Friday, 12 June 2009

XWA wrestling to take place at The Dome

The hottest night of pro wrestling in the UK this summer is coming soon to Morecambe.

The Dome is bracing itself for Saturday 4th July when feuds will explode, scores will be settled and issues decided at XWA Vendetta.

The biggest issue of all surrounds Morecambe’s new wrestling superstar, ‘The Psychotic Warrior’ Johnny Phere.

Will Phere be reinstated into British Wrestling? Or will his enforced exile from the UK scene continue? Find out on the night.

On the same night, two of the most popular superstars of the UK ring will team for the first time ever when British Heavyweight Champion Sam Slam joins forces with ‘The Wonderkid’ Jonny Storm.

Known as ‘The UK Megapowers’, they will battle Deadly Serious in wild tag team action. And Declan O’Connor and Joey Hayes are set to meet in a ‘Manchester Rules’ match - where falls count anywhere in The Dome and absolutely anything goes.

Other XWA stars set to appear at Vendetta include ‘The Bollywood Dream’ RJ Singh, ‘The Heavyweight House of Pain’ Stixx, ‘RockStar’ Spud, Tiger Bailey, Paul Tyrrell and ‘Shining Light’ Stevie Knight.

• Vendetta is describes as family entertainment, but under 14s must be accompanied by an adult. Doors 7pm. Bell time 7.30pm. Tickets available now from the box office on 01524 582803.

Thursday, 11 June 2009

McGuinness takes 11th in second Supersport TT


Morecambe's John McGuinness finished 11th in Wednesday's heavily delayed second Supersport 600cc race at the Isle of Man TT races with the race being held in extremely damp conditions. Rain on the west part of the Island left a long section of the course with a lot of standing water and with the other parts of the course dry, conditions were extremely tricky.

Starting at number two once more on his HM Plant Honda, a couple of major slides, particularly one at Rhencullen, meant John found himself down in 11th place at the end of lap one and a lap of 115.518mph was over a minute and a half slower than the times of the previous day. The Glen Helen section remained damp throughout and John slipped further back on the 2nd lap to 14th but a final lap of 119.402mph elevated him back up to 11th at the end of the four laps.

Speaking later a disappointed John said,"It was really tough out there today and the roads were really wet on the first lap. There was standing water for a good ten miles on the first lap and I had a couple of really bad slides, one at Rhencullen putting me out of the saddle and nearly over the handlebars. I was as close to coming off as I've ever done and it really knocked my confidence. After that, I just rode at a pace I felt comfortable with in the conditions but 11th obviously isn't where I want to be.

"Some of the boys were pushing really hard today and I just didn't think it was safe to do that. There'll always be another TT race so I just concentrated on bringing the bike home and getting a finish. We've just got the Senior race left now and having won the Superbike race earlier in the week, I'll be hoping to do the same again on Friday."

Picture by Mark 'Wally' Walters

Get involved and have your say!

Would you like to have a say in the way Lancaster City Council provides its services?

Then why not sign up for the council’s community consultation register and help make sure its services meet the needs of the community.

The council has just published its annual consultation plan – an outline of the consultations that will be taking place over the coming year.

Up and coming consultations include a Review of Gambling Licensing Policy, a Salt Ayre (Sports Centre) and Community Pools Customer Satisfaction Survey and investigations into Grounds maintenance and public conveniences

“It's important that people have their say and get involved so the council can make sure its services are meeting the needs of our communities and help to inform council decision making," feels Coun Stuart Langhorn, Leader of Lancaster City Council.

“Last year we carried out 62 consultations and the results have helped influence the council's decisions and for us to improve our services.”

• To view the annual consultation plan and to register for the community consultation register please visit Alternatively, contact Jennifer Williams, the council’s Consultation Officer, on 01524 582268 or email for more information on how to get involved.

Spotlight's June Jamboree

Steeve the Poet - Spotlight April 2008

The Spotlight Club is back at the Lancaster's new Storey venue on Friday 19th June, complete with an impressive line up that will follow the usual "Open Mic" session.

Poet Mihkel Hassan is 21, born in Salford, and is a Hip Hop street poet. He made his performance debut at Spotlight in November 2008. "My poetry is political, it challenges the government and questions society. I feel blessed, coming from a council estate and to be so young, and having the opportunity to express and represent the people is amazing."

Mihkel was recently appointed co-ordinator for a music production based on Romeo and Juliet and gang rivalry. "So I'll be workin' with some young mc's n rappers aged 12-19 and bands at the Ridge Community Centre n Central High's music studio, writin' n co-writin' lyrics and tracks. I'm workin on Diversity fm through the day, n then workin' on an emergency accommodation project for young people."

Poet Rebecca Wilmott is making her Spotlight debut after appearing at the Open Mic. "I'm 20 years old and currently on a year out," she reveals. "I'm going to Manchester Met in September to study English Literature. I promote gigs at Lancaster Library and am hoping to start a creative writing workshop with primary school children...

"I'm influenced by anything and carry a notepad with me at all times," she adds. "I would describe my poetry as very figurative and fantasty inspired. I'm most influenced by distorted fairy tales such as Angela Carter's Bloody Chamber and my favourite book is Star Girl by Jerry Spinelli. I write because it helps me escape from and create my own reality and to express myself creatively."
Spotlight followers will need no introduction to Steeve The Poet (pictured above), who has been performing at Spotlight since day one. It is however over a year since he graced the Spotlight stage so for those new to his immensely humorous style be prepared for pithy and lugubrious takes on love found, love lost and love left in the lost property office of life's great railway station... occasionally accompanied by Casio keyboards. 

"A lot of people would take the Spotlight club for granted, it's been going for so long. But it's hard enough to write stuff in the first place, very difficult to write stuff, plus to read it out is a bit more difficult, and to read it out and get people to appreciate it is a bit more difficult, to get people together and read stuff out together at the same time is darned difficult - but to do it and to get people to pay for it, I've never seen another example of something that happens like that, and to do it month after month after month after month, well, you know it's a miracle."

Poet Rosie Whitmore made her first appearance at Spotlight in the February Slam and now returns on the bill. "I'm looking forward to being at Spotlight," she says. "I really enjoyed being in the slam - it did my ego no end of good. I'm delighted to take part again -  I don't want paying - It's a great night out."

Also on the night there will be music from Stuart Anthony, who writes and performs moving songs that lead you into his honest perceptions and emotions of love and life. He has a new album out now, House of Sun, mastered and part mixed by Mark Tucker who has worked with the eminent likes of PJ Harvey, Jethro Tull, Fairport Convention and Portishead. 

"Influences are so fluid and kind of subliminal,  it's hard to put a list in that continually represents me - I sound like me, but for the benefit of keyword searches, Tim Buckley, Nick Drake, Jeff Buckley, Nick Cave, Ray Davies, Neil Young, Cat Stevens, David Bowie, Lou Reed, The Velvet Underground, The Beatles, Robert Kirby, George Martin, Pink Floyd, The Byrds, Brian Wilson, Paul McCartney, John Lennon, Bob Dylan, blah, blah, blah... 

"...What do I want people to take from my music?...Whatever you want.'

Also on the bill are The Low Countries, described by as "Indie folk at it's best with a home grown realism." Nigel Parrington, Els D'hooge and Wes Martin combine banjo, guitar, vocals and harmonica and playing melodical odes to made up apples and imaginary films, amongst other things. They list as their influences: folk radio, fermented hops, generations come and gone... 

• Compered by Simon Baker, Doors Open 8.15pm. Admission £4 / £2 (conc.) with Open Mic starting at 8.45 - 9.15pm 

Vote Now on EU Membership, Says Smtih

Morecambe and Lunesdale MP Geraldine Smith has called for a referendum on whether Britian should remain part of the European Union.

Speaking yesterday during the Prime Minister's debate about proposed changes for the reform of Parliament following the recent expenses scandal, Smith declared "One democratic reform that I feel that the British public would like to see is a referendum on the principle of whether we remain in the European Union.

"No one under the age of 50 has had a chance to vote on the question of Europe," she noted, "and I think that, as a matter of course, we should have a referendum once every 15 to 20 years."

The Prime Minister, who has already sidestepped demands for a referendum over the Lisbon Treaty and the adoption of the controversial European constitution, was unimpressed.

"This issue was not put to the people by the Conservative Government who put us into the European Union," he replied. "It was not put to the people when we went into the European Common Market, but it was put by a Labour Government in 1975. The conclusion was pretty clear—two thirds of the people wanted to be part of the Union. I do not think that that opinion has fundamentally changed."

Commenting a call from Labour MP Kate Hoey for a referendum on the European constitution, Brown said the government had been very careful to defend British interests when the Lisbon Treaty was signed.

"By the red lines that we drew for the Lisbon treaty, we have done everything in our power to protect the position of British citizens in areas where we want this Parliament and this country to make their own decisions," he declared. "However, while we are thinking about Europe, I must remind my hon. Friend that three million jobs depend on our membership of the EU, that 700,000 British companies trade with the EU, and that 60 per cent of our exports go to the EU.

"We have a purposeful relationship with the EU that is in the interests of our economy, environment and security, and the idea that we should not have that relationship at this point in the 21st century seems to me to be wrong."

Morecambe Parish Council to hold first meeting

The first meeting of Morecambe Parish Council will take place on Thursday 18th June.

26 newly elected parish councillors will meet at Morecambe Town Hall at 7.00pm to discuss matters such as the Council's budget for the next year, funding for local Police Community Support Officers, consider whether to allow "public participation" sessions at the beginning of meetings and decide whether the Council wishes to ask the City Council for permission to use the Armorial Bearings of the former Morecambe and Heysham Borough Council on letterheads and civic regalia.

Councillors will first elect a chairman and vice-chairman for the forthcoming year before moving on to discuss items including the 2009/10 budget and appointment of working groups.

The public is welcome to attend the meeting.

Galbraith Trust offers money for local groups

Local groups in the Lancaster and Morecambe area are being invited to apply to The Galbraith Trust, which has now distributed over £250,000 to local organisations since it began.

The trust, set up in 2001 from the estate of Ian Galbraith - the former city hardware store owner - offers funding for local voluntary and community groups for a variety of purposes.

Previous grants have helped groups with items such as funding for equipment or transport, or for community festivals and events.

The Trust is once again inviting applications from local voluntary and community groups for purposes which the trustees feel are of benefit to the organisation and to the local community.

The Galbraith Trust makes grants to organisations (not individuals) for any charitable purpose, and the maximum which can be applied for is £3,000. There are four rounds per year and the next closing date is 17th July 2009, with decisions at the end of July.

• Forms and guidelines are available from Penny Darby at Lancaster District CVS, telephone (01524) 555900 (ext. 32), or can be downloaded directly by visiting the LDCVS website at and clicking on ‘Funding’

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Citizens Advice Seek More Volunteers

Lancaster's Citizens Advice Bureau will be holding another information session for prospective volunteers on Thursday 18 June at 4.30, at the Bureau on KIng Street.

CAB still (and probably always will..) need more advisers and support volunteers and tells us they gained at least one new volunteer who found out about us through virtual-lancaster. We're delighted to hear it!

The info session will take place at the Bureau, 87 King Street and to register an interest people can email

• More info:

Two fifths for McGuinness on TT day two


Morecambe's John McGuinnesstook a brace of fifths in the Supersport and Superstock races on Tuesday, the second day of the 2009 Isle of Man TT Races.

The HM Plant Honda rider's first outing came in the four-lap Supersport race and an opening lap of over 124mph saw him slot into fifth place. Having overhauled Gary Johnson on the road, he increased his pace on lap two to maintain his position, although a lap later he was relegated to sixth by teammate Steve Plater.

The combination of a 125mph+ lap and race leader Bruce Anstey retiring on the fourth lap still saw John move back up to fifth at the chequered flag.

Later in the day he was out in the Superstock race on his British Championship Padgetts Honda and the race started brilliantly for John as a new lap record of 128.538mph saw him hold on to first place at the end of the first 37.73 miles. However, he soon ran into problems with the rear tyre and after a couple of major slides he had to ease off and ride at a pace that was more comfortable.

Although he was still lapping in the 126-127mph bracket the record-breaking 129mph+ laps of the race leaders meant he had to again settle for fifth place at the conclusion of the four laps.

"It's been a hard day today and whilst a couple of fifths aren't too bad, I was definitely hoping for a bit more, especially in the Superstock race," said a slightly disappointed John afterwards. "It's the bike I'm riding all year and the race started perfectly when I slotted onto 'P1' but I knew on the second lap that any chance of winning was over. I had a couple of slides at Quarter Bridge and Braddan Bridge and then a major one at Greeba Bridge when my feet were off the pegs and everything. I really thought I was off. After that, I just had to ride at a safe pace and brought the bike home in fifth.

"The pace in today's races has been phenomenal and fair play to the boys at the front but I'll be gunning for them in the final two races this week!"

John has been back out in action this morning on Wednesday when he will be competing in the second four-lap Supersport race.

University of Cumbria funds African water pump

tech_Playpump.jpgUniversity of Cumbria students have helped pay for an ingenious style of pump generating clean water for African villages.

Playpumps, the brainchild of the One Foundation, are sited at schools or villages. Instead of walking long distances to find a clean water supply, children play on a special roundabout. It draws water from underground, which is then stored in a tank for the village.

Since 2007, five pence from every bottle of One water sold at the University of Cumbria, which has more than 15,000 students at campuses and sites in Carlisle Ambleside, Penrith, Lancaster, Whitehaven, Barrow and London, has gone towards the cost of paying for a Playpump.

"Each Playpump costs about £7,500 to £8,500 dependant on the dollar exchange rate - so the students have drunk a lot of water!" says Hospitality manager Ann Burgess said. "We made a decision to support this cause as one of our key courses is teacher training - and this project allows children from the developing world to attend school.

"The pump that University of Cumbria students have paid for will be branded with our name when a site has been allocated."

Work will now begin to find the best location for your PlayPump. This process will involve a series of geo-hydrological and chemical tests to ensure that the water source is suitable for human consumption.

The University of Cumbria should find out in the next few months the name and location of the school or village where the pump will be located

Clean water will lead to improvements in health, education, gender equality, and economic development.

• Further information on Playpumps can be found here:

Monday, 8 June 2009

Morecambe's McGuinness takes record-breaking 15th TT victory

John McGuiness powers to 15th TT win.jpgMorecambe's John McGuinness won a record-breaking Superbike TT race today, coming home over 18 seconds clear of HM Plant Honda team-mate Steve Plater.

McGuinness also set a new outright lap record of 130.442 mph on his way to claiming his 15th TT victory - the second highest total in the history of the races.

With dry, sunny conditions all around the course, McGuinness was pushed hard in the early stages by Conor Cummins on the McAdoo Racing Kawasaki and his advantage was only five seconds at the end of the first lap but he psuhed hard on his second lap and a new outright lap record of 130.442mph saw his lead up to 11 seconds. However, team-mate Steve Plater, who became the second man to officially lap at over 130mph with a speed of 130.122mph, cut the deficit to less than 8 seconds half way round the 3rd lap.

John responded though and later admitted that he pushed really hard on the fifth lap to pull away from his fellow Honda rider. This he duly did and with another 130mph lap on his sixth and final lap, 130.259mph, he ran home 18.11 seconds clear.

"Conditions were a bit dusty to begin with and there wasn't much grip out there to begin with," said a delighted John afterwards, "but I had a good go from the start and was able to make a bit of a break.

"I saw +4, +8 and then +11 but I was strong in some parts and weak in others so had to keep pushing. I had a real good go on the fifth lap and got stuck in, especially on the bottom part of the circuit, and that allowed me to make the break properly."

"I was feeling a bit of pressure what with it being Honda's 50th anniversary of road racing," he added, "so I was glad to repay them back and with a Honda 1-2-3, it's been a perfect day. I'm proud to have won my 15th TT and to have increased my outright lap record so thanks to everyone for their support, I hope all the fans out there enjoyed it today."

The races come in quick succession now with John out in both the Supersport (4 laps) and Superstock (4 laps) on Tuesday, the former getting underway at 12.15pm.

Euro Election Frustrates Sitting MEP

The North West’s Liberal Democrat MEP Chris Davies said that he was content but not ecstatic with his party’s performance in the European elections after the results for the North West were announced on Sunday.

The Conservatives took three seats, Labour two and the UK Independence Party, Liberal Democrats and British National Party one each in the North West.

"I would have liked to have seen my party sweep the board, but we had 11 Liberal Democrat MEPs when I left Brussels and I return to a group of exactly the same size," commented Chris Davies. "We did not lose a single seat.

"In the North West we topped the poll in Stockport, South Lakeland, and Burnley, while the detailed results show that we are on target to make gains in the region at the general election, whenever it is held.

"It was the most frustrating election campaign I have ever known," Chris continued. "On no occasion did anyone in the media ask me about the work I actually do in the European Parliament. Democracy has not been well served by the concentration on Gordon Brown and Westminster expenses, and I doubt if anyone knows more about the issues facing the European Union at the end of the campaign than they did before it started."

Commenting on Nick Griffin's win, Davies said he was "sorry" that the British National Party won a seat, "but I take heart from the fact that 92% of those who voted in the North West rejected its policies of racial division.

"There will be a lot of good people who wanted to make a gesture of protest so did not bother to vote. As a result they woke up today to find they had a BNP representative, and I hope they are kicking themselves.

"In the European Parliament the BNP will join a small group of racists and hate-filled extremists from other countries," Davies continued. "The vast majority of MEPs know from Europe’s history that their ideas lead only to death, destruction and misery, and are determined to ensure that it never happens again."

The BBC reported that during his post-election speech Mr Griffin said the BNP was not racist, but won votes because it "spoke openly about the problem of immigration."

Labour's Harriet Harman described the result as "terrible" while Tory leader David Cameron said he was "sickened".

Planning Inspectorate Responds to IOC Concnerns

The Planning Inspectorate, which is conducting the Inquiry into Centros' plans for Lancaster's Canal Corridor that starts on 16th June, has responded to concerns about what campaign group Its Our City described as reduced time to present their case (see news story), saying it will consider extending their presentation period if needed.

"The Planning Inspectorate consider that it is important that all parties have the appropriate amount of time to present their case to an inquiry, including this one," Mark Southgate, the Inspectorate's Director of Casework told virtual-lancaster. "The inquiry will be conducted in a fair, open and impartial way to enable the full participation of all groups.

"In the case of "Its Our City" the time allocated to them to present their evidence is one and a half days, which was the amount of time that they requested at the pre-inquiry meeting held in April. Consequently, we do not consider there has been any reduction in the time allocated to
"Its Our City".

"Should they now consider that this is inadequate time to present their case then the Inspector would be willing to consider providing some more time on the final Thursday, within the proposed timetable of the inquiry, should this prove necessary".