Friday, 20 March 2015

Fracking: Lancs County Council launches consultation on changes to Cuadrilla applications

A former Cuadrilla test drilling operation at Westby in Lancashire

Consultation begins today on extra information submitted to Lancashire County Council (LCC) as part of Cuadrilla's planning applications for shale gas development at Preston New Road at Little Plumpton (Application number LCC/2014/0096), and Roseacre Wood at Roseacre (Application number LCC/2014/0101). You can find the new information on the LCC website here.

How to have your say
Anyone who wishes to make representations should write to the county council at the Development Management Group, Lancashire County Council,  County Hall, PO Box 100, Preston, PR1 0LD, by email to DevCon@lancashire.gov.uk by Friday 17 April 2015 or via the  'Have your say' section of the LCC website.  All representations that have been received to date will still be taken into account.

Advice on the objection process can be found at http://frackfreelancashire.org.uk/. It's not rocket science.

Demonstration planned
An anti fracking demonstration 'Blow the whistle on fracking' has been organised by Frack Free Lancashire for Wednesday 1 April, starting at 10am at Preston Flag Market

Background to the changes
In June 2014 the council received applications from Cuadrilla to drill, frack, and test gas flows, with associated separate applications for environmental monitoring, at Preston New Road  (LCC/2014/0096) at Little Plumpton, and Roseacre Wood (LCC/2014/0101) at Roseacre.

In January 2015 the Development Control Committee decided to defer determination of the applications after Cuadrilla asked to submit further proposals intended to mitigate concerns raised by planning officers. See previous article: Lancs County Council defers fracking decision 8 weeks

Sir Philip Dilley
The applications are accompanied by an Environmental Statement which has been produced as a result of an Environmental Impact Assessment.  The statement has been prepared for Cuadrilla by their long time partners, Arup Associates.  Last year David Cameron's government appointed Sir Philip Dilley of Arup Associates to chair the Environment Agency. In our opinion he would have granted Cuadrilla's Environmental permits if they had come written in tar on an asbestos sheet.

Cuadrilla submitted further and other information in November and December 2014 in relation to the Environmental Statement in accordance with Regulation 22(3) of the Town and Country Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations 2011.

Cuadrilla submitted further and other information in respect of noise, traffic, air quality and landscape in relation to the Environmental Statement in accordance with Regulation 22(3) of the Town and Country Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations 2011 in March 2015.

The further information for the Roseacre Wood site relates to noise, traffic ([1] and [2], air emissions and visual impact.

The extra information for the Preston New Road site relates to noise, air emissions and visual impact.

The information has been published on the council's website here and made available at libraries in Lytham, St Annes, Ansdell and Kirkham, and at the offices of Fylde Borough Council in Lytham St Annes.

Following the consultation the council's planners will assess the new information and responses to the consultation before making recommendations to the Development Control Committee.

Petition sites:
http://www.foe.co.uk/act/petition-stop-fracking-in-lancashire
https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/page/s/support-lancashire#petition


Friendship Centre 15th Anniversary Open Day next Wednesday

Lancaster’s Friendship Centre for the over 55’s is holding an open day to celebrate its 15th anniversary. The Centre, which uses facilities at Lancaster Baptist Church, next to the Town Hall. will be open to all on Wednesday 25 March from 10am to 1pm. Older people are invited to come along and try out a variety of free classes and activities and enjoy a celebration buffet lunch in the company of the Mayor of Lancaster, Cllr Susie Charles.

Cllr Dave Brookes, Friendship Centre Chair said: “The Friendship Centre was set up in the year 2000 by a group of older people who wanted a place in the city centre to meet and chat. It soon began to offer organised activities and classes and went from opening one day a week to two, and then to three days a week. The Centre helps members to stay fit and active, keep their brains working, and enjoy socialising with peers. This is a particularly valuable service for those who have lost their partners, although all are very welcome.”

Throughout its 15 years the Friendship Centre has had the support of local Green councillors, from founding Chair Cllr Jon Barry, through Cllrs Gina Dowding and Anne Chapman, to current Chair Cllr Dave Brookes.

The Friendship Centre is open on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 10am to 1.30pm all year round except bank holidays, a one-week break in the summer, and a two-week break at Christmas.

The Centre offers a range of activities including Keep Fit, Line Dancing and Sequence Dancing, and classes including Computers, Art, and History, as well as the opportunity to meet people and benefit from peer support and company.

The Centre also offers a home cooked lunch on Wednesdays, and Hodgson’s fish & chips on Fridays, both at £3.

Membership is open to anyone aged 55 and over and costs £10 per year. Some classes and activities are free but most involve an additional charge.

For more information, visit the Friendship Centre website at
http://www.thefriendshipcentre.co.uk/

Joint bid brings funding to help victims of domestic abuse


Victims of domestic abuse in Lancashire will be better protected following a successful partnership funding bid led by Lancashire County Council.

Funding cuts over the past 5 years have hit women's refuge services particularly hard. In 2010 there were a total of 149 specialist services providing 187 refuge services throughout England. By July 2014 England had lost 17 per cent of specialist refuges due to funding cuts and poor commissioning Nearly a third (31 per cent) of referrals to refuges across the country were turned down last year because of lack of space, according to the Women's Aid annual survey 2013-14.

On average, 2 women a week are killed by a current or former male partner.

Of those victims who experience four or more incidents of domestic violence from a member or ex-member of their household,  89% are women (these figures exclude sexual assault, for which separate statistics are gathered). Austerity measures and job losses have also hit women much harder, with the result that female victims are less likely to have access to the financial resources needed to be able to leave an abusive domestic situation and keep their children safe without assistance.

Lancaster & District Women's Aid, after over 40 years of providing essential services to women experiencing domestic abuse in the local area and which received over 200 referrals a year, most commonly following a police intervention, was merged with Blackpool Advocacy Service due to a lack of funding.

In November 2014 an 'SOS Vigil' organised by national Women's Aid calling on MPs to protect domestic violence refuges was held at Downing Street. Staff members and supporters of Women's Aid handed in a petition with more than 37,000 signatures.

The government has now pledged £10million nationally to strengthen accommodation-based domestic abuse service provision.

Lancashire County Council teamed up with all 12 district councils in Lancashire, as well as the charitable organisations that provide domestic violence services in each district, to submit a joint partnership delivery bid.

Lancashire's was the second largest successful bid in the country, being awarded more than £750,000 to extend the provision of emergency and temporary accommodation, advocacy and support to women and children escaping abuse in the county.

Together the joint partnership applied to the Department for Communities and Local Government for funding to strengthen Lancashire's refuge services by increasing capacity, creating new 'safe house' provision and increasing support from specialist services.

County Councillor Tony Martin, cabinet member for adult and community services, said: "We're extremely proud to have led on this countywide bid for services to support some of the most vulnerable members in our society. Joint working in Lancashire is very strong, as this unified approach shows, and clearly the DCLG were impressed by the level of collaboration and shared information which went into our bid.

"This represents a significant increase in the county's funding for domestic violence, which means we can make sure that all districts are properly provided for and we can bring in the right services to help women and children deal with the difficult circumstances they're facing, and move on in their lives.

"Demand is high for this service and often families have reached a critical point before seeking help. We want to be able to help more of them, more often, and now we will be able to do so."

The new grant will increase capacity to a total of 294 bed spaces within refuge and safe house provision across the whole of Lancashire. There are plans to intensify support in settings so that women with the most complex needs can be accommodated and supported, at least while the funding lasts.

There will also be specialist children's workers who will focus helping children and young people who have lived in a situation of domestic abuse.

Domestic abuse is the abuse of power or control over one person by another. It can be in many forms including physical, psychological, sexual, emotional, verbal and financial abuse between adults who are or have been intimate partners or family members.

Domestic abuse affects all members of the family, especially children living in the household. If you or a friend are suffering from domestic abuse please contact the free 24-hour national helpline on 0808 2000 247 or visit this website for further information and support: http://www.womensaid.org.uk

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Northbound M6 Closure Junction 33-34 on Saturday night

Drivers using the M6 around Lancaster are being advised of an overnight carriageway closure as part of ongoing works for the Heysham to M6 Link Road.

A full overnight closure of the northbound carriageway between junction 33 at Galgate and junction 34 for Lancaster will take place this Saturday 21 March between 10pm and 6am.  Northbound drivers will be diverted off the M6 at junction 33 and can re-join the northbound M6 at junction 34 via the A6 and A683 through the city of Lancaster.

The Lancashire County Council road project started in January of last year and is due to be completed next year.  The improvements around junction 34 include better motorway slip roads and a 600-space park and ride site just off the junction and work on these is now underway.

Lancashire County Council has a dedicated website for the project including up to date schedules of roadworks. http://heyshamlink.lancashire.gov.uk/

Drivers are urged to check travel conditions before setting out on journeys. The Highways Agency provides live traffic information via its website www.highways.gov.uk/traffic, local and national radio travel bulletins, electronic road signs and mobile platforms.

Local Twitter services are also available at @HAtraffic_nwest, @Heysham_Link

Pensioners' Manifesto: Eric Ollerenshaw MP on the NHS

Eric Ollerenshaw MP
Conservative
Lancaster & Fleetwood
Lancaster & Fleetwood Conservative MP Eric Ollerenshaw has emailed Virtual-Lancaster to clarify his position on the National Pensioners' Convention Manifesto policy on health and care services.

Lancaster District Pensioners Campaign Group (LDPCG) had asked prospective parliamentary candidates to support the Manifesto's five core policies. Five responded and you can read their answers here (Labour and Lib-Dem) and here (Greens and Conservative). As we noted Mr Ollerenshaw's answer only dealt with four of these.

The missing policy was: 'A National Health and Care Service which is free at the point of use and funded through taxation'

Mr Ollerenshaw wrote to us: 

Thank you for bringing my attention to the issue of the NHS that was not covered in the initial letter to the Lancaster District Pensioners' Campaign Group.

It should be said at the outset that the Government has always been clear that it is committed to protecting the NHS. That is why it has increased spending for the NHS and why it has guaranteed that it will always provide treatment free, regardless of ability to pay. It will not privatise the NHS.

What the Government's health reforms actually do is provide the framework to enable patients to be treated by the providers best able to meet their needs and give patients greater individual choice and control over their care. For the first time, the Health and Social Care Act will ensure the NHS is properly regulated so that all services provided by the NHS, charitable groups or the private sector will have to focus on what is best for patients.

This is about offering patients more choice, control and driving up the quality of their care, and the idea that this will have a negative impact on healthcare and patients is wrong. Patients have already had choice for non-urgent hospital treatments like joint replacements for several years and this hasn't destabilised services.

We remain committed to providing a National Health and Care Service which is free at the point of entry and will continue to do so, any competition in the NHS should act as a means to an end in improving services for patients, never as an end in itself.   I can assure you that I did not duck the issue and I hope this letter sets out mine, and the Conservative Party’s, position on the issue.

Yours sincerely,
Eric Ollerenshaw OBE MP

Non-Privatisation of the NHS?
We were particularly interested in reading Mr Ollerenshaw's views, as they helpfully cover a wider area than requested. It should be clarified that, since the Health and Social Care Act passed in 2012 (with Mr Ollerenshaw's support), over 70% of tendered contracts have been awarded to the private sector, amounting to over £13 billion worth of NHS services falling into private hands.

A recent investigation by Unite found that £1.5 billion worth of NHS contracts have been sold off to just 15 private companies with financial links to 24 Conservative politicians.  64 Conservative MPs (Mr Ollerenshaw is not one of them) and one in 4 Conservative peers have recent or present financial connections to companies or individuals involved in healthcare and all were able to vote for the Health and Social Care Bill (enacted in 2012), despite having a prejudicial interest, which would not have been allowed at local council level.

In 2009, while preparing the white paper that led to the Act, then Conservative shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley received £21,000 to his personal office from John Nash, then chairman of the private healthcare company Care UK. By 2013, 96 per cent of Care UK’s business, amounting to over £400 million, came from the NHS.

NHS plans concealed from public before election
Despite this early preparation, the radical changes Lansley and Care UK planned for the NHS with the Health and Social Care Act were not disclosed in the Conservative's manifesto prior to their election in 2010. They were not discussed during the general election campaign that year and were not contained in the Conservative – Liberal Democrat coalition agreement. But within two months of the election Lansley's white paper was published, outlining what the Daily Telegraph called the "biggest revolution in the NHS since its foundation"  - a revolution which ensured that £millions of taxpayers' money would be channelled out of the NHS into the pockets of private healthco shareholders,

Contractors paid for failure
By 2013, the BMJ reported, private companies on “take or pay” contracts from the NHS - that is, where the fee is paid regardless of whether services are used - had received more than £217m for operations that did not happen. The NHS paid Clinicenta £53m after terminating its contract when it was found non-compliant with Care Quality Commission (CQC) standards and local GPs became reluctant to refer their patients to it.

Waiting lists expanded
Figures published in August 2014 showed the number of patients on NHS waiting lists for operations at its highest for six years, with 3.2million people awaiting surgery – a rise of 700,000 compared with 2010. Of those who had surgery in June 2014 32,500 had waited longer than 18 weeks.  This was 57 per cent more patients than in May 2010, when just 20,662 had waited too long, according to NHS England figures.

In response Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt announced a £250million bailout to clear a backlog of up to 100,000 knee, hip and cataract operations for those waiting the longest. He attributed the backlog to an increase in the number of elderly people, which does not seem to have been anticipated by the government's health planners.

Jeremy Hunt received two donations to his constituency office from hedge fund boss Andrew Law. Law has donated over £600,000 to the Tories and his firm holds multi-million healthcare investments.  

Circle
Seven Tory MPs have received funding from Robin Crispin Odey, whose hedge fund Odey Asset Management part-owns health giant Circle. Aside from winning a franchise to run the first fully privatized NHS hospital at Hinchingbrooke, Circle also won a £120 million contract to run musculoskeletal services in Bedfordshire.  

In January 2015, Circle announced it was pulling out of the Hinchingbrooke Hospital franchise just three years into its ten year contract, as CQC inspectors branded its services "inadequate" and called for it to be placed in special measures. Inspections at Hinchingbrooke Health Care NHS Trust in Cambridgeshire uncovered "a number of serious concerns" about staffing, risks to patient safety - particularly in the casualty department - and medical care as well as further issues relating to the way in which the trust was led and run.  The trust, operated by Circle Holdings since 2012, became the first in England to be rated inadequate for "caring".


Consultation on future of transport in Lancaster includes alternatives suggested by M6 Link opponents




An ambitious new transport plan for Lancaster could see the city transformed over coming decades, with much less traffic, no city centre one-way system, and much greater use of sustainable transport such as park-and-ride buses and cycling. 

If some of these ideas rang bells with you, they did with us, too, because some were options suggested as alternatives to spending millions on the new link road by Transport Solutions for Lancaster and Morecambe, dismissed by the County at the time as they were hellbent on covering more of the green belt with concrete. 

Lancashire County Council's District of Lancaster Highways and Transport Masterplan contains a range of what are described as "eye-catching improvements" to be developed by 2031, including a vision for a better connected town centre in Morecambe where it's easy to travel on foot or by bike, and better public transport links around the district. 


The draft document unveiled yesterday (Wednesday 18th March) completes a set of five plans covering all 12 districts of Lancashire and, where necessary, neighbouring areas, to begin to make the case for multi-million pound investments in the transport infrastructure needed to support future housing and business development.
The masterplans set out options for major changes to highways, public transport and walking and cycling facilities to create conditions for economic growth and prepare for predicted increases in traffic.

They identify opportunities to attract external funding for improvements from housing and business developers or the government through 'growth deals' which combine public and private funding.
The County claims the completion of the Heysham to M6 Link Road in 2016 will "fundamentally change" traffic patterns in the district and present major opportunities to transform travel that are captured in the masterplan. 

Central to the vision of how Lancaster could look by 2031 are proposals to: 
  • Manage the city centre network once the link road is open, with a focus on improving the environment taking a staged approach to enable and fund sustainable transport measures. This would seek to take advantage of the expected 10% reduction in traffic on the city centre one-way gyratory system as a result of the link road. 
  • Begin to reshape the way city centre traffic is managed by positioning Caton Road as the principal gateway into the city from the M6, from both north and south. This would allow the much more managed approach to city centre traffic. 
  • Relocate J33 of the M6 to a position between Galgate and Lancaster University. A direct connection to the motorway for South Lancaster would give reliable motorway access, removing the need for traffic to travel through the city centre and removing much of the traffic from Galgate. This would help free the city centre from congestion and allow a completely new approach to traffic management, with space to develop sustainable transport measures including a park-and-ride/cycle facility to the south of the city and rapid transit buses. 
  • Make Lancaster central to the start of a countywide programme of support for Ultra Low Emission Vehicles. 
  • A district-wide cycling and walking strategy that includes superhighways, quiet roads, greenways and local links to make walking and cycling safe and convenient for an increasing number of local journeys. 
  • Work with Lancaster City Council to put in place the transport elements needed to make the Morecambe Area Action Plan a reality. A range of measures would aim to improve gateways into the town centre and fully integrate the seafront with the town to make it more attractive to spend time in a Morecambe less dominated by cars. 
  • Investigate the business case for better rail connections to Morecambe and around the whole bay area, taking into account connections to Cumbria, particularly from Carnforth. 
  • Improve how Carnforth town centre works, making it a more attractive place for visitors to spend time, and more user-friendly for pedestrians and cyclists. 
  • Make sure that access to and from the rural areas is still possible without a car, particularly for those who don't drive. 
A seven-week public consultation will begin on Monday 23rd March to inform the contents of the final document. 

County Councillor John Fillis, Lancashire County Council cabinet member for highways and transport, said: "Transport goes hand in hand with economic development and as our towns and cities expand with new housing and businesses, it's vital that we plan ahead so that people and goods can travel easily and efficiently.

"For Lancaster this presents a great opportunity to tackle problems with congestion and air pollution and create a city centre environment which will make Lancaster a particularly attractive place to live, work and visit.

"The proposals presented in the masterplan to greatly reduce vehicle traffic in the city centre are an ambitious but also practical and achievable solution to make sustainable transport such as cycling and rapid-transit buses really work well.

"We also want to open up the transport connectivity in Morecambe, while working with local people to provide an enhanced environment for people to get around a town which is not dominated by cars.

"Cycling is well supported by people in the area and we need to build on this support and extend the opportunities for people to cycle safely as part of their daily lives and not just as an add-on activity."

• You can read the full document here: http://council.lancashire.gov.uk/ieDecisionDetails.aspx?ID=6578

• Public consultation will take place on the Lancaster Highways and Transport Masterplan from Monday 23 March to Thursday 7 May. Launch events will be held in Lancaster, Morecambe and Carnforth and full details are in the draft masterplan. The county council will also write directly to district, town and parish councils, and MPs, and put leaflets in key public areas to encourage people to comment

• Copies of the masterplan will also be available to view at libraries and download from Lancashire County Council's website

• You can also respond to the consultation by completing an online questionnaire when the consultation begins, by email at enquiries@lancashire.gov.uk or in writing to Lancaster Highways and Transport Masterplan, Environment Directorate, Room C4, County Hall, Preston, Lancashire, PR1 0LD

Schoolgirl Grace makes a big splash for charity

Grace Wilding

Lancaster Girls’ Grammar School student, 13 year-old Grace Wilding recently undertook the Aspire Swim Challenge in order to raise money for people with spinal cord injuries.

The challenge consisted of swimming the length of the English Channel (22 miles in total), over the course of twelve weeks from September to December 2014.

Not only did Grace complete the mammoth task, she managed to raise an impressive £620 for the charity, ranking her in the top 50 Aspire Swim Challenge fundraisers nationally.

Grace, who lives in Bare, is an avid swimmer having swam regularly at Lancaster City Council’s Salt Ayre Sports Centre 33 metre swimming pool for the past five years. Now nearing the end of her final stage of swimming merits, Grace was keen for a new challenge in the pool.

“My mum does a lot of charity work” Grace commented, “and after seeing the Aspire Swim Challenge advertised around the sports centre, we thought it would be a good opportunity for me to get involved.

“It’s the longest distance I’ve ever swum. I used time during my swimming lessons to complete my quota of lengths for each week, as well as cramming in as much as I could around my school work and other commitments.

“I initially set a fundraising target of £220 which worked out at £10 per every mile I swam, but with a lot of support from my friends, family, Dad's work colleagues and through Mum's Facebook fundraising page, The Cat's Whiskers, we quickly exceeded that figure.  My school were really supportive too and even hosted a cake sale which raised £70. I didn’t think we’d be able to raise more than £500 and so to achieve that was brilliant; I really appreciated everyone who sponsored me.”

Aside from swimming, Grace is a keen footballer, is working towards her Jiu Jitsu black belt and hopes to undertake the Duke of Edinburgh award at school next year.

Aspire is a dedicated charity set up to help individuals with spinal cord injuries; at present Aspire supports over 40,000 people in the UK through providing accessible housing, assisting with independent living, securing grants and much more. For more information on Aspire visit www.aspire.org.uk



Council asks you to nominate important local green spaces for protection from development

Part of the area administered by Lancaster City Council

Lancaster City Council is asking local residents to nominate areas of green and open space within the district which are most important to them by Friday 24 April 2015.

With plans in the pipeline for an unprecedented level of housebuilding in the area, it's important to identify those green spaces that people most want to see preserved. To help you select them, you can see an aerial map of Lancaster City Council's administrative area here.

Green spaces could be valuable to the community because of the wildlife they are home to, their beauty, their cultural or heritage significance, the tranquility they provide or their recreational value.

Those spaces which prove to be demonstrably valuable or significant to an area would form part of the council’s Land Allocations document and be protected from inappropriate development. Unprotected spaces might be allocated for development.

Andrew Dobson, Chief Officer (Regeneration and Planning), said:  "Whilst areas of open space or environmental value have always been identified by the council, designation as a Local Green Space is something different. It aims to identify those extra special areas of green and open space and focusses on the fundamental value and importance of these spaces to the local community.

“This is a great opportunity for local residents to protect those green spaces which are important to them.”

This call for sites follows a recent consultation on the way that local green spaces are assessed. The council’s Local Green Spaces Assessment Methodology and the nomination form that needs to be printed, completed and sent in to nominate the green space that is important to you, are available online at www.lancaster.gov.uk/planning/planning-policy and in person at customer service centres at Lancaster and Morecambe Town Hall.

The deadline for nominations is Friday 24 April 2015 at 5pm.

Dukes' Kick Start scheme showcases works in progress

They say 'Everyone's a critic' and now here's your chance. The Dukes Kick Start initiative, which begins this April, allows audiences to offer feedback on plays in development.

I Was A Wife is a work in progress by first time writer Polly Lister, an actress who appeared as the witch in The Dukes production of Hansel & Gretel in Williamson Park last summer.

The Connection is a modern-day take on Brief Encounter set at Carnforth Station where the classic film was shot 70 years ago. It’s the work of  Ulverston-based writer Zosia Wand who adapted Hansel & Gretel and had her first play - Quicksand - staged at The Dukes in 2011.

“Original work is central to what we are about,” said Joe Sumsion, artistic director of The Dukes which is Lancashire’s only professional producing theatre.

“We are inviting our audiences to come in and look at the development process we usually go through internally. Their opinions could help us to decide what to do next with each play.”

Polly Lister will read I Was A Wife, a one-woman play based on her own experience of marital breakdown, interpreted through the medium of stage direction, on Thursday 2 April at 7pm. It currently doesn’t have an ending so the audience will be encouraged to suggest options.

The Connection will be read by professional actors on Thursday 16 April at 7.30pm. Its local setting reflects The Dukes' aim of producing plays rooted in the North.

After both rehearsed readings, Joe will lead a relaxed discussion with the writer and audience to gauge opinions.

“One of the things writers have to deal with is feedback,” said Joe. “All opinions will be considered and then I will help the writer decide what to do next.”

This is likely to involve another draft of each play and people from other theatres, including potential co-producers, being invited to give their input. Depending on funding being available, it’s hoped that one of the plays could  be staged at The Dukes possibly as early as next spring.

Every year The Dukes receives around 20 scripts. I Was A Wife and The Connection were chosen to launch Kick Start as Joe felt they were the most exciting prospects. The initiative will continue in the autumn with a further two plays.

Kick Start takes place in The Round and all tickets priced £5/£4 concessions include free tea and coffee.

For more information and to book, ring The Dukes box office on 01524 598500 or visit
www.dukes-lancaster.org.

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Local Cinema Round-Up for 18th to 26th March 2015 by peter@virtual-lancaster.net

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.

Four new films are released during this period. Two of these are fantasy adventure namely The Avengers: Age of Ultron (12A) and The Divergent Series: Insurgent (12A). Family animation comes with The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge out of Water whereas erotic drama is represented by The Duke of Burgundy (18).

The film The Boy next Door has dropped from the screens. However we see the return of Angelina Jolie's Unbroken.

Straight drama features in our cinemas with Run all Night; Inherent Vice and Suite Francaise. Drama in a more light hearted vein is available with Focus; The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and Kingsman: The Secret Service.

For more fantasy drama, the Vue has a one night avengers triple bill comprising Avengers Assemble; Captain America: The Winter Solider and Avengers: Age of Ultron.

The erotic romance Fifty Shades of Grey continues to be shown and is now joined by a second film in similar vein with The Duke of Burgundy.

Theatre includes NT Live: A View from the Bridge and NT Encore: Behind the Beautiful Forevers. Also the Dukes is screening a modern take on Shakespeare with Maxine Peake as Hamlet. In addition there is opera at the Vue with Royal Opera House: Swan Lake.

The Campus in the City continues its screening of foreign films, giving a look at Chilean propaganda with No.

Reviews

Fifty Shades of Grey
Director: Sam Taylor-Johnson
Certificate: 18
Cast includes: Jamie Dornan, Dakota Johnson
This is a much hyped film with a record for ticket pre-sales. It is based on the best selling 2011 novel by E. L. James. Anastasia Steel (Johnson) is a student who interviews the publicity shy billionaire Christian Grey (Dornan) as a college assignment. There is an immediate sexual chemistry between the two and they embark on an affair. However Grey has a desire to control everything in his life and his relationships have a strong sado-masochistic element. Hence he requires Anastasia to sign a contract if she wants the relationship to continue that will allow Grey to subjugate her. The film is an accurate portrayal of the book, though it omits the more sordid sex scenes. Essentially the film is soft porn for a female audience.

Focus
Director: John Requa, Glenn Ficarra
Certificate: 15
Cast includes: Will Smith, Gerald McRaney, Margot Robbie, Rodrigo Santoro, Robert Taylor
Nicky Spurgeon (Smith) is a career con artist who, early in the film, takes on an inexperienced Jess Barrett (Robbie) as an apprentice. There is a sexual chemistry between the two, but Nicky and Jess part. Years later Nicky is running a con for the billionaire motorsport owner Rafael Garriga (Santoro), but finds that Jess is now Santoro's girlfriend. The chemistry again starts between Jess and Nicky and we find they are both trying to con Garriga. However the latter seeks revenge. The movie is something of a dark romance with some violence and a good amount of comedy. It is well acted in exciting locations and is sure to entertain.

Kingsman: The Secret Service
Director: Matthew Vaughn
Certificate: 15
Cast Includes: Michael Caine, Samuel L. Jackson, Colin Firth, Sophie Cookson, Taron Egerton.
A spoof spy adventure based on the comic book series by Dave Gibbons and Mark Miller. Kingsman is an international covert spying agency and they recruit members from street wise misfits. A chavvy gang member Egysy (Egerton) is recruited by the ultra suave agent Harry Hart (Firth). To be accepted Egysy must become both refined and also pass a grueling 'boot camp' where he will learn how to be an agent. In the meantime the eccentric billionaire Valentine (Jackson) is planning to distribution free SIM cards, an act that will trigger the eradication of most of mankind. This is a very 'tongue in cheek' movie, in equal measures a violent action adventure and a comedy. There are outrageous gadgets and wonderful set pieces, with the movie being part James Bond and part every other spy movie you have ever seen. Irreverent and unmissable.

Suite Francaise
Director: Saul Dibb
Certificate: 15
Cast includes: Michelle Williams, Matthias Schoenaerts
Set in 1940 occupied France, this is a love story based on the unfinished 2004 novel by Irene Nemirovsky. French woman Lucille Angellier (Williams) waits for news of her husband who is a prisoner of war. A regiment of German soldiers arrive at their town and the soldiers are billeted in the French homes. In this way Lt. Bruno von Falk moves in with Lucille and over time the two fall in love. However the war ensures the course of the romance will not be smooth. This is a very competent production with excellent acting. It does not break any new ground and a more adventurous film may have made more of the material in Nemirovsky's novel. However as a sentimental romance the film works and is worth a trip to the cinema.

The Duke of Burgundy
Director: Peter Strickland
Certificate: 18
Cast Includes: Sidse Babett-Knudsen, Chiara D'Anna
Cynthia (Babett-Knudsen) is an expert in the field of butterflies (The Duke of Burgundy is the name of a butterfly) and she employs Evelyn (D'Anna) as her housekeeper. They live in a grand old house located in a forest and the film explores the relationship of the two women. Cynthia is a stern employer with something of a sadomasochistic streak and an increasing obsession with erotica. Evelyn seems at first to be submissive, but she also holds some power in the relationship. The movie is a little out of the ordinary. Erotica but with some depth.

Unfinished Business
Director: Ken Scott
Certificate: 15
Cast includes: Vince Vaughn, Tom Wilkinson, Dave Franco, Sienna Miller
Dan Trunkman (Vaughn) owns a small business and he takes his two associates Tim (Wilkinson) and Mike (Franco) with him to Germany in order to close an essential and very profitable deal. However he finds he is competing for the work against his former employer Chuck Portnoy (Miller). In addition, every aspect of the German trip goes radically wrong including clashes with Oktoberfest, a gay fetish festival, a UN summit and the Berlin Marathon. The film is a comedy with plenty of scope for real laughs. However the film suffers from a rather overly contrived plot, somewhat mediocre acting and poor reviews. This is a comedy that will raise a smile, but not much more.

Cumbria University offers care leavers a helping hand into higher education

Hannah Pears, Tamsin Rogers and Melanie Bakey
all of the University of Cumbria
at the NEON awards ceremony at Westminster Palace

The University of Cumbria has won a National Education Opportunities Network (NEON) Award for supporting young people who have been placed in the care of their local authority to go to university.

The awards celebrate success in widening access to higher education (HE).

In 2010 there was only one care leaver enrolled on a programme at the university. Now, since introducing a number of supportive activities, there are 56 care leavers on courses this academic year (2014/2015).

Hannah Pears, Widening Participation Access Officer, together with Melanie Bakey, Widening Participation Retention Officer at the University of Cumbria, masterminded the scheme which also last year achieved a Buttle UK Quality Mark in recognition of its commitment to young people in and leaving care.

Hannah Pears said this about it, “Here at the university we care deeply about equality and inclusivity and want to ensure that students from different social backgrounds are not discouraged from going to university if they want to. Young people who had been in care were an under-represented group in the student body and so we set about finding ways to support more of them to study with us. We are proud of what we’ve been able to achieve in such a short space of time and are delighted that our hard work has been recognised at a national level.”

The university takes a two-pronged approach to encourage more care leavers to progress into higher education including providing unique support and training to the wider care community as well as supporting the care leavers, from initial enquiry right through to graduation.

Hannah and Melanie pioneered their innovative approach by working directly with foster carers and social workers and it is this approach which they believe led to such a marked increase in the number of care-leavers coming to the University of Cumbria to study.

Melanie Bakey continued “We feel our unique approach has offered care leavers an opportunity to see university as an option and not something to be instantly dismissed or feared”.

Foster carers and social workers across Cumbria and Lancashire are offered training on how young care leavers can progress through higher education system and the support available to them.

The care leavers are reached through working with community outreach organisations such as Barnardos, Whitehaven Youth Harbour Project and the National Youth Advocacy Services.

In addition, information and guidance are offered on a dedicated web page which acts as a main point of contact. The young care leavers are assigned a mentor who is an existing student who has also been in care and they get specially extended sessions with the university’s ‘money doctors’ to advise on their finances.

The University of Cumbria (http://www.cumbria.ac.uk/) has a firm commitment to, and a history of, accessible higher education regionally, nationally and internationally. At the centre of the university’s mission is the provision of an accessible and outstanding student experience and the aim to ensure as many people as possible benefit from the transformational opportunities provided by higher education. This includes seeing many students from less advantaged backgrounds succeed in higher education.



Review: Warton Drama Group's 'Educating Rita'

Educating Rita written by Willy Russell
Presented by Warton Drama Group
at Warton Village Hall
7.30pm, Tuesday 17 to Saturday 21 March 2015
All tickets  £8.
Available from Warton Post Office 01524 73285
Reviewed by Moira Hallam

Warton Drama Group has done it again. The high standards it demands of its amateur productions are reflected in this well executed production of Willy Russell’s hilarious award winning play.

It is thirty-five years since the tale of the hairdresser turned student was first performed at The Everyman Theatre in Liverpool. Benita Finch  (also the director) delivers Rita’s wonderful one-liners in a perfect scouse accent with brilliant timing. Emotion and pathos are palpable.

The ‘thirsty’ tutor, Frank, is played by Steve Pollard. He captures the academic’s disdain of the education system and his protective instinct towards Rita in her quest for knowledge.

The play is set in Frank’s study, which enhances the intimacy between the two characters. Scenes are well defined by an interesting selection of soundtracks any music buff will enjoy.

The need for a few first night prompts did not distract the audience. That this is an amateur production at all is remarkable as the roles are huge. Both actors must be congratulated on the professional approach to their performances.

Warton are lucky to have this sixty-seat theatre in their village.

Tickets are available from Warton Post Office or on the door. Be quick though, when word gets round there won’t be many left.

Moira Hallam

Pensioners' Manifesto: three more candidates give their views

We are happy to report that the Lancaster District Pensioners' Campaign Group (LDPCG) has received 3 further replies from prospective parliamentary candidates (PPCs) to letters sent to them by Eric Jones on behalf of LDPCG on 12 February, asking for support for the National Pensioners' Manifesto. The Manifesto's main policies are:

  • 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

You can view and download the Pensioners' Manifesto in full at the National Pensioners' Convention website at http://npcuk.org/.

Three weeks ago (24 Feb) we reported that not a single prospective parliamentary candidate had bothered to respond yet (See 'Parliamentary candidates fail to respond to pensioners' group letter').

First responders
Following this the group received replies from Lancaster & Fleetwood candidates Cat Smith (Labour) and Robin Green (Lib Dem). They offered their positions on each of the Pensioners' Manifesto points and you can read them at: 'Labour and Lib Dem Candidates respond to pensioners' petition'.

New responders
The group have now received responses from Lancaster & Fleetwood MP Eric Ollerenshaw (Conservative) and from Green PPCs Phil Chandler (Morecambe & Lunesdale) and Chris Coates (Lancaster & Fleetwood. We have posted them in full below in the order in which they were received.

Ollerenshaw skips over NHS issue
Eric Ollerenshaw MP (Conservative), who is defending his seat, is the only PPC who failed to respond to one of the five Manifesto points, which seeks support for 'A National Health and Care Service which is free at the point of use and funded through taxation'.  We have written back to bring this unfortunate oversight to his attention and to ask him if he'd like another chance to share his views on the manifesto's NHS policy. We'll let you know if we hear anything. Mr Ollerenshaw will turn 65 himself next week, which will qualify him for the basic state pension of £113 a week and membership of LDPCG should he choose to apply.
(Update: 19.3.15 Mr Ollerenshaw has now provided a response, which you can read here.)

Here are the three new replies the LDPCG received:

Response from Phil ChandlerGreen Party Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Morecambe & Lunesdale


Margaret,                               (Margaret is Mrs Jones - LDPCG uses her email account - ed)

Thank you for the letter and manifesto.  Like probably many Green candidates I have been holding
off replying until after our Spring Conference as some of our policies around this area were being tightened up at the conference.  To address the points of your manifesto:

Phil Chandler
Green Party PPC Morecambe & Lunesdale
A basic state pension for all, set above the poverty level of £175 a week:
The Green Party is committed to introducing a Basic ’Citizens’ Income scheme that would apply to
everyone to cover an individual's basic needs. This would replace tax-free allowances and most social security benefits. A Basic Income scheme is an unconditional, non-withdrawable income payable to each individual as a right of citizenship. It will not be subject to means testing and there will be no requirement to be either working or actively seeking work. This would apply equally to those at current pension age and would be set at a level where no one would be worse off than they are on current levels of benefits and pension.
For more information on the Basic Income see our website:
http://policy.greenparty.org.uk/ec.html#EC721

Increases in pensions to be linked to the best of RPI, CPI, earnings or 2.5%:
The plan would for this to be so during the next parliament under a Green government.

Universal pensioner benefits (bus pass, winter fuel allowance, free TV licences for the over75s and free prescriptions) to be maintained without means-testing:
I agree that such things should not be means tested, although of course the longer-term plan would for this, where appropriate, to be rolled in to an adequate Basic Income.

A National Health and Care Service which is free at the point of use and funded through taxation:
We are fundamentally committed to an NHS free at the point of use and we would repeal the Health and Social Care Act, which is damaging and threatening the viability of a fully funded health service.
Further than this we think that as health care and social care are increasingly merged that the same principles that apply to the NHS need to apply to social care – namely that it should also be free at the point of use. I believe that to be a decent, humane, caring society, social care should made free and in the next parliament we would start by introducing free social care of all those over 65s. We would also stop the pernicious practice of forcing people to sell their homes to pay for care.

A legally binding Dignity Code to improve the quality and standards of care for older people:
I think this would be a good idea.

Further details of our policies on older people can be found on our website here: http://policy.greenparty.org.uk/sw.html

Regards
Phil Chandler
Prospective Parliamentary Candidate, Green Party, Morecambe & Lunesdale

Response from Chris Coates

Green Party Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Lancaster and Fleetwood


Dear Eric Jones and the Lancaster District Pensioners Campaign,

Chris Coates
Green Party PPC Lancaster & Fleetwood
Please find below answers to your questions contained in the Pensioners Manifesto – I have been waiting for our conference this last weekend before I replied as we had new proposals that were coming forward on social care that were not agreed as part of our manifesto until the conference.

Your Pensioners Manifesto asked if we supported:

A basic state pension for all, set above the poverty level of £175 a week
The Green Party is committed to introducing a Basic ’Citizens’ Income scheme that would apply to everyone to cover an individual's basic needs .This would replace tax-free allowances and most social security benefits. A Basic Income scheme is an unconditional, non-withdrawable income payable to each individual as a right of citizenship. It will not be subject to means testing and there will be no requirement to be either working or actively seeking work. This would apply equally to those at current pension age and would be set at a level where no one would be worse off than they are on current levels of benefits and pension.
For more information on the Basic Income see our website: http://policy.greenparty.org.uk/ec.html#EC721

Increases in pensions to be linked to the best of RPI, CPI, earnings or 2.5%
Yes throughout the next parliament.

Universal pensioner benefits (bus pass, winter fuel allowance, free TV licences for the over75s and free prescriptions) to be maintained without means-testing
I agree

A National Health and Care Service which is free at the point of use and funded through taxation
We are fundamentally committed to an NHS free at the point of use and we would repeal the Health and Social Care Act, which is damaging and threatening the viability of a fully funded health service.
Further than this we think that as health care and social care are increasingly merged that the same principles that apply to the NHS need to apply to social care – namely that it should also be free at the point of use. I believe that to be a decent, humane, caring society, social care should made free and in the next parliament we would start by introducing free social care of all those over 65s.
We would also stop the pernicious practice of forcing people to sell their homes to pay for care.

A legally binding Dignity Code to improve the quality and standards of care for older people
I would be happy to support the creation of a Dignity Code

Further details of our policies on older people can be found on our website here: http://policy.greenparty.org.uk/sw.html

Yours Sincerely
Chris Coates,
Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Lancaster and Fleetwood
North Lancashire Green Party

Response from Eric Ollerenshaw

Conservative MP for Lancaster and Fleetwood


Dear Mr Jones,

Eric Ollerenshaw MP
Conservative
Lancaster & Fleetwood
Thank you for contacting me about the National Pensioners Convention's 2015 Pensioner Manifesto, please accept my apologies in not replying sooner to you and the Lancaster District Pensioners’ Campaign Group.

Ensuring that pensioners have a decent and secure income in retirement is a Govemment priority. Ministers have introduced a triple lock on the State Pension, meaning that the basic State Pension is now at the highest percentage of earnings since 1992.

The lock guarantees that the State Pension Will rise by the higher of earnings, prices or 2.5 per cent. I appreciate you would like this to include a measure of RPI inflation. However, CPI provides a more appropriate measure of benefit and pension recipient's inflation experiences than RPI because it excludes the majority of housing costs faced by homeowners. With regards to the level of the basic State Pension, I am pleased that the new single tier pension will be set above the basic level of means-tested support and will continue to be uprated by the triple lock.

I believe that if you've worked hard during your life, saved, paid your taxes, and done the right thing, you deserve dignity when you retire. That's why I am glad that the Conservative Party is committed to protecting the Winter Fuel Payment, free bus passes, TV licences, prescriptions and eye tests for the next Parliament. I believe it is important to ensure that older people have dignity and security in
retirement.

Finally, I agree that the issues within the social care system have been ignored for too long. I am pleased that the new Care Act introduces a radical set of reforms which will transform the system of care and support in England. The Government is also getting tougher on those who deliver poor care. I am confident that these measures will ensure that older people receive the high quality, compassionate care they need.

Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.
Yours sincerely,
Eric Ollerenshaw OBE MP
Member of Parliament for Lancaster and Fleetwood



Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Police hunt after McDonalds assault






Lancaster Police have released CCTV images of two men who they would like to speak to in connection with an assault at McDonald’s on Cheapside,  Lancaster.

The incident happened at around 1.30am on Sunday 8th March.

It is believed that two men entered the restaurant but soon after one of the men was asked to leave by a member of the door staff. As both men reached the main doors to leave, they pulled the member of door staff to the floor and punched him several times in the face, resulting in a cut to his head.

PC Stephen Kavanagh of Lancaster Police said: “We are keen to trace the two men pictured in the CCTV images and would urge them to come forward, or anyone with information about their identities to make contact with us as soon as possible.”

• Anyone with information should call Lancashire Police on 101 quoting log number 133 of 8th March. Alternatively, they can contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or online at Crimestoppers-uk.org. No personal details are taken, information is not traced or recorded and you will not go to court.

Monday, 16 March 2015

'Still Alice' - special Dementia Friends night at The Dukes with Oscar-winning film & Discussion

Julianne Moore gives an Oscar-winning performance
in  'Still Alice' 
To celebrate Dementia Friends, The Dukes is hosting a a post-film discussion on Tuesday 31 March, to coincide with the screening of an Oscar-winning film about the condition, starting at 6.20pm.

The Lancaster cinema will be screening Still Alice (12A) in which Julianne Moore gives an Oscar-winning performance as a successful university professor who struggles to maintain her mind and self after being diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s Disease.

Dementia Friends
Dementia Friends are people who’ve learned a little about what it’s like to live with dementia and can provide help when required. You can find out more about what they do at https://www.dementiafriends.org.uk/.

Dementia Friends who show their special badges when attending the screening will receive £1 off their ticket and will also be invited to take part in a free post-film discussion in The Dukes gallery.

The discussion will be chaired by Roger Clough, Emeritus Professor at Lancaster University and Gary Rycroft, vice-chair of The Dukes board who, along with Age UK Lancashire, were instrumental in setting up the theatre’s pioneering Journeying Together programme for people with memory problems and their family members/carers.

The event will be a chance to chat about the film and issues surrounding dementia as well as to learn more about and support The Dukes new three year dementia programme - A Life More Ordinary -which will be officially launched in May.

The 31 March screening starts at 6.20pm followed by the discussion at 8pm. Both are open to everyone. Tickets are priced £6 or £5 for concessions and Dementia Friends and £4 for under-18s (a £1 per transaction fee applies to online bookings).

Screenings of Still Alice also take place at The Dukes on March 27, 28, 29 and April 2.

For more information or to book, call The Dukes Box Office on 01524 598500 or online at http://www.dukes-lancaster.org/film/still-alice.

Appeal to Back Your Favourite local Green Spaces

Ryelands Park. Photo: John Freeman
Lancaster City Council is asking local residents to nominate areas of green and open space within the district which are most important to them.

Green spaces could be valuable to the community because of the wildlife they are home to, their beauty, their cultural or heritage significance, the tranquility they provide or their recreational value.

Those spaces which prove to be demonstrably valuable or significant to an area would form part of the council’s Land Allocations document and be protected from inappropriate development.

Andrew Dobson, Chief Officer (Regeneration and Planning), said:  "Whilst areas of open space or environmental value have always been identified by the council, designation as a Local Green Space is something different. It aims to identify those extra special areas of green and open space and focusses on the fundamental value and importance of these spaces to the local community.

“This is a great opportunity for local residents to protect those green spaces which are important to them.”

This call for sites follows a recent consultation on the way that local green spaces are assessed. The council’s Local Green Spaces Assessment Methodology and nomination form is available to view at www.lancaster.gov.uk/planning/planning-policy and in person at customer service centres at Lancaster and Morecambe Town Hall.

• The deadline for nominations is Friday 24 April 2015 at 5.00pm

Police appeal after Carnforth crash sees cyclist airlifted to hospital

Police are appealing for witnesses after a cyclist was seriously injured following a collision in Carnforth.

The accident happened at around 1.00pm on Sunday 15th March when a cyclist was involved in a collision with an Audi A3 on Kirby Lonsdale Road, at its junction with the B6254.

The cyclist, a 42-year=old man from Holme, sustained serious injuries to his neck and spine and was airlifted to Royal Preston Hospital where he remains in a stable condition.

The road was closed for four hours to facilitate an investigation.

PS Finn Quainton of the West Road Policing Unit said: “I would urge anyone who witnessed the collision to come forward and contact us. 

"I am particularly interested in speaking with a group of cyclists who approached this junction just prior to the collision, from the direction of Halton, and then turned right onto the B6254 in the direction of the Redwell Public House.

“In addition I would also like to trace the occupants of a dark blue or black people carrier, possibly a Ford or Vauxhall, which passed this junction on the B6254, and continued on in the direction of Carnforth. 

"I would like to stress that these individuals are simply required as possible witnesses to the collision.”

• Anyone with information can contact Lancashire Police on 101 quoting log reference LC-20150315-0569. Alternatively, they can contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or online at Crimestoppers-uk.org. No personal details are taken, information is not traced or recorded and you will not go to court.

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Review: Royal Northern College of Music Strings at Live at LICA

Royal Northern College of Music Strings at Live at LICA
Thursday, 12 March 2015
in the Great Hall, Lancaster University

Reviewed by Henry Prince

Watching later as these 70-80 kids meandered across the empty stage in their street clothes with instruments in hand, on their backs or in tow, heading for the transport back to Manchester, it occurred to me that none of them was really old enough to appreciate how very good they were. They had just given the most thrilling rendition of Schoenberg’s Verklärte Nacht anyone is likely ever to hear at any time. Schoenberg at his late Romantic diatonic best, his pre-atonal peak, played by tomorrow’s musical leaders patiently awaiting the opportunities to audition for those rare and highly-coveted orchestral positions up and down the land and across the world.

The orchestra was huge! More the size of a full orchestra, including woodwind, brass and percussion, but this one was strings only. One might think that the size was dictated by the need to make a louder sound or perhaps to provide as many students with the opportunity to play as possible, given that this concert was a part of a continuing collaboration between Live at LICA International Concert Series and the Royal Northern College of Music.

Henk Guittart
Those who were present at the (poorly attended) pre-concert talk learned, however, that the over-riding reason for the large number of players was related wholly to a single artistic demand. The conductor Henk Guittart pointed to the paradox that the larger the number of orchestral players, the
more effective a pianissimo. One might even say that a large pianissimo is in fact quieter than a small one, each player contributing to the quietness, in a way similar to the ‘greater’ silence that can be achieved when there are more people present, each having the individual capacity to break it. This is the difference between a ‘silence’ and a ‘breath-taking silence’.

He was right. The pianissimos executed by the massed ranks of strings positively shook the foundations of the Great Hall with their silent energy. Like the intensity of a great tsunami just before it makes landfall.

Given that Schoenberg originally composed Verklärte Nacht for string sextet, producing the arrangement for string orchestra many years later, it was fitting that the first half of the programme was devoted entirely to two string sextets (the classic string quartet ensemble with additional viola and cello). The one by Richard Strauss was in fact the prelude to his opera Capriccio. It was a lovely work produced many years after Schoenberg had turned his back on the Romantic style; of course it was played magnificently. The musicians seemed to have known one another for years and years. (Perhaps they have!)

Of the three programme items, the Brahms sextet was the earliest piece, having been composed a few years before Schoenberg’s birth. Brahms being Brahms, no audience could ever be disappointed. These young performers made absolutely sure though that the listener’s experience was perfect, Brahms or not.

It may well have been the cold evening rain that deterred some concert regulars from leaving the comfort of home. Possibly everyone should in future mark the diary entry as ‘unmissable’ whenever the ticket reads ‘RNCM’.

H. Prince


RNCM website: http://www.rncm.ac.uk/

Concert Programme:
Richard Strauss: String Sextet from Capriccio, Opus 85
Brahms: Sextet for Strings in B-flat major, Opus 18
Schoenberg: Verklärte Nacht, Opus 4

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/