Friday, 5 December 2014

County Council Invites Views On Further Savings Options


Lancashire County Council's cabinet was presented with a revised set of budget options yesterday, setting out how the council could achieve its savings target by April 2018.

Senior council officers presented a report to the November Cabinet meeting, detailing how services could be delivered in future and how this could enable savings to be made. 

However options for further savings still needed to be identified to contribute to the £176m in savings the council must deliver by 2017-18. 

The revised options have again been made public so that people can provide feedback up until Friday 19th December. 

David Borrow, Deputy Leader of the Council, explained: "This is the biggest challenge faced by Lancashire County Council in many years and I want to encourage people to tell us what they think of these options. 

"Central government cuts and rising demand for essential services, such as social care, mean that by April 2018 we have to reduce the council's budget by £315 million.  

"That will take our total savings since 2010 to £547 million, so this will need radical action. We are committed to fairness, spending according to need, and will do all we can to ensure the vulnerable are protected. 

"Whilst we can achieve some savings by finding more intelligent and efficient ways of working it is clear that we will have to change some services and stop providing others altogether. To make sure we reflect what the people of Lancashire want, we really need their feedback." 

The Cabinet is expected to bring forward its budget proposals at its meeting in January, having considered the feedback received about the different options. 

To help people provide that feedback, a Budget Calculator has been developed on the Lancashire County Council website. It gives an insight into the challenges of setting a balanced budget as any money protected in one area has to be taken out of another. 

• People can feedback their opinions on the budget options at the Budget Have Your Say page on www.lancashire.gov.uk where they can also find the Lancashire Budget Calculator. Or you could start telling your local Tory MP where to stick their cuts and attack on public services. It's up to you.

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Lancaster - Small City, Big Story




The 'Lancaster - Small City Big Story' brand was launched recently by Lancaster City Council who have been working with a number of organisations, including Marketing Lancashire and Lancaster Unlimited to bring a vibrant new look to the branding. 

Through the use of an free, online toolkit, businesses from across the district will have the opportunity to promote the City in all of their marketing activities to help further promote the city as a "one of England's most vibrant historic cities where culture and heritage captivate and inspire". 


Lancaster is our city. It's as vibrant as it is quirky with a captivating past and a cultured present. It's one of England's Heritage Cities. It's a creative city. It's an independent city. It's a city with a great outdoors. It's a city to shout about. It's a small city with a big story.

The Lancaster Brand  "is a brand to present the city to its visitors," enthuse 
- the Chamber of Commerce. "It's a brand which is both practical and flexible and will continue to grow."

The launch of a new Morecambe brand will also be launched on the 15th January 2015.


• To be part of the big picture and download your toolkit and images today - go to www.marketinglancashire.com/visitor-economy/lancaster-brand to find out more

Scotforth West Residents invited to local "Liveable Cities" Focus Group


Do you live in Scotforth West? Are you interested in discussing quality of life and travel in Lancaster?

Researchers from Lancaster University are holding a focus group at St Paul's Hala Worship and Community Centre on 10th December to discuss travel patterns and quality of life in Lancaster.  They plans to work through a range of activities to promote discussion which they sale will be good fun and quite informal.

The focus group - which forms part of the research being conducted for the Liveable Cities project - starts at 6.30pm, refreshments are provided and participants will receive a £10 store voucher.

• If you are interested in participating, contact Claire Coulton (c.coulton2@lancaster.ac.uk or Tel: 01524 510818) or Katerina Psarikidou (a.psarikidou@lancaster.ac.uk)

A Victorian Christmas Festival at The Judges’ Lodgings Museum this weekend

Photo: John Freeman
Lancaster's Judges' Lodgings Museum will be open for "A Victorian Christmas Festival" this coming weekend (6th - 7th December 2014).

The Lodgings - home to the town's Toy Museum on its upper floor - will be decked with holly and filled with cheer so visitors can soak in the sights and smells of a Victorian Christmas.

There will be activities for the whole family to join in with. Enjoy making a pot-pourri Christmas pudding while you listen to the story of Victorian Christmas traditions and get creative making Victorian Christmas decorations.

There will also be carol singing and bell ringing to entertain visitors so come along and join in with our festive entertainments and enjoy the merriest of Yuletides.

Please note that there is no lift in the building, therefore some workshops and rooms are only accessible by the stairs. Bell ringers, Carol singers and Christmas pudding workshop will all take place on the ground floor.

• A Victorian Christmas Festival at The Judges’ Lodgings Museum, 12.00pm – 4.00pm, Saturday 6th & Sunday 7th December 2014 Judges' Lodgings Museum, Castle Hill, Lancaster, LA1 1YSFor further details or to book on the events ring the Judges’ Lodgings Museum on 01524 32808. Email - judgeslodgings@lancashire.gov.uk Web: www.lancashire.gov.uk/museums

• Admission charges - Adults £3.00, Concessions £2.00, Children FREE (accompanied). Christmas events included in the price of admission.  Xplorer passes accepted.Booking for workshops is essential.

• Access for wheel chairs and pushchairs is limited to the ground floor with access into the museum through the side entrance due to steps up to the main entrance.  

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Pensioners' lobby targets election candidates

The Lancaster District Pensioners' Campaign Group (LDPCG) intends to lobby candidates in the Morecambe and Lunesdale and the Lancaster and Wyre constituencies to support the policies outlined in The Pensioners' Manifesto 2015.

The Pensioner's Manifesto was launched at the Pensioners' Parliament in Blackpool earlier this year. It calls on parliamentary candidates in the May 2015 general election to support these policies:

  • A basic state pension for all elderly people, set above the poverty level of £175 a week
  • Increases in pensions to be linked to the best of RPI, CPI, earnings or 2.5%
  • Universal pensioner benefits (bus pass, winter fuel allowance, free TV licences for the over-75s and free prescriptions) to be maintained without means-testing
  • A National Health and Care Service which is free at the point of use and funded through taxation
  • A legally binding Dignity Code to improve the quality and standards of care for older people

It states that
"Despite what some may claim, Britain’s older generation are not to blame for the economic crisis. Neither does it help when the media suggests that there is a conflict between young and old, especially when the age groups share the same concerns over affordable housing, public transport, low incomes and retirement ages.

"But growing older can be a real challenge. Britain’s state pension is among the least adequate in the developed world; some of the stories surrounding the care of older people are absolutely shocking and last winter over 30,000 pensioners died from the cold."

You can view and download the manifesto (it's only one page) at the National Pensioners' Convention website at http://npcuk.org/.

Volunteers wanted!
On Saturday 13th December LPDCG will be at the rear entrance of the Arndale Centre in Morecambe and in Market Square, Lancaster from 11am until 2pm, handing out copies of the Manifesto and asking people to sign a statement calling on general election candidates to endorse and support it.  They will use the signatures collected to impress on candidates the need to take notice of the concerns of older people in the two constituencies.

If you can spare some time to help on Saturday 13th (either venue), please call LPDCG and let them know (tel. 01524 61585).

Download the form and get signatures
Alternatively you can also download and print a copy of the manifesto and also a copy of the statement (it's like a petition form) to show friends, neighbours, relatives, etc. and ask them to sign. Please get all signatures to LDPCG as soon as you can in the New Year.

To download a PDF copy of the The Pensioners Manifesto 2015 click here
To download a Word doc copy of the statement form (for collecting signatures) click here


Lancashire schools archives now available online

Image courtesy Lancashire County Council

Detailed records of Lancashire schools from between 1870 and 1914 are now available online in a major project to digitise history. 

Lancashire's archives join over 2.5 million new records in the National School Admission Registers. They can now be viewed on the Lancashire County Library area of the Find My Past website at http://www.findmypast.co.uk/.


(Please note FindMyPast is a commercial site but does offer an introductory 14-day free trial).

This is the first time so many record offices, archives and schools from around the country have worked together on a single project of this nature. 334 registers from more than 100 Lancashire schools are included. 


The information given in the admission registers varies but is likely to include: the name and type of school, name and address of pupils, date of admission, date of leaving, name of parent and/or guardian, date of birth and parents' occupations.

During the period covered by these records, the official school leaving age went up from 10 to 14, although records show that a number of children left school even earlier.
Jacquie Crosby, Lancashire County Council's archives service manager, said:
"For me, the most moving entries are details of why some children had to leave the Harris Orphanage School in Preston. In the 'cause of leaving' field, reasons include: 'discharge owing to impending blindness' and 'died in workhouse hospital’. 

"The original register of this and other Lancashire schools are held by Lancashire County Council's Archive service at the Record Office in Bow Lane in Preston.
"As a result of being involved in this national project, people with Lancashire ancestors will be able to discover more about their education, including their parents' names, their date of birth and occupation."
• Lancashire Archives is open to the public free of charge. More information is available online at www.lancashire.gov.uk/archives 

Future layout agreed for Lancaster’s Charter Market

Image courtesy Lancaster City Council

Lancaster City Council’s Cabinet has agreed the future layout of the city’s historic Charter Market which will hopefully meet with approval from both town centre businesses and Charter Market stall holders.
  
On Tuesday Cabinet members were asked to consider options for the layout of the market following the completion of the city centre improvement works. 
The aim is to provide the market in such a way as to make the city centre an attractive and vibrant place, take account of other users and achieve high standards.

Two potential layouts were presented for consideration and Cabinet members opted for a layout which sees the market retain its current footprint of Market Street, Market Square and Cheapside and two stalls will be added on Market Street.

All existing permanent traders will still be able to trade from pitches within this footprint. 
  
There will be no restriction on the type of goods sold in Market Square but stalls given pitches will be expected to be presented to a high standard. 

Jon Barry: "Traders can get back to selling their wares
 - hopefully with a degree of security about the future."
Overall the council says it expects all stalls to be of a good appearance and pitches be left neat and tidy in order to complement the new look for the city centre.

To expand the market, new traders will be allocated pitches on Church Street or New Street if there are none vacant elsewhere. These would be offered free for an initial period to encourage take-up.

The new layout will be monitored and may be altered if necessary. 
  
“I'm glad that the debate about the argument is finally over and traders can get back to selling their wares - hopefully with a degree of security about the future," says 
Councillor Jon Barry, Cabinet member with responsibility for markets. 

"The outdoor market is a jewel in Lancaster's crown and I am glad that the Cabinet has recognised this."

In addition to the layout of the Charter Market it was agreed to increase prices for pitches on Market St, Market Square and Cheapside from £1.35 sq/m to £1.50 sq/m, with a minimum charge of £16, from April 2015. This is a reduction from the one originally proposed.

A festive feast for all the senses at Lancaster’s Historic Charter Market

Photo courtesy Lancaster City Council

Lancaster’s historic Charter Market is bringing an exciting festive outdoor shopping experience to the heart of Lancaster this Christmas.

The Charter Market’s Christmas Fayre will take place on Saturday and Sunday 13th and 14th December (9.30am – 4pm) in Market Square, Market Street and Cheapside and will extend along New Street and Church Street.

During the weekend, regular Charter Market traders will be joining forces with additional stall holders, local producers and artisans to provide visitors to Lancaster with a two day festive feast for all the senses.  

In addition to having the choice of browsing around more than 50 stalls there will also be live street theatre and music to enjoy in Market Square and across the city centre as well as other family attractions throughout the weekend.

Expect a few surprises when Hope and Churches Together invite you to enjoy a 'Wonder-filled’ Christmas story with performances of a roaming nativity on both days.

“Following the recent completion of the refurbishment works in Lancaster City Centre, there’s never been a better time to celebrate the city’s historic Charter Market, established in 1193," enthuses Councillor Jon Barry, Cabinet member with responsibility for city council markets.

"Having the opportunity to extend Lancaster's market offer this Christmas with an exciting trail of food, drink, arts and crafts etc. will highlight the importance markets play in providing a real focal point for towns and city centres as well as for local businesses and communities."

Road closures will be in operation on New Street and Church Street from 7am until 6pm to enable the event to take place. The event is being supported by the Business Improvement District (BID).

• For a list of exhibitors visit www.lancaster.gov.uk/chartermarketDon’t forget to make use of the free Sunday parking in all Lancaster City Council pay and display car parks and Market Gate car park. 

Smokefree play areas plan agreed for Lancaster and Morecambe

Lancaster City Council’s Cabinet has agreed to bring in a new voluntary code to make outdoor children’s play areas smoke-free zones.

The decision follows a recent consultation in which 85% of respondents agreed that a new voluntary code should be brought in within council owned play areas, skate parks and multi-use play areas.
Councillor Karen Leytham, Cabinet Member with responsibility for health and housing, said: “Children become aware of cigarettes at an early age, with three out of four children being aware of cigarettes before the age of five, irrespective of whether their parents smoke or not. 

“If young people see smoking as part of everyday life they are more likely to become smokers themselves.

“By bringing in this new code we are encouraging people to help to reduce childhood exposure to smoking and decrease the number of young people starting to smoke.”

The decision to implement a voluntary smokefree code has been taken as any extension or amendment to the smokefree legislation for public places and worksites under the Health Act 2006 can only be legally undertaken at national level. 

In addition, a voluntary code of practice empowers communities to change their smoking behaviour and supports self-regulation.

Consultation into the proposals was carried out in a six week period in October and November. Of the 80 people who responded to the question “I would be in favour of a voluntary code of not smoking within play areas”, 68 agreed, nine disagreed and three were not sure.

The voluntary code has been developed in partnership with Lancashire County Council, who will also be providing signage for each play area via its Public Health Team.

Other districts in Lancashire are also being asked to sign up to the code and signage will be erected once each has made a decision. This is likely to be some time in the spring.


Morecambe MP welcomes VAT exclusion for hospices in Autumn Statement

The Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne has announced that the Government will exclude hospices such as St. John's Hospice from paying VAT, bringing them under the same rules as NHS Trusts, as part of today's autumn statement.

David Morris MP for Morecambe and Lunesdale says he has raised this anomaly with the Chancellor in recent months on numerous occasions.

"I am delighted that the Chancellor has listened to my repeated representations to help our hospice in Lancaster with its financial issues," he commented. "It is great to see that not just our hospice but all hospices are recognised for the fantastic work they do by the Government by having their VAT bill absorbed.

"I would like to thank the Visitor along with the whole community for putting a strong case for the hospice in our area to get more support and showing the Chancellor how vital this help will be."

St. John's Hospice cares for patients with life limiting conditions and their families and  for all of North Lancashire, South Cumbria and parts of North Yorkshire.

Despite being quick to respond to this VAT news, he has yet to comment on the #VATMOSS debacle we reported on earlier today that will affect hundreds of small business, an issue we had hoped he might offer an opinion on as quickly, given his appointment as "Freelancers Ambassador" by the Prime Minister some weeks ago.

• David Morris statement is here on his web site. You can also follow him on Twitter

When will MP David Morris speak up on #VATMOSS?

Pictured: David Morris posted this picture of himself on Twitter on 19th November, meeting freelancers on his first day as 'Freelancers Ambassador' at an event organised by the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self Employed (More info here) - but strangely has yet to use the social media platform to comment on #VATMOSS, a major concern for those he's supposed to be championing

Europe-wide changes to the way VAT is charged for services set to be introduced in January 2015, agreed back in 2008, are causing major concern for small businesses both locally and across the UK, provoking fierce debate on Twitter. 

Sadly, although Morecambe and Lunesdale MP David Morris was appointed ‘Freelancers Tsar’ some weeks ago and has a Twitter account, so far he’s yet to comment on what's become know as the "#VATMOSS debacle" on the social media platform, even though it's mystifying many. 

Some argue that the reforms, which are part of the EU VAT Package ratified in 2008, should only affect a few people in the UK - but Digital Arts argues the changes mean even the smallest creator will now have to register for VAT - and keep records of sales for 10 years. 

As far as we can tell, the that people selling digital goods - Ebooks, services etc at first - in the EU will be forced to track the location of everybody who buys one of their products – which is next to impossible – so they can correctly mark an added VAT charge on top of the existing cost. 

Steve Morris (no relation to David) has written ia useful round up of the issues on ComicSpire aimed at digital comic creators but which sets out the issues for all businesses. He notes Small Business Enterprises "would then need to also be registered for VAT in that particular country, meaning somebody selling digital comics might hypothetically need to fill out paperwork for each of the 28 member states of the EU." 

"#VATMOSS is like saying to a small farmer that she can’t sell her crops at a market, she must sell through Tesco," argues Cheryl Morgan, a veteran commentator on science fiction drawn into the debate along with SMEs and others. 

A change.org petition has gathered almost 9000 signees in protest and the changes have provoked something of a Twitter storm. 

The situation has not been helped by HMRC who have provided contradictory responses to business questions. Enterprise Nation recently reported that Tom Gatten, founder of big data analysis firm Growth Intelligence, suggests the number of those affected is likely to be upwards of 264,000 businesses

His company’s analysis earlier this year entitled Growth Intelligence, Google and NIESR Digital Economy Report suggested that the Government underestimates Britain’s digital economy by a staggering 40 per cent – because it just doesn’t have the right data sets to count. 

The solution – HMRC’s Mini One Stop Shop scheme (MOSS)) – was designed to stop small firms trading digital products from having to register for VAT in 28 countries. However it will impose VAT registration on all affected firms regardless of their turnover and will make them report separate detailed quarterly UK VAT accounts and EU VAT transactions or face penalties

The Daily Telegraph reports the New EU VAT rules threaten to kill UK micro firms. “The EU’s new VAT MOSS rule, which is due to come into force on January 1, will create a #VATMESS and strangle innovation, say the UK’s small business owners,” claims the paper. 


We do hope David Morris will direct Twitter users to his views on the matter, although judging from his account he seems to prefer using it to post flat denials to claims and concerns of opponents of government policy (on TTIP six days ago, for example ) or sharing pictures of himself at events (speaking on self employment) - but fairly infrequently. 

His media team seem on a par with other MPs who have perhaps been told they need to have social media accounts but have no time to dedicate to them, leaving followers very frustrated by his lack of response to concerns. 



Students Occupy University House



Updated at 18:00
Students are in occupation of the University House building at Lancaster University, displaying banners out of the windows, as part of protests at tuition fee rises for post grad and international students.

The demonstration was sparked by the decision of university management to raise student rents by 2.5% and to increase post grad and international tuition fees by 5%,  despite running a surplus of £19 million and despite objections from the student union.

It is reported that there were over 100 students at a rally in Alexander Square at 11.30 this morning. After about an hour about 30 entered the University's main administrative building, University House, and remain in occupation.

Staff have retaliated by refusing them access to the toilets and to water, although this may prove to be something of an own goal. Supplies of water, food and toilet paper have been winched in via the window, and further resourcefulness is likely to follow.

The protesters' demands are:

1. No rise in tuition fees or rent now or in the future.
2. Transparency of finance. - where does the surplus go? - Participatory budgeting.
3. Fair pay for staff.
4. Maintenance of student bursaries and scholarships.
5. Care leavers bursary.
6. Mental health support and funding. - more counsellors. - better health services.
7. More funding for student services.

The demonstration is part of a series of protests throughout the country, with other campuses such as Manchester and Sheffield also being occupied.  It follows a march on 19th November which saw over 10,000 students gather in London.

The students have released a statement which states that:

"At a time when students are already experiencing a severe crisis in living standards, whether it be in terms of stagnant pay, unaffordable housing costs, poor job prospects and mounting debts, the decision taken by the University’s managers to further extract money from hard pressed students is an absolute disgrace. 

"Post graduate students are already facing severe issues in terms of funding their degrees, whilst a 5% increase in fees for International Students in material terms, with fluctuating currencies, could lead to some students facing an over 50% in fee costs. 

"Paul Mason has spoken of the current generation of graduates being ones with “no future,” and if Management’s proposals were to go through, then the future awaiting currents students would indeed be financially bleak and insecure. 

"Furthermore, increases in fees and rents will not only financially hit current students, but will likely deter future prospective students, both home and international, who will lack the means to afford a decent education at Lancaster University. 

"In this way Lancaster University will become an even more elitist institution, open only to those who have the money to pay the rising costs, and in this way deny so many people the opportunities to learn and study."

You can keep up with their activities on their facebook page at
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Lancaster-University-Occupation/1495233677404136


Arts Society Exhibition at City Museum





The work of a group of talented local artists is currently on show at Lancaster City Museum.

The exhibition, by members of the Lancaster and District Art Society, features around 80 paintings.

Heather Dowler, Lancashire County Council's manager at the city museum, said: "There's a really wide range of work on display for visitors to enjoy, from watercolours and oils to acrylics and mixed media.

"And, as most of the works are for sale, it's a good opportunity for people to snap up an attractive piece of local art, perhaps as a unique Christmas gift."

The Lancaster and District Art Society was set up in 1946 to promote 'the practice of drawing and painting in all mediums'.

These days the society has around 130 members and welcomes anyone with an interest in art who would like to meet like-minded enthusiasts.

The society meets regularly and the exhibition at Lancaster City Museum is part of a varied programme of activities aimed at inspiring its member and developing their skills.

• The exhibition runs until 13 December. Entry to the museum is free. Opening times are 10am to 5pm, Monday to Saturday. 

• For more information phone 01524 64637 or email lancastercitymuseum@lancashire.gov.uk

• Alternatively, visit www.lancashire.gov.uk/museums

The museum is run by Lancashire County Council on behalf of Lancaster City Council. 

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Review: Yevgeny Sudbin at Live at LICA

Yevgeny Sudbin at Live at LICA
Thursday, 27 November 2014
in the Great Hall, Lancaster University

Reviewed by Sally Ryde

If, Dear Reader, you are looking for a report of facts about the most recent event in this season’s Live at LICA concert series, then you may be pleased to learn that all went well. The programme was suitably varied and covered three centuries of composers and musical styles. The performer gave a faultless performance full of contrasts, including tempi and dynamics, and phrasing was immaculate throughout. Indeed, the only adverse comment I can make is that the titles of the three Rachmaninov preludes, being Op.32 no.12 in G sharp minor, Op.32 no.5 in G major and Op.23 no.5 in G minor were sufficiently confusing to the type setter of the printed programme to end up as a garbled mess of permutations of numbers and keys with one of the preludes failing altogether to get through to the printed page.

But so what? Concerts are hardly all about facts and opinions. Indeed, as I sat ‘enthralled’ in the ‘personal experience’ of the ‘glorious’ sounds coming from that expensive piece of furniture (the university’s newish concert grand piano), I began to wonder just what makes people bother to come to live concerts when these days they can buy mistake-free CDs and DVDs. It did not take me long to realise that words like “enthralled”, “experience” and “glorious” express feelings and emotions that cannot be recorded mechanically. In short, we attend live concerts for the thrills we get.

Someone once reported the thrill he got by being present at the first meeting of the two actors who played the parts of James T. Kirk and Jean-Luc Picard. (“May I presume that this is the first meeting of the two starship captains? I knew it! And I was there!”) The key to the thrill was being present.

Keen astronomers report that the experiences of looking at photographs of distant stars and galaxies or watching live telescope images on a computer screen pale by comparison to that of turning ones eye up to the night sky and letting the age-old photons complete their 1000 or million-year journeys by physically striking the retina of the beholder. Or to paraphrase the Eddie Murphy character, a king can never be so wealthy that he would choose to have servants make love for him. To be thrilled, you have to be there yourself.
Photo credit Clive Barda

I found myself thrilled by the Scarlatti piece which opened the evening and by all three items played in the second half. The programme notes, written by Mr Sudbin himself, declared the Scarlatti keyboard sonatas to be “outrageously individual”. I think it was probably the outrageous simplicity of the ‘Sonata in G minor’, coupled with the performer’s delicate control of dynamics, that caught my imagination and put me in the right mood for the remainder of the concert.

There was nothing wrong with the Beethoven Bagatelles and I do love any Chopin at any time, but the next true thrill for me came with the first Shostakovich piece after the interval. Listeners to his symphonies can come to believe that this composer had no sense of the miniature. Just how wrong they would be is immediately evident in his preludes. Op.34 no.6 in B minor is a beautiful example in which the right hand ‘does its own thing’ while the left hand lays down a simple riff.

The third Shostakovich prelude Op.34 no.24 in D minor contains musical elements which, to me, reference both of the composers that followed. Like Shostakovich (and others, including JS Bach who enjoyed the task so much that he carried it out twice), Rachmaninov also wrote preludes in each of the 12 major and 12 minor keys—a set of 24 pieces. His Op.23 no.5 in G minor is one of the better known but there is something about the Op.32 no.12 in G sharp minor that turns me on.

The Shostakovich link to the final composer Prokofiev is to be found in the two composers’ scoring for piano. Both, but Prokofiev in particular, on occasion treated the instrument as a member of the percussion family—the notes being played by striking the string rather than caressing it. The sustaining pedal is abandoned in favour of repeated hammering.

Virtually any Prokofiev keyboard piece can be cited as an example but the last movement of his seventh piano sonata, the final programme item, illustrates the percussive effect wonderfully. What a thrilling end to a concert already full of thrills!

Although we were consoled to some extent by the two encores, we still felt let down when it became clear that there would be no more.

S. Ryde


Artist’s website: http://www.yevgenysudbin.com


Concert Programme:
D. Scarlatti: 2 Sonatas, G minor and K455 in G major
Beethoven: 6 Bagatelles, Op.126
Chopin: Ballade No.3 in A flat, Op.47
Shostakovich: Preludes Op.34, No.6 in B minor, No.17 in A flat and No.24 in D minor
Rachmaninov: Preludes Op.32/12 in G sharp minor, Op.32/5 in G major and Op.23/5 in G minor
Prokofiev: Sonata No.7 in B flat major, Op.83

Tickets were priced (24 web saver):  Adults £17.50, Concessions £15.75, Students and under 26s £8.00

Future musical events at Live at LICA: https://www.liveatlica.org/

Lancashire County Council’s Library Closure Denial, spends fortune on County Hall canteen

Photo: Alexandrr P. Kapp

As government cuts to public services continue to bite, the Labour-led Lancashire County Council is considering all manner of service reductions - and the spectre of library closures is again on the cards.

The Council's consultation on proposed cuts to its services ends on 15th December.

Earlier this month, the County Council’s Cabinet discussed a huge range of what many regard as unpalatable service cuts to non-statutory services, including scrapping rural bus subsidies and closing libraries, along with making it harder for the elderly and disabled to qualify for home care and support packages and scrapping the youth service in an effort to plug a £15 million gap that has opened up in its budget cuts proposals.

Bizarrely, in comments made to the press earlier this month, including the Lancashire Telegraph, the Council's Deputy leader and finance boss David Borrow claimed the organisation had "never closed a library".

It seems Councillor Borrow either has a short memory or has been badly briefed. In 2006 the Labour-run county council closed Caton, Warton and Hest Bank and six other Lancashire libraries, despite fierce local opposition and campaigning by local residents and councillors, supported by the Lancaster Guardian.

As we reported at the time, the County Council closed the libraries to balance the books, but those closures were even then part of a wider crisis for Britain's library service, with some 50 British libraries, many in small or isolated communities, facing closure in 2006.

The closures came as the County sought ways to keep Council Tax rises down - voting for a rise of 4.9% at the annual budget meeting. Without making budget cuts, the tax rise might have been some 9%.

Both Liberal Democrats and Conservatives campaigned against the closures (how times have changed).

County Councillor Chris Cheetham, now retired, the prime mover in the Council's closure of the libraries, claimed people in the county did not regard libraries, museums, culture and the arts as important services - and then tried to suppress publication of his astonishing views. 

The claim was made in an e-mail to a virtual-lancaster contributor in March 2006, but Mr Cheetham then refused permission for his e-mail to be published, hiding behind the vague "confidentiality" footer that is automatically attached to all County Council e-mail.

Feeling his astonishing claims were in the public interest, virtual-lancaster requested copies of the e-mail under the Freedom of Information Act. The County Council's Freedom of Information officer clearly agreed with us, and supplied copies of the e-mail. You can read our full expose here

It would appear that there are those at County Hall who learnt nothing from that embarrassing incident, or perhaps are unaware of the actions of the Council in recent years. 
 
The County Council’s cabinet has agreed many cuts in a bid to meet government targets to save £300 million by 2017, including some 2,500 job losses. But rises in costs mean the gap between the savings needed and those forecast for the initial proposals has widened from £161.5 million to £176.5 million and council officials had to come up a full list of possible cuts that would affect a wide range of services across the county’s 12 boroughs.

Non-statutory services — those the County Council are not required to do by law - are facing savage cuts, such as youth services, libraries and subsidies for rural bus services.

(Despite being a largely rural County, Cumbria County Council has already axed all rural bus services, isolating non car users in villages such as Shap completely).

“Cuts imposed by central government and rising demand for many essential services mean that we have to find an unprecedented level of savings," says Mr Borrow.

“By April 2018 we have to reduce the council’s budget by £315 million. This is a very difficult task, given that since 2010 we have already delivered or approved £532 million of savings.

“It is clear that we have to take radical action to achieve those savings. We can do some of that by introducing more intelligent and efficient ways of working. However, it is also clear that we will have to deliver some services in a different way and stop providing some services altogether."

Thousands of Council staff have already taken voluntary redundancy as cuts to services began to escalate 2010-2011 redundancies noted here.

Strangely, despite the huge cuts faced by the Council, it still managed to find £84,000 to refurbish the canteen at County Hall, reported by the Lancashire Evening Post. In 2006, proposed cuts to canteen services at County HQ in favour of retaining the libraries that were closed were rejected by Labour councillors. 
 
• The county council is consulting on its budget proposals until 15th December 2014. budget calculator has been set up to show taxpayers how to set the budget and you can view the full documents on the county council website: http://www3.lancashire.gov.uk/corporate/web/?siteid=7010&pageid=43531

National Tree Week begins


National Tree Week has begun and if you're interested in supporting it, then the Woodland Trust has plenty of information on its web site - www.woodlandtrust.org.uk.

National Tree Week is a UK celebration of trees and the launch of the winter planting season. Hundreds of communities will be rolling up their sleeves and getting their hands dirty planting trees.
More than 500,000 trees are being distributed this autumn as part of the Trust's £4.5 million project to source native species, aimed at tackling problems such as ash dieback and the growing threat from other pests and diseases.

The trees they plant and provide are grown from fully-traceable seed stock sourced throughout the UK and Ireland.

Find out more about how to get your seeds and other information here