10.30am-12pm – Flat Iron car park, Chorley
1pm-2.30pm – Tesco, Leyland

July 30

10.30am-12pm – Clitheroe Market, Clitheroe

Monday, 24 June 2013

Police appeal for missing Lancaster man


UPDATE - Mark Mullen was found in Preston on 24th June. This story is retained for archive purposes only
 
Police are becoming increasingly concerned for a Lancaster man who has gone missing from home.

Mark Mullen, 19 years old, has not been seen since he left his address on Quernmore Road at around 12:40pm this afternoon.

He is described as white and around 6 foot 2 inches tall with short dark hair. He was wearing a grey t shirt and blue jogging pants.

Mark likes to walk in the countryside and police are asking farmers to look out for him.

Inspector Dave Vickers from Lancaster CID said, “We are becoming increasingly concerned for the welfare of Mark Mullen and would ask people to keep an eye for him.

“If people do spot him then I would urge them to call the police immediately. I would also appeal to Mark direct and tell him that he is not in any trouble but would urge him to call us as people are concerned about him.”

Anyone who spots Mark Mullen should call the police on 101