Friday, 19 July 2013

Level 3 ‘Heatwave’ alert issued for North West

Following up on our earlier post from Lancashire County Council about the heatwave, the Met Office has just announced a Level 3 ‘Heatwave’ alert for the North West, warning we may experience ‘heatwave’ conditions over the next few days.

People are being urged to take action to protect themselves from the possible health effects of hot weather.

The Met Office forecasts there is a 90% probability of heatwave conditions between 9.00am on Friday and 9.00pm on Saturday.

Level 3 alerts are triggered as soon as heatwave threshold temperatures are reached in one or more regions.

Dr Jane Rossini, Director of the Cumbria & Lancashire Public Health England Centre, said: “Everyone can enjoy the sun safely by keeping out of the heat at the hottest time of the day, avoiding sunburn and staying hydrated with plenty of cool drinks. The elderly and those with long-term illnesses are particularly vulnerable to the effects of very hot weather, so it's important to look out for them and keep indoor areas as cool as possible. Even if temperatures do not hit ‘extreme’ levels, Public Health England still advises people to be aware of the health risks of hot weather.”

Health advice for people to follow this weekend includes:

  • Try to keep out of the sun between 11am and 3pm.
  • If you have to go out in the heat, wear sunscreen, walk in the shade and wear a hat and a light scarf.
  • Wear light, loose-fitting cotton clothing
  • Avoid extreme physical exertion
  • Drink lots of cold drinks and avoid excess alcohol, caffeine and hot drinks
  • Eat cold foods, especially salads and fruit with a high water content
  • To cool yourself down, take a cool shower or bath, sprinkle water over the skin or clothing, or keep a damp cloth on the back of your neck
  • Look out for others, especially vulnerable groups such as the elderly, young children and babies and those with serious illnesses
  • Never leave anyone in a closed, parked vehicle, especially infants, young children or animals

Remember that it can get uncomfortably hot indoors too. Try to keep your bedroom and living space cool, by closing the curtains on windows that receive the sun and opening your windows at cooler times of the day and overnight when you can. Keep a thermometer in your main living and bedrooms to keep a check on the temperature and turn off non-essential lights and electrical items as these generate heat. Keep indoor plants and bowls of water in the house as evaporation helps cool the air.

Local authorities, professionals and community groups can prepare for hot weather by reviewing the Heatwave Plan on the PHE website. Health and social care workers should regularly check on vulnerable patients, share sun safety messages, make sure room temperatures are set below 26 degrees and ensure patients have access to cold water and ice.

Dr Rossini added: “It’s also important to remember that this is the month of Ramadan and many members of the Muslim community may be fasting during the daylight hours. However, dehydration is a common and serious risk during hot weather and it’s important to balance food and drink intake between fasts and especially to drink enough water.

“If you start to feel unwell, disorientated or confused, or collapse or faint, advice is to stop fasting and have a drink of water or other fluid. This is especially important for older adults, those with poorly-controlled medical conditions such as low/high blood pressure, diabetes and those who are receiving dialysis treatment.

"The Muslim Council of Britain has confirmed that breaking fast in such conditions is allowable under Islamic law. Also, make sure to check on others in the community who may be at greater risk and keep an eye on children to ensure they are having a safe and healthy Ramadan.”

A spokesperson for NHS England said: “NHS England is closely monitoring performance across urgent and emergency care services across England as the hot weather continues. We can confirm that our A&E departments are very busy, but also that emergency teams are handling this very well, with more than 95% of all patients across England seen, treated and either admitted to hospital or discharged, within four hours of their arrival.

“NHS organisations are working together to enact local heatwave plans, which include putting extra capacity into unscheduled care pathways, and proactively supporting the most vulnerable patients at home. We urge everyone to follow public health advice to reduce the effects of the heat.”

Lancashire's Police Commissioner urges residents to have their say on Stop and Search

Residents across Lancashire are being urged to have their say on the use of police stop and search powers.

Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary has already conducted an investigation into how police forces are using the powers – and now the Home Office wants to get the views of the public.

It is a move which has been welcomed by Lancashire's Police and Crime Commissioner Clive Grunshaw, who wants residents to take this chance to make their feelings known about the use of stop and search in the county.

"Stop and search is an important tool for the police, and I know Lancashire Constabulary is working hard to ensure the power is used fairly and effectively," he commented.

"Using it properly is essential to maintain public confidence in policing, and previous surveys in the county have shown 77 per cent of respondents feel stop and search makes Lancashire a safer place.

"But it is important to continually assess how the county's residents feel about the use of the power, and the impact it is having on trust and confidence – particularly among young people and those from minority ethnic communities.

"And that's why I hope as many residents as possible will complete the survey on my website, so we can send a clear response to HMIC from the county."

The survey concerns the powers used by police in relation to street crime, burglary, anti-social behaviour and public order offences such as riots and violent protests.

The Home Office consultation will run for six weeks.

• To give your views log onto www.lancashire-pcc.gov.uk/Get-Involved/Surveys,-Questionnaires--Polls.aspx

Council calls a halt to conversion work on former Duke of Lancaster pub


Lancaster City Council has called a halt to conversion work on the former Duke of Lancaster public house after the Lancaster-based company involved failed to secure planning permission before it began its refit.

The Council began a planning enforcement investigation after it became clear that Mister Capital Holdings, based in St. Leonards Gate, had begun work converting the former Duke of Lancaster public house on China Street into flats.

A search of the Council's Planning Applications portal indicates no planning application had been made - and indeed that the last application for any work on the property dates back to its time as a pub.

Mister Capital Holdings Limited, whose owners have connections with other Lancaster-based businesses such as Logicalc and the Nice and Spicy takeaway, purchased the former pub earlier this year for £250,000.

Work subsequently began on converting the building but on 4th July, Lancaster City Council applied for, and was successful in obtaining, an interim Injunction forbidding the owners from carrying out works without obtaining the Local Planning Authority’s written consent or Listed Building Consent.

On the 8th July the matter again went before the Court where the owner’s Director gave an undertaking to the Court that no further work will take place save for repairs to the roof consisting of a like for like replacement of roof slates; repainting of external rough cast render in colour(s) to match the existing, and internal painting of the walls, ceiling and woodwork;  installation of kitchen units and bathroom fittings and installation of carpets or other floor coverings.

"The case is ongoing and it would not be appropriate for the council to comment further on the matter," a Council spokesperson told virtual-lancaster.


Although the court order demands that most work has been stopped, some workers are still in the building and a member of the virtual-lancaster was disturbed to witness a builder sweeping debris from off the highest level of the scaffolding surrounding the former pub, directly onto the street below last night.

As our picture shows, there is no fencing around the scaffolding and members of the ublic could easily have been hit by debris.

Despite the terms of the enforcement order, we also wonder how the stack of boards spotted in Church Street yesterday  morning (right) fits with the strictures of the enforcement order.

We have been unable to contact a representative of Mister Capital Holdings for comment but are happy to post any response they may have to our story.

Lancaster City Council steps up action on empty homes

Coun Karen Leytham, cabinet member for housing, welcoming Andrew Dent, Lancaster City Council's new Empty Homes Officer.
Lancaster City Council is stepping up action on tackling empty homes and bringing them back into use.

Andrew Dent has been appointed as the council’s new Empty Homes Officer, whose job it will be to deliver a range of actions to reduce the number of empty homes in the district.

His work will form part of the council’s Empty Homes Strategy, which has received another boost as a result of £750,000 in funding recently won by one of the council’s housing partners.

The Preston-based charity Methodist Action (NW) has just been allocated the funding, which will be targeted at bringing empty properties back into use across the Lancaster district, Preston and South Ribble.

Some of the new funding will be spent on up to 17 properties in Lancaster that have been empty for more than six months.

In return the properties will be leased by Methodist Action (NM), usually for a 10 year period, who will work in partnership with the city council to find suitable tenants.

Councillor Karen Leytham, Cabinet Member with responsibility for Housing and Environmental Health said:  "The council is committed to tackling empty homes and we are delighted that Methodist Action NW has been successful in securing this further funding. The properties brought back into use will provide much needed housing for local people in housing need.”

Andrew Dent, the city council’s new Empty Homes Officer, added: “I am extremely excited to be fulfilling this new role for the city council. Empty properties can be a detriment to an area, for example they look unsightly and are known to attract anti-social activities. By bringing an empty property back into use, these issues are alleviated.

“The majority of my work will be informal, in which I will be working with landlords, offering guidance, advice, and potentially financial assistance via the Methodist Action loan scheme. However, if empty property owners are unwilling to co-operate, the council does have enforcement powers available in the form of undertaking works in default and enforced sales.”

• Any owners of empty properties who might interested in participating in the Methodist Action scheme should contact the Regeneration and Planning Service by email at emptyproperties@lancaster.gov.uk or by telephoning 01524 582375/582362.

• If you want to see some action being taken about an empty property near you, or are the owner of an empty property and need help and guidance, Andrew Dent can be contacted via email at adent@lancaster.gov.uk or by telephoning 01524 582321.

Heatwave: don't go into meltdown


It's a scorcher! And Lancashire County Council's new public health chief is urging residents to look after themselves during the hottest summer weather for years.

Temperatures in Lancashire have been soaring into the high twenties, and the county's parks and green spaces are crowded with people enjoying the unaccustomed sun.

Azhar Ali, cabinet member for health and wellbeing, said: "We're more used to coping with wet and windy weather in this country, so prolonged hot weather is a welcome change for most of us – but it brings problems for some.

"Older people and those with chronic or serious illness need to take extra care and we'd ask people to keep an eye on any neighbours who they think might be at risk.

"And the Safer Sleep for Baby campaign has lots of good advice about how to make sure your little ones are comfortable and safe from overheating while they're sleeping.

"During the heatwave, we all just need to use our common sense – keeping out of the sun, staying as cool as possible, drinking lots of cold non-alcoholic fluids and looking after those who are at risk."

Top tips from Public Health England include:

-    Try to keep out of the sun between 11.00am and 3.00pm
-    If you have to go out in the heat, walk in the shade, apply sunscreen and wear a hat
-    Avoid physical exertion
-    Wear light, loose fitting cotton clothes
-    Drink plenty of cold drinks
-    If you take medication, keep medicines below 25 °C or in the refrigerator
-    Look out for others, especially vulnerable groups such as the elderly, young children and babies and those with serious illnesses
-    Never leave anyone in a closed, parked vehicle, especially infants, young children or animals.

• For more information on Safer Sleep for Baby, please visit www.lancashire.gov.uk and search 'safer sleep'. Safer Sleep for Baby is a campaign run by the Safeguarding Children Boards for Lancashire, Blackpool and Blackburn with Darwen

The Heatwave Plan for England 2013 (PDF) was published by Public Health England.

• For more information about sun safety tips from Public Health England, please visit: http://www.hpa.org.uk/Topics/Radiation/UnderstandingRadiation/AtAGlance/Flash_Sunsense/

For information about skin cancer and sun protection from Cancer Research UK, please visit: www.sunsmart.org.uk

Further sun safety advice is available from NHS Choices: www.nhs.uk

In Review: 'Macbeth' presented by Bingo Dragon at Lancaster Brewery

'Macbeth' by William Shakespeare
Performed by Bingo Dragon Theatre Company
www.bingodragon.co.uk/
Directed by Sammi Searle
At Lancaster Brewery
www.lancasterbrewery.co.uk/
Sunday 15 + Monday 16 July 2013 at 7.30pm. £6.

Bingo Dragon Theatre Company is one of Lancaster’s newest theatre groups, and has now performed four of Shakespeare plays over the last two years.  Quite a feat – and they’re now not only touring the North West for the first time, they’ve also been the first theatre company to perform in the off-the-wall setting of Lancaster Brewery.

Their latest offering was Shakespeare’s Macbeth, co-written with his Jacobean contemporary Thomas Middleton, particularly in the witch scenes.  They used the Folio text with only minor cuts, and gave an intelligent, powerfully dark performance of the bloody drama, with suitably menacing musical accompaniment on percussive beer barrels.

The use of the Brewery’s bar-cum-events space was commendably innovative, but the seating - fine for Bierkeller festivals - was far from comfortable.  The sound of the ventilation system was an intrusion, though the diction of the cast was strong enough to overcome most of the background noise.

Playing Macbeth with only eight actors, and of these only three were men, was hard work for the cast, even with suggestive and intelligent costume changes.  It also caused some confusion about which character was which of the original two-dozen plus rĂ´les.  The servants, soldiers and messengers can be doubled (and were in the 1600s), but to have King Malcolm also playing one of the three witches was bewildering.

But the main ingredients of a good show were certainly in place - pace, clarity, focussed direction from Sammi Searle, use of space, visual and visceral impact and so on.  Of the cast, Paul Sellwood played the lead with panache and passion, native Scot David Findlay was a dignified Macduff, the hero’s nemesis, and Anna Rowland encapsulated exactly Lady M’s emotional collapse.

I hope this performance will attract more young people to become involved with Bingo Dragon in the future - there’s certainly no shortage of talent in the Lancaster area.  I’m looking forward to their next production.

Copyright © Michael Nunn
18 July 2013

'Macbeth' can be seen on Friday 19th July 2013 - The Continental,  South Meadow Lane, Preston, PR1 8JP. 8pm start. £6. (Go to website)

Thursday, 18 July 2013

County council backs minimum price for alcohol

County councillors in Lancashire are calling on the government to introduce a minimum price for alcohol.

Lancashire County Council – in partnership with other councils – is to lobby local MPs and the government to enforce a price of at least 50p per unit.

The aim is to improve public health and at the same time reduce the burden on the NHS and other public services.

Councillors voted to support the campaign after hearing about the countywide cost of alcohol misuse – both human and financial – at a meeting of the full council today (Thursday 18 July).

County Councillor Azhar Ali, cabinet member for health and wellbeing, said afterwards: "Excessive drinking is blighti! ng the lives of many people across Lancashire, not just those individuals who misuse alcohol but also their relatives, friends, and others who suffer as a result. The ripples spread very wide indeed.

"Added to this is the demand on public services, which must pick up the pieces when alcohol abuse affects health, behaviour, and family relationships. There is enormous cost involved, both financially and in terms of the sheer misery it can cause.

"There is clear evidence that levels of drinking relate to how easily people can get hold of alcohol, and price is an important factor in that."

"Although the majority of people drink responsibly, alcohol misuse is a cause of great harm to communities across the county," feels County Councillor Gina Dowding, Lancaster Central, who seconded the notice of motion, "both to individuals' health and also through related issues of crime and anti-social behaviour.

"As elected representatives of our communities we have a responsibility to stand up and do our best to tackle this problem. The county council has recently become responsible for public health and we want to use our considerable lobbying power to influence government policy.

"We will work with our 12 district councils, as well as Blackpool, Blackburn with Darwen and our partners in the health and voluntary sector, to add our voice to others who are calling for action in this important area."

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Calling All Foodies: sign up for Best of Bay Food Fayre

Morecambe Bay is calling on all quality food producers, traders and kitchens to join in the ‘Best of Bay Food Fayre’ taking place at Morecambe Seaside Festival this year, entirely free of charge.

Taking place on  31st August and 1st September, the Food Fayre will feature as one of the many free attractions for the Seaside Festival.

This year, the Seaside Festival promises to offer an even bigger programme of events, with the Food Fayre a new addition to the other annual features, which is entirely free for traders to attend.

“A Bay Food Festival has previously been acknowledged as a shared idea and ambition of stakeholders and partners in the Lancaster District and Morecambe Bay Area," enthuses Councillor Ron Sands, Lancaster City Council's Cabinet member with responsibility for tourism.

“The Council is keen to see such an event unfold in the future, and in the spirit of such future possibilities, is hosting the ‘Best of Bay Food Fayre’ to celebrate the variety and quality of local food produce available, offering a fantastic free trading opportunity for quality-led Bay food businesses.”

The fayre will be held opposite the Winter Gardens on the Bay Arena car park.

Lancaster City Council is inviting producers and traders from around the Bay to register their interest at www.lancaster.gov.uk/bestofbay.

Producers, traders and kitchens are also invited to feature in a programme of talks and demonstrations on the subject of local Bay produce, presenting a free sponsorship opportunity for those involved.

For further information email bestofbay@lancaster.gov.uk.

Lancaster's city charter set to go on display for new exhibition



A new exhibition of historic charters at Lancaster's City Museum will include the 1193 document which granted borough status to the city.

The charter gave Lancaster the freedom to develop as a trading centre, while setting out its right to local government.

'Seal of Approval: Lancaster's Historic Charters' begins this Saturday (20th July) at the  Museum and runs until Saturday 5th October.

The exhibition showcases a number of Lancaster's seals and charters, including the original foundation charter from1193, which set up the borough of Lancaster.

Heather Dowler, Lancashire County Council's museum manager for the City Museum, explained: "The charters help to tell Lancaster's story across more than 800 years. They! are unique, precious and irreplaceable documents.

"Lancaster City Council transferred the charters to Lancashire Archives in 2011. Essential conservation work has since been carried out on them. This exhibition has only been possible with the generous help and support of Lancashire Archives."

Conservation staff will hold weekly demonstrations explaining how they repair and conserve the seals. These take place between 10.30am and 3.00pm every Thursday in the gallery.

On Monday 23 September at 1.00pm, archivist David Tilsley will be giving a free talk on the Lancaster Charters. Places need to be booked on 01524 64637.

• A programme of family activities takes place every Thursday during the school summer holidays. Visit www.lancashire.gov.uk/museums or call 01524 64637 for more details. Sessions are free but pre-booking is required.

Police hunt would-be Slyne supermarket burglars

Police are appealing for information after the Londis Supermarket on Manor Road, Slyne, was targeted by would-be burglars.

Just before midnight on Wednesday 10th July, two men attempted to break into the store - but thanks the vigilance of local residents they were disturbed and fled the scene.

DC Trevor Walker said, “It may be that these men are deliberately targeting local convenience stores and newsagents so I would urge people to be aware and report any suspicious activity to the police as soon as possible.”

The two men are described as 6'0 and 5'8 wearing dark hooded tops. They were driving a black estate vehicle with a noisy or rattling exhaust.

DC Walker continued, “If anybody believes they may have seen this vehicle or if anyone has any other information that they think may be of assistance, please get in touch. It is important to find out who the men are and what vehicle they are using as soon as we can to prevent any further crimes taking place.”

Information can be passed to police on 101 or to 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.

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

A passion for pageantry on display in Lancaster


A new exhibition at Lancaster City Museum celebrates the 100th anniversary of a colourful pageant which involved more than one thousand volunteers.

The Pageant of 1913: Acting out Lancaster's History marks the anniversary of this remarkable event, which involved re-enactments of scenes from local history. The exhibition opens this Saturday (20 July) and runs until Saturday 5 October.

Heather Dowler, Lancashire County Council's museum manager for the City Museum, explained: "In the first half of the 20th century, the English-speaking world developed a passion for ‘historical pageants’ that were spectacular, dramatic outdoor re-enactments of scenes from local history that were performed over several days! or even a week.

"Each pageant had its own specially commissioned script, music, dancing and artwork. It required a cast of more than one thousand local people drawn from all sections of the local community and the support of armies of dedicated volunteer organisers.

"Lancaster's pageant was no different. This exhibition looks at the key individuals involved, the scale of the organisation, along with what actually took place."

Objects from the 1913 pageant will be on display, along with items from other years. Visitors will be able to see a costume worn in 1913 and one from the 1930 pageant.

Lancashire County Council's library service has loaned items to the exhibition including a fascinating scrapbook believed to have been created by James Dowbiggin, the former borough librarian and Storey museum curator.

The scrapbook contains photographs, letters and newspaper clippings. It helps to paint a picture of the pageant and the scale of organisation behind it. The exhibition text is the result of Dr Mike Winstanley's research into the subject.

• On Monday 22 July at 1pm, Dr Mike Winstanley will hold a free talk on the city's historical pageants 1913-53. Places need to be booked on 01524 64637.

• Every Thursday during the school holidays, there'll be a family programme with activities. Visit www.lancashire.gov.uk/museums or call 01524 64637 for more details. Sessions are free but pre-booking is required.

Lancashire County Council manages the City Museum on behalf of Lancaster City Council.

Polar Bear sighting on Lune!


Residents living by the River Lune at Halton were amazed earlier this month to see a polar bear sitting on a rock by the water's edge.

Several people living at Forgebank, whose homes over look the river, had sightings of the solitary bear.

“She seemed distressed, as though she wanted to get away from here,” according to resident Alison Cahn. “She appeared to be trying to put on snorkeling gear, and was struggling with the mask. It seemed a bit peculiar.”

Another resident, Becky James, was paddling her kayak downstream when she spotted the bear.  “She had her paw stuck out: I think she was trying to hitch a lift,” Miss James explained. “There was no way I was going to stop - I paddled off double quick.”



The mystery was solved a few days later when a film appeared on Youtube, featuring “Scuba Bear”. It was all a ploy to highlight the arrival of Lancashire's newest eco enterprise hub - providing low carbon office, studio, hot-desk and workshop space - which opens in Halton Mill at the start of September.

“I wanted to find a lighthearted way to make a serious point about the impact our current way of working is having on the environment and on the habitat of animals like the polar bear,” said Daniel Wigmore-Shepherd, an intern working for Green Elephant, which is managing the new workspace.

Halton Mill, part of the former Luneside Engineering Works, has been eco renovated to create an energy efficient building, already awarded the top “A” rating Energy Performance Certificate. Electricity comes from solar panels on the roof, and from a green energy supplier. From next year it should be supplied by a micro hydro scheme on a nearby weir.  Heating is provided by a bio-mass boiler using local wood chip, which also supplies the Lancaster Cohousing community next door.

“We aim to minimise the impact of our work activities and to support our tenants to reduce the impact of theirs,” said Miss Cahn, who is a director of Green Elephant. “We have lots of expertise amongst already committed tenants, and want to share facilities, resources and ideas to help us do this.”

“If we all take this philosophy our bear may have somewhere to go back to,” Mr Wigmore-Shepherd said. “Until then kayakers, canoeists and anglers beware.”

• View Scuba Bear on film on YouTube or watch it on the Halton Mill website www.haltonmill.org.uk   

Lune Street attacker sought by police

Police are appealing for information after a man was assaulted on Lune Street in Lancaster last week.

The victim was walking along Lune Street at around 6.30pm on Monday 8th July when he passed another man who was with a young boy. There was a brief altercation between the two men before the victim was punched in the nose by the other man.

The man and the boy then walked away along Lune Street, before running across Millennium Bridge.

Fortunately, the victim was uninjured but  “I would ask anyone who may have been in the area at the time and may have seen anything at all to come forward,” urges PC Ste Brown.

Information can be passed to police on 101 or to 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.

Appeal after trophies stolen from Silverdale Golf Club

The Coronation Cup, one of a number of trophies stolen from Silverdale Golf Club

Police are appealing for information after a number of trophies were stolen during a burglary at Silverdale Golf Club last week.

The club on Red Bridge Lane in Silverdale, is thought to have been broken into at some point overnight between the 8th and 9th of July. Nine trophies worth nearly £1,000 in total were taken from two trophy cabinets but it is not believed that anything else was stolen.

Officers are investigating the theft and are urging people to come forward.

Sergeant James Martin said: “We want to do all we can to return the property to the club - These trophies are not just of monetary value but are of sentimental value to many people and so we would urge anyone with any information at all that could help to come forward.

“If anybody in the area either heard or saw anything suspicious on the night in question, or perhaps in the days and nights leading up to the burglary, then please get in touch.”

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.

The Coates Cup

The Helen Smith Cup

The Jones Trophy

The Nicholson Trophy

The President's Salver

The Silver Jubilee Trophy

Scar Trophy

Monday, 15 July 2013

Council wins Luneside East appeal, awarded costs

Luneside East

Lancaster City Council has won an appeal against a Lands Tribunal decision over Luneside East – and been awarded costs in the dispute with Thomas Newall Ltd, who have been seeking higher compensation monies for land on St. George's Quay.

The council acquired the land at Luneside East using compulsory purchase powers, in order to regenerate it.  Although much of the money needed to obtain the land came from external regeneration funds, it was nevertheless public money.

In order to obtain land compulsorily, councils have to compensate the land owner for the loss of the land at an appropriate valuation to reflect its worth and expenses to compensate them for the disruption caused by the process.  The calculation of these compensations has to be carried out by professional valuations, in accordance with statutory guidance.

The council provided a fair compensation sum for the land and disruption, but subsequent to receiving that amount the owners TNL Ltd sought to claim that the value of the property and the losses for disruption were much higher.

As a result, the city council has had to spend the last five years defending a case for increased compensation in the Lands Tribunal and latterly in the Court of Appeal.

"The council has a duty to ensure that public money is not wasted by paying more compensation than necessary," the Council said in a statement.

"After the Lands Tribunal cases the council succeeded in proving that the original claim (which was in excess of £6 million) was excessive and that its original valuation of around £2 million was correct.

"However, because the award was slightly over the £2 million already paid, a further significant sum of public money would have had to be paid to TNL to cover their costs. The council upon taking sound legal advice considered that it was in the public interest to pursue an appeal against the Tribunal's decision, as it believed that parts of the decision were flawed in law.

"The judgement in the Court of Appeal, issued up on the 11th July 2013, agreed that the Lands Tribunal had in several parts of its determination erred in law.

"The consequences of this decision are that the council will be able to request the Lands Tribunal to remake the costs award made against it, and in effect, reverse it, making TNL Ltd liable for the council's costs.

"In addition the Court of Appeal has ordered TNL Ltd to pay the council's legal costs in bringing the appeal.

"Although a lengthy and costly process, the redevelopment of Luneside East is now taking place and the public purse has been protected from having to pay out monies far in excess of the amounts properly agreed for the land acquisition."

Museum talk spotlights Lancaster's Historical Pageants

Mike Winstanley (centre) with co-author Rob David (left) and Sam Riches (General Editor of the CNWRS Occasional Paper Series) at the launch of The West Indies and the Arctic in the age of sail: the voyages of Abram at Lancaster Maritime Museum last month. Photo: Lancaster University Centre for North West Studies
Lancaster City Museum has two fascinating talks coming up next week, including one from former Lancaster University history man Dr Mike Winstanley on Lancaster's historical pageants, which ties in with a new Museum exhibition that opens soon. Here's some details...

Monday 22nd July, 1.00pm: Lancaster's Historical Pageants, 1913-53

Dr Mike Winstanley's talk on promises to be informative and entertaining and ties in with the exhibition, 'The Pageant of 1913: acting out Lancaster's History' that opens on 20th July at the museum.

Dr Winstanley, co-author of the recently-released book The West Indies and the Arctic in the age of sail: the voyages of Abram, was a Senior Lecturer in the Department of History at Lancaster University for 30 years.  He first came to the University as an MA student in 1972, becoming a member of staff in 1978. As an historian with an interest in the North West of England, Lancaster has been an “ideal place to work and live”. He was actively involved in a variety of local and regional organisations, particularly the university’s Centre for North West Regional Studies.

Admission is free, though donations are welcome. Places can be booked now on 01524 64637. The talk is held in the Museum's Education Room with access via New Street.

Tuesday 23rd July, 11am – 2pm: Ribchester Roman Bath House excavations revisited and finds identification session

The 'Ribchester Roman Bath House excavations revisited' session is a free event for all the family. Ribchester has been investigated by antiquarians and archaeologists throughout the 20th century and is now the subject of more research. In this event you can see what was found, what is being discovered, what that means and how objects are preserved, conserved and displayed.

When it comes to archaeological finds - perhaps something you've dug up in your own garden or found out walking – have you ever wondered how an object gets identified, ends up in a museum and what happens to it then?

You can bring your own archaeological objects in to be identified and recorded by the Finds Manager. If the objects you bring are over 300 years old a record and photo of the object will be generated and posted on the Portable Antiquities site (http://finds.org.uk/)

Future Talks

All talks take place on a Monday at 1.00pm. Places are limited so booking is advised. Please call 01524 64637 to book your place on any talk up to one month in advance.

• Monday 23rd September: The Lancaster Charters – Evidence and Authenticity by David Tilsley

• Monday 28th October: Lancaster and Lunesdale Workhouses by Dr Andy Gritt

• Monday 25th November: History of Ashton Park Hall, the grandest house in North Lancashire: home of the Dukes of Hamilton – and the wrong Lady Hamilton by Mike Derbyshire

Local Green Councillor elected President of International Communal Studies Association

Scotforth West Green county councillor Chris Coates has been elected president of the International Communal Studies Association at the associations recent conference held in Scotland.

Formed in 1985 in Israel at Yad Tabenkin, the Research and Documentation Centre of the Kibbutz Movement,  the Association's aim is to provide a forum and framework for the scholarly exchange of information regarding communal life; communes, intentional communities, kibbutzim and other collective communities throughout the world.

“I was surprised, and a bit taken aback to be asked to become the ICSA president never having been to university and having drifted into research and writing rather late in life,” says Chris, who has been a board member of the association for a number of years.

The accolade has been given following the publication of Chris's second book on communal living, Communes Britannica, earlier this year. The book tells the story of communal living in Britain from the second world war through to the year 2000.

Beginning with wartime pacifists looking for an alternative to the death and destruction they saw the world descending into, through the 1960's & 70's hippy communes right up to the dawn of the 21st century where environmental activists are trying to create new communities that can cope with the challenges of climate change.

"I have lived in some sort of communal set up on and off for over 30 years," says Chris, "but I never dreamed that it might one day lead to being head of an international academic organisation.”

Before moving to Lancaster in 1998 Chris lived for 20 years in a small communal housing co-operative between Burnley and Accrington in East Lancashire. He was elected to the City council in 2003 and became County councillor for Lancaster Central in 2005. He currently lives with his partner at the award-winning Forgebank Cohousing project, a 40 unit ecohousing development on the banks of the river Lune at Halton that he helped to set up.

Communes Britannica is published by Diggers & Dreamers publications and is available from: www.edgeoftime.co.uk/index.php?p=u2&c=d

• For those interested in more information on the history of communal living in Britain Chris has set up a blog site http://blog.utopia-britannica.org.uk/ through which he can be contacted.

• International Communal Studies Association: www.ic.org/icsa