Friday, 2 July 2010

Bus Crash on Lancaster's North Road


Lancaster's traffic was held up this morning after a bus crashed into a transit van on North Road.

Bus station staff were quickly on the scene to assist school children from Ripley High School off the Stagecoach bus and away from the accident.

The children were put on another bus and will now be at school.

Police told virtual-lancaster no-one was injured but the road was closed while the bus was moved out of the road.

The Lancaster Guardian reports the bus was being driven by a trainee.

Bizarrely, this isn't the first time there has been a bus crash on this part of North Road. A bus crashed into scaffolding on the same spot in February 2003.

Photo courtesy of Bob Townley

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Lancaster children get pedalling for Bike Week


Four schools in and around Lancaster took part in various cycling activities last week, organised by sustainable transport charity, Sustrans, for National Bike Week – a week of biking activity to celebrate cycling.

The activities kicked off at Silverdale Primary School on Wednesday with maintenance workshops for all children aged between nine and 11, and a family bike ride from the school to Leighton Moss. Nine children and their parents took part in the ride (despite a clash with an England world cup game!) which took two hours to complete.

On Thursday 24th June, pupils aged between seven and 11 from Cathedral Primary School in Lancaster, took part in maintenance workshops, to teach them how to care for their bikes.

Also on Thursday, 75 children from St Luke’s School in Skerton cycled to school for a bikers breakfast – a free healthy breakfast for all children that cycled to school. Throughout the day, children took part in cycle skills workshops, whilst Dr. Bike was on hand to give bicycles the once over and to ensure that they are roadworthy.

The end of the week saw an organised bike ride at St Marys Primary School in Morecambe. Seven pupils aged between nine and 11 cycled from the school along the promenade to Heysham and back.

New Sustrans Bike It Officer for Lancaster, Annie Cousins, recently joined Kathy Bashford, who has worked with local schools since early 2006, to encourage pupils to get to school under their own steam. They organise various events and classroom based curriculum activities to give the children the knowledge and skills to enable them to cycle safely.

"The Bike Week was full of action – all of the children really enjoyed it," says Cousins. "It’s great to see them having so much fun whilst learning and improving on such a brilliant life skill – cycling.

“The pupils really thrive on the freedom and independence they get from cycling to school under their own power – not only is it great for their health, it’s great for the environment too."

Sustrans works in partnership with Lancaster City Council’s Cycle Demonstration Town team with 28 schools in the Lancaster area, to help children overcome the barriers that are preventing them from cycling to school.

• Further information about Sustrans and Bike It, including other news releases, is available through our website:

• Further information about the Cycle Demonstration Town project is available at

Alcohol seized from children in Morecambe, parents admonished

Parents are being told to take more responsibility for their children after foot patrol officers had to call a patrol car to take away 50 bottles of alcohol confiscated from youngsters in a Morecambe park.

Officers are being called to an increasing number of anti-social behaviour incidents caused by teenagers in and around Morecambe’s Happy Mount Park. Often these incidents are booze-fuelled – with the youngsters’ parents having no idea what their children are up to late at night.

PCSOs, who are joint funded by the police and Morecambe Town Council, and neighbourhood police team officers have stepped up patrols in the area and have seized a significant amount of alcohol from youths in the park after hours.

“These youths have caused problems for local residents by congregating in the park after dark," says Sergeant Lindsay Brown said, "causing noise nuisance and behaving in an anti-social manner.

“On one occasion patrolling officers had to call in a patrol car to move the amount of alcohol seized from a group of 40 youths because there was so much of it – over 50 bottles of wine, beer and vodka. Many bags of alcohol were also found hidden in the bushes.

Because of the problems, officers will be taking positive action wherever possible which may include issuing the youngsters with a warning or a direction to leave the area for up to 48 hours. Youths may also be taken home to their parents and could face arrest and prosecution if criminal offences are committed.

“Parents should know where their children are and what they are up to," urged Sergeant Brown. "If they are drinking alcohol, either with their parents’ knowledge or without it, then this leaves these youngsters vulnerable and susceptible to harm. Parents need to take responsibility and ensure their teenagers are warned of the consequences of this type of behaviour.”

Tickets go on sale for summer theatre in Williamson Park

James_and_the_Giant_PeachPR_2010.JPGLancaster's Williamson Park is providing the backdrop this August for three top quality outdoor drama productions by the award winning London-based Illyria theatre company.

The plays will be an adaptation of the classic Jane Austen novel Pride and Prejudice on Tuesday 17th August, Shakespeare’s well loved Romeo and Juliet on Friday 20th August and a production of Roald Dahl’s popular children’s story James and the Giant Peach on Saturday 21 August.

Illyria tours the highest quality open air theatre to the most prestigious and stunning locations throughout the UK and regularly receives excellent reviews.

All plays take place in The Dell - the park's natural amphitheatre. Wooden benches are available for seating but it should be noted that cushions are not provided. The Pavilion Café will be open for refreshments during the interval.

Pride and Prejudice and Romeo and Juliet both start at 7.30pm. James and the Giant Peach starts at 5.30pm. The gates will be open 30 minutes prior to the start time.

• Tickets cost £12 adults, concessions £8, family (2 adults and 2 children) £35 and are on sale now from the gift shop in Williamson Park. There is a special offer for group bookings – buy 10 tickets and pay for only 9 – so why not get friends and family together and take advantage of this generous saving. Telephone bookings are also being taken on 01524 33318.

• For more information about the plays visit

Police bravery awards presented to members of the public


Pictured (left to right): Lancaster’s mayoress Christine Wade, Chief Supt Tracey Launder, Robin Smethurst, Lancaster’s mayor Coun Tony Wade, Jack Ferguson, Lucinda Wannop and Clare Lyden. Photo courtesy Lancashire Constabulary

Four members of the public in the Lancaster and Morecambe area have been presented with police bravery awards to honour their courageous actions during the special ceremony held at Lancaster town hall.

Northern Division’s Chief Superintendent Tracey Launder praised all four for "going above and beyond" in their endeavours to help others in dangerous and difficult situations.

Robin Smethurst, from Lancaster, had been cycling along the city’s canal path on 12th August 2009 when he saw John O’Connor collapse and fall into the water. Robin jumped into the canal fully clothed and pulled Mr Connor to safety, before calling the emergency services.

Robin was presented with the Liverpool Shipwreck & Humane Society Award, which is given to those who voluntarily put their own lives or safety at risk by saving those who are in danger of drowning.

Clare Lyden, from Lancaster, Lucinda Wannop, from Overton, and Jack Ferguson, from Hestbank, Morecambe, were all presented with Lancashire Constabulary commendations for their courageous and selfless actions at the scene of a fatal road traffic accident.

All three stopped to help following the accident on 12th October, 2009, when13-year-old Dean Wilkinson was involved in a collision with a double decker bus on Slyne Road.

Both Lucinda and Jack placed themselves beneath the bus in order to comfort Dean, with Jack relaying information to the emergency services and Lucinda then going to assist in keeping other people at the scene safe. Clare offered reassurance to Dean’s 10-year-old friend before also going to Dean’s aid.

Speaking after the presentation, Chief Supt Launder said: “All four people went above and beyond the normal actions we see from the public when incidents like these unfortunately occur.

"Robin’s quick thinking at the canal prevented a tragedy from happening and I am sure the man he rescued is very grateful.

"Clare, Lucinda and Jack did everything they could at the scene of the road accident and I know that their caring actions have offered some comfort to Dean’s family.”
"Members of the public do not have the resources or the support that the emergency services have, so when they come to the aid of those in need it is a very brave and honourable thing," she added, "and it is important that we recognise that."

Local students Cabbin' Frenzy game goes global

Cabbinfrenzyweb.jpgMobile phone designers from Lancashire’s universities have worked together for the first time to create a game for the iPhone and new iPad mobile device, now available from computer giant Apple's iTunes store.

The game – called Cabbin' Frenzy and developed by students from Lancaster University and UCLAN – involves players trying to dominate the chaotic city streets of New York, Paris or London as the boss of a taxi company. Using “touch and drag”, players direct up to five cabs at once across a 3D map of the city.

The challenge is to choose the best route to collect and deliver passengers, earning the most money while avoiding collisions.

The students’ invention has been backed with £16,000 worth of investment from Lancashire County Council, North West Vision & Media, UCLAN and Preston City Council, while Lancaster University contributed equipment and mentoring.

Industry analysts predict a huge growth in downloads for mobile applications, up from £7bn now to £22bn by 2015.

“The launch of this new product shows the strengths of the two universities and the potential benefits in bringing together design students from UCLAN and developers from Lancaster University to create commercial applications with the support of local businesses," says Lancaster University’s Dr Reuben Edwards, who is based at the Department of Communication Systems at InfoLab21.

The students will earn a bonus if the game sells well, while the profits will be shared between the two software companies involved - GlobiGames Ltd and Shiny Development.

The managing director of GlobiGames Ltd, Peter Melling, praised the students’ “maturity and business acumen.

“I believe the stakeholders behind the project were all very impressed by the innovation, work rate and hands-on skills demonstrated by all the students," he added. "We’ve even discussed possible start up opportunities with them because we’d like to create a cluster of games developers here in the North West instead of losing them to London. ”

Buy Cabbin' Frenzy on iTunes

Work-related deaths fall across the North West

Less workers were killed in accidents at work in the North West last year than in 2008, but the government's Health and Safety Executive are still disappointed by the figures released yesterday.

19 workers were killed at work in the North West between 1 April 2009 and 31 March 2010, according to new figures released by the HSE, a small reduction in fatalities, compared to an average of 27 work-related deaths in the past five years in the region, and 23 fatal injures in 2008/09.

Across Britain, the number of people killed at work has fallen to a new record low with 151 workers dying at work in 2009/10 – down 15 per cent on the previous lowest total of 178 in the year before.

“While it’s heartening to see a reduction in the number of work-related deaths in the North West, it’s simply not good enough that 19 people failed to come home from work to their families last year," feels David Sowerby, the North West’s top health and safety official.

“Yet again, falls from height and incidents involving workplace transport are among the biggest killers, and companies must act now to improve safety," the Divisional Director continues. “Many of these unnecessary deaths could have been avoided if simple and sensible precautions had been in place, and if workers had been involved in dealing with the risks they face.

“Once more, the agriculture and construction industries figure prominently in the North West fatalities – and we all must work hard to tackle the poor safety record in these sectors.

“For the sake of those workers who have lost their lives, HSE will continue to take an uncompromising approach to safety.”

"It’s really very encouraging to see a further reduction in workplace fatalities in the past year," added Judith Hackitt, the HSE Chair. "This is performance which owes much to good practice, leadership and employee engagement. No doubt the recession has resulted in lower levels of activity in some sectors, and a decrease in the numbers of new inexperienced recruits has also contributed to this fall in fatalities.

“Being one of the best health and safety performers in the world means continuing to strive to drive these numbers down further – not getting complacent about what we’ve collectively achieved and recognising the new challenges as we emerge from the recession.

“As with all health and safety statistics, the announcement is a combination of encouraging news about improvement but also a salutary reminder of the tragedies of lives lost at work.”

Scotforth St Paul’s win home safety quiz final


Pictured: The quiz finalists with Lancaster mayor Coun Tony Wade, Coun David Kerr (cabinet member with responsibility for Environmental Health) and city council environmental health officers. Photo courtesy Lancaster City Council

A team of four pupils from Scotforth St Paul’s C of E Primary School has won Lancaster City Council’s 2010 Home Safety Quiz.

42 schools took part in this year’s heats to prove their knowledge of home safety, accident prevention and first aid.

The top four schools then went through to the final, sponsored by Lancaster Round Table and held on Friday 25th June at Morecambe Town Hall. Scotforth St Paul’s School competed against teams representing Wray-with-Botton, Caton St Paul’s and Bowerham Community primary schools.

The council’s environmental health officers put the teams through their paces with five rounds of challenging questions. The quiz ended with an exciting quick-fire round which saw Scotforth and Wray tied on 30 points. Scotforth went on to win the tie-breaker question.

The mayor, Coun Tony Wade awarded the winners with the Home Safety Quiz Shield, a £20 gift voucher for each of the team members and a £60 cash prize for the school. The runners up each received a £10 gift voucher.

The home safety quiz is a well established annual event in the area, which involves over 1000 children across the district and is always met with enthusiasm and interest by teachers and pupils alike.

• For information on how your school can get involved in next year’s quiz, please contact Carrie Morphet of the council’s Public Health and Safety Team on 01524 582732 or by email to

Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Ride the Way of the Roses

Lancaster City Council is inviting cyclists to sample the first stage of a brand new coast to coast cycle route – the Way of the Roses, linking Morecambe with Bridlington.

On Saturday 10th July, cyclists are being given the opportunity to ride the first 35 miles of the route from Morecambe to Settle, starting at 10.30am on Morecambe Promenade.

The Way of the Roses is a brand new 180-mile cycle route that will offer cyclists of all levels and abilities, the chance to take in some spectacular scenery on route, passing through magnificent places such as Lancaster, the Yorkshire Dales and York, to name but a few.

The route, which has a dedicated web site in development at (some links may not work at this time), has been developed by a partnership of organisations led by cycling charity Sustrans.

The ride to Settle along quiet lanes and country roads will take around three hours. The route does include some hills so requires a reasonable level of fitness. It is not suitable for beginners or young children.

Hot drinks and return transport to Lancaster are included if required. Transport costs £8 and must be booked in advance as places are limited. Alternatively you can catch the train from Giggleswick or Settle, or of course return by bike.

• For more information on the ride, an event in partnership with the Forest of Bowland, visit

• Way of the Roses Official web site (in development):

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

County's Barking Bus Stop Move Plan highlighted

Pointer Roundabout Bus Stop Plan 2010Local drivers and residents have begun a campaign to stop Lancashire County Council from moving a bus stop near Lancaster's Pointer Roundabout -- back to where it was moved from less than 10 years ago because it caused major congestion.

Lancashire County Council is planning to relocate the bus stop back to where it was sited previously, right next to the busy roundabout on Greaves Road.

The Council says the move is intended to reduce the traffic to a single lane on the approach to the roundabout, but campaigners, who have launched a Facebook page against the plans, argue it will increase conjestion on an already very busy area.

"I can't see how this will help congestion on the roundabout," notes local David Bateman in a post to the page. "Traffic trying to go up Bowerham Hill will be in a single queue with traffic going straight on into town - which is often already backed up to the roundabout, so there will be no movement in any direction!

"Will buses using the stop have any sort of priority for getting onto the roundabout? If not, who's going to let them back into the queue!! What benefits have they suggested in favour of moving the stop?

"I'm sure bus passengers would be happier for the buses to be able to move fairly freely, even if it means a slightly longer walk, rather than sit on a stationary bus, stuck in a queue at the roundabout."

Incredibly, the bus stop was moved 100 metres farther away from the roundabout less than ten years ago due to the difficulties it caused in this location. You really have to wonder if anyone at the County Council ever looks at its own records...

Join the campaign against the proposal on Facebook

Monday, 28 June 2010

New Hope for future of Morecambe's old Co-op building

The old Co-op on Regent Road, Morecambe. Via Google Maps

Lancaster City Council has appointed Taylor Young to conduct a feasibility study into the potential future use of Centenary House in Morecambe’s West End.

The building, which has remained under-occupied since closing as the Cooperative department store in the early 1990s, sits within the city council’s Masterplan regeneration area on Regent Road, Morecambe.

The study, funded by the Lancaster District Local Strategic Partnership will explore the possibilities for future productive economic use of the building, with one option being flexible space for start up businesses.

“The ongoing regeneration of Morecambe is a priority for the council," says Councillor Abbott Bryning, cabinet member with responsibility for regeneration, "and we are committed to supporting the district’s economy through regeneration and bringing derelict sites back in to use.

“We know that flexible, affordable premises are vital for new small businesses, and consider the option of bringing this building back in to positive use for business development as a solid foundation for future growth.”

Taylor Young will carry out a consultation. The results of this will form part of the overall study and business case.

Centenary House image via Google Maps