Thursday, 5 November 2009

CCTV still released after £1000 Card Theft


Police have released a CCTV image after a stolen credit card was used to withdraw £1,000 from an account.

The card was stolen from a blue Ford Fiesta in Pasture Lane, Bolton-le-Sands near Carnforth at between 2pm – 3.15pm on August 27. Several items of clothing, including a £120 ski jacket, were also taken.

The card was used to withdraw cash over the counter at the Halifax in Morecambe’s Arndale Centre around an hour later.

Police have released a picture of two people who they would like to speak to in order to eliminate them from their inquiries.

• Anyone with information about the incident is asked to contact police on 01524 63333 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Lancaster Free Bus Fare Funding Increase Welcomed

Green councillors have welcomed the news that the Department for Transport has substantially increased funding for the concessionary bus fares scheme in the Lancaster and Morecambe area.

The DfT announced an increased cash grant earlier today to Lancaster City Council to fund its costs in running the concessionary bus fare scheme, rising from a proposed £510,000 for 2010/11 to £1.2 million.

The increase is the result of a national consultation on a new distribution of £223m funding for the hugely popular free bus pass that will be fairer for councils and overall, the proposed changes offer an extra £4.85m between North West councils and passenger transport authorities.

Bulk Ward councillor John Whitelegg, who is the deputy chair of the Local Government Association Board that has worked hard to bring about this increase in funds and is delighted by the increase.

"This is fantastic news for Lancaster and many more local authorities who have been suffering severe losses on the concessionary fares scheme," he told virtual-lancaster. "I have repeatedly said that central government must pay the full costs of this scheme in several meetings with DfT over the last two years and not allow it to lead to budgets cuts in other council services.

"They have listened and an extra £690,000 will be very helpful indeed as Lancaster City Council sets its budget over the next few months."

“The free bus pass is a popular policy, giving 11 million older and disabled people greater freedom and independence," said Transport Minister Sadiq Khan in commenting on the changes. "Around £1 billion is now spent in total on this scheme every year with over £200 million devoted to extending it to travel anywhere in England. Ensuring this extra money is distributed fairly and to where it’s needed most is critical to the continued success of the scheme.

“We have listened to concerns raised by some councils about the way the grant has been allocated and also assessed last year’s spending to ensure that we are getting it right. Today we are publishing a proposed revised grant distribution for 2010/11 which seeks to better match the pattern of costs being incurred.

In the North West, Lancaster, Wyre, South Lakeland, Burnley, Chorley, Fylde and Preston are among those councils that will receive revised, increased funding for the scheme.

"The changes we are proposing build on the success of the national bus concession and will not in any way affect older or disabled bus users who use the scheme. I now look forward to hearing views from authorities and hope to publish the final grant distribution early in the New Year.”

In total, around 200 authorities will receive more money or will be unaffected by the revised distribution. Overall the total amount of money allocated will remain unchanged.

Winter Vomiting: Don't Visit Your GP, Urge Agency

The Health Protection Agency North West is advising people with norovirus infection (winter vomiting) not to attend GP surgeries or hospital Accident and Emergency Units to avoid the risk of infection being passed on to vulnerable patients.

The Agency is also urging people with the winter vomiting bug not to visit friends or relatives in hospitals and residential care homes and to stay away from work or school until they have fully recovered and been free of symptoms for 48 hours.

“Norovirus is the most common cause of gastro-intestinal infection in the UK with up to one million cases recorded every year," explained Professor Qutub Syed, Director, HPA North West. "It's particularly common in the winter months and we are currently picking up reports of cases throughout the region.

“Norovirus infection is an unpleasant but short-lived illness from which the majority of people, even the frail elderly, will recover in 12 to 60 hours without treatment other than rest and taking drinks to replace lost fluids.

"However, it is a highly infectious illness that spreads rapidly when introduced to close-knit communities such as hospitals, residential care homes, cruise ships, schools and work places."

“If swine flu continues to spread and we start to see outbreaks of normal seasonal flu as winter draws in, NHS services could come under severe pressure from time to time. That is why it is more important than ever for people with winter vomiting not to visit GP surgeries or hospital Accident and Emergency departments.

“People with symptoms should stay at home, ensure that they pay particular attention to hand-washing and avoid contact with others. If symptoms persist the patient should ring NHS Direct for advice or arrange a telephone consultation with the family doctor.”

• The NHS Direct number is 0845 4647

Man Arrested in Lancaster Student Rape Case

As a direct result of media assistance with a police appeal following the rape of a student (see news story), a 19-year-old male from the Morecambe area has been arrested on suspicion of rape this morning.

Police released CCTV images after a female student was raped after leaving a Lancaster nightclub and virtual-lancaster was one of several media outlets that published them.

As proceedings are now active the CCTV stills can no longer be published and have now been removed from our site at the request of the police.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Bright Sparx team to make a safer Bonfire night

The dangers associated with bonfires and fireworks are being highlighted as part of a joint campaign in north Lancashire.

Police have joined forces with firefighters and council bosses for a major crackdown in the run up to Bonfire night as part of Lancashire Fire and Rescue’s annual Bright Sparx campaign.

Officers will be using a host of tough measures to reduce crime and disorder from cracking down on the illegal trading of fireworks to removing unauthorised bonfires.

Police will be working closely with schools to raise awareness of the dangers associated with playing with fireworks – the results of which can be devastating.

Firefighters and police officers will be carrying out joint patrols in hotspot areas and anyone caught behaving irresponsibly will be dealt with robustly.

Prolific trouble makers will also be visited and warned about the risks and consequences associated with firework misuse.

Police will be visiting retailers to remind them of their responsibilities around the sale of fireworks and officers will be working closely with Trading Standards departments to check fireworks are not being sold to underage children.

And Neighbourhood Officers will be highly visible in communities across Lancaster and Morecambe.

Sgt Lindsay Brown said: “At this time of year, we tend to seen an increase in anti social behaviour and criminal damage. Whilst we know that the majority of people will use fireworks responsibly or attend an organised event, there are some who are intent on spoiling the fun for others and we will be working closely with the fire service and local authorities to make sure people are safe over the Halloween and Bonfire period.

“This year, the message is simple - stay bright and stay safe - attend an organised bonfire or fireworks display and don’t misuse fireworks. We want people to enjoy themselves but most importantly be sensible and stay safe.”

• Anyone with information or concerns about firework misuse can contact police on 0845 1 25 35 45 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Santa Dash for CancerCare

reindeer.pngLancaster's first Santa Dash will take place on 15th November - a fun-run in aid of local charity CancerCare.

All are welcome to take part in what is expected to be a great day for all the family, with this event replacing the formal switch on of Lancaster's Christmas lights which usually helps launch the commencement of the Christmas shopping season in the City.

(Sadly, the popularity of the traditional switch-on has put paid to an appearance by Santa's reindeer this year, because the huge crowds last year prompted safety concerns for both reindeer fans and the reindeer).

This is not a race, it's a fun run - so all are invited to take part to raise funds for a much loved local charity.

Starting from Salt Ayre Sports Centre at around 10.30 am, the short, flat route - just over a mile in distance - follows the scenic riverside path before crossing the Millennium footbridge and into Market Square where further festive fun awaits. The day draws to a close with the switch on of the city’s Christmas lights.

It's all a bit of fun for a good cause, so if you're interested in taking part, just visit for all the registration details.

Nick Keir in Lancaster - for Free!

Musician Nick Keir.jpg

Ahoy there, special notice, now hear this and take note! On Wednesday 25 November the wonderful singer and multi-instrumentalist Nick Keir will be performing free at Lancaster's Three Mariners pub.

"Nick has been singing and playing guitar, mandolin, mouth organ and whistle with the legendary Scottish band The McCalmans for decades," local music fan and performer Tony Cooke told virtual-lancaster, tipping us off to the gig. "He occasionally performs solo gigs in some select venues and this is one.

"The event is free and will start about 9.00pm. How can you possible miss it?"

Born in Edinburgh, Nick formed the now-legendary Folk Rock band Finn mac Cuill at the age of 19 and produced two LPs with them. He then joined the brilliant 7:84 Theatre company and wrote most of the music for their productions between 1979-81.

Joining Scotland's top Folk Trio The McCalmans in 1982 (a band he still tours with), he was inducted into the Scottish Folk Music Hall of Fame in 2005 and awarded the Danish Folk Prize the same year. Since 2005, he's been a soloist with the Copenhagen-based Tolkien Ensemble, whose hugely-acclaimed four CD box set was released in 2006, the only authorised musical setting of the songs from the books trilogy Lord of the Rings, narrated by Sir Christopher Lee.

After the success of their 2008 tour, the Tolkien Ensemble will be doing a 28 concert tour of Northern Europe in early Spring 2009 with the 80 piece Hollywood Orchestra and Choir, and a new production, (with Nick as lead) will be unveiled at the Official Opening of the new Danish Radio Broadcasting Centre in March 2009.

• The Three Mariners event if free and will start about 9.00pm.

• Nick's stunning new solo CD Fishing Up The Moon is now available. Guest artistes include Emily Smith, Oyvind Ougaard, The Morten Ryelund String Quartet, Aaron Jones and Trine Brosboel Hansen

Nick Keir's MySpace Page

CCTV Released after Student Rape

(Updated 4/11/09): Police have released a CCTV image after a female student was raped after leaving a Lancaster nightclub.

The victim had been in Cuba night club in Dalton Square, Lancaster, in the early hours of 21st October 2009 and had struck up a conversation with a man. The male then offered to walk her home to the Moorlands area of the city.

After being allowed in to the property, the man then raped the victim before leaving the house.

The victim is currently being provided with support from specialised police officers.

“The victim has been left traumatised by what has happened," says DI Glen Oldham, Lancaster Police.

• Contact police on 01524 63333 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111. As a result of this and other media reports a man was arrested on suspicion of rape on 4th November, see news story, so the CCTV images have been removed.

Monday, 2 November 2009

Police Launch Crime Action Week acrss Wyre

A dedicated week of action starts today (2nd November) to demonstrate the work being carried out by partners to reduce crime and anti-social behaviour in our communities.

Not in My Neighbourhood Week runs until 6th November and will see neighbourhood policing teams, resident organisations, local authorities, Neighbourhood Watch, Lancashire Fire and Rescue, drug and alcohol action teams and other agencies join together to increase awareness of the work that is being done to make streets safer in the Lancaster and Morecambe area as well as across Wyre.

The activities being carried out are designed to tackle local issues while encouraging the public to get involved. Hundreds of residents are expected to join in with the planned activities, which will help improve their local communities.

Events taking place across Wyre include a speed awareness day – with residents pointing the speed gun; visits to schools and colleges across Wyre to spread the annual Bright Sparx bonfire messages; multi-agency road check days across Wyre; bluetooth NIMN week themed messages will be sent out to mobiles in the Garstang and Fleetwood areas; and police, fire and rescue and Wyre Borough Council working closely together to tackle fly tipping and fire setting.

“This week is designed to raise awareness of the huge range of work people do, day in day out, to keep crime down, and make communities safe, explains Chief Inspector Matt Horn of Lancashire Police. "Neighbourhood policing is our day-to-day business in the Wyre area and the teams continue to make a real difference for our communities.

"It is all about working together to give communities confidence in their public services.”