Saturday, 23 January 2010

Subtext: Call for Volunteers

Subtext, Lancaster University's alternative fortnightly e-newsletter, faces closure unless new volunteers can be found to join its team.

The popular e-newsletter, targeted mainly at staff and post-grads, launched in December 2005 following the university administration's controversial prosecution of the George Fox 6. These were protesters at a university-hosted corporate venture conference featuring several multinationals involved in human rights abuse cases.

Since then it has tracked the development of 'Lancaster University PLC' with flair and humour, with a critical eye for encroachment on academic values, centralisation of influence and commercial corporatisation.

The latest posting entitled 'Not Issue 62' reads:
"subtext relies on willing volunteers, but time moves on, and people come to feel that it is time for others to shoulder the task. The collective is now down to three people, and that is not sufficient to produce subtext. Either we need more people to join the present team; or subtext can hand over to a new collective; or it disappears.

Rather than make an immediate choice, in a term replete with material to report, the present collective has decided to suspend subtext for the present and approach people who might come on board, pending a decision at Easter about the future. As always, overtures would be welcome."

• All correspondence to:

• Back issues and subscription details for subtext can be found at

Friday, 22 January 2010

Transport campaigners welcome Heysham Link inquiry

Local transport campaign group Transport Solutions for Lancaster and Morecambe have welcomed the announcement by the Government to hold a public inquiry into the Lancashire County Council plan to build the highly controversial Heysham M6 Link HGV route across the North Lancashire Green Belt.

"Many difficult issues remain to be resolved before the Government considers funding this multi-million pound scheme," said David Gate, chair of TSLM, "and this inquiry will present an opportunity to present expert evidence to show why the damaging and destructive road should not be built."

The dual carriageway road, at present estimated to cost £140 million, would cut across residential districts and destroy 173 acres of Green Belt farm land. It has been calculated that the Link would generate an extra 23,500 tonnes of CO2 per year from vehicle emissions. It represents an attempt by LCC to attract heavy goods vehicles to use Heysham as their ferry route to Ireland.

The plan is opposed by the district’s MP Geraldine Smith, and neither Lancaster City Council nor Morecambe Town Council support the County Council scheme.

Skerton Labour Party also has policy against the road, concerned about the increased traffic the Link will bring to residential streets.

"The North Lancashire public simply want an end to their in town traffic congestion misery, and for the transport budget to be spent on improving movement between Lancaster and Morecambe," said Mr Gate. "Sadly, the inquiry will probably focus on the road plan itself, and not on this top priority local issue. While County Hall in Preston pursues its Link road, no plans are being advanced to end the local traffic logjam nightmare."

TSLM supports an integrated transport strategy, which is not based on the £140 million lorry Link. It believes that lower cost plans produced for the district by transport consultants Faber Maunsell for an integrated package of measures for Lancaster and Morecambe should be the way forward for transport in North Lancashire.

Thursday, 21 January 2010

City looks at taking back Museum control

Lancaster City Council has issued Lancashire County Council with 24 months notice to end the present agreement where the county council runs its museums with the aim of providing better value for money to local residents.

Currently, the city council pays Lancashire County Council around £545,300 to run the City Museum, Maritime Museum and the Cottage Museum, but while discussions have taken place in an attempt to renegotiate the terms of the agreement, which is due to end in 2013, they have not so far progressed.

On Tuesday, the city council’s Cabinet agreed to give 24 months to end the partnership and use that period to examine options for bringing the running of the museums back in house and making savings.

The decision will kick start a review of options to run the museums more efficiently, to make sure that the city council is achieving value for money.

Coun Stuart Langhorn, leader of Lancaster City Council and chair of Cabinet, said: “At present the city council pays the county council to run the three museums but has little say in how the service is delivered.

“We need to ensure that we achieve the best value for money we can for our residents and by serving notice to end the current partnership agreement I hope that we will be able to do just that.”

The Museums Service in Lancaster has been the subject of a partnership agreement between Lancashire County Council and Lancaster City Council since 2003 and was initially for a 10 year period.

By serving two years notice the partnership will end one year earlier than intended on 31st March 2012.

Icy Pavements: Should Councils Have Done More?

The Department of Transport has advised local MP Geraldine Smith councils should, perhaps, done more to clear pavements and roads during the recent snowy weather.

Earlier this week, Geraldine asked Sadiq Khan, the Minister of State, Department for Transport what guidance his Department issued to local authorities on responsibility for clearing pavements which are unsafe as a consequence of adverse weather conditions.

The government minister told her the Department for Transport did not issued guidance on responsibility for clearing footways in adverse weather conditions, but it did endorse the UK Roads Liaison Group's code of practice, "Well-maintained Highways" (available at:, direct link (PDF) here) when it came to keeping traffic and pedestrians moving safely.

"Local highway authorities have a duty, under s41 of the Highways Act 1980, to maintain the roads in their charge, including footways," said Mr Khan. "This duty specifically includes 'a duty to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that safe passage along a highway is not endangered by snow or ice'."

In its detailed "Well Maintained Highways" guide, the Roads Liason Group includes the advice that risk assessments should be undertaken to establish which routes should be included in a programme of treatment during winter. "In particular, the treatment of carriageways, footways and cycle routes must be considered taking account of risk to all highway users and consideration of the available resources," it notes. However, it also recognises the costs of gritting, for example, all bus routes (some local routes weren't).

As we previously reported, during the recent bad weather Lancashire County Council was responsible for clearing and gritting roads and, as highways authority, if forced to do so, would have to shoulder a huge cost of a full scale gritting of pavements if the area again had heavy snow. The cost of doing this across the county are unknown but in Leeds, for example, it's estimated gritting every pavement would cost about £1 million a day.

"We had 4,000 tonnes more grit than last year and were still running out," a Leeds council spokeperson said.

The County Council does not seem to have a coherent policy on gritting pavements in Lancashire. Lancaster City Council took action in some areas where there was high pedestrian footfall, such as the Millennium Bridge, but for the most part pavements were left untreated and there was a huge rise in falls because of the icy conditions.

As far as we are aware the cost of not clearing pavements - which would have prevented an increased number of falls that in some cases, resulted in death and overall placed a huge burden on local health services and damaged retail sales and other business - has yet to be fully assessed by the government or any council. It seems unlikely there will be that kind of joined up thinking at government level.

Whatever the final outcome of the debate on gritting, the Department for Transport is warning councils they need to be prepared for more bad weather, recognising that climate change is having a considerable impact on the UK’s highway network, and has commissioned a research
project to investigate the implications of the changing climate for highway maintenance on different types of pavement.

Perhaps we'll see different types of pavement covering introduced that will be more resistant to ice. Considerable research is being done, to help benefit cyclists, horse riders and pedestrians alike.

New community beat manager for Carnforth

CBM-Andy-Taylorw.jpgA new community beat manager is set to take over the Carnforth neighbourhood policing team.

PC Andy Taylor will start his patrols on Monday 18th January, with his beat including the Highfield estate, Carnforth High School and the three local primary schools, and will be working with PSCO Sarah Leverton and will be based at Carnforth police station.

Andy has been an officer with Lancashire Constabulary for 15 years, and has spent the last four years as a community beat manager in Morecambe’s West End.

“During my time in Morecambe I was able to build good relationships with the local schools and I hope to replicate this in Carnforth," he said. "I also hope to increase the number of after school activities that are offered to pupils, providing diversionary activities for the youngsters."

"My predecessor PC Sarah Sharman had done some excellent work in reducing anti-social behaviour and criminal damage on the Highfield estate," he added, "and I'll continue to put across the message that this kind of behaviour will not be tolerated."

County to decide on Pools future


Lancaster City Council says it will be up to Lancashire County Council to decide the fate of community swimming pools in Hornby, Carnforth and Heysham - effectively washing its hands of the issue which has outraged users.

The Lancaster Guardian reported last week that the swimming pools, which it took over from County back in 2001, faced the axe as the City Council again had to cut its budget for yet another year in order to ensure it keeps council tax rises within government-imposed limits.

Lancashire County Council actually owns pools next to schools in Hornby, Carnforth and Heysham but, just as local museums are owned by the City and run by County staff, these pools are currently managed by Lancaster City Council and subsidised to the tune of £133,500 and are mainly used to provide swimming for schools and swimming clubs.

On Tuesday, the City Cabinet agreed to give the county council 12 months notice to end this partnership and as a result the pools are due to be handed back to the county council from April 2011.

As their owner, it will be for the county council to decide the future of the pools,

“The city council faces an uncertain future with regards to its budget with the very real possibility that our funding from the Government will be cut in future years," notes Coun Stuart Langhorn, leader of the council and chair of the Cabinet. "As a result we have to look now reducing our spending on those areas where others have the responsibility. This is a sensible approach because it allows time for the county council to look at alternative ways of providing this service.

“In this case we heavily subsidise the community pools but they are owned by the county council. As the local education authority they also have the responsibility for school swimming, which, along with swimming clubs is the main use of the pools.

“Now the decision has been taken to hand the pools back it will be up to the county council to decide their future.”

The county, of course, has its own funding problems and the newly-installed Conservative leadership are looking to make savings in their budget. virtual-lancaster has been told it is examining options for privatising many services, for example, including waste collection - but that could extend to the running of these pools.

Users condemned the proposal to close the pools when news broke last week. Although the Council report that framed the Cabinet's decision suggested Salt Ayre Sports Centre and Ripley St Thomas CE School could accommodate some of the school and public swims, while the district has another 12 private pools, Mark Smith, head coach at the Carnforth Otters swimming club, whose 200 members train at Carnforth and Heysham, said Salt Ayre would be unable to accommodate all the sessions.

"This would devastate our club," he told the paper. "There's nowhere else for us to go so our club would just shrink and it would finish us as a competitive club.

"There are three ex-Carnforth swimmers targeting the 2012 Olympics but that would just not happen in the future."

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Ofsted: Top Marks for Cumbria Uni's Lancaster Pre-School Centre

Ofsted has completed a glowing report on the University of Cumbria Pre-School Centre in Lancaster stating that “The very experienced and skilled staff group have an excellent knowledge of each individual child's needs and interests and they make sure that they successfully promote children's welfare and learning to an excellent standard”.

“Extremely strong” leadership and management and the “highly stimulating and vibrant environment” provided by the Pre-School Centre were also praised in the report as were the enthusiasm and challenging nature of the teaching and the exceptional organisation of the educational programmes. The Pre-School Centre’s commitment to equality and diversity and support for children with special educational needs and/or disabilities were also rated outstanding.

Philippa Perks, the Pre-School Centre Manager, said: “I’ve very pleased with the results of our latest Ofsted report and it’s a testament to the hard work or our staff that we have been rated so highly.”

For more information about the Pre-School Centre, visit their website at or call 01524 526578.

It Bites Charity Concert in Lancaster: Date Set

It BitesLegendary Cumbrian band It Bites will be recording their new live DVD/CD package at the University of Cumbria on Friday 12th February.

This will be the first time in the band have played in Carlisle since the early days of their career and lecturer Russell Cherrington and students from the BA Film & Television course will film the concert at the Stanwix Arts Theatre on Brampton Road, and edit together a DVD package for the band.

"This fantastic opportunity came together as we worked on the re-release of 'Calling All The Heroes' for the floods that hit West Cumbria," explains Russell. "In recent years we have had artists like David Ford here at the university recording videos and live DVD’s, so the time felt right for a bigger project. The relationship with It Bites allowed that to fall into place."

Tickets for the concert are on sale via or from Ruby Blue Vintage in Treasury Court Carisle.

There's also the possibility of a special secret gig by It Bites on Thursday 11th February at a venue near to the city centre. Fans should keep an eye on the band's message board on their website.

• The University of Cumbria offers a range of courses in Media, Multi Media and Journalism at its Brampton Road campus. To find out more go to

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Appeal for information on missing Poulton man

THOMSON%20DAVID%2001-01-84.jpgPolice are appealing for information after a Poulton man went missing from his home on Saturday, whose blue Vauxhall Astra was found abandoned in Scorton on Sunday.

26-year-old David Thompson has not been seen since the early hours of the morning and police are now concerned for his welfare.

David is 5ft 8" tall, white, with brown cropped hair and may be wearing a black hooded top and black Rockport boots.

Inspector Kirstie Banks-Lyon, Lancashire Police, said: "There are concerns for David’s medical welfare and we would urge him, or anyone who may know where he is, to get in touch with us or his family."

• Contact police on 01524 63333

Government reports threaten Heysham Link road funding?

Plans to build the controversial Heysham M6 Link Road face yet another major hurdle following the publication of Government reports.

Research for the Highways Agency casts major doubt on the value for money of road building, and the findings coincide with warnings from the Department for Transport that regional authorities should expect substantial cuts in their transport funding.

Local transport campaign group Transport Solutions for Lancaster and Morecambe have studied the findings and they say that the reports are directly relevant to the Link and that the findings undermine the case for building the multi million pound road.

They have written to Lord Andrew Adonis, Secretary of State for Transport, the Government and other interested parties to tell them that the road is no longer a value for money scheme.

The reports, unearthed by the Campaign for Better Transport (PDF link), found that overall traffic levels rose significantly as a direct result of opening each new road. Economic forecasts did not reflect the actual impact on local business, and any benefits were generally lower than predicted.

In addition, CO2 emissions were higher than predicted, as were noise levels and air quality was worse than forecast. Two thirds of the roads studied simply moved the traffic congestion elsewhere.

"Lancashire County Council have a lot of explaining to do about their damaging and destructive Link road plans if they are to get the £140 million of public money needed for the Northern route," said David Gate, chair of TSLM. "Times have moved on, but it’s not just their dated idea of building an HGV route through our Green Belt, it’s the fact that they are not tackling the in-town congestion that makes the road plan such poor value for money."

Despite spending cutbacks across the board, the multi-million pound lorry generating Link remains the number one transport priority at County Hall in Preston. The Heysham M6 Link road would destroy 173 acres of the North Lancashire Green Belt, cut across residential districts, and generate an estimated extra 23,500 tonnes of CO2 per year. Alternative, less expensive plans for an integrated transport strategy for Lancaster and Morecambe have been prepared by transport consultants, but they are not being progressed or funded.

"In these difficult times, how can the Government justify spending £140 million of taxpayers’ money, when the Government’s own research shows that road projects like the Link do not solve people’s transport problems. We would like to see less money more effectively spent on an integrated transport plan for the district instead, and we have written to the Government to tell them so," said Mr Gate.

• For more about the Bypass and the alternatives visit:

New CCTV appeal following Morecambe rape

A still from CCTV footage of a suspect being sought in connection with a sex attack in Morecambe on New Year's Day. The suspect is shown above the blurred square on the screen (the blur is concealing the victim).

Above: A still from CCTV footage of a suspect being sought in connection with a sex attack in Morecambe on New Year's Day. The suspect is shown above the blurred square on the screen (the blur is concealing the victim).

Police are distributing dual-language posters in an appeal for fresh information following a New Year’s Day sex attack in Morecambe.

The posters, which are written in English and Polish, show CCTV stills of the suspected offender in a nightclub and walking along a street, before and after the attack.

The appeal follows a report that a woman in her forties was raped at an address in the town after meeting her alleged attacker in the Coast venue.

The alleged offender was in pirate fancy dress, and was wearing a “Tina Turner or Rod Stewart” style wig, a pirate eye patch, striped trousers and a red jacket with dark coloured shoulders and white stripes across the shoulders and down the sleeves. It is believed he may have had a foreign accent – possibly Eastern European.

In the new CCTV footage the suspect is not wearing the ‘pirate’ costume or wig that has been mentioned in previous releases.

A still from CCTV footage of a suspect being sought in connection with a sex attack in Morecambe on New Year's Day. The suspect is shown above the blurred square on the screen (the blur is concealing the victim), putting on his coat

Above: Another still from newly-released CCTV footage of a suspect being sought in connection with a sex attack in Morecambe on New Year's Day. The suspect is shown here putting on his coat.

“Morecambe has a large Polish community so we have created the poster to get our appeal out to as wide an audience as possible," explained Detective Sergeant Kevin Wright of Morecambe CID. "We're also appealing for information from other Eastern European communities in the area.

"However, we are still keeping an open mind about the alleged offender’s nationality.”

An EvoFit of a suspect being sought in connection with a sex attack in Morecambe on New Year's DayPolice have also released new CCTV footage from Coast, which gives a clearer view of the alleged offender. An EvoFit of the suspect was released earlier in the month (right)

DS Wright added: “We have followed up several lines of inquiry after receiving calls from the public as a result of previous images being released to the media, but we are hoping that this latest footage will prompt more people to get in touch with information.

“This has been a deeply traumatic experience for the victim and any information that the public might have could be the key to finding this man.”

• Anyone with any information is asked to call Morecambe police in 01254 63333 or call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Monday, 18 January 2010

Edinburgh Festival Smash comes to the Nuffield

Trilogy by Nic Green

Described as "a piece of theatre that makes your heart sing, makes you feel good about all of humanity, and makes you want to stand up... and fling off your clothes and dance.", the critically acclaimed Trilogy, from Nic Green and her company, comes to Lancaster University's Nuffield Theatre at the end of this month.

Fresh from wowing audiences in London and Edinburgh, the performance sees local women joining Nic in a large-scale naked dance ensemble celebrating the joys and complexities of womanhood.

There are a few places left to participate in this once-in-a-lifetime performance, that’s full of raw energy so please contact to find out more.

Also at the University this month are the Elias Quartet, hailed by The Sunday Telegraph for their ‘poetic, charismatic, virtuosic... marvellous playing’, the international reputation of the Quartet continues to roll with extraordinary momentum. The young performers demonstrate their fervent passion and infectious enthusiasm for the music of Schubert, opening the programme with his heart-rending ‘Rosamunde’ Quartet. Completed in the shadow of his fatal illness, it is unmistakably suffused with melancholy yet characterised by gorgeous melody and harmony.

The concert will also include the second movement of the sublime String Quintet – one of the top ten requests on BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs.

Elias Strig Quartet

7.30pm, Thursday 28 January 2010, the Great Hall, Lancaster University

Tickets: £15.50, £13 (£13, £10.50 concessions) £7 Young person


Nic Green – Trilogy

8pm, Saturday 30 January 2010, at the Nuffield:

• Box Office email: Tel: 01524 594151

Going Self Employed? Before You Begin...

Business support provider Enterprise4all are hosting a workshop aimed at people who are considering self-employment on 26th January. It's free of charge and each delegate receives an 'Essential Business' workbook, and will address questions such as:

• Are you ready to run your own business?
• What is your business idea?
• Will there be enough customers?
• Who else is doing it?
• What makes you different?
• How much money will it cost to set up?

Go along to discuss these points and decide if self-employment is right for you.

Enterorise4all offers aspiring entrepreneurs in the Lancaster and Morecambe district a free business support service that offers a combination of start-up advice, coaching support, networking opportunities and workshops.

• Places are limited, so to book your place now call 01524 509099 or email

Rope across road puts motorists at risk

Local police are warning of the risks to motorists after a piece of rope was stretched dangerously across a Silverdale road.

The rope was pulled taut across Lindeth Road on 8th January, but fortunately a passing motorist recognised the danger and removed the obstruction.

PC Tony Marsh, community beat manager for Silverdale and Warton, said: “The area where the rope was is national speed limit, and unlit.

“The road was very icy that night and if a motorist had collided with it they would have suffered serious injuries.

“It is an offence under Section 162 of the Highways Act 1980 to place a rope across a highway. The people responsible for this should know that they are not only breaking the law, but also putting lives at risk.”

• Anyone with information about the incident is asked to contact police on 01524 63333, quoting log reference number LC-20100112-1435