Friday, 24 April 2009

Exploring Live Literature with LitFest

What might you create with five days access to Lancaster LitFest's new auditorium space at the Storey, critical friendships with Litfest's Artistic Director Andy Darby and Flax editor Sarah Hymas, and a materials/expenses budget of up £500?

LitFest is interested in receiving a written expression of interest that answers that question and inspires them to work with you on your project.

Litfest's Andy Darby and Sarah Hymas will work with a writer or writers on developing a piece of live literature for performance through a group or series of meetings/rehearsals over five days. They'll offer their skills and experience, providing an objective eye in the devising and/or development of the piece. The project offers a period of R&D and there is no expectation that a finished work will be produced at this time.

The project will take place in the Auditorium at The Storey, Meeting House Lane, Lancaster LA1 1TH between July - September 2009, with five days of meets or rehearsals with the Litfest team to be arranged at a mutually agreeable timescale.

To find out more about this research and development opportunity visit Exploring Live Literature

Lancaster pub brawl leaves man in critical condition

Community support officers were still posted outside Wetherspoons in Spring Garden Street today after a large fight on Thursday left one man in hospital in critical condition with serious head injuries.

Police are now appealing for anyone who was in the Sir Richard Owen Wetherspoons pub yesterday afternoon to come forward with information.

Police were called to the scene after receiving a call to the disturbance at about 4.15pm where a large group of men had been fighting.

Although the main police station is on the same street as the pub, police report the fight had dispersed by the time they had arrived. A 45-year-old man from Preston with serious head injuries was found unconscious at the scene and taken to Royal Lancaster Infirmary, where he is currently in a critical condition.

A large number of the people involved left the scene following the fight and at this stage 17 men have been arrested on suspicion of affray.

"Although we have already made a number of arrests, the investigation is still in its early stages," comments Acting Detective Superintendent Justin Srivastava, "and we would appeal for anyone who was in the Sir Richard Owen pub yesterday to come forward and contact police.

"It is unknown at this stage what caused the fight to break out and we are continuing to carry out enquiries locally and speaking to witnesses to try and establish what happened.

"This is a complex investigation which occurred on a busy day in Lancaster and I would urge anyone who has not yet spoken to police, who may have any information about the people involved in this disturbance or who may have seen anyone involved leaving the scene."

• Anyone with any information can contact police on 08451 25 35 45 or via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Green Councillor Resigns

Green Councillor Catriona Stamp, who has represented the Castle Ward since her election in 2007 and previously represented Scotforth West Ward from 2003 to 2007, has resigned from Lancaster City Council.

"Over the last year I have struggled to fulfil my duties as a councillor, due to ill health and an increase in other commitments," she explained. "These problems are set to continue, so I feel that my resignation is best, both for me and for people in my ward."

Catriona, who is well known as a local artist (see, has been active member of the Lancaster community for many years. In addition to her work as a councillor she is also a member of the Lancashire branch of NCBI - National Coalition Building Institute - and has helped organise the marking of Holocaust Memorial Day each year. She's also involved in Seed Savers, who organise the annual Apple Day and Potato Days.

The Notice of Election advertising the vacancy has been published immediately and it is anticipated that the vacancy in the Castle Ward will be filled by a by-election to be held on June 4 2009, on the same day as those for Lancashire County Council, Morecambe Parish Council and the European Parliament. Nominations close at 4.00pm on Thursday 7 May.

• Nomination packs for the by-election, along with those for the county council and Morecambe Parish Council, can be obtained from the Elections Office from Monday April 27 by telephoning 01524 582905. People with access to the internet can also download nomination forms by visiting

• Nomination forms for election to the European Parliament are available by emailing, telephoning 0161 234 4098 or writing to: Office of the Regional Returning Officer for the North West, Manchester City Council, Town Hall, Manchester, M60 2LA.

St. George's Day Music

In amongst the other things that are happening on St George’s Quay today to mark St. George's Day and over the weekend, singer and guitarist Martin Stimson will be performing at the Three Mariners pub tonight.

Kicking off at 8.30, organiser Tony Cooke describes Martin as an "all-round musician, songwriter, brilliant raconteur, Morris dancer and an ambassador of English folklore."

A singer, guitarist, mandola player, drummer and bodhran player who regularly plays country dance music with Shake A Leg and folk-rock with Roughtown, tonight he will be doing what he enjoys most - entertaining with an eclectic mixture of traditional (and some contemporary) songs from Lancashire and the North of England.

On Sunday (26 April) after some Morris dancing outside the Mariners, Tony Cooke himself will be performing, alongside Pat Simmons. Their gig event kicks off at 2.00pm.

Two of Lancaster’s most respected folk musicians and singers, Pat Simmons (Moonstone) and Tony Cooke (Free Reed Band, The Duo), will be singing some English songs and playing some tunes throughout the afternoon.

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

County Council "Misled" over Bypass

Bypass Route(Updated 24 April 2009 with Council response): It seems our local councils may have been a trifle slapdash -- to say the least - when it came to full disclosure over its application for funding for the controversial Lancaster Northern Link Road.

Documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act have revealed that, prior to the Governments decision to grant entry to the road building funding programme, Lancaster City Council failed to advise the Planning Inspectorate that the City Council had withdrawn its support for the controversial Heysham M6 Northern Link road.

Following the Public Inquiry on Lancaster’s Core Strategy, a draft Inspector’s Report was prepared by the Government Planning Inspectorate, and Lancaster City Council was asked to check it for errors and omissions. In June 2008 the Planning Services Department at Lancaster City Council replied, stating that "....the [City] Council has undertaken a thorough fact check of the report and appendices. The Council has found no fundamental errors of fact. There are a few very minor factual errors and typos which the Inspector may consider correcting. A list of these is attached to this letter."

Yet, in the draft Inspectors Report on the Core Strategy Development Plan, Transport Solutions for Lancaster and Morecambe has discovered, was an erroneous statement that the City Council "supported" the Link road. In fact, the full Council had voted on 20th June 2007 specifically to withdraw support for the scheme.

Despite this, Lancashire County Council, in its desperate bid to gain funding for the road, then told the Government that the City Council actually supported the scheme.

"It’s hard to see how the officers at the City Council could make such a stupendous blunder," said David Gate, chair of TSLM. "The polluting and destructive road plan is a massive controversy, and the full Council’s decision was so well publicised.

“The Inspector was misled," David argues. "The Government was misled. In a recession when £137 million of taxpayers’ money is at stake, the democratic decision of the Council, reflecting the wishes of its electorate to reject the HGV route, is clearly fundamental.

"The City Council and a great many people who live in the district, including the sitting MP, have given this under-performing road a massive thumbs down, and the Government should have been told that before it parted with scarce public money."

Responding to TSLM's claims, Mark Cullinan, chief executive of Lancaster City Council, said: "The Core Strategy inspector was fully aware of the facts relating to the council's original support for the scheme and its resolution of June 20 2007.

"He had the Heysham/M6 link Inquiry inspector's report before him and asked questions about the council's resolution at the Examination in Public.

"The Planning Services factual check letter refers to the inspector's draft report following the Examination in Public. In paragraph 7.109 he had stated that the city council still supports the principle of this new road.

"He did not say that that it supported the northern route and that was in line with the resolution which states that 'This Council confirms that Lancaster District needs a Heysham-M6 Link'.

"The wording in the Core Strategy to which TSLM object was in the original submission prior to May 2007 which reflected the Council position prior to the June resolution.

"The inspector did not decide that there was a need to change the wording and without a recommendation from him to do so the council, under the new planning system cannot make adjustments itself.

"It must adopt the inspector's final version or withdraw it. The council decided to adopt the strategy with the inspector’s amendments accepted at Full Council in July 2008."

Transport Solutions for Lancaster and Morecambe web site

Monday, 20 April 2009

Library Closes for Refurb

Lancaster Central Library will be closed for oen week from Monday 27 April, re-opening on 5 May, offering a reduced service from the Junior Library on New Street.

The work is the initial stage of major re-development for the Library now in progress, the result of it securing Lottery funding.

The work means that upcoming Get it Loud in Libraries gigs will take place elsewhere in the District. Kristin Hersh will appear at the new Storey, Lancaster on 23 May and British Sea Power will perform at Morecambe Library on 7th August. More info at

• For information about local library services go to: