Sunday, 14 June 2009

Carnival of Culture Launches "Houses" Art Project

Carnival of Culture Houses ProjectLancaster's Carnival of Culture opened "Houses", its community art project created by the citizens of Lancaster this weekend.

The exhibition, on displayed in the window of 12 New Street, Lancaster until 20th June, illustrates what Lancaster citizens believe to be the spirit of the community, or what they would like to see happening in their city. On the 20th June, the houses will be distributed in Market Square.

The houses project is a community arts project that encourages people to create a piece of art and/or text within a pre-constructed template of a plain white house. Five templates or more are given to each member of our community (friends, work mates) who in turn distribute them to the people that are members of their day to day life (work, school, etc.).

When completed, the A4 template is then built by a group of volunteers with the artwork or text on the inside visible through a door. Each house represents what lies beneath the simple architectural facades which we see in our everyday lives.

• For more information about the project or visit

Outright TT lap record for McGuinness - But no race win

John McGuniness in the 2009 TT Final Race

Morecambe's John McGuinness set a new outright lap record during Friday's Senior TT race in the Isle of Man -- but he was cruelly denied a 16th TT win when the chain on his bike broke on the fourth lap. Having broken his own lap record on the first lap, he totally smashed it on the second and, with a sensational lap of 131.578mph, he moved clear -- but the retirement put paid to any hopes of claiming the race for a fifth consecutive year.

After a 30-minute delay, the race got underway at 1.30pm and John signalled his intentions when he led by 2.42 seconds at Glen Helen, nine miles into the race. He continued to stretch his advantage and an opening lap of 130.953 mph was a new lap record, but teammate Steve Plater was still pushing him hard. John upped the ante on the second lap and his lead was increasing rapidly. Indeed, with a new outright lap record of 17m12.30s, 131.578mph his lead rocketed up to just under 15 seconds.

A pitstop of just 40 seconds saw the rear wheel changed and a full tank of fuel taken and another four seconds was added to his lead on the third lap. John was now controlling the race from the front but as he exited Parliament Square for the fourth time, the chain snapped as he changed into second gear and his race was over.

"I so, so wanted to win today," said a philosophical John, speaking later. "I made a good, fast start and there were no tactics employed today, I just had to go fast straightaway because if you don't you're beaten.

"The first lap went to plan and I felt really good but Steve wasn't too far away so I tried that bit harder on the second lap and it worked. The lap felt really good but I must admit I was surprised to have broken the outright lap record by so much. It didn't feel extra fast, it just felt really nice and clean."

"I tried hard on the third lap also and when the lead went up to almost 20 seconds I thought things were looking good but as I clicked up to second gear coming out of Ramsey, the chain just broke.

"To say I'm gutted would be an understatement," he continued. "The bike's been fantastic all fortnight and it's never missed a beat whilst all the boys have done a superb job so it's a shame we ended with a DNF -- but that's just how the TT goes sometimes. To get the outright lap record is a consolation but that's all it is and I'm gutted not to have got the win.

"Things could have been worse though and I can still take a lot of heart from the fact that since 2004 no-one's beaten me in a Superbike race - I've had eight wins and two retirements. That's not a bad record to have!"

John will now resume his British Superstock Championship challenge at Snetterton next weekend.

• Picture by Stephen Davison - Pacemaker Press International

Agenda Set For Centros Inquiry

The public inquiry into the Centros-proposed plan for Lancaster's Canal Corridor opens on Tuesday, with the City Council presenting its evidence as partner in the project during the first week - saving Centros the cost of doing so at the expense of local taxpayers.

Local people will get the chance to present their case during the third week of proceedings, including the concerns raised by campaign group It's Our City, which has other more community-based ideas for the area.

This week, the Inspector hopes to deal with as much as possible of the City Council's case in the first week and plans to hear from the City Council's witnesses (though circumstances may cause it to change): Mark Cassidy (in charge of development control matters), Keith Nutter (Retail), Dominic Mullen (Highways), Stephen Gardner (Conservation) and Andrew Dobson (responsible for strategic and policy overview).

It's also expected that Nicholas Howard will give evidence on air quality impact the scheme will have on the city towards the end of the first week. However, if progress appears to be leaving a substantial amount still to be covered after the end of the first week, then the Council's evidence on air quality will be postponed to be dealt with immediately before It's Our City's case (with the opportunity, perhaps, of hearing all of the air quality evidence consecutively).

Later in the Inquiry, the Inspector will hear from Save Britain's Heritage and English Heritage's evidence, which the Inspector thinks will take up not quite two days, on 23 and 24 June. Local people, the Campaign For the Protection of Rural England followed by It's Our City will present their case in the third week.

The Inspector has noted, however, that the planned three-week timetable for the Inquiry depends on progress with the City Council's case in the first week, and has "distinct reservations" that it can be completed within the week. However, progress in the first three days should make it possible then to be more precise about the programme for the second and third weeks.

Let's just hope the City Council witnesses don't try and string things out to the detriment of other parties who might have adverse things to say about the project...

One element of the Inquiry already causing concern among campaigners is that the Inspector has ruled that arguments that whether or not there was proper public consultation about the scheme are not considered to be within the Inquiry's remit. It's Our City strongly disagree with the Inspector's opinion that the matter of consultation in not material to the planning merits of this case and are urging him to reconsider the matter.

"We intend to ask Lancaster City Council's witnesses questions in cross examination about the consultation process," say It's Our City. "A major source of frustration among many local people is that there has not been proper public consultation on this scheme. Many have looked forward to this inquiry to have these concerns aired and now we are told that whether or not local people support this scheme, whether or not they have been properly asked for their views and whether or not they have been listened to by anybody are all irrelevant. This cannot be right.

"If it is, then the consultation demands of national, regional and local planning policy are empty word forms and the 'masterplanning' process itself is a sham."