Thursday, 16 January 2014

University researchers win grant to help protect snow leopard population

Image courtesy Snow Leopard Network
The future of the snow leopard may seem far removed from life in rainy Britain, but researchers at the University of Cumbria have just secured a grant for research to help preserve the species in southern Kazakhstan.

A Snow Leopard Conservation Grant has been awarded by the Snow Leopard Network, for a project to be undertaken in partnership with Almaty State Nature Reserve, Kazakhstan, Kazakh National University and Central Queensland University, Australia.

During 2014-15, a team of five experienced scientists and conservationists from the University of Cumbria will be using ‘trailcams’ or camera traps to carry out a population survey of snow leopard numbers in the nature reserve. They will also model the potential impacts of climate change in the reserve, mainly in relation to changes in the treeline.


Image courtesy Snow Leopard Network
Principal investigator Dr Ian Convery, from the university’s Centre for Wildlife Conservation explains:

“The snow leopard is one of the most charismatic species on the planet. Climate change represents one of the biggest challenges to its survival, and this research will enable us to make some predictions about the future for snow leopard numbers in an important area of its range, the Tian Shen mountains in Central Asia.

“This research builds on existing good working relationships that the university has forged with institutions in Kazakhstan. There are currently no reliable estimates of snow leopard numbers in the nature reserve, one of only two stable populations of snow leopards in the country.

“We have already used these cameras for research in a range of different environments, such as the high Rocky Mountains in Alberta and temperate rainforest in British Columbia, Canada. Trailcam technology has improved dramatically over the last few years. Cameras can function down to extremely low temperatures and can be left in the field for up to 12 months on one set of batteries.”

The Snow Leopard Network is a worldwide organization dedicated to facilitating the exchange of information between individuals around the world for the purpose of snow leopard conservation. Its membership includes leading snow leopard experts in the public, private, and non-profit sectors.


The main goal of the organization is to implement the Snow Leopard Survival Strategy, which offers a comprehensive analysis of the issues facing snow leopard conservation today.


The SLN also maintains a Snow Leopard Bibliography, which providitses  members with access to scholarly articles on snow leopards and related issues.

“We are dealing with a highly endangered, yet the least studied of all large cats," explains Dr. Charudutt Mishra, executive director of the Snow Leopard Network. "So far, not a single study in Kazakhstan has undertaken a robust population estimation of the snow leopard, let alone population monitoring. The work of Dr. Convery’s team and their Kazakh collaborators is a very important first step in population monitoring and understanding the impacts of climate change on the snow leopard in Kazakhstan”.

In the long term, the researchers plan to establish a permanent network of trailcams in Almaty State Nature Reserve to monitor both snow leopard and prey species population numbers. Reserve staff will be trained in the management and maintenance of the camera traps, allowing the project to continue long after the grant funding has ceased, strengthening the capacity to monitor and protect snow leopard populations for the future.

• Snow Leopard Network: www.snowleopardnetwork.org/sln/Homepage_En.php

CCTV appeal after woman is touched inappropriately by man in Morecambe


Police are appealing for information after an 18 year old Preston woman was touched inappropriately by a man as she walked to her friends’ house in Morecambe.

The incident took place around 7.00pm on Monday 13th January when a man riding his bicycle has approached the victim as she walked along Westgate near to the football club in company with a friend and a young child in a pram.

The man has grabbed her bottom and face whilst making inappropriate remarks towards her.

A short time later the same man has cycled back towards the victim and made further sexual remarks.

The man is described as being white and aged in his early twenties. He was wearing small rectangle glasses, a black hat and was wearing a scarf obscuring his face. He was riding a dark coloured bike.

DC Carl Pritchard from Lancaster Police said: “This is a serious offence against a young woman and she was understandably left very distressed.

“I would appeal to anybody that witnessed this incident or with any information about the man responsible to contact Lancashire Police on 101.”

Latest First Friday art events announced - storyteller Daniel Morden, singer Evie Plumb head for Lancaster

Litfest present Tree of Leaf & Flame Tales from the Mabinogi at The Storey on February First Friday
February’s First Friday promises a feast of music, poetry, storytelling and theatre.

The First Fridays promote Lancaster Arts City by encouraging residents and visitors to try something new on the district’s cultural scene on the First Friday of each month.

Daniel Morden, one of the UK’s most popular and award-winning storytellers, comes to town on Friday 7th February  when he brings Tree of Leaf and Flame: Tales from the Mabinogi to The Storey at 8.00pm.

Haunting storytelling and dazzling musicianship come together in this unique retelling of The Mabinogi, the oldest stories in Britain. Tickets are £8-£10.

And those just setting out on their literary journeys are celebrated at Lancaster Library which hosts the county heat of the national recitation competition for young people from 7pm.

Poetry By Heart is a free event open to all poetry lovers and includes a talk about the life of Norman Nicholson by Professor Alan Beattie.

Other young people are also pulling out the stops for First Friday at The Hothouse in Morecambe; The Dukes;  and Lancaster’s NICE Bar and Restaurant.

From 6.30pm, The Hothouse hosts the Friday Night Project, a free session for anyone aged 12-18 interested in rap, beatbox, singing, visual arts, DJ-ing and music production.

Meanwhile, The Dukes welcomes pupils from Lancaster’s two grammar schools for their production of Sondheim’s musical Sweeney Todd. The razor-sharp entertainment begins at 7.30pm and tickets cost £8-£10.

And 17-year-old singer-songwriter Evie Plumb from the Lakes will mix her soulful vocals with jazzy piano during a free performance at NICE in The Storey from 6pm. Previous gigs have included Radio 1’s BIG Weekend and the Magic Loungeabout Festival.

Also on the music front, there’s free Chilled Out Tunes in the Afternoon at The Dukes from 2-3pm; Get Carter and The Convulsions play The Gregson from 8pm, tickets £4-£6; and The Jazz Mansion opens its doors again at Forrest Hills from 8pm, tickets £15.

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

Morecambe retailers warned about high pressure sales tactics

Cold callers are using fire safety risk assessments to pressurise retailers in Morecambe into parting with large amounts of cash.

The alert comes after small independent retailers in the Morecambe area reported being targeted by a salesman offering to produce a fire safety risk assessment for the premise.

The retailers who were cold called were threatened with fines of thousands of pounds if they did not have an assessment in place, and they were put under pressure to sign up immediately.

Officers from Lancashire County Council's trading standards team, Lancashire Police and the Lancashire fire service have visited retailers in the area and distributed information leaflets. They have advised retailers to say a firm 'no' when confronted by high pressure selling tactics.

Janice Hanson, Lancashire County Council's cabinet member for consumer protection and waste, said: "What this shows is that businesses can be as much at risk of cold callers and high pressure selling as householders.

"This awareness campaign provides a clear and strong message to the retailers of Morecambe - never sign up to a contract as a result of a cold call, don't make snap decisions and don't be pressurised into agreeing to anything on the spot.

"Trading standards officers also advise that you should always get a trader's full name and address before agreeing to any work, never rely solely on a mobile telephone number."

Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service advises retailers to do their own research before agreeing to buy a written fire risk assessments. In certain circumstances, some small retailers can carry out their own risk assessment.

Lee Munday, fire safety team leader for Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service, added: “Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service is the principle enforcer of the Regulatory Reform Fire Safety Order. We have a duty to provide free advice on what is required in order to comply with fire safety legislation and readily do so.

“It is quite wrong for a salesman to suggest that a fine will be imposed if the proprietor does not engage his services to draft up a fire risk assessment, since enforcing the law is our job and imposing a penalty for non-compliance would only be taken as a last resort.

“Our aim is to ensure that properties are safe, where people can safely go about their business and we will provide ample help, support and guidance to achieve this.”

PCSO Karl Smith, of Morecambe’s west end neighbourhood policing team, said: "Our aim during this operation has been to offer support and reassurance to t! he west end’s small independent businesses.

“Some of our shopkeepers do not have English as their first language, and so, alongside my colleague Helen Chadwick from the police’s diversity link team and our partners in trading standards and the Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service, we have been paying them a visit to help ensure they are not vulnerable to unscrupulous cold callers trying to take advantage of them.

"Finally, if any of our retailers or residents have concerns about suspicious cold callers, please report them to us via our non-emergency service by calling 101."

• Trading standards advice is available from the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 08454 040506.

• For fire risk assessment advice, visit www.firesafetyguides.communities.gov.uk

Lancaster Footlights to stage Arthur Miller's "A View from the Bridge"


“He was a good man, as he had to be, in a life that was hard and even.” 

Lancaster Footlights is to present Arthur Miller's iconic play A View from the Bridge at The Grand, Lancaster, in February.

First produced in 1955, this is the story where Arthur Miller confronts the great American dream. In New York's Brooklyn, longshoreman Eddie Carbone welcomes his wife's Sicilian cousins to the land of freedom. When one of them falls for his beautiful niece, they discover that freedom comes at a terrible price.


As an added bonus, Footlights will be holding informal discussion sessions after the performances, for students and groups. Members of the cast and production team will be on hand by prior arrangement, to answer questions on the process of staging the play - but you need to inform the Box Ofiice that you wish to take part in advance.


A View from the Bridge 7.30pm, Tuesday February 18th to Saturday 22nd February 2014, The Grand Theatre, St Leonardgate, Lancaster LA1 1NL from  at 7.30 pm. All tickets on Tuesday priced at £7.50. From Wednesday to Saturday tickets are priced at £9.50 /£8.50 concessions. On these nights there is a special rate for groups, with each seat being £8.50 and one seat free for every ten booked.

• Please inform the box office 01524 64695 prior to your visit if you wish to attend the after show discussions

• For all enquiries and booking please go to www.lancastergrand.co.uk. Telephone 01524 64695 or visit the box office

Local Cinema Round-up for 15th to 23rd January 2014 by Peter Clarke

For up to date local cinema links and day-by-day listings every week visit the Virtual-Lancaster Cinema Page. Read on for the weekly round-up, official film links and reviews.

 The period is marked by two new releases, horror with Devil's Due (15) and drama with The Wolf of Wall Street (18).

There remains a good range of films available. Drama with The Railway Man, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, The Butler & American Hustle. Comedy with Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, Delivery Man & The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. Family films are represented with Frozen, Free Birds, Moshi Monsters: The Movie & Walking with Dinosaurs.

For lovers of culture both The Reel and the Dukes are screening Bolshoi Ballet: Jewels. Meanwhile the Dukes continue with their excellent Gothic season with screenings of the cult film The Wicker Man (the original starring Edward Woodward and Christopher Lee with newly discovered material) and the 1957 black and white classic Night of the Demon.

Reviews

Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues
Director: Adam McKay
Certificate: 15
Cast includes: Adam McKay, Paul Rudd, Kristen Wiig, Christina Applegate, Steve Carell, Will Ferrell
San Diego's newsman Ron Burgundy returns for the sequel to the original 2004 Anchorman film. The film is set in the 80s at the GNN 24 hour news network. We find Rob little changed; egomanical, blunt and as idiosyncratic as ever and the action again has a strong element of the surreal. The film has a few cringe worthy moments but is a real 'laugh out loud' comedy that is a worthy successor to the original movie.

Devil's Due
Director: Matt Bettinelli-Olpin , Tyler Gillett
Certificate: 15
Cast includes: Allison Miller, Zach Gilford
Newly-weds Allison Miller and Zach Gilford return from their honeymoon having conceived a baby rather earlier than they had planned. The husband decides to record the pregnancy for posterity, but finds his wife showing rather odd behaviour. With time her behaviour becomes more extreme and there are suggestions that their baby has a sinister origin as a mysterious cult takes an interest in its welfare. This is a horror film in the tradition of Rosemary's Baby and whilst it does not break new ground with regards to plot, it merits a trip to the cinema.

Free Birds
Director: Jimmy Hayward
Cast includes: Owen Wilson, Keith David, Colm Meaney, Woody Harrelson, Amy Poehler, Dan Fogler
Two turkeys, Reggie and Jake, use a time machine to attend the first Thanksgiving meal in an attempt to get turkey removed from subsequent thanks-giving dinners. Reggie is from a free-range turkey farm and he realises why turkeys are being fattened!  Jake has the vision of commandeering the time machine in an attempt to change history. The film has some romantic interest with Reggie falling for Jenny, a turkey he meets during the adventure. In all the plot of this animation seems a little over complicated and the film contains some rude humour that may not be appropriate for the very young. In all an entertaining movie but one that is not destined to become a classic.

Frozen
Director: Chris Buck
Certificate PG
Cast Includes Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Josh Gad,Alan Tudyk, Jonathan Groff
This Disney musical animation is loosely based on the fairy tale 'The Snow Queen'. The queen has condemned a kingdom to eternal winter. It is up to Anna (her sister) and loner Kristoff to undertake an epic journey to find the Snow Queen and convince her to lift the icy spell. This is a magical movie destined to become a classic. It will appeal to families and children of all ages.

Philomena
Director: Stephen Frears
Certificate: 12A
Cast includes: Judi Dench, Steve Coogan
A quaint and charming film based on the book 'The Lost Child of Philomena Lee' by Martin Sixsmith. Philomena (Dench) is an Irish woman who had her baby taken from her for adoption in the USA whilst she was forced to live in a convent after becoming pregnant out of wedlock. Much later in life she enlists the help of Sixsmith to try to discover the whereabouts of her lost son. Coogan produced the film and co-wrote the screenplay. He plays Sixsmith, the journalist who has fallen out of favour. Both Dench and Coogan give superb performances in this funny and heartwarming, if a little sentimental, film. Well worth seeing.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Director: Peter Jackson
Certificate: 12A
Cast includes: Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman, Benedict Cumberbatch, Evangeline Lilly, Richard Armitage
In this second installment of the Hobbit, we find Bilbo Baggins and his group of comrades continuing in their journey to the Lonely Mountain in order to extract gold from the dragon Smaug whist being pursued by an army of Orcs. This film is a splendid action adventure, more so than the first of the trilogy. It is imaginative, with plenty of special effects and a block buster feel about it. However it again puts action above developing the characters of the protagonists. A movie that will leave you anticipating the concluding film in the trilogy.

The Railway Man
Director: Jonathan Teplitzky
Certificate: 15
Cast: Nicole Kidman, Colin Firth
The story of Army Officer Eric Lomax (Colin Firth), this film is based on Lomax's memoir. Lomax was a POW during world war II, tortured and brutalized whilst forced to work on the Burma Railway. The film, set in 1980, tells of his meeting, courtship and subsequent marriage to Patti (Nicole Kidman). The background of Lomax is shown in flashbacks as Patti herself learns of his history from one of her husbands fellow POWs. Patti encourages Lomax to face his demons and return to the place of torture. Here he discovers an old Takashi Negase, who was one of his torturers. The acting of Kidman and Firth is excellent and the flashbacks of Lomax's experience as a POW are strong and harrowing. However the end of the film does not quite live up to the tension built up during the movie.

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
Director: Ben Stiller
Certificate: PG
Cast: Ben Stiller, Kristen Wiig, Shirley MacLaine
A re-telling of James Thurber's 1939 story. Walter Mitty (Ben Stiller) survives his humdrum existence in a boring office job by escaping into a fantasy world of action and adventure. However when his job becomes threatened he is forced to take action in the real world, undertaking an adventurous journey that rivals those of his daydreams. This film has some entertaining moments but on the whole proved to be a rather lightweight comedy

The Wolf of Wall Street
Director: Martin Scorsese
Certificate: 18
Cast includes: Leonardo DiCaprio, Margot Robbie, Jonah Hill, Kyle Chandler
The story of New York stockbroker Jordan Belfort (Di Caprio) who rose from penny stocks to a life of affluence and corruption as he founded the brokerage firm Stratton Oakmont. His life of drugs, sex and ruthless achievement led to his title of 'Wolf of Wall Street'. Scorsese has produced a hard hitting and fast moving film and Di Caprio's acting rises to the challenge of portraying Belfort. However after building up Belfort as a monster, the film seems to say little about the morality of this sort of life and thus ultimately does not come to any satisfactory resolution. Hence the movie seemed to lack any real depth.

For up to date local cinema links and day-by-day listings every week visit the Virtual-Lancaster Cinema Page. Read on for the weekly round-up, official film links and reviews.

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Lancaster MP releases full text of his objection to County Council bus cuts

Lancaster MP Eric Ollerenshaw has released the full text of his formal submission to the Consultation on Subsidised Bus Services being carried out by Lancashire County Council.

As we previously reported, Mr Ollerenshaw is firmly opposed to the cuts, but in his submission he challenges the Council on the nature of the consultation itself noting that the the proposed savings "already appear in your budget plans, thus leading many people to believe that the decision has already been made".

His concerns echo those of transport expert Professor John Whitelegg, who told virtual-lancaster he doesn't have any expectations that they will pay any notice to opposition to their plans.

"In line with all other county council consultations, such as school closures, the results will not make a jot of difference to the outcome," he feels.

Here is Mr Ollerenshaw's letter.
Dear Sir/Madam

I write to submit formally my objections to the proposal to withdraw subsidies to evening, Sunday and Bank Holiday Bus services across Lancashire.

Clearly these have a bigger impact on rural areas with the villages of Preesall, Knott End, Pilling, Cockerham, Glasson Dock, Galgate, Caton, Brookhouse and Wray particularly badly hit in my constituency. But at the same time some of the most vulnerable people in urban centres such as Fleetwood and Lancaster will also be hit, particularly in Lancaster on the outlying Council Estates of the Ridge and the Marsh.
I accept that these are difficult financial times, but given your apparent willingness to take on virtual unlimited liabilities in your new ownership of the Preston Bus Station, you clearly have alternative funding available that might be better used maintaining these vital bus services.
At the same time with the roll out of Broadband across Lancashire and new developments in mobile phone technology these do have the potential to help customers better access bus times and availability and thereby unlock greater passenger take up of these services.

The detrimental effects of these cuts are wide-ranging and will impact some of the most vulnerable in my constituency. For older people who do not have a car or cannot afford to use a taxi, these cuts will result in social exclusion and isolation as well as denying them access to vital services in the evening and on Sundays. Many older residents will struggle to attend the hospital, doctors and other medical appointments for themselves,  as well as no longer being able to visit family or friends in hospital.  Both older and younger people alike will be denied access to social and entertainment venues as well as being able to shop, visit a friend or just have a day out.

For the younger people in our communities they will also be denied the opportunity to access educational and social opportunities – such as after-school activities and clubs and sports facilities.

These cuts will also have the same effect on those people who are on low incomes and do not have their own transport and also carers who may no longer be able to regularly visit those they care for.

Many people who use public transport to and from work will find themselves stranded should they not work Monday – Friday from 9-5 and at a financial loss if they are forced to travel by taxi.  With the worst case scenario being that they will have to give up their employment due to them no longer being able to return home in the evening.

These cuts could also prevent friends and families from visiting each over causing further isolation and again this is particularly acute in the rural areas.

All residents who do not drive will struggle to access shops and local services – something which will have a detrimental effect on the local economy with more people being unable to use small independent retailers.

Many local pubs and restaurants and other social centres such as the cinema and theatres will see a decrease in trade with both ‘locals’ and tourists being unable to access them in the evening and Sundays.  And even places of worship may see a down-turn in their congregations as people will no longer be able to attend due to a lack of transport.

Where there are no alternate routes many will find it difficult to access other forms of public transport.  For those people who do not wish to remain trapped in their homes they will be either forced into using private transport increasing both traffic and the risk of accidents and unfortunately the possibility of seeing an increase in ‘drink-driving’ as many people will not be able to afford to use a taxi for an evening out.

Home to hospital transport will be stretched as many patients who are quite capable of taking a bus will no longer be able to do so, putting a greater financial burden elsewhere.  Patients may well find themselves alone and isolated in their hospital beds as their friends and family are no longer able to visit.

In summary, these cuts will have devastating and wide ranging  effects on both rural villages and towns alike and will hit every member of our community who does not own a car.

I also  feel the timing and the short notice of this ‘consultation’ is indeed questionable and am further concerned that while you state you are consulting, the proposed savings already appear in your budget plans, thus leading many people to believe that the decision has already been made.

In light of these effects, the overwhelming objections that I am sure you have received and the small financial saving that will be made, I would urge you to reconsider these proposals and look to make savings without cutting, what is in effect, a vital and front line service.

Regards

Eric Ollerenshaw

• The consultation period ends on 17th January with the 2014 budget decided at a full County Council meeting on 20 February. The county council would like to hear any comments you may have on the proposals that have been put forward: www3.lancashire.gov.uk/corporate/consultation/responses/response.asp?ID=225

Campaign for Better Transport "Save Our Buses" Camapign 

View the Campaign for Better Transport's interactive bus cuts map which makes transparent the extent of the problem of local authority funding cuts to buses across the country. This map is a crowd sourcing project, which means the CBT are asking you to help us track bus cuts 

County Council documents on affected services (PDF links)

Academic’s drawings acquired by the Henry Moore Institute


The Henry Moore Institute at Leeds has acquired a series of drawings by the University of Cumbria’s Professor of Fine Art, Robert Williams as part of an archive documenting American artist Mark Dion’s Tasting Garden project at the Storey Gallery in Lancaster.

Part of a major collaborative project, the drawings were made as designs for 21 oversized bronze representations of various fruit types made by Williams for the installation in the hidden gardens of The Storey Institute that explored issues of diversity, ecology and global agribusiness.

Image courtesy the Storey Gallery
Tragically, the Tasting Garden was destroyed by vandals and metal thieves in 2008. Unfortunately, the owners, Lancaster City Council, have taken no action to restore it.

The project was a major part of the ArtransPennine98 event curated by the late Robert Hopper of The Henry Moore Sculpture Trust and Director of Tate Liverpool Lewis Biggs. The archive, which has already been exhibited in the UK, the Netherlands, and New York, was collected by former Storey Gallery Director Dr. John Angus and is made up of drawings by Dion and Williams with documentary photographs by Don Burnett.

The archive will be permanently held at the Henry Moore Institute at Leeds, where Williams was a post-graduate Henry Moore Scholar in the 1990’s.

American artist Mark Dion, who made the Garden's sculptures, is an internationally renowned American artist whose work incorporates aspects of archaeology, ecology, and detection. His work explores the deeply conflicting ideas we have about nature, and is exhibited internationally including at the Tate Gallery in London.

Morecambe MP backs buses campaigners

David Morris
Following up on our stories about the proposals from Lancashire County Council to cut subsidies to all night buses across the County, Morecambe and Lunsedale MP David Morris has now confirmed he is also backing campaigns to save the vital services.

"I strongly object to these proposals and have already written a letter to the County Council urging them to reconsider," he says. "As the decision is the sole responsibility of the County Council I would urge [voters] to also contact your County Councillor, to also oppose this decision, as your elected representatives on County Council matters.

"Further to this I have also started a petition, which I will be sending to the County Council and will also be presenting to Parliament."

David's petition is here: www.ipetitions.com/petition/bus-petition

"Please also encourage as many of your friends and neighbours to sign the petition," he urges his constituents. "If they do not have access to the internet please ask them to call my constituency office to register their support."

80 per cent of bus services in Lancashire are run by private companies on a commercial basis because they are profitable. The remaining 20 per cent are not commercially viable and are currently subsidised by around £8m from the county council each year.

The proposal would see subsides withdrawn from 72 evening and Sunday services from 18th May 2014. Bus services to Freehold, the Ridge the Marsh and Vale estates in Lancaster and Skerton, Heysham, Morecambe, Carnforth, Hest Bank Railway Station, Bolton-le-Sands and Overton are among those that would be lost if the plan goes ahead.

"This will lead to greater car use and an inability to travel at those times for anyone who does not have a car, so particularly the young, the old and the poor," argues Caton resident Ursula Gallie, who has launced an online petition to try to save the Kirkby Lonsdale service.

The county council's budget will be decided at a meeting of the Full Council on 20th February.

• You can view the Lancashire County Council consultation documents on the proposed bus cuts and the full list of services affected at www.lancashire.gov.uk/haveyoursay and respond on the website. You can also email responses to lcc.bus.services@lancashire.gov.uk or by post to Bus and Supported Transport Manager, Lancashire County Council, Room D3, PO Box 100, County Hall, Preston, PR1 0LD. The closing date for responses is Friday 17th January 2014

Other Petitions

• Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Morecambe and Lunesdale Amina Lone's petition on change.org, laying the blame for the proposed bus cuts at the door of government for its concerted and savage cuts on local council funding

Ursula Gallie's online petition to try to save the Kirkby Lonsdale bus service
 

Witch Out! Lancashire Children's Author launches new writing workshops for schools


Lancashire-based children's author Gianna Hartwright (the pen name for the award-winning PR expert Jane Hunt) has launched a new Creative Writing Workshops for schools and private groups of children, which she hopes will enthuse young writers, stimulate their imagination and encourage them to write better stories.

Gianna, who launched her most recent title, The Befana Drama, in October, has created Befana Drama Writing Workshops, which will inspire KS2 children and help them overcome obstacles to writing that they may have.

The Lancashire-based author is offering the workshops primarily in Lancashire, Cumbria and Greater Manchester, but can deliver them anywhere in the country for a small extra charge. If a number of schools in an area can book a workshop at the same time, the extra charge can be shared.

Gianna has so far visited schools as far apart as Dundee and Bedford and Ulverston and Bristol.

“I loved going into schools with my Befana Drama talk," she says, "which I can still offer to schools who haven’t yet inspired their children to write by arranging an author visit.

"During my visits, teachers asked me to think about developing a creative writing workshop and I have done that to satisfy their request, trying to make the formula as vibrant as possible."

“I hope to meet many more children in the coming months and inspire them to write their own great stories.”

Gianna's author visits to schools have received great feedback and the author says children told her not only that they had been inspired to write stories and read more books, but also how happy and uplifted they had been by Gianna's approach and way of telling them about her book.

The Workshops last for a day and see children tackling all manner of exciting tasks and fun exercises to get them thinking. They focus on ideas generation, creating good and bad characters, developing a plot through story mapping and exciting ways of using language.

To help children along the way, there will be games like Befana Blanks and Barmy Befana, plus the chance to delve into The Brilliant Befana Bag to find exciting items that can be used in a story.

The Befana Drama Creative Writing Workshops can be booked at any time bar late March, as Gianna will be launching Befana Drama 2 – Capriccia’s Conundrum – at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair (March 24-27), where she will be part of the Publishers Association stand at the biggest children’s book fair in the world.

Gianna Hartwright is the pen name of author Jane Hunt, a PR professional who won the ultimate accolade of being name ‘Best Freelance PR Practitioner’ in the Chartered Institute of Public Relations Excellence Awards 2012. She has had multi award winning PR success with her own PR consultancy, Catapult PR – a consultancy based in England’s northwest and situated in Poulton-le-Fylde, Lancashire. The creativity and style that has underpinned her PR campaigns is now shining through in her books.

• Schools wishing to have details of Gianna’s Creative Writing Workshops can email giannah@me.com or call 01253 891114. The cost of the full-day workshop is £150

Lancaster MP backs campaigns to save bus services, Labour candidate petitions government

Lancaster MP Eric Ollerenshaw
It would seem that both side of the political divide are taking their own steps to keep the issue of night bus cuts in Lancashire in the public eye as protest mounts over the proposal from the Labour-led County Council.

Yesterday, the Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Morecambe and Lunesdale Amina Lone launched a petition on change.org, laying the blame for the proposed bus cuts at the door of government for its concerted and savage cuts on local council funding, and called on Eric Pickles - Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government,  to Protect Bus Services to Rural Communities in Morecambe and Lunesdale.

Even though Labour councillors agree the proposed cuts (the subject of a consultation until Friday) will harm isolated communities and the most vulnerable in our area, it would appear that at least some of them will still vote for the cuts on 20th February, arguing they have no choice in the matter and even though such a decision would contradict Labour's national stance on supporting public transport initiatives.

Meanwhile, Lancaster's Conservative MP Eric Ollerenshaw has issued the following statement about the proposals in response to a petition to save the Kirby Lonsdale bus services, which we re-publish here in full.
As you will probably know from the local media, I am against the County Council’s plans to cut back on the bus services they support as it will have an extremely negative and damaging impact on our rural areas and some of the estates in and around Lancaster. I believe that this issue is so important to our local communities that I have spoken in Parliament to the Secretary of State for Transport on this issue on December 19th. You can read more about my position on the matter on my website at http://www.lancasterandfleetwoodconservatives.com/2013/12/eric-ollerenshaw-fights-million-cuts-to-lancashire-bus-services/.
In addition I am lobbying the Council to change their minds and will continue to do all I can to make sure these cuts do not go ahead. With the County Council effectively being a ‘hung Council’ this measure can be defeated.
I note that the petition is targeted at the Council Chief Executive and myself and, whilst I welcome the petition and knowing just how many people oppose the Council’s plans, I am encouraging anyone who doesn’t want these proposals to go ahead to lobby their local County Councillors as it will be they who make the final decision on this matter. To be clear: these cuts are proposed by the County Council and it is the County Councillors who have the final say as to whether to go ahead with them or not. As an MP I can lobby them and try to make them change their minds but I do not have a vote in the Council Chamber.
I have met with the Conservative Group on the County Council and I know that they have already stated that they will be voting against these proposals. I do not know how other County Council Groups or Independent County Councillors plan to vote at this stage but if you wish to contact them their details can be found online at www.lancashire.gov.uk
You can also put in your own formal objection to this proposal by contacting Lancashire County Council by email lcc.bus.services@lancashire.gov.uk or write to:
Bus & Supported Transport Manager
Lancashire County Council
Room D3, PO Box 100
County Hall, Preston
PR1 0LD
I would advise also specifically contacting the Leader of the County Council, County Councillor Jennifer Mein and the Cabinet member for Transport, County Councillor John Fillis, to ensure your voice on this issue is heard.
In the mean time, I will continue to do all I can to try to make sure the County Council does not press ahead with these cuts to our local bus services.
For those of you who have signed the petition but do not live in Lancaster and Fleetwood you may also wish to contact your own MP. You can find their contact details here: http://www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-offices/mps. Whilst it remains the case MPs will not have a vote on the Council’s proposals they can still bring pressure to bear.
Once again thank you for taking the time to contact me.
Yours faithfully
Eric Ollerenshaw
Member of Parliament for Lancaster and Fleetwood. 

The County Council's Consultation on the plan to cut Lancashire bus services is here

• Ursula Gallie's petition calling on the County Council to drop its proposal here: http://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/save-the-lune-villager-evening-sunday-buses-lancaster-kirkby-lonsdale-save-the-evening-and-sunday-bus-services-running-between-lancaster-and-kirkby-lonsdale#share

Campaign for Better Transport "Save Our Buses" Camapign 

View the Campaign for Better Transport's interactive bus cuts map which makes transparent the extent of the problem of local authority funding cuts to buses. This map is a crowd sourcing project, which means the CBT are asking you to help us track bus cuts 

County Council documents on affected services (PDF links)


Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Last chance to comment on bus changes



Lancashire County Council is reminding people they have until Friday (17th January) to respond to a consultation on possible changes to public transport.

The council is proposing to reduce support for buses to focus on maintaining services during the daytime and ensure the county's most vulnerable people can access public transport - but the proposals have been met with fury from bus users and condemned by transport experts and some political parties.

Locally, bus services to Freehold, the Ridge the Marsh and Vale estates in Lancaster and Skerton, Heysham, Morecambe, Carnforth, Hest Bank Railway Station, Bolton-le-Sands and Overton are among those that would be lost if the plan goes ahead.

The Council says the plans will look to save £3.8m over two years which would see funding withdrawn for evening and Sunday services that currently receive council subsidies to allow them to operate.

The proposals are being consulted on as part of the council's budget for 2014, as it confronts an unprecedented financial challenge, needing to save £300m over the next four years due to central government cuts.

In addition, the council proposes to invest a further £500, 000 in dial-a-ride services to ensure community transport providers have the capacity to cater for those most in need.



Professor John Whitelegg, who is a visiting Professor of Sustainable Transport at Liverpool John Moores University and Professor of Sustainable Development at University of York's Stockholm Environment Institute, has condmened the plans saying they are a "savage attack" on public transport in this area

"They will damage the lives of older people and those who do not own a car," he argues, "and they are yet another attack on low income groups and those who live in rural areas."


"This will lead to greater car use and an inability to travel at those times for anyone who does not have a car, so particularly the young, the old and the poor," argues Caton resident Ursula Gallie, who has launced an online petition to try to save the Kirkby Lonsdale service.

"It will undermine efforts to cut down on car use, add to traffic in Lancaster, put pressure on parking and undermine campaigns to reduce carbon emissions."

Lancaster MP Eric Ollerenshaw has already raised questions in the House of Commons about the proposals and is taking the matter up with the Secretary of State for Transport.

80 per cent of bus services in Lancashire are run by private companies on a commercial basis because they are profitable. The remaining 20 per cent are not commercially viable and are currently subsidised by around £8m from the county council each year.

The proposal would see subsides withdrawn from 72 evening and Sunday services from 18th May 2014.

The county council's budget will be decided at a meeting of the Full Council on 20th February.

• You can view the consultation documents and the full list of services affected at www.lancashire.gov.uk/haveyoursay and respond on the website. You can also email responses to lcc.bus.services@lancashire.gov.uk or by post to Bus and Supported Transport Manager, Lancashire County Council, Room D3, PO Box 100, County Hall, Preston, PR1 0LD. The closing date for responses is Friday 17th January 2014

Lancashire County Council weighs up job cut proposals

Lancashire County councillors will meet to agree how to approach making significant reductions to the authority's workforce, in response to the latest Government funding cuts.

The council expects to have to save around £300m from its annual budget in the next four years and is striving to avoid making compulsory redundancies.

However, a proposal going to the council's Cabinet next week (Friday 24th January) would see workers encouraged to apply for voluntary redundancy, with a view to reducing the workforce by around 2,500 full time posts by April 2016.

"This is the harsh reality of the cuts being imposed by Government, as we seek to find £300m savings on top of the £220m the council has saved over the last three years," explained Leader of the council Jennifer Mein.

"The council simply cannot make these savings without significant reductions both in the services it provides to local communities and in the number of people it employs to deliver those services.

"These are decisions we would rather not have to make, but I am determined to lead the council through this period in a way that makes the changes as fair as possible to the public and employees alike.

"That includes giving the people who work here a clear understanding of where we're going and doing everything we can to avoid compulsory redundancies.

"My hope is that enough people will choose to go on a voluntary basis and our proposed approach has that outcome in mind."

The proposal being considered by councillors would see around 2,500 posts go by April 2016, by which time the council would be reshaped to operate with a considerably smaller budget.

It takes account both of the existing budget proposals for 2014-15 and the impact on staffing levels of the further funding cuts expected in 2015-18, the details of which will form a three-year budget strategy to be agreed next year.

The county council employs around 34,500 people but, with the majority of those jobs funded through the ring-fenced schools budget, the cuts affect its non-schools workforce of around 13,000.

Deputy Leader and portfolio holder for finance, County Councillor David Borrow, explained: "We're currently consulting over our budget plan for 2014-15 and will spend much of the next 12 months having a transparent discussion about how services will change in the three years that follow.

"But we already know enough about the Government's spending plans to realise it will have a big impact on the number of people we can employ.

"We're being open, honest and proactive in our approa! ch by explaining these changes to our employees and proposing terms for voluntary redundancy that the council can afford during what will be an incredibly challenging period.

"Our priorities will remain to protect vulnerable people and promote economic growth, but there is no doubt this will be a very different and much smaller organisation in a few years' time."

Councillors will be asked to agree to set the terms for voluntary redundancy at reduced levels for future years, in order that the council can afford for sufficient numbers of people to leave on a voluntary basis.

Employees will be able to apply to leave on the current terms for voluntary redundancy up until the end of March this year.

The need to save £300m over the four years from 2014 to 2018 reflects big cuts in funding from the Government, together with the need to offset inflation and account for increased demand from an ageing population. The savings equate to around 40% of the council's current non-schools budget.

"REFINED" exhibtion opens at Lancaster's Gallery 23


Eleanor Bennett - a local freelance Artist, Musician and Arts and Health Practitioner  –  is one of sveral Lancashire artists currently exhibiting at Gallery 23 in Lancaster's Brock Street.

"REFINED" at Arteria Ltd with Gallery 23 is a new exhibition for a new year, celebrating the concept of beauty in simplicity, showcasing selected works from the Arts and Craft Guild of Lancashire alongside other independent local and national artists.

It is often what you choose to leave out that creates impact. In creating a piece of art or craft the process of selectivity and refinement can achieve understated elegance and the creation of a focused statement.

Time invested in honing ones skills as an artist and maker allows you to make those informed decisions, based on experience and a true knowledge of your craft. The latest exhibition at Brock Street epitomizes the practice of “less is more.”


“We have built up a great relationship with the Art & Craft Guild over the years," explains Jane Richardson, Owner and Managing Director of Arteria with Gallery 23, and we have also found other artists new to the gallery for this show. 

"We are excited about “REFINED” as it gives us further opportunity to support North West and UK designers and art makers. We believe it will be a breath of fresh air as we move forward into a new year.”

“REFINED” runs until 26th April 2014, with a preview on Saturday 25th January from 4pm-7pm. More information will announce on www.arteriashop.co.uk, the gallery's facebook page and twitter

Local Breastfeeding Network Star Buddies want to know grandmothers’ views

The Breastfeeding Network Star Buddies are holding a discussion session for grandmothers about breastfeeding on Friday 7th February from 9.30 till 12.30 at Firbank Children's Centre in Lancaster.

The session will be an exciting opportunity for grandmothers to talk about their own experiences of breastfeeding and their experiences of being grandmother of a breastfeeding baby, to find out information about breastfeeding and to generate ideas on how grandmothers can support breastfeeding locally. 

It will also be an opportunity to meet the local Star Buddies (Breastfeeding Network registered peer supporters) including grandmothers who are already involved in local breastfeeding support. The session is open to grandmothers and women expecting grandchildren, whether or not they have breastfed.  Refreshments will be provided.

“We are really excited about finding out more about grandmothers’ views on breastfeeding," says local volunteer coordinator and trainer, Ursula Gallie. "We know how important grandmothers are in helping their daughters or daughters-in-law have a positive breastfeeding experience and we want to understand more about how grandmothers see their role.” 

The Breastfeeding Network trained Star Buddies are local mums who have breastfed. They provide breastfeeding support to families in Lancaster and Morecambe. 

“Star Buddies support each woman to breastfeed for as long as she wants, whether that’s a day, a week, a year or more," explains Kate Ludley, Star Buddy Coordinator. "We support women to make their own choices and to make their breastfeeding journey a really positive experience.” 

Breastfeeding support is available for all on the ward at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary and, in Morecambe and Skerton, women can opt for personal community support, receiving home visits and phone support from peer supporters.  This work is funded by public health. 

Throughout Lancaster and Morecambe, volunteer Star Buddies offer support, on the ward and at breastfeeding groups.  (Balmoral Children’s Centre Mondays 1-2.30, Lune Park Children’s Centre 10.30-12. Contact your local Children’s Centre or text Ursula Gallie on 07927483425 for more information.)

Local mum, Dawn Staig said “With all the help from the Star Buddies, I’ve managed to feed my son for fifteen months and as a thank you I’ve decided to train as a Star Buddy.”


• If you are an interested grandmother or you are expecting a grandchild, please get in touch as soon as possible to book your free place via our Facebook page “Grandmothers supporting breastfeeding in Lancaster and Morecambe” or by texting or calling Ursula Gallie on 07927483425.

Monday, 13 January 2014

Lancashire Labour's proposed bus cuts continue to confound


As we reported earlier, Lancashire's Labour-led County Council is "consulting" on cuts to night bus service subsidies, arguing it has to find £300 million in savings from its budget. The proposal has been condemned by Conservatives (even though it could be argue that it's their government's funding cuts that have prompted the Council's action), the Green Party and many local residents who will be affected if the bus services are axed.

The proposed cuts would seem to run counter to the national Labour Party's previous statements condemning both bus deregulation and funding cuts for bus services, arguing in 2012 that local bus service cuts have greatest impact on older people, teenagers and those on low incomes.

Challenged on the proposals, one Labour councillor - Carl Crompton, who represents the Preston University ward - appeared to agree on Twitter that the cuts were unwelcome:



Sadly, despite using some of the very services that will be cut, and arguments that the cuts are a false economy (adding to traffic congestion and isolating communities), Councillor Crompton at present seems content to follow the Party line and favour axing the services:



,br/>How times change. In March 2012, the Labour Party was chastising the government about bus services nationally, arguing the Government should admit that bus deregulation has failed and the rest of the country needs London-style powers.

"It’s time that passengers across England were able to benefit from a properly managed, integrated transport network with smart ticketing and regulated fares on local bus and rail services," said the then Shadow Transport Secretary Maria Eagle.

In September 2012 she was at it again, arguing local bus service cuts have greatest impact on older people, teenagers and those on low incomes.

"The Government’s decision to cut funding for vital local bus services too far and too fast shows just how out of touch Ministers are with the day to day lives of millions of people up and down the country," she said.

"Ministers should listen to their own consumer watchdog, Passenger Focus, which has warned that those most affected by the loss of a local bus service are older people, teenagers, those on lower incomes and those with health issues. With one in five supported bus services now at risk, these cuts have left older people isolated, young people unable to access college courses and made it harder for those unemployed to get back into work."

In September 2013, the Labour Party also set out proposals for the most wide and far-reaching reform of public transport in since the privatisation of the bus and rail industries in the 1980s and 1990s. Their proposals include making it easier for English local authorities to reverse the deregulation of local bus services, and enabling them to set up their own local bus companies; and raising fuel tax for England’s bus operators and passing the extra revenues to local authorities.

Let's hope there are some bus services left if they get elected for them to do this...

• See also: Campaign to save local night buses as fury mounts over Labour-led County Council's bus cut plans

Halton Centre to host Bon Giovi Tribute Show


The Centre @Halton is continuing its successful events programme with a great Bon Giovi Tribute Show on Saturday 29th March. The performer is Andrea Oggiano from Italy who has a fantastic reputation as a tribute act and tickets will sell fast.

The show will start at 7.30pm and continue till midnight and this year local band Stopwatch Wilson will also be performing. There will be a bar and light snacks.

Fronted by UK’s leading Jon Bon Jovi impersonator Andrea Oggiano. The band have not only toured lengthily around the UK, for clients such as Harley Davidson, Vodafone, Butlins and more, but have also performed internationally in and around the Middle East, Slovenia, Austria, Cyprus, France and Ireland, to name but a few.

Bon Giovi were also the only UK tribute act to be asked to make a guest appearance on the New Jersey tribute album "Garden State Of Mind Vol. 1", A celebration of Bon Jovi musical career to date.




Past Tribute Band performances at the Centre - Meatloaf and Bob Giovi - have been huge successes and this promises to be a great night out.

Proceeds from this show will contribute to the cost of ongoing refurbishments at The Centre @ Halton.

• Tickets are only £13 each or £25 for two tickets, and can be purchased from the Coffee Shop at The Centre  (during opening hours) or from the Halton Village Newsagents, High Road, Halton. Any queries to Maureen, Centre Manager, on tel: 01524 811316

• More information about Bon Giovi: www.bongiovi.co.uk

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Lancaster & Morecambe Athletics Club's 3 Bridges 10k race returns

Lancaster & Morecambe Athletics Club is now accepting entries for their annual 3 Bridges 10k running race which will be held from the Clubhouse at Salt Ayre Sports Centre at 11.00am on Sunday 6th April.

This is always a popular race with runners from all over the north -west taking part, often as a fast preparation for London and other spring marathons and other longer races.  Entry fees have been kept at a very reasonable £12 per person, or £10 for members of Running Clubs.  An extra £2 is charged for entries on the day.

This year the race is sponsored by the Runners Centre in Lancaster and by Mains Business Equipment, also based in Lancaster and the Club is very grateful for this support.

The race meets UK Athletics Rules, is Certified Accurate and there are prizes for the first 3 men and the first 3 women finishers.  There will be prizes for each veteran category, from 40 for men and 35 for women and this year, for the first time, there will also be special prizes for any man and/or woman who break the course record.

It has a flat, fast and scenic route and there will also be a medal for all finishers.

This year the race is sponsored by the Runners Centre in Lancaster and for the first time by Mains Business Equipment, also based in Lancaster and the Club is very grateful for this support.

• There is still plenty of time to pre-enter, either by entering on-line at http://www.ukroadraces.info/events.htm  - or by requesting an entry form from Steve Perry, 10 Parkfield Drive, Lancaster, LA1 4BU or email: steveperry10park@tiscali.co.uk. 

Anyone for Tennis? Exciting year ahead for local club planned

 


International player Tiero, from the Philippines, at Lancaster Tennis Club. Photo: Lancaster Tennis Club



Lancaster Tennis Club in Lune Road (is launching its new tennis season with an Open Day on Saturday 29th March for anyone interested in trying out tennis and maybe becoming the next Andy Murray.


The event, which runs from 2.00 - 4.00pm, is for both adults and juniors, from aged five upwards, and is free of charge.  No prior registration is needed – just turn up – and the Club can provide balls and racquets

In other news for the Club, they have announced they now have wheelchair facilities and in 2014 will be offering sessions especially for wheelchair athletes - special wheelchairs have been obtained, funded through the Dan Maskell Tennis Trust and from Lancashire Sport.


Friday 18th April sees the Club’s usual popular adult round robin Good Friday tournament, starting at 10.30am.  This is a great opportunity for existing and new adult players to dust off their racquets and play good tennis in a very social environment.


Again, no prior registration is required and only a very modest fee of £3 is charged. There will prizes for the winners, refreshments available and a raffle.  Just turn up on the day to play and enjoy.

Any queries about the tournament should be made to Paddy Maher on tel: 07764 251430.



The Dan Maskell Tennis
Trust was set up in 1997 and named after the late Dan Maskell, who was
known affectionately as the “voice of Wimbledon” during his time as the
BBC’s top tennis commentator. Dan was passionately interested in the
rehabilitation of disabled people following his work as the RAF’s first
ever Rehabilitation Officer. His daughter Robin carries on the work of
the Trust as one of its Vice-President’s and Trustees.
Its aims, among others, are to provide specialist tennis wheelchairs for individuals, clubs, special schools and centres running disability programmes.



The Lancashire Sport Partnership is one of 49 sub-regional sport
partnerships operating across England. As a County Sport Partnership they are funded by Sport England, by agencies to deliver specific
projects on their behalf, by local government and by private
sponsorship.



• Any queries about these events can be made to Susan Lucas on tel: 07771 734920 or email: susanlucas1950@live.co.uk; or visit www.lancastertennis.co.uk

Campaign to save local night buses as fury mounts over Labour-led County Council's bus cut plans

Original image via Stagecoach (Mash-Up via Internet)

Campaigners have begun a fight back against Lancashire County Council proposals to stop all evening and Sunday services between Lancaster and Kirkby Lonsdale as well as on several other routes around Lancaster and Morecambe.

The campaign to save bus services is backed by Lancaster MP Eric Ollerenshaw, who is urging local people to write to their local councillors and protest before a vital vote in February, and the North West Green Party - but local Labour Party councillors argue they have no choice on the matter.

As we previously reported, the Labour-run County Council, is running a "consultation" on the plan, saying it will save £3.8m over the next two years by withdrawing subsidies which enable the services to operate - but the cuts will affect most of the villages and outlying council estates in the Lancaster area.

The closing date for responses to the consultation is 17th January and a decision will be made at a full council meeting on 20th February.

Bus services to Freehold, the Ridge the Marsh and Vale estates in Lancaster and Skerton, Heysham, Morecambe, Carnforth, Hest Bank Railway Station, Bolton-le-Sands and Overton are among those that would be lost if the plan goes ahead.

"This will lead to greater car use and an inability to travel at those times for anyone who does not have a car, so particularly the young, the old and the poor," argues Caton resident Ursula Gallie, who has launced an online petition to try to save the Kirkby Lonsdale service.

"It will undermine efforts to cut down on car use, add to traffic in Lancaster, put pressure on parking and undermine campaigns to reduce carbon emissions."

Lancaster MP Eric Ollerenshaw has already raised questions in the House of Commons about the proposals and is taking the matter up with the Secretary of State for Transport.

“The proposed cuts to routes will have an adverse affect on our rural and town communities alike," he told the Lancaster Guardian, "isolating many people who have no other means of transport or support as well as damaging the local economy.”

“County Hall, although currently run by Labour, is in effect a ‘hung council’ so I would ask anyone who doesn’t want these proposals to go ahead to lobby their local county councillor. If all the opposition councillors do as the Conservative councillors will be doing and vote against these cuts then they will not go ahead.”

Transport expert Professor John Whitelegg has condemned the plans.

"The bus cuts announced by the county council are a savage attack on public transport in this area," says Lancaster-based Professor Whitelegg, who is a visiting Professor of Sustainable Transport at Liverpool John Moores University and Professor of Sustainable Development at University of York's Stockholm Environment Institute.

"They will damage the lives of older people and those who do not own a car and they are yet another attack on low income groups and those who live in rural areas."

The North West Green Party has condemned the proposals and have accused Lancashire County Council of squandering money on unnecessary road building schemes.

County Councillor John Fillis, cabinet member for highways and transport says the County would never have chosen to be in this financial situation but say thet have to find ways to drastically reduce their budget due to cuts imposed by central government.

"We're still consulting on this budget proposal, so nothing has yet been agreed," he said recently, "but a very important part of it is to invest an additional £500,000 in community transport such as dial-a-ride services to ensure that support is focused on those with the greatest need, and where the public transport network is particularly limited.

In a joint statement, local Labour county councillors Darren Clifford, Janice Hanson, Chris Henig, Richard Newman-Thompson and Niki Penney said: “No elected member wants to withdraw bus subsidies but we are facing a massive budget shortfall.

“The most vulnerable – who are unable to stand at bus stops – will be protected because funding for community transport will be increased as the need for this service increases.”

The Campaign for Better TransportBuses in Crisis’ report, published last year, revealed that 46 per cent of local authorities have reduced their support for buses in 2013-14 with a number threatening to remove all support this year.

Supported buses are services that are subsidised by local authorities because they are not provided by commercial bus companies. They account for between 20-22 per cent of bus services across England and Wales and serve communities where no alternative route exists, meaning that any cut or alteration can often have a huge impact on residents and local economies.

In 2013 there have been £17m of cuts in the budget for supported buses in England, resulting in 147 service cuts or withdrawals, whilst in Wales, there were 25 service cuts or withdrawals.

The County Council's Consultation on the plan to cut Lancashire buse services is here


• Ursula Gallie's petition calling on the County Council to drop its proposal here: http://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/save-the-lune-villager-evening-sunday-buses-lancaster-kirkby-lonsdale-save-the-evening-and-sunday-bus-services-running-between-lancaster-and-kirkby-lonsdale#share

Campaign for Better Transport "Save Our Buses" Camapign 

View the Campaign for Better Transport's interactive bus cuts map which makes transparent the extent of the problem of local authority funding cuts to buses. This map is a crowd sourcing project, which means the CBT are asking you to help us track bus cuts

County Council documents on affected services (PDF links)