Friday, 5 September 2014

Lancaster & Morecambe have bland - sorry - 'brand' makeover

In July the City Council Cabinet resolved unanimously to 'Cease funding the distribution of printed Visitor Guides for the district, using alternative ways to make up to date visitor information more widely available as part of destination marketing.'  Virtual Lancaster has had a look at how this is progressing.

Finally waving goodbye to the 1950s the Council's plan was to 'redirect resources towards information online and via social media to reach a wider audience.'   But what should we actually tell a global audience about ourselves and our area? The decision seemed almost as complex as the Voyager mission to outer space. Fortunately, there were experts at hand.

Rebranding
We all recall the overwhelming excitement last September, when a brilliant new tourism marketing strategy came up with the idea of rebranding Morecambe as 'Morecambe Bay' and Lancaster as 'Lancaster, including the Lune Valley'

These two 'different but complementary' destination brands were identified by Windermere-based marketing consultants Cairn, funded by Lancashire County Council, Marketing Lancashire and Lancaster City Council. (see our report from September 2013).

That was just the beginning though. In July 2014, following extensive partnership working and consumer testing, the deckchairs were finally rearranged and the new brand ‘attributes’ were announced with some fanfare from Councillor Sands, our local tourism czar. Here they are:

       The Morecambe Bay brand identifies Morecambe Bay as “One of England’s emerging destinations, incomparable to anything in the UK” and “an inspiring coastal area” with rich cultural heritage, outstanding nature and wildlife, with diverse and authentic towns and villages to explore.

•        Lancaster (including the Lune Valley) - One of England’s most vibrant, historic cities, where culture and heritage captivate and inspire visitors.  Lancaster’s attributes include the castle and heritage attractions, architecture, theatre, arts and events.

Celebrating the culmination of a year of expert effort with the launch of these two paragraphs of unsurpassed blandness, evenly applicable to dozens of  UK destinations, Ruth Connor, CEO of Marketing Lancashire, announced:

Marketing Lancashire was delighted to be part of the process of developing the destination brand for Lancaster and Morecambe. From the unparalleled natural beauty of the Bay to the history, culture and vibrancy of Lancashire’s Heritage City, the new brand will help unlock the potential of the area as a  short breaks destination that can rival the likes of York or Chester and will attract new visitors from both the UK and internationally.”

How is it doing? 
Two months on, Virtual Lancaster went looking online for 'destination' information about Lancaster and Morecambe.  Top of the Google search rankings for places to visit in the north of England is England's official tourist website 'Visit England'.  But the Visit England map of 'Places and Cities to Visit' doesn't show any destinations between Blackpool and the Lake District.  So we entered specific site-searches for Lancaster and Morecambe.

Our 'Lancaster' search returned 5 results - 
  • one for Lancashire as a whole
  • two for tours of the Castle, 
  • one for cheese shops in Garstang
  • one for an attraction in Tewkesbury
Our 'Morecambe' search returned 5 results
  • one for the Tern project bird artwork on the prom - 'have your photo taken with Eric'
  • one for kayaking from Milnethorpe
  • one for a walk from Cleveleys to Fleetwood
  • one for Fleetwood Museum
  • one for a music hall in Leeds
A month ago the Morecambe search returned 0 results. So that's something. The Tern project listing is the one new relevant listing. It links to the Visit Lancashire website where there is actually less information about it. 

Our 'Scarborough' search returned 27 results
In comparison, a search for 'Scarborough' on Visit England returns 27 results, including festivals of art, music, food and culture, its theatres, its museums - if someone sneezes in Scarborough it's a globally advertised attraction. 

Lancaster & Morecambe are phenomenally better
You have to hand it to Scarborough, in the real-world it's a peaceful place to die in, if a bit draughty. We, on the other hand, have festivals for art, music, literature, food, drink, heritage, dance, theatre and comedy in Lancaster. We have a fantastic year-round offering of theatre, art-house cinema, variety, music and dance events. AND the most kick-ass castle in the north of England. And an ancient priory AND a cathedral that's an architectural gem. Parks, rivers, mountains, dales, canals, cycle trails, nature reserves.... Virtual Lancaster has a massive website full of it and we can't keep up with it all, frankly.

York (69 results) is mainly a stack of rubble in a traffic jam and an archaeologically adulterated hole in the ground under a shopping precinct. But it punches consistently above its weight and gets ten times the hype. York brands itself as 'Britain's most beautiful city' (it's not but they obviously take themselves seriously). It also flirted briefly with the strapline 'Britain's home of chocolate'. It's good, it's very good, but it doesn't beat 'Witch City' or even 'Best Brews in Britain' (we like our coffee).  (You can probably think of many other engaging characteristics that are unique to Lancaster.)

In Morecambe there are festivals for  kites, watersports, heritage and an avalanche of music, variety and fun events and surprising entertainment plus all kinds of markets and a fabulous long seafront and all that adorable art-deco archi-schtick. Miles of sands and strange landscapes in all directions and baywalk adventure you can't find anywhere else too, and yet it isn't marketed at all on the main English tourism website.

To be fair, the entire Visit England website is a national embarrassment. All it says about Lancashire is 'Hearty casserole, brisk Pennine walks and neon-lit seaside towns – there's something heart-warming about Lancashire.'  They couldn't even get the name 'hot-pot' right.

Regional presence online improves
In contrast, our local http://www.citycoastcountryside.co.uk/ visitor information website is a good, useful, competent resource (even if it has a pretty random name) and  Visit Lancashire, the official Lancashire tourist / visitor information website  does manage to slip in the odd mention about us when it's not totally mesmerised by Blackpool, but Visit England'reaches a wider global audience.

If you're a foreigner who isn't familiar with the UK and you don't know already that Lancaster and Morecambe are the best bits,  the Visit England website seems designed to stop you finding out. Visit England should at least have Lancaster and Morecambe on its map. We do exist and it's offensive and ignorant that they negate that.  It should also have links to our local Lancaster & Morecambe visitor information website in all the places that normal people go looking.

Visit Britain and Visit England North West
On Visit England North West, Lancaster and Morecambe entirely failed to exist. As did practically everywhere but Manchester, Liverpool, the Lakes and Blackpool.
On the Visit Britain website Lancaster and Morecambe (and Scarborough) also failed to exist - but a search for York got 29 results - of which about 10 were actually about York.   Like Visit England and Visit England North West it's a surprisingly pointless website overall but if they all had findable links to www.citycoastcountryside.co.uk they would be slightly less of a dead loss.

The York tourist board seem to have realised that it's not useful to spend months shuffling stale adjectives around into generic cliches.  It's useful to build clear links from the places where people start their searches to create quick and easy pathways to reliable, specific, local information. This helps people make expensive choices with confidence. This is what the Lancaster City Cabinet decided to do, though they've yet to drive any relevant content into the top-ranking tourism sites that come up in online searches. We still look forward to seeing it happen.

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Local Cinema Round-Up for 3rd to 11th September by Peter Clarke

For up to date local cinema links and day-by-day  listings of what's showing on local screens every week visit the Virtual-Lancaster Cinema Page. Read on for the weekly round-up, and reviews.

A good churn of movies during this period with five new releases. There is comedy with Sex Tape (15) and Pride (15); animation with The Boxtrolls (PG) and drama with Before I Go to Sleep (15) and The Hundred-Foot Journey (PG). In addition we see the return of the movies Belle; Postman Pat: the Movie and Pudsey the Dog: the Movie.

On the down side we have lost Arthur & Mike and Deliver Us from Evil. Also it seems likely that we are soon loose Into the Storm, What If, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Planes: Fire & Rescue, The Expendables 3 and The Nut Job.

Family entertainment is well catered for with the 'Disney Days at the Vue' showing The Incredibles and Tangled. Also there is a good helping of culture with RSC live: The Two Gentlemen of Verona, NT Live: Media, Globe: A Midsummers Night and NT Encore: Media. Also of note is the film Dinosaur 13 a documentary showing some of the politics behind the discovery of a T-Rex fossil.

Reviews

As Above/ So Below
Director: John Erick Dowdle
Certificate: 15
Cast includes: Edwin Hodger, Ben Feldman, Perdita Weeks
A low budget horror film set in the Catacombs under Paris. Scarlet (Weeks) continues her dead fathers quest to find the Philosophers Stone and to this end she assembles a small team to explore the Parisian catacombs. The action unfolds by the medium of rather shaky film footage from a hand held camera. The claustrophobic setting makes for electric visual effects as the characters face their own fears along with visions of their past. The film itself never feels particularly credible and the explorers never really develop into convincing characters. However the setting makes up for these deficiencies to make an above average horror movie.

Before I Go to Sleep
Director: Rowan Joffe
Certificate: 15
Cast Includes: Nicole Kidman, Colin Firth, Anne-Marie Duff, Mark Strong
A movie based on the best selling 2011 book by S J Watson. Christine Lucas (Kidman) suffered a head trauma thirteen years ago, with the consequence that she starts each day with no memories of the past thirteen years. She does not recognise her husband, her doctor nor even her own face. To try make sense of her world, she starts to keep a video diary and in this way can begin to get some continuity in her thoughts. However this reveals that her husband Ben (Firth) and her doctor (Strong) are concealing something from her. This film is a psychological thriller which successfully builds suspense with twists to the plot and some false trails. An enjoyable thriller.

Belle
Director: Amma Asante
Certificate: 12A
Cast includes: Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Emily Watson. Sarah Gadon, Matthew Goode, Tom Wilkinson, Sam Reid
Inspired by a painting and set in England in the eighteenth century, Belle tells the story of Dido Elizabeth Belle (Mbatha-Raw), an illegitimate mixed race daughter of Admiral John Lindsay (Goode), She and her cousin are raised by Lord Mansfield (Wilkinson) and his wife (Watson) where both girls are groomed for marriage. Lord Mansfield comes to finds himself presiding over a slavery case whereas Belle becomes attracted to the aspiring lawyer John Davinier (Reid) who awakens her social conscience. The movie benefits from a very strong performance from Mbatha-Raw and it addresses issues of slavery and social inequality via the medium of a period romance. A fine, enjoyable and serious film.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Director: Matt Reeves
Certificate: 12A
Cast includes: Kodi Smit-McPhee, Jason Clarke, Gary Oldman, Keri Russell
This movie is already proving a success at the US box office and has the makings of a summer blockbuster. The film is set a decade after 'Rise of the Planet of the Apes'. Much of humanity has been wiped out following an outbreak of an artificial virus which killed humans yet increased the intelligence of apes. Human and ape live in a state of fragile peace and the film explores the conflict that arises when the humans try to start a hydroelectric dam that is located in the apes territory. The first part of the movie builds the characters of both humans and apes and later there are very impressive special effects as hostilities commence between the two sides. Both apes and humans have understandable motives and thus the film is much more than a simple war between right and wrong. An excellent movie.

Guardians of the Galaxy
Director: James Gunn
Certificate: 12A
Cast Includes: Zoe Saldana, Chris Pratt, Michael Rooker, Lee Pace
An action packed space adventure from Marvel. Adventurer Peter Quill (Pratt) steals a mysterious artefact which is wanted by the villain Ronan (Pace) who wishes to use it to destroy the planet of Xandar. This forces Quill into a truce with a group of misfits (including Rocket a talking raccoon and groot a walking tree) who find they must make a stand to determine the fate of the galaxy. This is a very 'busy' film with lots of spectacular action, plenty of great characters, great one liners and lots of jokes. The plot seemed a little convoluted, but just go with it and enjoy the action. The movie does not take itself very seriously and will be loved by teenagers and adults alike.

Lucy
Director: Luc Besson
Certificate: 15
Cast Includes: Scarlett Johansson, Morgan Freeman
Lucy (Johansson), a rather average American woman visiting Taiwan, is kidnapped by gangsters, abused and made to smuggle an experimental new drug which is sewn into her stomach. However a beating received by one of the gangsters causes the bag to rupture and she absorbs the drug, with the effect of increasing the efficiency of her brain. This leads her to outgrow her physical and mental limitations as she develops vast intellect and formidable psychic powers. Lucy can now take her revenge. This is a fun film with the story told from Lucy's point of view. However as her powers develop the revenge part of the movie becomes very one sided and the film sacrifices action sequences for a quest to understand her evolution into something that is beyond human.

Maleficent
Director: Robert Stromberg
Certificate: PG
Cast Includes: Angelina Jolie, Miranda Richardson, Elle Fanning, Sharlto Copley, Sam Riley
In part a re-telling of the tale of sleeping beauty but from the point of view of the villain of the story, Maleficent (Jolie). Maleficent was driven to evil following an act of betrayal which cost her the ability to fly. She battles to save her shadowy forest kingdom and plots revenge by placing a curse on the infant Aurora (Fanning), daughter to the king. Aurora herself becomes caught in the conflict between forest and human kingdoms. This is a rather dark fantasy for a Disney film, but a great tale with powerful characters and impressive special effect.

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For
Director: Frank Miller & Robert Rodriguez
Certificate: 18
Cast includes: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Josh Brolin, Mickey Rourke, Eva Green, Rosario Dawson, Jessica Alba, Powers Boothe, Clive Owen
It has been nine years since the initial Sin City was released, based on the graphic novels of Frank Miller. This film has the same spirit (and some of the same characters) as the original and again is shot in black and white (relieved with effective splashes of colour). It is shot in a style half way between live action and animation. The film comprises a couple of interlocking narratives. There is the return of Senator Roark (Boothe) which gives some of the characters motive for revenge. Also there is the relationship between Dwight McCarthy (Owen) and his ex Ava (Green) who gets him to commit murder. The film has an impressive cast, nudity and stylised violence as it explores power and its abuse.

The Expendables 3
Director: Patrick Hughes
Certificate: 12A
Cast Includes: Sylvester Stallone, Wesley Snipes, Jet Li, Jason Statham, Mel Gibson, Arnold Schwarzenegger
An attempt by the Expendables military team to apprehend an arms dealer goes wrong. The dealer proves to be Stonebanks (Gibson) who was a founder member of the Expendables who subsequently went rogue. In the light of this Barney Ross (Stallone) decided to recruit new members to his team to make it a match for the task of dealing with Stonebanks. This is the third instalment in the Expendables franchise and it follows the established formula of a well known cast, wisecracks and violent set pieces. However this film does not break any new ground and in all felt a little tired.

The Hundred-Foot Journey
Director: Lasse Hallstrom
Certificate: PG
Cast Includes: Helen Mirren, Manish Dayal, Om Puri, Charlotte Le Bon
A Walt Disney adaptation of the 2010 novel by Richard C Morais. The Kadam's are an Indian family that were displaced due to political rioting. They arrive at a quaint but rather conservative French Village and decide to open an Indian Restaurant, the Maison Mumbai. However just across the road is a classical, Michelin starred restaurant Le Saule Pleureur run by Madame Mallory (Mirren). This leads to fall-outs and ultimately sabotage between the two institutions. Meanwhile Hassan (Dayal) the master cook of the Indian restaurant begins a flirtation with Marguerite (Le Bon), the sous chef of Mme Mallory's restaurant. This is a well acted and endearing movie with plenty of laughs. Entertaining but lacking suspense.

The Nut Job
Director: Peter Lepeniotis
Certificate: U
Cast Includes: Will Arnett, Liam Neeson, Katherine Heigl
Set in the 1950s, this animation follows the adventures of Surly the squirrel who, with his friend Buddy the rat, plan to steal from Maury's Nut shop. However the shop proves to be a front for gangsters who are planning to rob the nearby bank. This combination leads to action, car chases jokes and general mayhem. This is an inoffensive film that will amuse children but leave parents a little bored. An enjoyable romp, but not destined to be a cartoon classic.

What If
Director: Michael Dowse
Certificate: 15
Cast Includes: Megan Park, Adam Driver, Zoe Kazan, Daniel Radcliffe, Rafe Spall
Toronto medical school dropout Wallace (Radcliffe) strikes up a friendship with Chantry (Kazan), a woman he meets at a party. He has given up on love following failed relationships whereas she has a long term boyfriend (Spall) who for much of the film is away on a business trip. This leads to Wallace and Chantry spending increasing amounts of time together. Will they take the plunge and let their friendship mature into a relationship? This romantic comedy is reasonably entertaining with good dialogue and some slapstick humour.

Community Radio Project Seeks Volunteers

Now that Lancaster & Morecambe’s community radio project Beyond Radio (www.beyondradio.co.uk) has been awarded a 5 year broadcast licence (see previous report), the station is looking for volunteers for a very wide assortment of roles. There will also be an information / recruitment evening at the Borough in Dalton Square on Thursday 25 September.

Our previous local community radio project was Diversity FM which closed in 2012. Duncan Moore was station manager and a presenter for Diversity FM, and he is now CEO of Proper Community Media (Lancaster) Ltd, the not for profit organisation behind Beyond Radio, which aims to have the new station fully operational early next year.

Listen online
In the meantime, you can listen to it streamed online at http://www.beyondradio.co.uk/listen/ (be patient, it can take a minute or two to load).

Get in early
Duncan told us: “We are at that exciting time when all the work we have been doing over the last 2 years is starting to bear fruit and we are ready to move onto the next stage, which is to get local people involved. The great thing about community radio is that it’s open access, which means that anyone, whatever their level of skills, has an opportunity to get involved with the day to day operations of the station. 

"We are looking to recruit volunteers across the board. We’ll need presenters, producers, administrators, studio managers, people who can help with our advertising, marketing and publicity and people who want to support the station in many other ways.”

Training available
Duncan went on to say that whilst some knowledge and experience is helpful it isn’t a requirement for volunteers as one of the station’s key commitments is to provide training to people so they can learn new skills. He said:

“Lack of experience isn’t an issue for us. The project is all about providing people with an opportunity to do something they haven’t done before whilst providing a service to our local community.”

Information evening
Beyond Radio is holding a project information evening for people who are interested in finding out more about getting involved. It takes place on Thursday 25 September at 7.30pm at The Borough in Dalton Square Lancaster. There’ll be the opportunity to discuss with staff the role you are interested in and to complete volunteer registration forms on the night. Spaces are limited and pre-registration is available by booking free tickets through Eventbrite or email duncan@beyondradio.co.uk and let him know you are planning to attend.

Team200
The station is also launching its Team 200 initiative and is seeking 200 local heroes who can commit to a monthly donation in order to support the station financially. The station’s Finance Director Nathan Hill explained:

“Team 200 will be a group of local people who feel they can donate to the running costs of the station on a regular monthly basis. Running the station on a purely voluntary level means we can operate on a low cost financial model. Team 200 will play a major part in helping the station survive financially. The cost is £5 per month, which is the price of a couple of Starbucks, but unlike a Vanilla Latte, you’ll get a great deal more for your money.

"Team 200 members will have the knowledge that they are helping the station survive and as such helping to improve their local community. They will also form the Beyond Radio Listener Panel, which will help drive the content of the station, so Team 200 members have a very important role to play in the project.”


To register your interest in joining Team200 email team200@beyondradio.co.uk. Anyone wanting to find out more can visit http://www.beyondradio.co.uk/team-200/ and if you wish to make a one off or regular donation you can click on the DONATE button on any web page.

Stay informed
You can keep up to date with the project by visiting its facebook page and by subscribing to the Beyond Radio newsletter at http://www.beyondradio.co.uk/.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Lancashire Constabulary rolls out force wide use of body cameras

Hampshire Police have been using Body Worn Video since 2008 and began extending its use at the end of July. Lancashire is now rolling out its own BWV. Image: Body Worn Video Steering Group 

Lancashire Constabulary has joined some 20 other UK police forces and begun to roll out its use of body worn video technology, in a bid to capture the best possible evidence and promote public reassurance across the county.

The force has already piloted the scheme using cameras for a small number of operations, but the cameras are now being utilised across the whole force.

Already used by some private companies and by Hampshire Police since 2008, earlier this year, interim findings on the use of Body Worn Video in a test area on the Isle of Wight indicated high levels of public support for their use and benefits to frontline policing.

A total of 150 cameras have been distributed to immediate response teams who will use the equipment to capture evidence of criminal behaviour.

Inspector Mark Baines of Lancashire Police said: “Police forces across the country have already embraced body worn cameras and have identified the potential benefits of their use.

“Here in Lancashire I hope that the wider use of the cameras will promote public reassurance, capture best evidence, prevent harm and deter people from committing crime and anti-social behaviour.

“Whilst offering reassurance to members of the public, safeguarding witnesses and victims, the cameras should also increase officers’ safety.

“The cameras can be used to capture evidence of criminal behaviour that can help to ‘set the scene’ for a court at a later date and reduce reliance on victim evidence, particularly those who may be vulnerable and reluctant to attend court.

“By capturing this evidence, officers should be able to spend less time writing statements and completing paperwork at the station, which in turn will allow them to spend more time patrolling and responding to incidents in the community.

“We will work with the community as wider use of the technology becomes common practice and anybody with concerns about being filmed will be able to discuss this with officers.”

Only specially trained, uniformed officers will wear the cameras and strict guidelines are in place to ensure that the devices are used correctly and the retention of any footage will comply with legislation and national recommendations.

The cameras will not be permanently switched on and members of the public will be informed as soon as practicable that they are being recorded.

Officers will ‘dock’ their cameras at the end of each shift and recordings will be uploaded to a secure server and the memory of the camera is then wiped ready for the next user. The images will be deleted after 30 days unless they are required for evidential purposes.

The use of body worn video will be reviewed after three months with the potential of even more cameras being used across the county.

"In theory, this technology could improve the quantity, quality and independence of the evidence they capture, and increase police transparency," noted Dr Paul Quinton, Principal Research Officer at the University of Portsmouth's Institute of Criminal Justice Studies earlier this year.

However, he did sound a note of caution in his early comments.

"There is, however, relatively limited evidence on BWV's use and effectiveness," he said. "Several local pilots have been carried out that highlight the potential advantages of BWV, but none have provided direct evidence of their impact.

"A recent randomised controlled trial carried out in the US has shown that BWV can reduce police use of force and public complaints. We now need to build the UK evidence base."

It would appear that guidance on the use of BWV by police officers has not been updated since 2007 (PDF Link)

• The Body Worn Video Steering Group is an End User focused community which aims to create debate around the future of Body Worn Video systems in the public and private sectors.

More cuts ahead for Lancashire County Council

Lancashire County Hall. Photo: Johnny English (Creative Commons)

Lancashire County Council's Cabinet is to propose a budget to steer the council through the next three years, including a further £160m of savings. 

Councillors are working closely with staff to produce a budget strategy that will be published for consultation in November and seeks to set out the council's draft budget plans through until April 2018. 

The council has previously agreed £140m out of the £300m savings the council needs to deliver between 2014 and 2018, and the remainder will be identified in the new budget proposal. 

Deputy leader of the council, David Borrow, explained: "Unfortunately the continued cuts in council funding by central government mean that we still have further to go in reducing the county council's budget and the service level it can provide to our communities. 

"However, we're trying to look at things from a perspective of what would be most important if we were to start from the beginning, with a view to shaping what will in many ways be a new and very different county council that is set up to deliver those priorities. 

"One thing that won't change is that we will do everything we can to protect those services that look after the most vulnerable members of society." 

The Cabinet will present its budget proposal at its meeting on 6 November, following which there will be a period of consultation for people to give feedback. 

The £160m of savings to be included in the budget are in addition to the £532m already delivered or approved by the council since national funding reductions began in 2010. 

The council is only required to set its budget annually but Councillor Borrow says there are benefits to planning ahead: "We hope that setting a three-year budget, rather than the annual budget most councils will deliver, will give our residents and staff some certainty about the future. 

"Some of the messages will be difficult to hear but doing things this way will help give people a more rounded view of where the council is going and what to expect in the longer term." 


The budget process concludes in February 2015, when a meeting of the Full Council will be asked to approve a final budget for 2015-18. 

Morecambe Bay Health Campaigners astonished by MP’s claim group is 'fictitious'

Clearly not cardboard cuts outs! Campaigners protesting outside the Royal Lancaster Infirmary last month. Photo: No Health Sell-Off at Morecambe Bay

Health campaigners from the campaign group called No Health Sell-Off at Morecambe Bay are astonished by Morecambe and Lunesdale David Morris MP’s bizarre and preposterous claims that they are a fictitious campaign and have called on the MP to meet with them to prove the group is genuine.

The last time the campaign group invited the MP, who is defending a majority of 866 in the next General Election to attend a meeting, he refused.

Jean Taylor of No Health sell-Off Morecambe Bay said: “Given that David Morris has such a slim majority you would think he would want to engage with his constituents rather than pretend they are make believe.  David Morris should be talking to us about the sell-off of key NHS services but instead he has resorted to bizarre measures.

"We have asked David Morris to attend one of our meetings but he has refused. Members of our campaign group have tried to meet with him about their concerns about the NHS but he has refused to meet them.

"We know that people from across the area are really worried about the impact of the government’s privatisation agenda on the NHS, with over 9000 residents signing a petition against the privatisation of the pharmacies at Morecambe Bay.

"David Morris is ignoring us at his electoral peril and playing silly games in tabloid newspapers when he should be representing his constituents and passing our concerns about the NHS to David Cameron.

"David Morris claims the Transatlantic Trade Partnership will not affect the NHS in any way shape or form but today Lord Livingston, a government Minister in David Morris’s own party, admitted that the NHS is part of this trade deal. This MP is clearly out-of-touch."

Perhaps the group shouldn't be too hard on Mr Morris. After all, he's clearly a very busy man if his latest 'newsletter' to constituents is anything to go by in which he claims he has pretty much achieved everything he set out to do at the last election.

"The way it's written you'd think he was building a local link road himself without the help of anyone," said a disgruntled recipient of the leaflet, who admits to being a little confused at Morecambe's change of name on the leaflet's front page, and other typographical errors in the publication which noted the saving of Hornby School but failed to mention the closure of Skerton High.

It seems Mr Morris might be able to leap tall buildings and cut hair, but he's too busy to do some basic proof reading, let alone talk to his constituents.




Monday, 1 September 2014

Lancashire people to have their say on 'living well'



People across Lancashire are being invited to share their views on how or whether they have been affected by the country's recent economic problems. 

The survey is being run by Lancashire Fairness Commission, an independent body which aims to make recommendations for a fairer Lancashire by a critical examination of the inequalities across the county. 

By visiting www.lancashire.gov.uk/fairness, people can have their say on what needs to change for everyone to live well in Lancashire. In particular, the survey is looking at whether Lancastrians are able to make the most of their potential, and whether they have fair access to education, jobs, services and homes along with fair access to good quality enviro! nments and to financial resources. 

Other questions covered by the survey include whether life expectancy is influenced by social status, gender, sexuality, age, race, or where they live in the county. 

"This survey builds on the first one we launched in early September on ‘Starting Well’," explained the Very Rev. Christopher Armstrong, Dean of Blackburn and independent chair of Lancashire Fairness Commission. "Our aim is to make sure everyone has the same opportunities no matter where they live in our county. 

"This survey is an important part of our plans to help us to understand and to improve fairness. 

"We recognise that issues such as where people live, family circumstances and incomes can all have a huge effect on a person's ability to maximise their economic and social potential. 

"Your opinion is therefore very important to us, and every opinion counts. Please take a few minutes to fill in the online survey and help us to make sure Lancashire is a fairer place for everyone." 

Lancashire Fairness Commission was established in June 2014 and will be getting evidence on the three themes of ‘Starting Well’, ‘Living Well’ and ‘Ageing Well’ over the next few months. 

As well as the independent chair, the commission includes representatives from Lancashire County Council; district councils; NHS organisations; other public, community and voluntary agencies; academics and local business leaders. 

Go "Behind the Badge" with Lancashire Police


Have you ever wanted to know how the police respond to major incidents in the county, or been interested to see what training the police dogs receive? Would you like to learn some of the secrets behind Crime Scene Investigations? Well now's your chance.

Lancashire Constabulary is holding a force open day  on Sunday 28th September between 10.00am and 4.00pm at Police Headquarters in Hutton, Preston. They'll open its doors to the people of Lancashire inviting them to take a look at what happens ‘behind the badge’.

The event is being funded by money seized from criminals in Lancashire and so is free to the public where they can ‘access to all areas’ to understand how crimes are investigated and see the work the force is doing to keep the communities of Lancashire safe.

Visitors will be given the opportunity to speak to officers and find out about specialist areas of investigation; learn more about the history of policing in Lancashire; and take a journey through how technology has changed over the decades.

There will be interactive activities for both adults and children on the day, including demonstrations from the police dogs and horses, displays of the police vehicles and classic cars, and visitors can even play their part in identifying clues at a crime scene.

There will also be exhibitions from Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service, North West Ambulance Service, the Environment Agency, Coastguard, Army, G4S (prison van), Bay Search and Rescue and Bowland Trust Mountain Rescue.

Deputy Chief Constable Andy Rhodes said: “Events such as these are vital in building up openness, trust, understanding and confidence in our communities and better still, this one is being paid for by the criminals themselves.

“The day will provide local people with the opportunity to speak to officers and police staff from many different areas of policing, including Neighbourhood Policing, Rural and Wildlife Crime, the Special Constabulary, Armed Response, Mounted Branch, the Dog Unit, Public Protection and the Serious and Organised Crime Unit. “We hope as well as being a lot of fun for visitors of all ages that the day will give people a real insight into policing in Lancashire and lift the lid on areas of policing that the public may know very little about.”

Lancashire Police and Crime Commissioner Clive Grunshaw said: "I am delighted the public will have the chance to see first-hand the breadth of work that Lancashire Constabulary undertakes and gain a real insight into the different roles officers and staff play in keeping the public safe.

"I will be there along with staff from my office, showcasing some of the projects we are involved in and the work we are driving forward to benefit Lancashire's residents. This is a real opportunity for local people to learn more about my role, and I hope to see as many people as possible there."

Lancashire Police @LancsPolice will be tweeting live from the event using #behindthebadge

The event is free and is open to everybody but registration is needed. Please visit https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/lancashire-constabulary-open-day-2014-tickets-12823570645 for more information and to register for tickets.

Free parking will also be provided at Enterprise Drive in Leyland, where a park and ride service will transport people to the event. Alternatively people can attend on foot or by bicycle. Please note the only parking on site will be for those people registered disabled and spaces are limited.

Heritage Open Days offer free admission to key local tourist attractions

Lancaster Maritime Museum. Image: Lancaster City Council

The Lancaster district will be throwing open its doors again this year when local buildings of every age, style and function take part in the biggest free celebration of England's history, heritage and culture.

2014 is a landmark year for Heritage Open Days – celebrating 20 years of putting local heritage at the forefront of community life and opening up an opportunity to commemorate the centenary of World War One.

Taking place over four days from Thursday 11th to Sunday 14th September there will be more than 30 different openings as well as guided tours and events taking place which will allow people to explore some of the district's hidden gems and bring local history and culture to life.

Free access to many buildings which normally charge or are not usually open to the public, include Williamson Park’s Ashton Memorial and Butterfly House, The Storey and its hidden gardens and the Bell Tower at the Priory.

Inside the Wagon Works on Caton Road in 1914, used as a billet by the 5th Battalion. Image: King's Own Regimental Museum

Some of this year’s events will also carry a World War One theme with an exhibition at the King’s Own Royal Regiment Museum and tours around a former barracks and POW camp for German soldiers at the old Wagon Works on Caton Road, Lancaster (now Standfast and Barracks Printing Works).

As part of the Heritage Open Days weekend, Morecambe will be celebrating too, with a number of events including the famous Bradford to Morecambe Historic Vehicle Rally on Morecambe Promenade. The Winter Gardens is hosting a display of classic motor cycles in the auditorium of this famous old Morecambe theatre, and for the first time this year, discover Sunderland Point’s rich maritime history with a guided walk around this fascinating headland.

Councillor Ron Sands, cabinet member for culture and tourism, said:  "This year’s Heritage Open Days is set to be bigger and better than ever before and will not only give local people and visitors a once-a-year chance to discover our wealth of hidden architectural treasures but also enable them to take part in commemorative events for World War One.”

You will need to book in advance for some activities as places are limited.  Disabled access is available to at least some parts of the many participating venues, so it’s advisable to check in advance.

• You can pick up a programme containing full details of property openings and special events during this year’s Heritage Open Days from visitor Information centres and town halls at Lancaster and Morecambe.  The programme is also available online at www.lancaster.gov.uk/heritageopendays  

Find out more about the Wagon Works on Caton Road during World War One on the Kings Own Regimental Museum site

• More information about nationwide events can be found at www.heritageopendays.org.uk  

POWWOW: A creative social in Lancaster

A new social event for professionals from the creative sector is coming to Lancaster. 

Created by Lancashire County Council's Creative Lancashire service, POWWOW is a unique networking event bringing together businesses, freelancers and students. The first POWWOW was held in Preston in July and this latest event, on Wednesday 10th September, is in association with their Lancaster-based event sponsors, Spring Garden Street-based Fat Media Ltd

Everyone's welcome. There are no speakers, there's no business support and there are no advisors. It's just free drinks, food and networking. 

Ed Matthews-Gentle from Creative Lancashire explained: "People working in the Creative Sector said that they want more opportunities to talk to other people from their sector, share ideas and network. We listened to what they told us and we've set up this exciting event. 

"There'll be no speakers and no advisors. It's just a great chance to meet up with like-minded creative people, talk about changes in the sector and explore new business ideas." 

Michael Gibson, managing director of Fat Media, said: "We are delighted to be sponsoring the latest POWWOW after the huge success of the Preston event. 

"We’re now the largest agency in the North West outside of Manchester, with clients across the UK and internationally," he continued. "However our roots are here and it's always great to meet talented people from across the city. 

"Lancaster has a large and fantastic mix of companies and individuals working in the creative and digital sector, so it should be a great night." 

• POWWOW Lancaster takes place from 6pm to 8.00pm on Wednesday 10 September, in The Study Room on Church Street. POWWOW is free to attend, but registration is essential via the Eventbrite page - 

• You can also join in the conversation on Twitter - @CreativeLancs @FatMedia #POWWOW 

• Creative Lancashire is a service provided by Lancashire County Council through its economic development company, Lancashire County Developments Ltd.  They support creative and digital businesses with a range of sector-specific specialist business development advice. For information visit www.creativelancashire.org

Lancaster and Morecambe set to benefit from just--announced road safety improvements

Lancashire County Council is to invest £1m in a raft of new schemes to improve road safety over the next two years, with both Lancaster and Morecambe set to benefit.

County Councillor John Fillis, cabinet member for highways and transport, has agreed the package which features a comprehensive range of measures based on research about the most effective way to cut deaths and serious injuries at accident hotspots, and reduce speeds at sites of community concern. 

The county council has worked with the University of Central Lancashire to confirm its approach to analyse police data to identify locations and patterns of accidents, ensuring the new investment is targeted where it will have the biggest impact. 

The result is a range of proposals designed to target specific problems. Schemes to be developed over the next year two years include: 

• £35,000 investment in signs at roundabouts and junctions will remind drivers to look out for cyclists at locations in Preston, Lancaster and South Ribble where there is a record of accidents to cyclists, many of whom were struck after motorists failed to spot them. 

• 20mph areas in Preston, Morecambe and Burnley will see £65,000 spent on physical traffic calming measures such as speed cushions and enhanced signing. This includes repairs and improvements to existing schemes in Burnley. 

• Subject to consultation, a number of small 20mph areas are being considered ! in residential parts of Rossendale, Preston, Ribble Valley and Wyre to complement existing schemes throughout the county. 

A further programme of schemes which require more detailed design and consultation will also be carried out in 2015/16 across the county. 

"As a key member of the Lancashire Partnership for Road Safety, we've been working closely with partners including the police and fire service for many years to make our roads safer," said County Councillor Fillis, "and I'm glad to say many fewer people are killed and seriously injured on our roads now than just four or five years ago. 

"However, death or serious injury has a major impact on individuals and their families, as well as our economy, which is why investment in road safety continues to be a high priority for the county council, despite the pressures on our budget due to central government cuts. 

"This being the case we've carried out very careful research to make sure every penny of the £1m we'll be spending on new measures over the next two years makes a real difference to preventing accidents and improving people's lives where speeding is an ongoing problem. 


"These schemes also demonstrate our increasing focus on supporting sustainable modes of transport, with a number of them being designed to make walking an easier option and to ensure the safety of cyclists on some of our busiest roads."

Vintage by the Sea returns to Morecambe



Following the amazing success of the Vintage Day last year, attended by over 7000 visitors, a re-vamped and extended Vintage by the Sea festival brings more than sunshine to Morecambe this weekend (5 - 7th September 2014).

Taking full advantage of the resort's sandy beaches, the miles of glorious promenade, the views across Morecambe Bay to the Lake District , the classic cafes, the vintage scene and of course The Midland Hotel, this weekend will include dancing, workshops, a vintage marketplace, including vintage clothes, accessories, mid century modern homewares, records, music memorabilia and up-cycled ephemera.

Workshops will be available on the day plus demonstrations on hair and beauty makeovers to keep you looking and feeling fabulous, day and night. Decade specific looks from 1920s to the 1940s, iconic styles and glamorous touch ups are available from our dedicated hair and beauty salon on the day.

There will also be pop-up food and drink outlets, a range of vintage vehicles from the 1920s to the 1980s, together with a range of other vintage experiences, including carousel, poop boards, donkey rides and lots more entertainment for all ages.


Map And Programme Graphic


• Check out What's On: www.vintagefestival.co.uk/events/vintage-by-the-sea-6th-7th-september-2014

Knives flood in after Lancashire-wide amnesty launched


Swords, machetes and commando knives are among the weapons which have been handed in after Lancashire Constabulary launched its knife amnesty.

In the first week of the amnesty, a total of 145 knives have been dropped into the designated amnesty bins across Lancashire, including one in Lancaster.

And Detective Inspector Warren Atkinson said many of the knives handed in were capable of doing “serious damage”.

He said: “The number and type of knives which have been handed in since we launched the amnesty last week justifies why we have taken the decision to do it.

“A significant number of weapons which are capable of doing serious damage – including World War One knives and homemade blades – have been handed in to the bins. It’s frightening to think what could have happened if these knives had remained on Lancashire’s streets.

“I would like to thank everyone who has handed over a knife so far – and continue to appeal to anyone who is in possession of an illegal blade, or knows someone who is, to consider handing it in. For the duration of the amnesty residents can drop their knives in the bins at designated police stations anonymously, without fear of repercussions.”

In total, 85 knives have been handed in in South division, 30 in West division and 30 in East division.

Preston has seen the most knives handed in, with a total of 50 deposited in the bins so far.

Among the weapons given up are machetes, swords, commando knives, a homemade blade screwed together with razor blades and large knives.

The amnesty, which started on Bank Holiday Monday, will run until Monday 29th September 2014 with bins available at 10 designated police stations across the county.

All the amnesty bins are located outside, meaning they are accessible 24 hours a day at the following stations:

  • Blackpool
  • Lancaster
  • Fleetwood
  • Morecambe
  • Burnley
  • Greenbank (Blackburn)
  • Colne
  • Preston
  • Chorley
  • Skelmersdale