Friday, 8 January 2016

Marathon Manic Ivory Playing Promised at the Robert Gillow!

Left to right: Landlord Mark Cutter, and pianists Andy Whitfield, Jack
Spencer, Bill Roberts and Bill Wilding. Photo by Barrie Marshall
A twelve hour piano playing session will take place at the Robert Gillow in Lancaster on Saturday 23rd January. The team of ivory tinklers who entertain regularly at the pub have agreed to do the free marathon stint to help fund an upgrade to the venue's very own instrument.

"One of the things that makes the Gillow special is its regular piano sessions, but we'd played our old one so much we'd pretty much worn it out," musician Sue Parish explains. "So we were very grateful when publicans Mark Cutter and Tash Burns recently bought us a new instrument. And we're joining forces and playing for free to help pay for a complete overhaul to make it even better.

"We'll be taking it in turns, doing two hour stints from midday through to midnight," adds colleague Bill Roberts, "and we all play different styles and repertoires so there'll be lots of variety throughout the day.

"The money saved on musician's fees will go towards the upgrade, and we're inviting listeners to chip in if they feel like it.

"There's room at the piano for more than one player, as well, so there may be some impromptu duets as members of the team hand the musical baton on!"

The schedule for the event is as follows:

12 noon - 2pm Sue Parish
2 - 4pm Bill Wilding and Diane Parsons
4 - 6pm Andy Whitfield
6 - 8 pm Bill Roberts
8-10pm Simon Hilton
10 - 12pm Jack Spencer

City Council Pays Out over £66,000 to Storm Desmond victims so far


Photo: Cat Smith
More than £60,000 has been paid to residents affected by Storm Desmond in December.

Lancaster City Council has made payments totalling £66,500 to 133 people in the district using funding from the Government.

Residents identified as having flooded homes have received the money directly, generally to the person registered for council tax.

City council officers have been working quickly to identify all properties that are eligible for the money, but anyone whose home was flooded as a result of Storm Desmond on the weekend of December 5/6 and is yet to receive a payment should telephone 01524 582935.

Flooded residential properties will also be exempt from council tax for a minimum of three months. The discount has automatically been applied for relevant affected properties, but to check email ctax@lancaster.gov.uk.

Businesses that were flooded as a result of Storm Desmond can also apply for an exemption from paying business rates. Exemptions will initially be for three months, but can be extended for up to 12 months if the property has not been re-occupied. Applications can be made by emailing nndr@lancaster.gov.uk or telephoning 01524 582920.

Councillor Eileen Blamire, leader of Lancaster City Council, said: “We’ve been working hard to identify all the households that were affected by the dreadful flooding in December and to provide them with the help and support they need to get back on their feet.”

• Full details of the schemes can be found on the city council’s website at www.lancaster.gov.uk/flooding. The page also contains details of other grants which may be available to both residents and businesses.


City Council seeks views on skate park provision


Lancaster City Council has launched a major new survey to help identify whether there is adequate provision in the district for wheeled sports including skating and BMX riding.

The city council currently runs two skate parks in the district with new proposals coming forward for a ‘pump track’ in Ryelands Park and a potential facility in Morecambe - but rather than looking at these two ideas in isolation, the council has launched a survey to look at provision across the district.

Aimed primarily at the age group 10+ the survey aims to find out what type of facilities young people want, where they want them and whether they want to use them for recreation or competition.

Councillor David Smith, cabinet member with responsibility for parks and open spaces, said: “Skating, BMX riding and scooting are very popular sports in the area. Although we have some facilities, we are regularly approached with ideas on how our existing facilities can be developed and also suggestions for where we can develop something new.

“It’s time that we took a look at the bigger picture and what provision there needs to be across the district. Rather than building small sites it may be that one big facility is needed, or it may be that three or four parks at strategic sites would be best.

“We can’t make any promises and there’s no guarantee money will be available, but the results of this survey will help to develop a long term vision which funders require when they’re considering projects.”

• To take part in the survey visit www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/lancasterskatebmx. The deadline for responses is Monday 8th February 2016

Independent Lancaster Looks Ahead, putting Lancaster Floods Behind It


It’s been very nearly a full year since Independent Lancaster first launched its Loyalty Card and it's now grown to over 60 businesses supporting the card and hundreds of local people using it.

The aim of the project is to promote independent businesses and encourage people to shop locally and the team are hoping for a much better 2016, after a rather soggy and miserable end to 2015.

"Lancaster battled through power cuts and flooding in the run up to Christmas and many of our lovely independent businesses were affected, and are still affected, as a result of this," says a spokesperson. "Places including Go Burrito on Church Street which was badly flooded, as was The Fig Tree in St John’s Church. Studio Arts also suffered stock damage and food establishments throughout the city that were untouched by the floods still lost all of their chilled and frozen stock as well as many of them being unable to open again at what would have been some of their busiest nights of the year.

"Even businesses that had survived both the waters and the loss of power met with misfortune, the lovely alternative clothing shop Ahoy on Middle Street was broken into and burgled on Christmas Eve.

"These have been difficult weeks for our city and we don't want to dwell on those gloomy moments except only to reflect on the fact that, during that surreal period in time, we learned that the people of Lancaster are very resilient, supportive and kind. The phrase 'Blitz spirit' has been used a great deal to describe the actions and behaviour of Lancastrians following the flooding as they pulled together to help their friends and neighbours."

Now the immediate panic of cooking by candlelight is behind us, the Independent Lancaster team say we still need to maintain that sense of togetherness and show our support for the local independent shops in the city.

"We make purchasing decisions every day and even something as small as where you choose to buy a cup of coffee makes a difference to your community. There are independent businesses available to cover a wide variety of goods and services, and as we launch into a new year, you might be considering some home improvements?"

These businesses all support the Independent Lancaster loyalty card, so why not consider them when you’re making your plans?

Homeware

  • Arteria, Brock Street, 10% off when you spend £10 or more
  • Kitchen Corner, King Street, 10% off


Decorating

  • Carpetman, King Street, 5% off including sale items
  • Simply Flowers, Scotforth Road, 10% off
  • Tiles 2 Paving, Lancaster and surrounding areas, 10% off first order, 7% off future orders


Furnishings

  • Lancaster Bed Company, Penny Street, 10% off.
  • GB Antiques, Lancaster Leisure Park, 25% off admission price into antique centre.


Electronics

  • Black Bear Computers, 7% discount on products, 10% on services.
  • Robinsons Electric, electronic goods and installation services, Lancaster and Kendal area, 10% off


Spring Cleaning

  • Hoovershop, King Street, 10% off


And if your body isn't quite back to temple condition yet after the Christmas season, there are some fitness, beauty and massage businesses accepting the loyalty card too:


  • Beauty 154, Greaves Road, 10% off all treatments
  • Enve, Meeting House Lane, 25% off all treatments
  • GO Health and Fitness, Free health diagnostic consultation or group class and 10% of any 3 month package of 1to1 and small group training
  • Healing Hands Physio, above Jo and Cass salon Great John Street, 10% off
  • Inspire Gym, Penny Street, No Set up fee and half price first month of Group Personal Training
  • Pram Power – fitness activity sessions for new mums, Anyone producing the card can have their first session for free and 10% off a 3 month package
If you haven't got an Independent Lancaster Loyalty Card yet, get one here - or renew your current one here


Unless otherwise stated all discounts are not in conjunction with any other offer. Offers have been repeated here in good faith. Business transactions entered into with any businesses listed on behalf of Independent Lancaster are in no way associated with or endorsed by Independent Lancaster which cannot be held liable for any faults or issues with the goods or services received.

Thursday, 7 January 2016

Lancashire Libraries an "Easy Target" when it comes to Budget cuts, say campaigners


The campaign to fight library closures is growing across the UK - but like many other councils, it seems Lancashire County Council has joined others in seeing possible closures as "easy target" when it comes to cuts.

While the Council hasn't identified any of the libraries it may close in its consultation - unlike the bus services destined for the chop - up to 40 may be closed in an effort to save money as a result of reductions in central government funding.

The Council announced proposals to slash funding in November, reducing funding for cultural sites across the county by 90 per cent and other cuts that will impact public transport users, libraries and see the loss of 367 more jobs. So far the most high profile casualty of the cuts is Lancaster's Judges Lodgings Museum and over 5000 people have now signed a petition protesting at that plan.

While other councils have announced they plan to cut library services and use more volunteers to run some, reported here by The Bookseller, continuing past attacks on the service documented here, Lancashire, a Labour-run council, seems ahead in terms of what taxpayers may lose, to the dismay of campaigners.

The county's proposals call for the reduction of libraries from 74 to 34 to save £7 million (for comparison, about what's being spent in under a week bombing Iraq and Syria, and a fraction of the amount lost to the Treasury annually through company tax avoidance). They have yet to say which libraries may close.

By statute, Local Authorities must provide "comprehensive and efficient" library services and Government must oversee and improve libraries.

These rights are not widely understood and are being neglected in the face of economic pressures. The Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals, which has launched a national campaign to stop further library closures, says this is putting important principles at risk, including the ability to access a quality library service wherever you live and at times to suit you.

"Public libraries in England provide a lifeline for millions of people every day," they say, offering an alternative vision for the service. "They help people get online, develop their literacy and skills, find employment and build stronger ties across their community. We must stand up and defend our statutory right to a quality library service.

CILIP argues the proposed library closures nationally "undermine rights which are enshrined in the Equality Act, Human Rights Act and Public Libraries & Museums Act."

“We have a situation where our national network of libraries is being dismantled while government fails to provide the guidance that local authorities need to provide the comprehensive and efficient library services they must, by statute, provide," says Nick Poole, CEO of the organisation, which launched a change.org petition in defence of services before Christmas, noting some 443 libraries have closed since 2010.

"These cuts are a totally false economy – they may or may not deliver limited short-term savings but in reality they do lasting damage to local people, communities and businesses.

"It is too easy to cut libraries because the fact they are statutory isn’t understood, explained or enforced," he added. "I urge all local authorities considering announcing cuts to libraries to put their plans on hold until there is clarity from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport about their legal duties to provide library services.”

Ian Anstice, librarian and founder of Public Library News, told The Bookseller he agreed that lack of direction from the DCMS is putting services at risk. "Councils are, without any doubt, seeing libraries as highly tempting targets for cuts," he feels. "They know that the DCMS has not effectively intervened in any reduction to library services so far and thus the value of the statutory status of libraries is highly questionable."

Lancashire County Council says that despite reduced government funding for its services, it will continue to provide a library service for the communities of Lancashire.

Over the next five years to 2020/21 the council needs to make savings of £262m on top of those agreed within previous budget processes, of which it plans to make

"Our vision of the library service for Lancashire is a place for people across generations to use for personal and community wellbeing, which offers flexible, physical, virtual, creative, spaces for the community," they claim in the preamble to their consultation. "They will promote access to and use of the resources needed to encourage personal development, learning and community engagement.

"Lancashire County Council wants to understand what you would like from this space. This space will be developed in response to individual community need. We are passionate about creating opportunities which give people the potential to develop in areas they choose themselves. These physical flexible spaces will be used to promote learning, arts, performance, social activity, digital inclusion, families, heritage and wellbeing.

"The spaces we aim to provide will enable our communities to enjoy an environment which has been tuned to their needs. The spaces need to be safe for everyone and comfortable."

Have Your Say on Library Closures Here on the County Council web site

There is a map of all planned and actual Library closures across the UK here

Why Not Write To Your Local Councillors or MPs about these proposed cuts?

Contact Your City Councillor - List By Ward Here

Contact Your County Councillor - Listed Alphabetically Here

Contact Cat Smith, MP for Lancaster and Fleetwood

Contact David Morris, MP for Morecambe and Lunesdale

• My Library By Right brings people together to campaign for:


  • The public’s rights to libraries to be recognised and respected
  • Public libraries to be treated as the statutory services they are
  • The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to carry out their legal duties under the 1964 Public Libraries and Museums Act
  • Statutory guidance for local authorities on their duties under the 1964 Public Libraries and Museums Act from DCMS, with support from CILIP and the library and information profession

The Library Campaign is an independent national organisation set up in 1984 to support Friends of Library groups and to campaign for improved services in publicly funded libraries. In March 2004 we became a registered charity (no. 1102634)

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Local Cinema Round-Up for the 6th to 14th January 2016

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.

Six new releases make it to our region during this period. There is comedy with Grandma (15) and drama with Sunset Song & The Fall of the Krays (15). In addition we have the western The Hateful Eight (18), family animation in Zarafa and the documentary Steve McQueen: The Man & Le Mans.

Three major movies have vanished from the screen with the loss of Sisters; Spectre and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2. Also the movie The Lady in the Van is nearing the end of its screening. However the comedy The Intern has returned for just one day. Coming soon is the boxing drama Creed due for release on the 15th January.

There is some excellent drama on offer at the moment. The must see science fiction is Star Wars: The Force Awakens. By contrast In the Heart of the Sea is a glorious seafaring adventure whereas The Danish Girl breaks new ground with its depiction of a transexual. Finally Tarantino's The Hateful Eight is a superb western mystery, though having an 18 certificate.

Comedies on offer include Daddy's Home; Grandma; Joy and The Intern. Family films include Pan; Snoopy and Charlie Brown: The Peanuts Movie; The Good Dinosaur and the new release Zarafa.

There is little by way of high culture, but the screening of the classic Dr Zhivago fills this niche.

By way of local news, the Dukes are hosting another Film Quiz on Sunday 10th January whereas the Vue is still advertising problems with their lift.

Reviews

Daddy's Home
Director: Sean Anders
Certificate: 12A
Cast Includes: Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg, Linda Cardellini
A comedy. Conservative radio executive Brad (Ferrell) marries Sarah (Cardellini) and tries to be a good step dad to her two children. However his wife's charismatic and musclebound former husband Dusty (Wahlberg) comes for an extended visit. Brad finds he must now compete with their real father for the affection of his step children. There is a real on-screen chemistry between Ferrell and Wahlberg as they vie with each other and this provides plenty of opportunity for gags and comedy set pieces. However some of the gags are rather predictable leaving a film that is genuinely funny but seldom hilarious.

In the Heart of the Sea
Director: Ron Howard
Certificate: 12A
Cast Includes: Ben Whishaw, Brendon Gleeson, Benjamin Walker, Cillian Murphy
A film based on a non-fiction book by Nathaniel Philbrick. It is set in the winter of 1820 when the whaling ship the Essex sets sail. Finding the local whaling ground is depleted, the ship ventures into the Pacific Ocean. Here prey is bountiful, but a massive sperm whale seeks vengeance against the hunters. It attacks the ship and the crew take refuge on a tiny island where they face the prospect of starvation. Hence they have little option but to take to the seas again to face the hardships and privations of an extended voyage to return home. This is a gripping film with convincing special effects and plenty of action, though somewhat lacking in suspense. An entertaining sea-fairing yarn.

Joy
Director: David O Russell
Certificate: 12A
Cast includes: Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Diana Ladd
A semi-fictional biographical comedy drama about a mop, or how Joy Mangaro (Lawrence) became a millionaire. Joy is a divorced mother with two children, living with her extended dysfunctional family who all depend upon her. In the early 1990s she invents and markets the Miracle Mop. This becomes a great success, selling on a TV shopping channel. Her grandmother Mimi (Ladd) is always supportive of her, and it is she who supplies the narration during the film. The movie has a strong cast and Lawrence provides an exceptionally strong performance. There are some laugh out loud moments during the movie though at times it seemed a little flat. A good, but not a great film.

Pan
Director: Joe Wright
Certificate: PG
Cast Includes: Hugh Jackman, Levi Miller, Amanda Seyfried, Kathy Burke, Garrett Hedlund
A prequel to the story of Peter Pan. Peter (Miller) is abandoned by his mother and brought up in an orphanage run by Mother Barnabus (Burke). He is captured by pirates and taken to the magical world of Neverland where he is forced into slave labour by Bluebeard (Jackman). Peter and his friend James Hook (Hedlund) manage to escape to the forest where Peter befriends the fairy Tinker Bell. The fairies fight and defeat the pirates and Hook becomes captain of the Jolly Roger ship. A rather bland and somewhat contrived movie.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Director: J J Abrams
Certificate: 12A
Cast includes: Harrison Ford, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver.
The movie is set some thirty years after 'The Return of the Jedi'. The power vacuum left after the Empire was vanquished has been filled by the 'First Order' who start to control the galaxy with their stormtroopers. The movie tells of the adventures of Han Solo (Ford), Chewbacca and Princess (now General) Leia (Fisher) as they join new characters including Rey (Ridley), a scavenger, Finn (Boyega) a First Order Conscript and a spherical droid BB-8 as they battle the First Order led by the ominous Kylo Ren (Driver). This movie follows the style of the first star wars trilogy and, for this reviewer, was much better than the prequels. Old characters make a welcome appearance to supplement the newer heroes and villains. An excellent movie in all respects and the best Star Wars yet.

The Danish Girl
Director: Tom Hooper
Certificate: 15
Cast includes: Eddie Redmayne, Alicia Vikander, Ben Whishaw
The film is based on a novel by David Ebershoff and inspired by the lives of Dutch artists Lili Elbe/Einar Wegener (Redmayne) and Gerda Wegener (Vikander). Set in the mid 1920's Gerda is a portrait painter, but a sitter is late for an appointment. Hence Gerda gets her husband Einar to stand in for the missing female sitter. This has consequences. Einar has been harbouring a disire to become a female and the finished portrait attracts favourable attention from art dealers. Einar decides to permanently convert to his alter ego Lili Elbe and becomes one of the first people to received a surgical sex realignment procedure to change from a man to a woman. The movie follows both the artists as they come to terms with the change from Einar to Lili. A serious movie, well acted and well received that highlights the issues of gender reassignment.

The Hateful Eight
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Certificate: 18
Cast Includes: Samuel L Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Walton Goggins
A mystery western set in Wyoming some years after the American civil war, and told in six chapters. A stagecoach bound for Red Rock picks up a number of passengers. These include John Ruth (Russell), bounty hunter, Daisy Domergue (Leigh) a criminal, Major Marquis Warren (Jackson) another bounty hunter and Chris Mannix (Groggins) the prospective sheriff of Red Rock. Due to a blizzard, the stage coach is forced to make a stopover at Minnie's Haberdashery and here the travellers meet a local hangman, a loner, a Mexican and a Confederate General. These eight must spend the night together. However, one of them is plotting evil and the night descends into violence and death. This is an excellent movie, stylish, well acted and with excellent dialogue. Tarantino slowly builds up tension and suspense during the first half of the movie, leading to a final climactic resolution.

The Lady in the Van
Director: Nicholas Hytner
Certificate: 12A
Cast includes: Maggie Smith, Alex Jennings
A true story, adopted from 1999 West End Play of the same name and filmed on location in North London. In 1974, Miss Shephard (Smith) is a woman looking for somewhere to park after being moved on the council. Playwright Alan Bennett agrees to her parking her van (which is also her accommodation) in his drive for a couple of days. However Miss Shephard then lived in the drive for the next fifteen years and the film shows the relationship between Bennett and his nuisance neighbour. This is a warm, charming and thoroughly fun movie.

Have Your Say: Local Bus Service Subsidy Cuts

Original image via Stagecoach (Mash-Up via Internet)

Lancashire County Council has launched its initial consultation on the withdrawal of service subsidies from local bus services, as cuts in funding from central government continue to bite. We've listed all the local services that will be affected by these plans.

Although the consultation has only just begun, the Council has already formally advised the bus operators that funding will be cut and that the subsidies for Lancashire County Council bus service contracts will cease on 2nd April 2016.

The same services that faced cuts in 2014 are again under threat across the County, with cuts that will see an end to some services between Lancaster, Preston and Blackpool as well as local towns  and villages.

The Council's plans to cut services in 2014 met with fierce opposition, with over 1200 people signing a petition opposing cuts to services in the Lune Valley alone, criticism from both local MPs at the time, including current Morecambe MP David Morris, forcing an embarrassing climbdown on the plans for the Labour-run council.

Bus fare prices rose for school children in the aftermath of the cuts plans, and more recently, Lancashire County Council has offered communities the opportunity to run their own bus services through parish, town and borough councils to improve existing services and develop new routes.

Services that are subsidised in our local area and may be cut are:

001 Silverdale Shuttle (Monday to Saturday daytime)
002C Knott End - Stalmine - Hambleton - Poulton - (Blackpool) (Daily daytime and evenings)
005 Carnforth - Morecambe - Heysham - Overton (Monday to Saturday evenings and Sundays)
005B Brookhouse - Morecambe (Monday to Saturday daytime)
005C Carnforth - Morecambe (Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday daytime)
007 Lancaster - Vale/Lancaster - Marsh (Monday to Saturday evenings and Sundays)
007S/072 Pendle Witch Hopper (Summer Sunday daytime)
010 Lancaster - Ridge (Monday to Saturday evenings and Sundays)
033 Morecambe - Bare Circular (Monday to Saturday daytime)
040 Morecambe - Lancaster - Garstang - Preston (Daily odd time journeys)
042 Lancaster - Garstang - Poulton - Blackpool (Monday to Saturday evenings)
051 Carnforth - Warton - Silverdale (Daily daytime and evenings)
055 Lancaster - Carnforth (Daily evenings)
055C Carnforth - Lancaster (Monday, Wednesday and Friday daytime)
081A/081B Lancaster - Hornby - Kirkby Lonsdale (Monday to Saturday evenings and Sundays)
081A/081B (Lancaster) - Hornby - Arkholme/Melling - Kirkby Lonsdale (Monday to Saturday daytime)
089/089H Knott End - Pilling - Glasson Dock - Lancaster (Daily daytime and evenings)

Over the next five years to 2020/21 the council faces an unprecedented financial challenge, and needs to make savings of £262m on top of those agreed within previous budget processes. This extremely difficult financial picture is the result of continued cuts in funding by Government, rising costs and rising demand for key services.

Based on current spending and forecast demand for services, the council says it will not have sufficient financial resources to meet its statutory obligations by April 2018, even if they no longer continue to deliver any of the non-statutory services. The council will need to rely heavily on reserves in order to set a balanced budget for 2016/17 and 2017/18.

"With regards to the proposals for withdrawing all subsidies for bus services, unfortunately, many of the proposals will affect a wide range of service areas and impact on frontline services," the Council says. "Where possible, we are continuing to look for more efficient ways of working that save money without affecting our customers and communities.

"We have formally advised the bus operators of this decision and that the subsidies for Lancashire County Council bus service contracts will cease on 2 April 2016.

"Whilst many of these bus service contracts are not commercially viable, bus operators are considering whether they could provide some service level in the area, without any level of subsidy. Where this is not possible bus operators will deregister the service with the Traffic Commissioner from 2 April 2016. We have asked operators if they could confirm their intentions as soon as possible on this matter."

The Council says in its preamble to its consultation (which asks users to indicate which services they use and leave their opinion on the plans) that when information about potential service coverage is known, they will forward details of those services, whole or sections, which the Council are anticipating not to be provided, to other operators to establish if there are alternative commercial opportunities to maintain some level of service in an area.

"Following these discussions with bus operators, we would then be in a position to advise residents/local communities where conventional bus services would no longer operate and what, if any, mitigating action can be taken.

"This consultation is focused on the impacts of this decision and what mitigation may be taken."

Have Your Say on the Proposed Bus Service Cuts here

Why Not Write To Your Local Councillors or MPs about these proposed cuts?


Contact Your City Councillor - List By Ward Here

Contact Your County Councillor - Listed Alphabetically Here

Contact Cat Smith, MP for Lancaster and Fleetwood

Contact David Morris, MP for Morecambe and Lunesdale


Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Consultations on Lancashire County Council Budget Begin

County Hall - facing cuts
Lancashire County Council is urging local people to have their say on how it plans to tackle the huge savings it needs to make.

Over the next five years to 2020/21 the council must deliver savings of £262m on top of those agreed within previous budget processes.

The first of a series of consultations has now been launched, on plans for the library service, which could see up to 40 as-yet- unnamed libraries close, the withdrawal of subsidy for local bus services (already raising concerns for night workers and parents) and ceasing to provide Countryside Services, which will impact Conder Green and the Crook O'Lune in the Lancaster area.

There are also opportunities to comment on the budget proposals as a whole and for community groups to express an interest in taking over council buildings or services.

Further consultations will be launched shortly.

County Councillor Jennifer Mein, Leader of Lancashire County Council, said: "We face an unprecedented financial challenge as a result of relentless cuts in central government funding combined with a rising demand for our services and we now have to take a number of very difficult decisions.

"We know that based on current spending and forecast demand for services, the council will not have sufficient financial resources to meet its statutory obligations by April 2018 and the council will need to rely heavily on spending its reserves in order to set a balanced budget for 2016/17 and 2017/18.

"Our main priority is protecting the most vulnerable in our society and that obviously influences how we will make the necessary savings. The council can clearly not afford to continue delivering all of the services it does now, so this is a hard issue for councillors and our communities alike to face up to. However we are open to any ideas that people may have on how we can lessen the impact of savings and I would urge people to have their say."

• Full details of the consultation process are available at the Lancashire County Council website, http://www.lancashire.gov.uk, under Budget proposal consultation

Why Not Write To Your Local Councillors or MPs about these proposed cuts?


• Contact Your City Councillor - List By Ward Here

• Contact Your County Councillor - Listed Alphabetically Here

• Contact Cat Smith, MP for Lancaster and Fleetwood

• Contact David Morris, MP for Morecambe and Lunesdale



Monday, 4 January 2016

Funding confirmed to help flood-hit homes and businesses, but anger grows over government delays on affordable insurance scheme

Photo: Cat Smith

Photo: Nick Wilkinson

Lancashire County Council has received confirmation from government that funding will be available for residents and businesses hit by the recent floods, news welcomed by council leader Jenny Mein.

Work is already underway to ensure that the help already pledged for those affected by Storm Desmond before Christmas will be extended to those hit by Storm Eva.

Flooding problems continue to plague Lancashire residents and Tory Ribble Valley MP Nigel Evans has reacted angrily to Mail on Sunday findings that thousands of flood victims whose homes and businesses were ravaged in the storms are facing financial ruin because a Government-backed scheme giving them the legal right to affordable insurance has been delayed.

The paper's investigation has revealed that the scheme, called Flood Re, was first mooted in 2012 and should have been launched last July, but because of the Government and the insurance industry dragging their feet it was called off twice and now will not be in place until April.

Mr has said he is demanding a full explanation from the Prime Minister, as the needless hold-ups have heaped more misery on families whose lives have been devastated by the torrential downpours. They now face horrendous repair bills they cannot pay.

Businesses are not covered by Flood Re, as the Independent noted last week, so landlords, shops, and small businesses will not receive the same insurance subsidies as their residential neighbours.

Flood Funding Details

Every household affected will be eligible to receive £500, (despite misleading claims to the contrary from some quarters) with payments to be made by district councils, generally to the person registered for Council Tax. District councils will be working to identify affected households and make payments as quickly as possible following the floods.

Support will also be available for businesses severely affected either directly or indirectly by the flooding to help them recover and get trading again as soon as possible. This is due to be delivered by Boost Business Lancashire, which is led by the Lancashire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) to create and safeguard jobs in the county. Details of this support are available here: www.boostbusinesslancashire.co.uk/directory/flood-recovery-grant-scheme.aspx.

Further help in the shape of local tax relief may be available for residents and businesses whose properties have not been occupied due to the flooding, with details of the application process available from district councils.

Work is also underway to put help in place for households in particular need, for example because they are not insured. People may also be eligible to receive additional funding from a local discretionary fund being administered by the Community Foundation for Lancashire. Details are available here: www.lancsfloodappeal.org.uk.

Support will also be available for farmers from a scheme administered by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). Details are available at: www.gov.uk/government/news/recovery-fund-for-flood-affected-farmers-opens.

County Councillor Jenny Mein, leader of Lancashire County Council, said: "The confirmation that government funding will be extended to those affected by the most recent floods is very welcome news.

"We'll be working closely with district councils and partner organisations over the coming days and weeks to distribute these funds, and try to make the process work as smoothly as possible.

"Work is also ongoing to put funding in place for people who may be in particular need and I would urge anyone who would like to find out more to look at the details available on the web and contact the Community Foundation early in the New Year.

"Support will also be available through Boost Business Lancashire to help businesses get back on their feet as soon as possible.

"I'm very grateful for the wonderful response from people across the county and beyond to help those affected by flooding, and we'll be continuing to do all we can in the coming weeks to help people and businesses get back to normal."

• You can find links to more information about flooding at www.lancashire.gov.uk. Follow #LancsAlert on Twitter and Facebook for the latest flooding updates and information