Friday, 10 December 2010

Radio campaign offers help to domestic abuse victims this Christmas

A radio campaign is urging Lancashire victims of domestic abuse to seek help this Christmas.

The advert, which will receive airplay across the county, hears a young child speaking about how he likes to give his mother flowers at Christmas – but that the only way he can do this is to put them on her grave.

The shocking message, which highlights the potential deadly consequences of domestic abuse, also urges victims not to suffer in silence. The National Domestic Violence helpline is given, but victims are also told to dial 999 in an emergency.

“At this time of year, we traditionally see a rise in domestic violence, as families spend prolonged periods of time together and alcohol flows more freely," says Detective Superintendent Ian Critchley from Lancashire Police’s head of public protection. “We want victims to know that help is available – we will do everything we can to protect you and your family so that you are able to move away from a situation where there is the threat of violence. We will also work towards bringing offenders to justice.”

The advert is supported by the Lancashire Domestic Violence Partnership and are funded by Safer Lancashire, a partnership made up of community safety organisations which aims to make Lancashire an even safer place to live, work and visit.

Domestic violence is any threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between adults who are or have been in a relationship, or between family members. It can affect anybody, regardless of their gender or sexuality.

“Our message to victims is that they don’t need to suffer domestic violence in silence," says Helen Cooper, member of the Lancashire Domestic Violence Partnership. "Across Lancashire, all agencies work together to provide support for victims of domestic violence.”

• If you are suffering from domestic violence or abuse, or know someone who is, you can contact the National Domestic Violence Helpline on 0808 2000 247. Always dial 999 in an emergency.

• Safer Lancashire Board website:

Listen to the radio campaign

National Domestic Violence helpline

CCTV images released after attempted theft in Booths, Lancaster

Police have released CCTV images of two men they wish to speak to in connection with a theft from a supermarket in Lancaster last month.

At approximately 5.20pm on the 18th November, two men entered the Booths store on Hala Road in Lancaster and walked around the store, filling a shopping trolley full of groceries and alcohol.

They then appeared to attempt to leave the store without paying for the items, but they were disturbed by a customer and abandoned the trolley in the outside foyer, making off in haste from the store. The items, totalling over £300, were recovered.

“I am appealing for witnesses to this to come forward to help police establish the circumstances around this theft," says PC Simon Harrison, who is investigating the theft. "Despite the men leaving the items behind, it would appear at this stage that were going to attempt to leave with the items without paying for them.

“I would appeal for the men themselves, or anyone who recognises them to come forward and contact police so that we can discuss the incident further to establish exactly what happened.”

The two men police would like to talk to in connection with what appeared to be the attempted theft of goods from Booths, Lancaster last month.
The first man is described as being in his mid 50’s, of heavy build with a moustache.  He was wearing a black and white striped hat, a dark blue jacket, a yellow or green top and dark trousers.

The second man is described as also in his mid 50’s, of heavy build and clean shaven with glasses. He was wearing a light green cap with a dark green jacket over a light blue shirt with jeans.

• Anyone with any information about either offence should contact Lancashire Police on 08451 25 35 45 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Man stabbed in Lancaster, arrest made

Detectives have launched an investigation after a 49 year old man was stabbed in Lancaster.

Police were called to an address on Patterdale Road on the Ridge at around 5.45pm yesterday (Thursday 9 December 2010). On arrival, they found a man suffering from a stab wound to his chest.

He was taken to the Royal Lancaster Infirmary where he remains in a critical but stable condition.

A 20-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of attempted murder and is being questioned by detectives at Lancaster police station.

A cordon is in place while Crime Scene Investigators carry out an examination of the scene.

Bike registration scheme to help return stolen cycles

With one bike stolen every day in north Lancashire, cyclists purchasing new bikes in the area are being asked to register their details on a new database to help safeguard their property.

The move is one of a number of joint agency initiatives being launched across Morecambe and Lancaster as part of Operation Chainguard, aimed at reducing bicycle thefts in the area and increasing the ability to return a stolen bike to its owner.

Shoppers purchasing bikes at participating cycle stores will be asked to register their contact details, along with the manufacturer, model, colour, and frame serial number of their new bicycle. This information will then be stored on a centralised, secure database, which can be accessed by police officers should the bike then be stolen.

Current figures show that around one bike is stolen every day in Northern Division, which covers Lancaster, Morecambe and Wyre.

“Bicycle theft is not a unique problem to the area and happens across the country," notes PC Ben Hanley from Morecambe Police. "However, Lancaster and Morecambe are popular places for cyclists to get about by bike, both for commuting and for pleasure, so the theft of a cycle can be a real inconvenience for the owner.

"Unfortunately, the main identifying characteristic – the bike’s serial number – is rarely recorded or stored where police can have access to it. This means our ability to recover a stolen bicycle, and then return it to its rightful owner, is greatly reduced.”

“Operation Chainguard will see a joint approach to tackling bike crime in the Lancaster and Morecambe area," feels Rachel Scott, Lancaster City Council Cycling Project Co-ordinator. "The introduction of this DVLA-style registration database will greatly increase the chances of any recovered, stolen bikes being returned to their rightful owner.”

Local bicycle shops have pledged their commitment to Operation Chainguard and arrangements are being made for roadshow-style events to take place across the area. So far, signed up partners include Destination Cycles, The Edge, Oggy’s Cycles, Dynostart, Halfords, Leisure Lakes, Bay Bikes, Motormania with others to follow.

Operation Chainguard will also see a number of other measures being introduced to help reduce the number of bicycle thefts. However, cyclists can also take a number of preventative steps to help them becoming the victim of crime:

  • Bicycles should be locked away in garages or sheds when not in use – and if this is not possible then use a good quality lock and chain to secure the bike to something sturdy.

  • It's even better if you can use two locks on your bike, and wrap them through the frame rather than the wheels as these can be removed by thieves.

  • If you are out and about on your bike, always lock it up when you need to leave it – even if you are just nipping into a shop for a few minutes.

  • If you must leave your bike in a secluded area for any length of time, consider removing your seat and taking it with you – a bike without a seat is an uncomfortable prospect for a thief.

  • Don’t put off noting down your bike details – it could be the information Police need to reunite both cycle and owner. Distinctive marks, custom parts and additional graphics all help to identify specific cycles if stolen.

• If you've already got a bike then you can still register it. Just fill in your details at and they will pass them onto the Police.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Fire at Heysham 2 not dangerous, says director

Heysham power station has moved quickly to calm fears about a fire at the installation yesterday.

Heysham 2 power station called Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service to site at 10.00pm on Tuesday after smoke was detected in an electrical room in a non-nuclear area of the plant.

A spokesperson for the station told virtual-lancaster there was no effect on any operational plant and therefore, no challenge to the operation of the station. Along with the site's own fire team, Lancashire Fire and Rescue used thermal imaging equipment to confirm that the source was a failed bearing in a heater which has been isolated pending repair and the smoke dispersed.

Alan Oulton, station director at Herysham 2, said: "We immediately accounted for all staff and then the fire teams did their job in locating the source of the smoke. There was no danger to anyone on site and I would like to thank the efforts of the fire teams involved."

"Lancashire Fire & Rescue Service crews undertake regular training exercises with Heysham Power Station staff," added station manager Mark Hutton, Incident Commander from Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service, "and this, together with the comprehensive technical support available on-site, helped to ensure the incident was dealt with quickly and effectively".

Plea to look out for wildlife this winter

Robin on a bird feeder. Image courtesy
Lancashire Environment Record Network
Nature lovers are being asked to capture the wildlife in Lancashire’s gardens and open spaces to ensure our native creatures are surviving another harsh winter.

The Lancashire Environment Record Network wants Lancastrians to “catch” birds and mammals by noting them down as they seek food on bird tables, in hedges and on lawns and ponds.

LERN collects and maintains records of wildlife in the county and then passes that information on to individuals and organisations helping to protect Lancashire’s environment. The aim of all this data collection is to build up a picture of Lancashire’s wildlife and plantlife and the environment in which they live, but it cannot do this without the help of hundreds of residents, walkers, runners and anyone who spends time in their area, keeping an eye out for the wonders of nature.

Winter is an important time of year to help understand how our wildlife is coping.

“Many people worry about wildlife at this time of year and it is great to know that they put food onto bird tables to help them get through these tough winters we are experiencing," says LERN Communications Officer Alan Wright.

“Our job is to record the variety of wildlife that is active year round which can help check whether numbers are being affecting by this freezing weather. If you take a note of regular visitors to your garden and then contact LERN you are then helping wildlife a number of different ways.

A blue tit in a garden. Image courtesy Lancashire Environment Record Network

"Every January the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds run their Big Garden Birdwatch where up to 400,000 people take part, but we're keen to receive records from the public throughout the year."

LERN’s data is used by local and national groups who are investigating populations of various plants and animals. County figures are important as part of a national picture when it comes to assessing the health of our environment.

“By helping LERN you are actually providing information that could be used regionally, nationally and on a global scale," Alan explains. "Scientists are warning us that species are vanishing every day and we any data is vital to monitor the situation, so plans can be put into place to start to rectify the situation.”

He added that feeding birds and other wildlife over winter gives the creatures a vital source of nutrition to help through the freezing cold weather.

• LERN can be contacted by or by going to the website

• RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch:

Monday, 6 December 2010

Sleeping Beauty is Platform Panto

Panto season arrives at the Platform from 21st December, with a traditional tale of romance, comedy and good versus evil.

Sleeping Beauty will be presented by Fame Factory and the Robinson Read School of Dance who promise to bring this family favourite right up-to-date with music, dancing, some unexpected twists in the story and lots of audience participation.

Fame Factory pantos offer a fast moving, relevant and funny story and just like their other productions such as Aladdin or Cinderella, although each script is different there's always a happy ending, the villains always get their just deserts, the comic always hits a mix of comedy and pathos, the principal boy is a thigh-slapping hero and the dames are as outrageous as possible!
• Performances of Sleeping Beauty will take place on Tuesday 21, Wednesday, 22, Sunday 26 and Monday 27 December starting at 2.30pm.
• Tickets cost £7 adults, £6 concessions and £22 family from the box office on 01524 582803 or in person at Morecambe or Lancaster Visitor Information Centres.

Appeal after nightclub assault in Lancaster

Police in Lancaster are appealing for witnesses after a man was assaulted in a nightclub in the city.

At approximately 3.00am on the 28th November, the 20 year old man was in Toast nightclub, sat in a booth talking to a woman when he was approached by a man who punched him in the head before walking away.

The offender has been described as white, between 18 and 25 years old and of slim build. He had short cropped dark hair which was slightly longer on top and was believed to have been wearing a blue checked shirt.

PC Dan Mitchell from Lancaster police said, “This was a particularly nasty and unprovoked assault and I would appeal for anyone with any information in relation to this assault to come forward and contact police.”

• Anyone with information can contact police on 01524 63333 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Lancaster Anti-Cuts Protesters Pour Scorn on Lib Dems

They gathered yesterday, upward of a thousand of them, with their banners and placards and anti-cuts slogans, in a cold car park off a bottleneck in the Lancaster one-way system. Dozens of police, still caring passionately, in spite of their own employment and pensions troubles, turned up to cheer them on and keep them safe, bringing many horses to charm and entertain the children.

They were unionists and shopkeepers, teachers and care-workers, people worried about their pensions and their savings, people worried about their mortgages and their rent. Students worried about their debts and seniors worried about their pensions and services. Mostly strangers to each other and mostly surprised and lifted to see so many people. There were some great banners. "Lancaster Feminists are Coming to Cut Off Your Bonuses" got a lot of laughs. They practiced their chanting and there were repeated, delighted requests for the rude one about Nick Clegg.

And one man among them had come alone, to represent thousands. When he addressed the waiting crowds hardly anyone could see him and they had to strain to hear the bloke in the electric wheelchair telling them about cuts in disability benefits. But they had to listen because, he explained, disabled people had so little opportunity to be heard, struggling as they were with illness and incapacity. They faced cuts in housing benefits, mobility benefits and in services that few would be able to manage without, but they needed help to resist and fight for their lives. He knew they weren't the only group facing problems - he noted the presence of the Women Against the Cuts Group, but he was just asking people to care. "We do", the women promised him. "We will."

He got a warm cheer from the assembly, and then, with great dignity and flanked by banners, he wheeled toward the street. The crowd began chanting its slogans and marched out into the city streets, led by a smart honour guard of matching mounted police four abreast in their bright canary-yellow tabards.

They marched through the bright pre-christmas shopping centre to the cheering support of the masses, or at least their bemused momentary distraction from the business of completing task lists. The chant about Nick Clegg didn't fail to get a laugh, though it's not printable. They paused to boo at TopShop and BHS, owned by massive, massive tax-dodger Philip Green, a real scrounger on the state bending the cohabitation rules, who seems to have escaped the wrath of Daily Mail. If the taxes of the superrich were collected they would more than cover the savings expected from the these cuts to the poor and vulnerable, they shouted. And they sang to a conga beat "We won't shop at TopShop, we won't shop at TopShop, dah dah dah, dee-dah dah dah!" It didn't stop any shoppers but Rome wasn't built in a day.

It was a slow climb back up the A6 to Dalton Square. The battery on the wheelchair powered a stately progress. The crowd settled behind the pace of the lone wheelchair, and together arrived in the square. At which point the man driving it had to nip off in it round the side to the flat entrance while everyone else piled up the steps.

The speeches were brief and to the point. About banking charge rip-offs, tax dodging, and how the cuts would damage every layer of our wide community but benefit the obscenely wealthy. They came from unionists, feminists, students and people who were desperate and a warning. They had the same message: 'If you don't resist you will lose what you can't hold onto. Our only recourse is to speak up and do so immediately, repeatedly and more and more loudly until we are heard. Attacking the poor to save the fortunes of the super rich is not our only choice. People are worried about protecting their savings and pensions and they think that the cuts will save them. But it would be far cheaper to guarantee the savings of the many than to guarantee the astronomical debts of a handful of billionaires.'

'The Lib Dems have to vote in parliament on increased tuition fees on Thursday 9 December. To keep the coalition government stable they have to vote for policy that directly opposes their pre-election core promise of preserving access to education for all. That would spell the end of the Lib Dem party values and in the eyes of the public represents a moral and political crossroads for every Lib Dem MP. It's a test.'

More anti cuts protests are scheduled in Lancaster in the coming week as pressure for change is maintained. Check out the Lancaster & Morecambe Against the Cuts Website for up to the minute information.

This is not an impartial report, but it is a balance to the News International global media corps output. In addition, as only City Councillors from the Green Party turned up, it is a report on the views of a significant constituency. And we all made a promise to an old bloke in a wheelchair.

Comments are welcome.