Saturday, 16 October 2010

Lancastrians To Rally Against Public Service Cuts, Wednesday 20th

Stop the CutsA new local campaign group has formed to rally opposition to planned Government cuts in public services. Called 'Lancaster and Morecambe Against the Cuts', their first demonstration has been called for this Wednesday, 20th October at 6.00pm in Dalton Square outside Lancaster Town Hall, and all are invited to attend.

The demonstration is timed to coincide with the Government's Comprehensive Spending Review which is expected to announce further public spending cuts.

It is predicted that women will carry the burden of the current Con-Dem government's plans to control the deficit, as women will be particularly hit by public sector job losses. Cuts in child tax benefit announced last week have already been analysed as considerably more punitive to single parent families than dual income families.

Accountancy firm PwC forecasts that the planned cuts would result in up to one million job losses, 108,000 in the North West, half of which would be in the private sector due to the impact on firms supplying the public sector.

The government's trumpeted 'Bonfire of the Quangos' fell into disarray last week as it became apparent that plans to cut 200 quangos would result in greater public expenditure, not less, and involve considerable long-term infrastructural chaos as essential services are devolved to voluntary organisations which do not as yet exist.

The Anti-Cuts campaign group was formed at a special meeting at the Gregson earlier this month and is a coalition backed by the Lancaster and Morecambe TUC, community groups, public service users, students, pensioners and activists of all shades.

• For more info, visit the group's Facebook page or web site at:

Friday, 15 October 2010

Argh! The ups and downs of life as a comic book creator

If Beryl the Peril, Korky the Cat, Spider-Man, Desperate Dan and the Bash Street Kids are some of your favourite cartoon characters, then get along to Morecambe's Platform venue on Friday, 29th October to meet Tim Quinn, who worked on the comics that have featured these characters as a script writer.

Tim worked for some of the world's most famous British comic book companies as scriptwriter, editor and illustrator.  This month he's coming to Morecambe's Platform to take his audience on a hilarious and nostalgic trip through the last 150 years,  screening images of the best and worst strip creations.

Hear how Tim teamed up with legendary Queen guitarist Brian May to create a comic book without pictures. and find out how the daughter of Enid Blyton teamed up with the editor of Spider-Man, what the banned cover of Spider-Man looked like and how Tim survived being editor of Barbie's comic book!

Plus, if you love to draw or just want to visit the world of comics and cartoons, you will have a whale of a time at Tim's cartoon workshop which takes place on the afternoon of the event starting at 2.00pm. The workshop which is suitable for all ages includes figure drawing, emotion, storytelling in pictures, character and story creation and comic book history.

• The lecture is suitable for boys and girls from 9-150 and starts at 7.30pm. The audience is being invited to dress in capes and masks if they wish. Tickets cost £10. The Cartoon Workshop costs £5.  Early booking for this is recommended.

• Tickets for both the lecture and the workshop are available from the Platform box office - 01524 582803 or in person at Lancaster or Morecambe Visitor Information Centres.

• For more information visit

Have a Safe and Happy Hallowe'en

Lancashire Police are taking action to ensure that Hallowe'en is an enjoyable time – both for those who celebrate the spooky spectacular and those who choose not to.

They are offering safety advice to those out trick or treating and reassurance to residents who want a quiet evening -- offering posters to display in windows (PDF) for those who do not want spooky callers.

Commenting on the move, Neighbourhood Policing Inspector Debby Carter said: “Hallowe'en is renowned for the trick or treat tradition and whilst we don’t want to ruin anyone’s fun, we want everyone to be safe and feel safe.

“From speaking to members of our local communities, we know that some of our more vulnerable and elderly members of the community feel a little apprehensive at this time of year so as we approach the Halloween and Bonfire period, increased highly visible police patrols will be on duty to deal with any incidents of anti social behaviour.

“We will also be making posters available to those who would rather not have a visit from trick or treaters and we would ask revelers to politely abide by them.”

For those who do want to celebrate, officers are offering the following advice:
  • Always go trick or treating with an adult
  • Only go to houses where you or your friends know the residents
  • Don’t knock on doors where there is a ‘No Trick or Treat’ sign
  • Stay in areas that are well lit with street lights - take a torch with you just in case
  • Stay with your friends - don’t split into smaller groups unless an adult goes with you
  • Don’t talk to strangers on the street
  • Don’t enter any house - stay on the doorstep
  • Be careful not to frighten vulnerable people, especially the elderly
  • Be visible
  • Look carefully before crossing the road, even if you’re part of a group
  • Behave responsibly
“Hopefully this positive police action will help to reassure local residents that we are taking action to address their concerns," Inspector Carter added, "and working hard to ensure that everyone has a safe and happy Hallowe'en.”

• No Trick or Treat posters are available from Police stations in Accrington and Darwen and from next Monday residents should be able to collect posters from public enquiry desks at police stations in Garstang, Lancaster, Morecambe, Poulton, Thornton, Cleveleys and Fleetwood. They will also be available from the Customer Service Centres at Lancaster and Morecambe Town Halls.

• The poster can also be downloaded from the Lancashire Police website here. (PDF)

• Officers in Fleetwood are conducting talks to local youth groups on Halloween safety. Amongst the groups being visited are: Tommy's gym; the after school club at St Nicholas church and west view community centre dream scheme and community change groups.

Police warnings after high performance cars stolen in Wyre

Police in Wyre are urging residents and motorists to keep their car keys secure to avoid becoming a victim of burglars who break into houses with the sole intention of stealing high powered or high value motor vehicles following a spate of thefts in the area.

The most recent incident was reported to police on Thursday 14 October, after a black Audi Q7 and a black Mercedes C180 were stolen from an address on Little Poulton Lane sometime between 11.00pm on Wednesday 13th October and 12.45am the following morning.

The offenders gained access through secure patio doors before stealing two sets of keys from a downstairs room and driving off in the owner’s cars that were parked on the driveway.

This crime follows an earlier incident on 27th September when a black Range Rover Sport was stolen from a house on Garstang Road, Pilling in similar circumstances.

Police are also investigating an attempted burglary at an address on Meadow Lane in Hambleton on 11th October where officers believe the target was the owner’s VW Golf parked on the driveway.

Sergeant Andy Hoyle from Wyre CID said: “There is no doubt that some criminals are targeting houses where this type of vehicle is parked and clearly visible during the hours of darkness, especially in quiet, rural areas.

“Where possible we would recommend that owners of this type of vehicle garage or park them out of sight of the road.

“As always, I would ask home owners to pay particular attention to the security of the house when locking up for the night.

“Additionally if they do own high value cars then they should consider placing the keys in a secure location or taking them upstairs with them. Please do not leave keys on view, especially on kitchen work surfaces, hall tables or close to any external doors.

“In most cases these offenders are entering properties with the sole purpose of searching the downstairs rooms for the keys and then making off with the vehicle.”

• Anyone with any information about these offences should contact police on 0845 1 25 35 45 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Police appeal following Lancaster B & Q theft

Police in Lancaster have released CCTV images following a theft from a Lancaster DIY store last week.

On Thursday 7th October at around 12,30pm, two men entered the B & Q store on Aldcliffe Road in Lancaster and filled up a trolley worth of goods. They then went to the garden centre area of the store, unlocked the security gates and left the making no attempt to pay for the items.

Officers have now released CCTV images and are asking the public to help identify the offenders.

PC Simon Harrison said, “This theft is of high value with the offenders acting as customers in the shop. They must have known the layout of the shop in order of carry out this theft however the store CCTV captured their actions and escape.

"If anyone recognises the people in the images then I would ask them to come forward and contact us.”

Items stolen included three showers, a garden blower, a house alarm and an extension lead. The value was around £1,200.

• Anyone with any information is asked to call Lancaster police on 01524 63333 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Appeal after vandalism in Bolton le Sands

Carnforth police are appealing for people to come forward with information following a series of criminal damage in Bolton-le-Sands.

Between 8.30pm on Saturday 2nd October and 4.20pm on Sunday 3rd October the front window of the Packet Boat Chip Shop on Main Road was smashed, causing significant damage.

Prior to this - between 21st or 22nd September - coping stones have been removed from the   Brookfield doctors’ surgery on Main Road and thrown into a nearby garden causing them to smash. A few days later, after the wall was repaired, coping stones were again forcibly removed from the wall.

In September there was also an incident at the bus stop on Main Road with the junction with Brookfield Close where the glass has been smashed.

“There has been a spate of criminal damages in the Main Road area recently," noted Bolton-le-Sands Community Beat Manager PC Linda Head. " with four crimes reported in the last month in what is usually a peaceful village.

“There have also been reports of groups of youths that are congregating particularly around the doctor's surgery.

“I would urge residents to remain vigilant and for anyone with any information about these crimes to contact me direct on 01524-596400.”

Not the Jazz Festival returns to Lancaster

Not The Lancaster Jazz Festival is back for 2010 at the Gregson and features the best in contemporary jazz from around the north of England on 31st October. 

Play an instrument? Then come and play in the Cobra workshop at the start of the day. It's open to all musicians and will explore John Zorn's most popular game piece - with no scores or written music it just has a set of rules - game on.  (Take part and see everything else for just £2).

The first performance kicks off at 1.20pm and from then on its the best in local improvising talent from Huevos, The Initiative, Deep Cabaret and the World Line Ensemble. 

The Leeds-based Northern Bloc Collective will also be descending on Lancaster with their bands; The Crank Project, Aubin Vanns Trio and Fractures, while from Manchester, you can look forward to performances from Dave Birchill, Matt Postle and duo Bayliss and Howard.

Offering 11 hours of invented sonic fun, this should be a great event for many music fans.

• Not the Jazz Festival £5 for the entire day - for more info call 01524 849959.

  Read our review of last year's event here

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Dog owners urged to think twice about using extendable leads

Image courtesy Lancaster City Council
Local dog wardens are urging dog owners to think twice about using extendable leads after a young boy was almost garroted whilst riding his bike.

Isaac Hargreaves, age 6 from Morecambe, was riding his bicycle along the quiet cul de sac where he lives when he cycled into an extendable dog lead and fell backwards off his bike.

Isaac sustained deep rope type burns to his neck and shoulder and bruises to his back.

"I've always regarded our small quiet cul de sac to be a safe place for children to play," says Isaac's father Darren. "Isaac loves to ride circuits of the road with his brother, which is why I thought it was unusual to hear him crying that day.

"I ran out to find him walking towards me from where the incident had occurred, just metres from my house, with terrible burn marks on his chest and neck.

"Isaac had cycled round a bend in the road and straight into an extendable dog lead.  The owner of the dog was on one side of the road and the dog was on the other when the accident happened. The lead appeared to have caught Isaac's shoulder and moved up to his neck as he fell backwards.

"If he hadn’t been wearing his helmet which had cracked on impact, his injuries could have been far worse," Darren added. "Thankfully, Isaac has fully recovered but as a parent, it saddens me to think my beautiful little boy will have to bear the physical scars for the rest of his life."

“This isn't the first time we have witnessed rope type burns as a result of someone using this type of lead," commented Lancaster City Council Dog Warden Alison McGowan. "and as a service, we would never recommend people use them on the highway when dogs need to be kept under close control."

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Opera Highlights to be Performed at Lancaster Cathedral

The Encore Opera Group will perform selections from several of the very best-loved operas in Lancaster Cathedral on Friday 22nd October at 7:30pm.

Encore’s concert will feature numerous operatic favourites, including The Hebrew Slaves’ Chorus from Nabucco, the Finale from Act I of Don Giovanni, the Toreador’s Song from Carmen and the Pearl Fishers Duet. Pieces from Samson & Delilah, La Bohème and Dvořák’s Rusalka will round off a programme sure to please devoted opera lovers, but also perfect for newcomers looking for an introduction to the highlights of this dramatic musical form.

Based in south Cumbria, the Encore Opera group has been providing audiences with memorable performances of live opera since 1992. The group consists of ten talented singers who regularly take part in full-scale operatic productions. The Cathedral will provide a suitably dramatic backdrop and there will be plenty of musical high notes for opera fans of all ages.

• Tickets to hear this concert are £7.50 (concessions £5); accompanied under 16s are admitted free. Tickets and further information are available from Lancaster Tourist Information (tel: 01524 582394) or the Cathedral Events Co-ordinator (tel: 01524 384820 or email:

Electoral registration prize draw winners pick up prizes

Pictured: Coun Tony Wade, Stuart and Caroline Lawson, Vibha Collenette and Manjeet Lamba.
Photo courtesy Lancaster City Council
Three people have picked up cheques totalling £350 – just for returning their electoral registration forms.

Earlier this year Lancaster City Council entered everyone who confirmed their details on the electoral register, or registered changes to their existing details, by 3rd September into a free prize draw.

Manjeet Lamba from Lancaster was the first name out of the hat and picked up a cheque for £200.

Yvonne Angus from Lancaster was second and Stuart Lawson from Cockerham third. They won £100 and £50 respectively.

“Registering to vote is vitally important," feels Daphne Snelson, Lancaster City Council’s elections manager. “As well as not being able to vote, people who are not on the Register of Electors could find their credit rating is affected, meaning that they may be unable to get a bank account, a mortgage, a credit card or sign up for a mobile phone.

“By offering an incentive to people to return their forms on time we hope to ease the burden on our canvassing team and, ultimately, reduce the cost of the annual canvass.”

Annual canvass registration forms were sent out to all households in the district during August and canvassing staff have been out visiting the homes of those households that haven’t replied.

The aim of the competition was to ease the burden on the canvassers and, ultimately, reduce the cost of the annual canvass.

• The revised Register of Electors will be published on 1st December 2010

Motorcyclists given road safety message

Lancashire police have been out speaking to motorcyclists to remind them of the importance of staying safe on the road after a number of deaths this year.

Road policing officers have spoken to over 2,000 motorcyclists in the past six months to educate them on safety.

“Since January we have had nine fatal collisions in Lancashire involving motorcyclists, with a large number of bikers also seriously injured," says Road Policing Inspector Martin Bishop. "Motorcyclists are one of our most vulnerable groups and we are committed to doing all we can to make our roads safer and reduce casualties.

“With the recent good weather, we have seen many riders making the most of the end of the motorcycling season.

“I would ask riders to wear bright coloured clothing to give others the best chance of seeing them and to adapt their riding style to suit the road and conditions.

“I would also urge riders to ensure that they ride with a decent gap between themselves and other road users, allowing them time and space to react and stop in a safe manner.”

The action comes as part of Operation Pathway, a county-wide campaign aimed at improving the safety of all road users through education, prevention advice and enforcement.

• Motorcyclists can visit for further road safety tips.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

New local networking community for freelancers, small business

Celebrating two years in business, Sharon Jackson of Bay Web Designs has started a forum and networking group for freelancers and small businesses in the local area.

"Often networking groups are aimed at larger businesses," Sharon explains. "I soon realised that, while they did have something to offer her as a freelancer, many events, training sessions and items of information were just not relevant.

"After two years of discovering the best ways to work as a freelancer I'd now like to help others in a similar position to get together, exchange ideas, support each other in tough times and celebrate successes."

Another plan on Sharon’s agenda is to organise a Jelly co-working event in the area. A Jelly is a way of getting a group of home workers together in one place where they can enjoy free wi-fi access for work, access to refreshments and plenty of creative people to share news, knowledge and experience.

Living & working in Morecambe, Sharon believes in helping everybody achieve attractive and affordable websites, and more details can be found on the company’s website – – or by emailing

• The forum can be found online at If any venue would like to host such an event or as a homeworker you would like to get involved then contact Sharon by email at

Appeal after rings stolen from hospitalised Heysham grandmother

Police are appealing for information after a thief stole two rings from an 88year-old grandmother who suffers from dementia as she lay on a ward at Lancaster Royal Infirmary.

The rings are believed to have been stolen from Margie Blackburn’s finger between Tuesday 28th September and Thursday 30th September as she rested on ward 37 at the hospital.

The first ring is described as a yellow gold eternity ring with five diamonds. The second ring is a yellow gold solitaire engagement ring.

“This is a callous crime against a vulnerable lady and we need the public’s help to catch the person responsible," commented Sergeant Mark Stephens from Lancaster CID. "Margie has arthritis therefore getting rings off her finger would be very difficult so it is highly unlikely that they have just fallen off her.

“Margie is on a general ward and as such a large number of people could have access to it. We are treating this as theft and I would appeal to anyone that has any information that could help with our enquiries to contact police.

“This is a despicable crime against an elderly woman unable to defend herself and it makes you question what sort of person would do this," said Margie’s son, Roland Blackburn.

“I visit my mother regularly and as a family we are very upset about this as the rings have huge sentimental value.

“I want to raise awareness to make people realise that things like this can happen and for other people to learn from this and to take steps to stop their property being stolen in similar circumstances. “

• Anyone with any information about any of these crimes should contact Lancashire Police on 08451 25 35 45 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Appeal following assaults in Lancaster

Police in Lancaster are appealing for witnesses to come forward with information after three separate assaults in the town last weekend -- two of them on students.

The first incident took place around 11.50pm on Friday 8th October 2010 when a student was assaulted as he got out of a taxi on Lancaster's South Road. He was approached by four men, one of whom punched him to the head three times in an unprovoked attack.

Two men were assaulted in a second incident that took place around 12.50am on Saturday 9th October. The men had been drinking in city centre pub on Moor Lane, before leaving together in the direction of another public house in the city.

Whilst en route, they walked down Brewery Lane to the junction with Lodge Street where they were approached by a group of at least seven men, one of whom asked for the time before assaulting both men.

During the assault they received punches, kicks to the body and head and were also stamped on by the offenders. The victims sustained head injuries, a cracked jaw, cuts, bruises and soreness.

A short time later, at 1.45am on Saturday 9th October, there was a third incident on the Millennium Bridge where three students were attacked after they got out of a taxi near to Sainsbury’s on Water Street as they walked to the Millennium Bridge towards Lune Street.

They were confronted by up to nine men, one of whom threw a bottle which hit one of the victims on the back of his head. The three students were then set upon individually by the group.

One student was punched numerous times to the face sustaining swelling and pain to his face. The second man was punched to the face and placed in a headlock and the third victim was punched to the face and body and knocked to the floor unconscious before being kicked about the head and body. He sustained grazes, bruising and soreness to his face and body.

Detective Sergeant Mark Stephens from Lancaster and Morecambe CID said: “These were all particularly ferocious attacks that were all without provocation and all victims are fortunate not to have been more seriously injured.

“In the final incident the three students had only come to Lancaster five days earlier as first year University students.

“We do believe that the assaults are linked and I would appeal to witnesses to any of these incidents to come forward and make contact with the Police at Lancaster on 01524 63333. A full investigation is underway”.

A 17-year-old boy from Lancaster, 19-year-old man from Lancaster, 20-year-old man from Lancaster and a 21-year-old man from Morecambe have all been arrested in connection with these incidents and are currently on police bail.

• Anyone with any information is urged to contact police on 01524 63333 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

New food waste scheme launches

Residents across the Lancaster district will be able to do their bit towards tackling climate change when a new scheme is introduced in November.

Over the next few weeks food waste recycling will be introduced by Lancaster City Council across the district in a new scheme whose launch was delayed when  handling centres elesewhere in the County failed to open on schedule earlier in the year.

Throughout November the majority of households will be receiving a kitchen caddy to put their food waste in. Once full, it can be emptied into your green garden bin - and properties unable to accommodate green garden bins will be delivered an outdoor caddy.

You can start using your kitchen caddy as soon as you receive it. Once processed the mixture of food and garden waste will produce compost that can be used in parks and gardens.

Food waste, both cooked and uncooked, that can be recycled includes meat, bones and carcasses, plate scrapings, fish, dairy waste, tea and coffee grounds, bread and pastries and fruit and vegetables.

Coun Jon Barry, Cabinet member with responsibility for Environmental Services, said: "Food waste makes up approximately 25% of household waste. When sent to landfill food waste produces  methane - a very harmful  greenhouses gas that contributes  towards climate change. By recycling your food waste you can help reduce the waste we send to landfill and help reduce the effects of climate change."

Food waste recycling has already successfully introduced by many other areas, and many more are planning on doing so. In developing its scheme, Lancaster City Council looked at other successful schemes, including one run by Preston City Council.

Council officers will also be attending ‘listening days’ in Lancaster, Morecambe and Carnforth to answer questions on the council’s food waste and recycling schemes.

While many people don't mind recycling for example, many have criticised schemes which use too many recycling bins, complicating the process for householders. Others have decried the number of bins issued, especially householders with small yards.

These events are taking place as follows:

• Morecambe: October 19th at the Arndale Centre, 10.30am to 2pm
• Lancaster: October 21st at Marketgate shopping centre, 1pm to 4.30pm
• Carnforth: October 22nd at the Civic Hall, 1pm to 4.30pm

• For more information, including frequently asked questions, visit

Volunteers still wanted for health and fitness project at Williamson Park

Lancaster City Council is still on the look out for volunteers with green fingers to take part in a new health and fitness project at Williamson Park.

The project starts on Thursday 21st October and being developed in partnership with the University of Cumbria.

The volunteers will be tasked with physical activities in the park that will improve their health and also give them the opportunity to meet new friends.   The project will also improve the landscape of the park and could involve clearing an area in Fenham Carr or working on a joint project with the Forestry Commission.

Students from the Sports Studies degree programme at the University of Cumbria are planning the project with assistance from Lancaster City Council staff at Williamson Park.   The students will gain experience from planning the sessions, creating risk assessments and work programmes with guidance from experienced park staff. This work will be officially assessed by the university and will contribute to the student’s degree.

Volunteers will need to be available to attend sessions at the park every Thursday at 9.30am for eight weeks.

• Anyone interested in reaping the healthy benefits of this project should contact Williamson Park on 01524 33318 or send an email to

Bad Moon rises over Yorkshire House for Hallowe'en!

A top Hallowe'en "do-it-yourself music event" has been organised to mark Sunday 31st October at the Yorkshire House, Lancaster.

Bad Moon sees the po)))nies (an otherwise modest 'punk-folk' outfit, pictured right) hosting a festive celebration which will feature Lancaster passion pit rock via the Little Hero Band, honeydripper romance from The Charming Drunk, shock horror from po)))nies and orchestral manoeuvres in the dark via community ensemble Off The Rails.

There will also be Mystery Guests adding to the haunted vibes; festive records, pumpkins, decorative corn and good food and costume.

"A sub-current to this event will be to invite local artists, bands and performers to bring their cds, cdrs records and tapes etc. for a bring and buy of locally produced music," organiser Tom Bramhall told virtual-lancaster. "If there's anyone reading would like to bring and share their output with an interested public, come out on the night!

Entry will cost three pounds on the door with all proceeds towards the running of the event.

Anyone with even a passing interest in locally produced music is encouraged to come out for a festive evening of thrills, and spills of music from the blood orange to the deep purple...

Police appeal after Morecambe mugging

Police are appealing for witnesses after a man was robbed while walking through Morecambe late last Thursday.

At around 11.20pm on Thursday (7th October 2010) the 45-year-old man was walking down one of the alleyways off West End Road near to Breezers Bar, when he was approached by three men.

The men then attacked the victim, pushing him to the floor, kicking him to the head and ribs before searching his pockets and stealing an amount of cash – then running away in an unknown direction.

The victim was taken to Royal Lancaster hospital suffering from a minor head injury but has since been released.

Unfortunately, at this stage there are no descriptions of the three men.

DC Sarah Cole said, “This is a particularly nasty assault and the victim was clearly very shaken by the experience and I would urge anyone who may have been in the area or seen or heard anything to come forward and contact police.”

• Anyone with any information can contact Lancaster CID on 01253 596639 or on 08451 25 35 45. Alternatively, you can call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Caravan stolen in Heysham

Police are appealing for information following the theft of a caravan worth around £14,000 in Heysham last month.

The caravan was stolen from the secure yard of a house on Oxcliffe Road sometime between 9.30am and 2.30pm on Saturday 25th September.

It is believed the offender or offenders managed to gain entry to the yard by using cutting equipment on the metal gate which led to the rear of the house.

The caravan is white with a green stripe along the sides and has a cream leather interior.

PC Sean Brady said: “I would appeal to anybody who witnessed any suspicious behaviour in the Oxcliffe Road area of Heysham on Saturday 25th September to contact police.

“I would also like to speak with anybody who thinks they may have any information at all that could assist with this investigation.”

• Anybody with any information should contact police on 08451 25 35 45 or call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Monday, 11 October 2010

Motorists and pedestrians warned to take care as darker nights arrive

Lancashire Constabulary is warning motorists to drive with care as the dark nights set in -- taking extra caution on the roads and ensuring their vehicle is in a roadworthy condition.

Officers across Lancashire will be visiting schools and colleges to educate students on road safety and will have various stop-points across the county to check that passing vehicles are in a good state of repair.

Across the United Kingdom, accident rates are 31 per cent higher in winter months than in summer months. Transport Research Area Europe reports that 10 per cent of daily winter traffic occurs between midnight and 7.00 am, but that 23 per cent of winter accidents occur during those hours. 

“Typically at this time of year we see an increase in collisions," explains Road Policing Inspector Martin Bishop. “We're committed to protecting people who live, work and travel throughout Lancashire and this action is about reducing casualties and making our roads safer.

“As the nights get darker, it is harder to see pedestrians so drivers need to pay extra attention to the roads and take care with their journey.

“Pedestrians and cyclists also need to be aware that it is harder for motorists to see them and should take precautions.  I would encourage them to wear high visibility clothing, such as jackets with reflective material or reflective armbands, when on the roads during darkness and to use pedestrian crossings wherever possible.

“Motorists should also make sure their vehicle is in good working order in terms of tyres, brakes and overall repair.  They should ensure that lights are working and headlights are set correctly, washer bottles are full, wipers are working correctly and that windscreens are clear of ice and condensation.

“By taking these steps, motorists and pedestrians can help to keep themselves safe.”

Police will be monitoring cars t ensure they comply with regulations, focusing their action around the busiest times for traffic flow – between 3 – 6.00pm and between 7.00 and 9.30am.

The action comes as part of Operation Pathway, a Force-wide campaign that sees high profile action days on the county’s roads aimed at saving lives and protecting people.

Students get fresh look at crime prevention

Over 750 students were given crime prevention advice at Lancaster University’s Freshers’ Fair last week.

Members of Lancaster’s crime prevention team attended the event on Friday and handed out packs including personal attack alarms, ultra violet property marking pens and other crime prevention aides. The day before, campus community beat manager PC Gary Wynne and Crime Prevention Officer Jan Brown gave a series of crime prevention talks to all gave a series of crime prevention talks to all the new students. (Guidance on crime prevention has also been issued, see earlier news story)
Lancaster University campus police team, PC Gary Wynne
and PCSO Andy Wright,  can be contacted on 01524 596649.
Around 2,600 new students start at Lancaster university
each year.

Jan Brown, crime prevention officer, said: “Starting university is a really exciting time for students and crime prevention isn’t always top of their priorities when they are thinking about things like lectures, making new friends and going out to enjoy city life.

“As many students are living away from home for the first time, and no longer have parents looking out for them, they need to be aware of how they can help look after themselves and avoid becoming a victim of crime.”

• Crime prevention advice especially for students can be found on the force’s website - or see our earlier news story

Countdown begins for city's Fireworks Spectacular

Lancaster's annual Fireworks Spectacular will take place on Saturday 6th November, and this year’s is shaping up to be bigger and better than ever before.

During the day there will be a host of city centre events, including themed walks, lantern making, and street entertainment and, for the first time, Ryelands Park in Skerton will act as one of the official viewing areas and will include a funfair, refreshments and entertainment.

BBC Radio Lancashire will be broadcasting live from the park from 7.00pm with presenters Graham Liver and John ‘Gilly’ Gillmore.

The park has been selected as a viewing area after the Council took the decision to close the castle and priory precinct on safety grounds, meaning visitors will not be able to view the fireworks from those locations.

The decision followed a review of previous years which found that the area was not best suited to accommodate the increasing number of people attending the event.

As well as Ryelands Park, the other official viewing areas are Williamson Park, Giant Axe field and Salt Ayre Sports Centre. Salt Ayre will also be hosting a funfair during the evening from 4pm.

If you can't get to one of the venues, watch the fireworks, which start at 8.00pm, from wherever you are in the district you can listen to the specially coordinated music on BBC Radio Lancashire – 104.5FM. The music will also be played at all of the official venues.

As an added bonus there will be free parking, for one year only, after 6.00pm in all of Lancaster City Council’s car parks in Lancaster. Free parking will also be available at Salt Ayre Sports Centre.

“This year’s Fireworks Spectacular is shaping up to be one of the biggest and best yet," enthused Coun June Ashworth, Cabinet member with responsibility for tourism. 

“Over the years it has grown in such popularity that we’ve taken the opportunity to expand the event considerably and by working in partnership with local businesses, can now boast a programme of entertainment throughout the day.

“I hope people will be able to join us for what promises to be an exciting day.”

 “There’s no need to miss out on any of the fun and excitement as Lancaster City Centre warms up for the evening’s event," added Ann Morris, chief executive of the Lancaster District Chamber of Commerce, "with a programme of themed street performances which will keep everybody entertained as they shop, socialise or enjoy some quality food at the many pubs, cafes and restaurants in the City.”

• More details of the daytime events and the official viewing areas will be available from the Visitor Information Centres in Lancaster and Morecambe and online at

• Please do not bring sparklers or alcohol to any of the official venues.

New local transport plans could save over £100 million, say campaigners

Organisations from North Lancashire have joined together to give their backing to a report and proposal for urgently needed transport improvements for the Lancaster and Morecambe district.

The proposals, which include a park and ride scheme and revisions to Lancaster's current one-way road system, are an alternative to the controversial Heysham M6 Link road plan which is at present on hold awaiting the outcome of the Government Spending Review in late October.

Other key elements of the proposals are a high quality spinal bus route between Heysham and the University of Lancaster, rail system upgrades and cycle infrastructure improvements.

Building on transport plans first put forward in 2008 by specialist transport consultants Faber Maunsell, the aim is to introduce measures which would address the district’s traffic congestion problems, and so aid regeneration and tourism, and improve access to Heysham.

The proposals have the backing of transport campaign group Transport Solutions for Lancaster and Morecambe, who prepared the report with contributions from the Lancaster, Morecambe & District Rail User Group, Dynamo (the Lancaster & District Cycle Campaign), Transition City Lancaster and Campaign to Protect Rural England, other  local groups supporting sustainable transport.

The groups backing the initiative argue there is a potential to save the public purse over £100 million by not building the Link road, with the estimated costs of their proposed transport improvements package is around £30 million.

Campaigners say that at £140 million, the Link Road scheme may prove unaffordable when the new Coalition government must reduce the budget deficit. As Lancashire’s top priority, it blocks the region’s other transport schemes.

Even the County Council's own plans for Park and Ride in Lancaster are dependent on it getting the go ahead, rather than being a separate project.

And £140 million isn’t the end of it: the scheme cannot go ahead without “complementary measures”, similar to those in this report, in the region of another £40 million.

The planned Link road, which is opposed by both Lancaster and Morecambe Councils, also doesn't meet government priorities of sustainable economic growth and carbon reduction as it  fails to tackle congestion, is ineffective in bringing jobs and helping tourism and its justification – reducing journey time to Heysham – is open to doubt.

"We shall be submitting the report to the relevant authorities including the Department for Transport, Lancashire County Council and Lancaster City Council," says David Gate, chair of TSLM.

"We all need to be practical and realistic in these tough times. It seems pretty clear that the £139 million Link road will be deferred or even cancelled to help reduce the massive budget deficit.

"We believe that the Link is unaffordable, but there is a pressing need to urgently address the districts in town congestion problems.

"This report demonstrates that there are cheaper and more sustainable alternatives to the polluting and destructive Link road and we all hope that it will help the authorities to focus on tacking our major priority the local traffic congestion problems," he added.

View the report online

Free crime prevention tools for Lancaster, Morecambe residents

Local residents can get switched on to home security as the nights draw in – with the help of free crime prevention tools.

Timer switches – which can turn lights on to give the impression that someone is at home even when the property is empty – will be handed out free of charge at a series of events across Carnforth, Lancaster, Morecambe and Silverdale.

The crime prevention team will be giving away timer switches, property marking packs, and general crime prevention advice at the following places –

• Wednesday 20th October: Asda, Lancaster, 10am – 12 noon
• Thursday 21st October: Tesco, Carnforth, 10am – 12 noon
• Thursday 21st October: community event at Gaskell Hall, Silverdale, 2pm – 4pm
• Friday 22nd October: Morrisons, Morecambe, 10am – 12 noon

The giveaway comes ahead of the clocks going back on Sunday 31st October.

As the days get shorter, Lancashire Constabulary is also issuing a reminder to all households that now is the time to check lighting and security.

“Crime levels, including burglary figures, are currently at an all time low across Lancashire," notes crime prevention officer Jan Brown, " but it's important that residents don’t become complacent and take action to prevent themselves from becoming victims of crime.”

General crime prevention tips include:
  • Consider fitting a burglar alarm system – this provides a visible deterrent as well as an audible warning.
  • Check your outside security lights are working. If you don’t have one, consider installing one.
  • Check that tools, ladders and other equipment that you may have left out in your garden or yard is securely locked away.
  • Make sure doors and windows are locked and secure when you leave your home.
  • Leave a light on in a room and draw the curtains when you go out. Timer switches can be bought cheaply – or get one free from one of the crime prevention events
  • Keep the garden tidy by cutting back shrubs and trees so they can’t provide a screen for thieves.
  • Mark your postcode and house number on expensive electrical equipment and property with a UV security pen, permanent marker or engraver.
“Working together we can help keep crime low," added Jan. If people follow these handy hints and tips they can reduce the risk of being targeted by thieves even further.”