Friday, 18 November 2016

Gritters get ready for a cold weekend

Lancashire's gritters are gearing up to keep the county moving over the weekend, with further wintry showers and icy conditions forecast tonight (Friday).

The cold conditions are forecast to last throughout the weekend, with rain, sleet and ice possible on Friday through to Sunday before the weather becomes more settled early next week.

County Councillor John Fillis, cabinet member for highways and transport, said: "This change in weather is keeping our gritting teams very busy, and we're well prepared to deal with whatever the weather brings over the weekend.

"The forecast predicts wintry showers and very cold temperature tonight with the prospect of widespread frost and ice where surfaces are wet. I would therefore ask people to be particularly careful on Saturday morning as conditions could be icy.

"Our highway teams will be out gritting in the worst hit areas, but drivers should take extra care as when a road has been gritted, it can remain icy until the movement of traffic has worked the salt in and made it take effect, so it's vital to drive according to the conditions and consider that there could be icy patches."

Lancashire County Council has a fleet of 45 frontline gritters which can treat the approximately 1,800 miles of the county council's priority road network within around four hours, but may take longer in severe conditions.

• For more information about travelling this winter visit www.lancashire.gov.uk/winter, follow LCC on Twitter for news and updates at www.twitter.com/lancashirecc or Facebook www.facebook.com/lancashirecc

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Local Cinema Round-Up for the 16th to 24th November 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.

During this period we see five new releases making it to the local screens. There is adult drama with American Honey (15) and Julieta (15). Adult comedy, and our first Christmas entry, comes with Bad Santa 2 (15). Finally we have a family fantasy with the Harry Potter spin-off Fantastic Bests and Where to Find Them (12A) and the animation Your Name (12A).

Movies that have been dropped include the drama Inferno and the two horror films Don't Breathe and Ouija: Origin of Evil.

Films that are approaching the end of their screening include Deepwater Horizon and Jack Reacher: Never Go Back. However we do see the return of the fantasy drama Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children and the Western The Magnificent Seven.

Movies being shown with a fantasy theme include the science fiction Arrivals, mystical superhero action in Doctor Strange and the fantasy adventures Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them; Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children and Pete's Dragon.

Comedy comes this period with the family drama A Street Cat Named Bob and the adult Christmas sequel Bad Santa 2.

Drama is provided by the fact-based Deepwater Horizon; life on benefits is shown in I, Daniel Blake; action with Jack Reacher: Never Go Back; crime in The Accountant and psychological action with The Girl on the Train. In addition there is family themed drama in American Honey; Julieta and escape from poverty in Queen of Katwe. Romance is provided by The Light Between Oceans.

Family entertainment is represented by Storks; The BFG and Trolls. In addition, the Vue is offering a weekend selection of children oriented films with Little Screen: November Show.

Finally, for an early start to Christmas, we have the music of Andre Rieu:Christmas with Andre.

Reviews

A Street Cat Named Bob
Director: Roger Spottiswoode
Certificate: 12A
Cast includes: Luke Treadaway, Joanne Froggatt
Based on the best selling book of the same name, the movie tells the story of James Bowen (Treadaway) who is homeless and a recovering drug addict. He is relocated to a bedsit in North London and given a final chance to tun his life around by his support worker Val (Froggatt). Bowen struggles to live by busking in Covent Garden. One day a ginger cat finds him. The cat has an infected paw and James takes it for treatment. From then on the pair are inseparable. The movie is streetwise and serious but also manages to be humorous and silly. Treadaway gives a good performance, but the cat steals the show. An enjoyable if slightly soppy family feel-good film.

Doctor Strange
Director: Scott Derrickson
Certificate: 12A
Cast includes: Benedict Cumberbatch, Tilda Swinton, Mads Kikkelsen
Stephen Strange (Cumberbatch) was a surgeon whose career was ruined by a car accident which crushed his hands. He learned of an Ancient One (Swinton) with healing powers and so travels to Nepal to seek out the mystic. Here Strange learns of the different dimensions, magic and becomes a warrior on the astral plane. Meanwhile a former disciple of the Ancient One Kaecilius (Mikkelsen) has turned to the dark side and is intent on invoking the malevolent Dormammu from his alien abode. Strange much choose between a life of fortune or to defend the earth from magical attack. Doctor Strange has made a very successful transition from comic to the screen and the movie provides a good plot with excellent acting and dialogue. Special effects are very convincing and the film is one of the better Marvel super-hero movies.

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children
Director: Tim Burton
Certificate: 12A
Cast includes: Samuel L Jackson, Eva Green, Asa Butterfield, Judi Dench
A rather dark fantasy drama based on the 2011 best selling novel by Ransom Riggs. Jake (Butterfield), following the death of his grandfather, finds Miss Peregrines Home for Peculiar Children. This is a refuge for people with extraordinary gifts and it is fixed in one day in 1940, which they continually re-live. The inhabitants of the home can access different time zones. However they have powerful enemies, led by Mr Barron (Jackson), who also has peculiar powers. Jake finds himself being called upon to help his new friends. This is a very busy film with plenty of characters, lots of action and CGI special effects. However, in this variety, there seems limited time for the characters to fully develop. The movie has received mixed reviews but this reviewer found it great fun.

Storks
Director: Nicholas Stoller, Doug Sweetland
Certificate: U
Cast Includes: Kelsey Grammer, Andy Samberg, Katie Crown, Anton Starkman
Conerstone used to be in the business of delivering babies and most of its employees are stalks. However CEO stalk Hunter (Grammer) discontinued the service for the more lucrative business of delivering parcels. The business receives a letter from Nate (Starkman) a neglected boy who wants a baby brother and Tulip (Crown), a woman working for Cornerstone, causes the baby machine to create a girl in response to the letter. Now Tulip and her stork friend Junior (Samberg) must deliver the baby before Hunter finds out. This involves their facing a pack of wolves, militant penguins and an avalanche. This is a bizarre, non stop and fun packed movie that will appeal to all ages. It has been well received by the critics and is sure to please.

The Accountant
Director: Gavin O'Connor
Certificate: 15
Cast includes: Ben Affleck, J. K. Simmons, Anna Kendrick, Jon Bernthal
Christian Wolff (Affleck) plays an autistic anto-hero, a mathematics savant who works as a freelance accountant for criminal organisations. He is being pursued by Raymond King (Simmons) from the Treasury Department Crime Enforcement division and Christian, to put him off his trail, takes on legitimate work tracing a discrepancy in the accounts of a Robotics company. Dana Cummings (Kendrick) was the clerk who found the accounting error and, working together, Dana and Christian find $61 million dollars have been embezzled. The head of the robotics company commits suicide, and Dana and Christian find themselves targeted by a hitman known as 'The Assassin' (Bernthal). The movie contains a good share of both violence and humour. The plot show some inconsistencies, but there are plenty of great set pieces. A fun and enjoyable movie.

The Girl on the Train
Director: Tate Taylor
Certificate: 12A
Cast includes Emily Blunt, Haley Bennett, Luke Evans, Justin Theroux
A movie based on Paula Hawkins best selling 2015 novel of the same name. Rachel (Blunt) is an alcoholic who recently divorced her husband Tom (Theroux). She commutes every day by train and on her journey she fantasises about the seemingly perfect couple Scott (Evans) and Megan (Bennett) Hipwell who live in a house that she passes. Rachel witnesses something shocking on her journey and then hears Megan Hipwell is missing. She tells the police and starts her own investigation. Yet she cannot remember where where she was on the night of Megan's disappearance, and Megan and Scott are neighbours of her ex husband. Hence Rachel find the police start to suspect she is involved in the mystery. This is a well acted first rate mystery with a plot that provides a good number of unexpected turns. A must-see movie.

Monday, 14 November 2016

Cat Smith MP supports Usdaw's campaign to protect shopworkers from violence, threats and abuse

Cat Smith MP with General Secretary and Deputy General Secretary of USDAW
Lancaster's Cat Smith MP has joined with the members of the retail union USDAW (the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) to call for an end to abuse in the workplace.

As part of the union's Freedom From Fear Campaign, which seeks to prevent violence, threats and abuse directed at retail staff, Usdaw members are highlighting the problems faced by staff during Respect for Shopworkers Week, which runs from 14th to 20th November.

"Too often retail employees are confronted with violence, threats and abuse whilst serving the public," says Cat Smith, Labour MP for Lancaster and Fleetwood. "It's really important we stand together and ask people to keep their cool and respect shopworkers, especially as we approach the busy Christmas shopping period.

"I was personally shocked to hear about the abuse that shopworkers can receive on what can be a daily basis. No one should have to go to work expecting abuse.

"I will continue to campaign with Usdaw to provide shopworkers the support they need and deserve. We must give a clear message that abusing or assaulting workers who are serving the public is totally unacceptable."

"We are grateful to Cat Smith for supporting our campaign to keep our members safe at work," commented John Hannett, USDAW's General Secretary.

The union has some 433,000 members nationwide.

"Often, in the course of their duties, shopworkers are expected to deal with tense and difficult situations. Unfortunately these can escalate to verbal abuse and assault. Over 300 shopworkers are assaulted every day and it is time to say enough is enough.

"Parliament has placed the legal obligation on shopworkers to enforce the law in relation to age restricted sales and Parliament must also ensure that the law also protects shopworkers who are doing their job. Politicians and members of the public must work together to ensure that shopworkers get the respect they deserve."