Friday, 19 February 2010

Spotlight's Open Mic Slam tonight

Lancaster Spotlight hosts its Open Mic Slam at the Storey tonight (Friday February 19th).

Compered by Simon Baker, the event gives contestants the chance to grab three minutes at the mic' and perform their way to audience acclaim and a £50 Cash Prize. You've got just 180 seconds to make an impact as a performer!

Contestants will be performing Poetry, Prose, Comedy or Song, anything - as long as it's original, decent and all their own work.

• Doors Open 8.00pm 2nd Prize £25 - 3rd Prize £15. John Freeman will be Chair of Judges and Scorer

• More info:


Lancaster Market to close by end of year?

Lancaster MarketLancaster Market could shut by the end of the year, according to a report in the Lancaster Guardian today.

The paper reports that the council has agreed in principle to close the indoor market and lease it to a single retailer, a decision was made in light of the market's growing debts and one council leaders was not taken lightly.

The decision is subject to approval by full council at its final budget meeting on 3rd March. A Facebook campaign group has already launched protesting the plan.

Councillor John Whitelegg has condemned the planned closure.

In 2009/10, the market lost £461,000 and this is expected to rise to £492,000 in the next financial year. A retailer for the site has, according to various news reports, been found, but has not yet been named.

Market traders will be offered places on the city's outdoor Charter Market on Wednesday and Saturdays or at Morecambe's Festival Market, but BBC News reports that the 29 market stall holders want more than the basic compensation for the closure. The City Council has refused.

Lancaster's old market after it was gutted by fireThe decision comes as no surprise to many: after the devastating fire in the 1980s that put paid to the old Victorian market - at the time, underinsured by the then Conservative administration and therefore unable to be re-build it - the creation of a new Lancaster market was bedevilled by setbacks to plans for a major shopping development (itself a victim of the 1980s 'credit crunch'), relocation to the bus station and, finally, the move to a building many still describe as 'not fit for purpose'.

With a confusing layout and poor planning - opponents point to placing fishmongers on the south and sunniest side of the building, for example - Lancaster's current market has long been ridiculed and it always seemed ripe for takeover by a single retailer that would make more coherent use of the retail space.

Dennis Buczynski, owner of Gregory's butchers and a market committee member, told the Guardian traders were disappointed with their treatment by the council.

"We had a long-term commitment from them," he said. "This is people's livelihoods; there are more than 30 businesses here employing more than 100 people."

"The people that first did this deal should be brought to book," he added. "They should come to this market and come tell us how us traders are going to cope for the rest of our lives. Our livelihood is at stake."

"I'm really unhappy about the cabinet decision to close the market and I hope it will be challenged and over-turned in the next few weeks," says Green councillor John Whitelegg. "This all goes back to the disastrous decisions of local politicians in the 1980s to sell off a market that we owned and paid no rent, and exchanged this for a rental deal that costs us over £300,000 a year. This always was bonkers.

"Recent council decisions beggar belief," he added. "The decision to go with the Centros plan for the canal corridor (now thankfully defeated) would have led to the closure of many of our city centre shops. The decision to shut a traditional northern town market robs us of one of the special things that makes Lancaster such a wonderful place.

"The market should not be shut.What's now needed is a determined effort to find out how successful markets up and down the country operate and do everything possible to make it successful."

Read the Lancaster' Guardian's report in full

• Lancaster Markets Official web site:

Facebook Protest against the closure

Read our 2003 article on the issues that faced Lancaster Market

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Police appeal after Morecambe pensioner injured in crash

Local police are appealing for information after an elderly pedestrian was left with serious head injuries following a road traffic collision.

The 79-year-old was on the pedestrian crossing on the promenade, close to the Pier Hotel, at around 6.05pm on Monday 15th February when he was involved in a collision with a red Peugeot 106, driven by an 18-year-old.

The pensioner, who is from Morecambe, sustained a serious head injury and was taken to the Royal Lancaster Infirmary. His condition is currently described as serious but not life threatening.

An accident investigation has been launched and police are now appealing for information to establish what happened.

“We would like to speak to anyone who may have seen either the pedestrian or the vehicle before the incident," said PC Kevin Illingworth of Morecambe police, "or anyone who may have actually witnessed the incident taking place.”

• Anyone with information should contact PC Killingworth on 01524 63333. 

Gang jailed for over 13 years after assault

Tyrone RichardsA gang of men who targeted a vulnerable individual in a violent attack have been jailed for a total of over 13 years.

Five men appeared at Preston Crown Court last week as a result of an assault in Harcourt Road, Lancaster in October 2008.

Adrian Kershaw18-year-old Tyrone Richards (pictured above) of no fixed address, 21-year-old Adrian Kershaw (pictured left), of Ryelands Road, Lancaster, 18-year-old Liam Richardson (pictured below), also of Ryelands Road, and two teens, now aged 17 and 16, went to the house of their 29-year-old victim under the false impression that there were drugs at the address.

The group set about their victim, kicking and punching him to the head. The gang, excluding Richardson, returned later in the evening, this time stabbing their victim with scissors and a knife.

Having entered guilty pleas to section 18 wounding charges, Richards was given an indeterminate sentence, of which he will have to serve a minimum of two years; Kershaw was jailed for five years; the 16-year-old was jailed for three years and the 17 year-old was given a two-year detention centre and training order. Richardson pleaded guilty to a section 47 assault charge and was jailed for 12 months.

Liam RichardsonSpeaking after the sentencing, Detective Sergeant Mark Stephens, Lancaster CID, said: “This was a vicious but cowardly attack on a vulnerable member of the community. The level of violence used was quite sickening.

“The seriousness of their actions has been reflected in the sentence, which will keep these people off our streets for a considerable amount of time.”

“Tyrone Richards has been a particular danger to the community and that has been shown in his indeterminate sentence," he added. "He will have to serve at least two years before he is even considered safe for release.”

Monday, 15 February 2010

Heroes of She headline Haiti benefit

Local band Heroes of She will headline a Haiti benefit gig at Lancaster's Gregson Centre on Sunday 21st February.

The band will bring a packed day of events to a close with the explosive, self-penned sounds, including new material, that have brought them to the regional final of ‘Live and Unsigned 2010’, the UK’s biggest competition of its kind, next month.

"Heroes of She are really pleased to be involved in the Haiti benefit gig," says James Mackie, the band’s Hammond organ player. "It promises to be a huge day.

"The mayor of Port-au-Prince is attending and he will personally take all proceeds from the day to Haiti for the disaster fund."

The doors open at 1.00pm and the evening stint begins at 7.30pm. The entry fee is £4. Supporting Heroes of She are Redback.

You can also catch Heroes of She’s new set on Friday 26th February at The Penny Bank, Lancaster. The band is also playing Alston Town Hall, Cumbria on 6th March. Entry fee: £5.

The following night the band plays the Live & Unsigned regional final. Tickets for are £7.50 from More info at

• Haiti Benefit Day, Sunday 21st February, Gregson Community and Arts Centre, 33 Moorgate, Moor Lane, Lancaster, LA1 3PY. Tel: 01524 84995

Band photo by Andy Hockridge

LERN: New Lancashire Bio-Diversity Agency to Tackle Eco-Disaster

Animal and plant species are becoming extinct 1,000 times faster than the natural rate according to the United Nations. Lancashire is playing its part in the battle to tackle this global environmental crisis.

Lancashire Environment Record Network (LERN), which launches in summer, will collect information about the whereabouts of species from the public as well as specialist recorders. Using this data, scientists and naturalists will be able to study whether the county’s environment is in a critical condition.

This year is the International Year of Biodiversity (the variety of species of plant and animal life within a region). Naturalists are using it to focus on the rate at which species and their habitats are disappearing.

As well as global action to arrest the decline in biodiversity governments are also calling for local action to help their campaign.

LERN Communications Officer, Alan Wright said: “Lancashire is finally catching up with other parts of the country by launching the record network. It will provide information about the health of species in Lancashire and where we need to act to safeguard the county’s biodiversity. It means everyone can get involved in saving the environment, from naturalists to school children. Anyone can help to record this vital information and then it is available for anyone to use. It is also plays a key role in ensuring our environment is not disturbed by development.”

For more details contact LERN at