Friday, 17 December 2010

Made in Lancaster announces new arts magazines, seeks contributors

Made in Lancaster, a collective of creatives sharing skills and offering peer support, has announced the launch of Back and Beyond, its flagship publication which will launch next May as part of the inaugural Made in Lancaster Festival.
The MiL team are particularly keen to receive submissions from those who live in or around the Lancaster area, or have links to it, past or present. (If you don't, but the originality or strength of your work smacks them between the eyes, you'll still be considered)

Full submission details can be found here on the Lancashire Writing Hub, but here are the highlights...
They're looking for 800 word or less items of fiction (you may send up to three pieces for consideration) and plan to publish one short story of up to 2,000 words per issue, but it needs to be a gem. (Send it as one of your three pieces of prose fiction).

Lancaster has something of a reputation for its poets and poetry is also welcome: again, up to three poems, open theme and form, should be submitted, which may be linked or stand alone.

Non-fiction, Life writing and Creative Essays of 400-800 words each are also welcome. "We're particularly interested in pieces that connect with Lancaster and surrounding area, explore creative practice, or concern cross-medium creativity," the editors say.

MiL would also love to hear from you if you are interested in being a feature writer. "We want rich, well-thought out profile, reviews and articles of 250-2000 words (As with the fiction longer article need to be exceptional) with a connection to the creative life or heritage of Lancaster and surrounding area."

Photographers and Illustrators are also a vital part of the planned mix. Send in up to five images and indicate whether you would also be interested in producing material specifically in response to writing that has been selected for inclusion.

Please note that it is unlikely MiL will be able to pay people for their work at this stage, but you will receive a free copy of the publications, be invited to their Launch Event and receive associated publicity.

• The deadline for submissions is Monday 14th February 2011 and should be sent by email to 

Full submission details on Lancashire Writing Hub

For full submission guidelines check out the Back and Beyond Facebook Page

Council backs new nuclear build as Heysham 1 gets 'extended life'

Lancaster City Council has backed the building of new nuclear power faciliities at Heysham - just as Heysham 1 power station has been granted a five-year life extension, meaning it can continue to generate electricity until 2019.

Earlier this week, Full Council approved a recommendation from Andrew Dobson, Head of Regeneration and Policy, supporting nuclear new build projects at Heysham "in principle subject to mitigation of any adverse effects".

Almost every councillor, except the Greens and two independents, voted in favour of the recommendation, even though the Liberal Democrats have a national policy opposing the building of new nuclear power stations.

Meanwhile, Heysham power station owners EDF Energy took the major step of extending the lifetime of Heysham 1 nuclear power station in Lancashire by five years this week. They also announced the life cycle of their station in Hartlepool would be extended.

The company says it has completed the necessary technical and economic evaluation that will see the plant, one of the area’s largest employers, continue operating until at least 2019.

“This is great news for all of us at Heysham 1 and for everyone in the local community," argues Ian Stewart, Heysham 1’s station director.

“The decision means we can continue to provide highly skilled jobs and bring major investment to the area. It also shows that EDF Energy recognises the professionalism and commitment of our staff in safely supplying low carbon electricity for more than 30 years.”

“The conclusions of the assessments are that it is technically feasible to extend the lives of the stations," says Andy Spurr, managing director existing nuclear EDF Energy, "and that they will be able to operate safely and profitably for at least an additional five years.

“Investment of circa £50m per station will be required over the next few years to support the extended lives of the plants, but the financial assessments show that there is a strong business case to invest in the plants to extend their lives.

“The station now has the green light to continue operations through to 2019, maintaining employment for over 1,100 people and providing low carbon electricity to around 1,500,000 homes around the country.”

The Council's backing for a new nuclear build at Heysham was spearheaded by Labour Councillor Abbot Bryning. Green Party councillor John Whitelegg argued in favour of an amendment opposing support, stating nuclear power was expensive and dangerous, high risk, usually over budget and usually delivered several years late and is associated with serious health risks (such as leukaemia).

He argued that the Council should instead should support wind and wave power and other renewable energy technologies, all of which, he feels, have far greater potential to create jobs and minimise risks - but his ammendment was lost by a large majority.

"All Labour, LibDem and Conservative councillors voted for new nuclear build,  as did all Independents with the exception of Councillor Joyce Taylor and Councillor Marsland," John told virtual-lancaster.

"I'm very disappointed indeed that Council has opted to support something that is intrinsically dangerous and high risk when there are many alternatives capable ofgenerating large amounts of electricity that are associated with trivial and insignificant risks.

"Nuclear power will not create the jobs or the attractive image that the district needs," he feels.

John also says he found it strange that Liberal Democrat leader of the Council, Stuart Langhorn, who was also a parliamentary candidate in the last general election spoke strongly in favour of nuclear new build. This seemed at odds with his apparent support for the LibDem anti-nuclear build position at the General Election in May, when the Party manifesto declared that plans for a new generation of nuclear power stations should be rejected, based on the evidence that nuclear is a far more expensive way of reducing carbon emissions than promoting energy conservation and renewable energy.

The Heysham station employs around 500 full time staff, as well as 150 full time staff from contract partners and the wage bill alone is an estimated £30m a year which goes into the local economy.

Heysham 1 has produced some 150 terawatt hours (TWh) of generation since first supplying the National Grid in 1983.

Commenting on the extension to Heysham 1's life cycle, Tim Davison, Senior Trade Union representative for Unite and National Joint Council Chairperson, said that staff within EDF Energy are delighted with the news.

Mr Davison said: "The announcement of the life extensions at Heysham 1 and Hartlepool power stations is excellent for all of the staff involved, both on and off the sites, who have worked so hard to achieve this result, good for the environment in providing low carbon energy and good for the UK economy in delivering security of supply in the energy market.

“In addition, the Trades Unions welcome the ongoing commitments given by EDF Energy today to continue with the major investments across the UK fleet to secure life extensions at all eight of the nuclear power stations.

“By providing the longer term security of employment of our highly skilled workforce which these life extensions bring will put us in good stead to retain, recruit and develop the staff and skills required to operate the existing fleet and to meet the requirements of the new nuclear build programme".

Thursday, 16 December 2010

City council launches e-petition scheme

Lancaster City Council has launched a new e-petitions service which lets residents petition the council on issues of local concern, providing a simple way for people to engage with the council.

It doesn't replace paper petitions, and e-petitions must follow the same guidelines as paper petitions, which must be signed by at least 10 people, and by people who live, work or study in the council’s area. You also have to register as a user on the Council's web site to send in a petition.

If your petition to the Council has received 1500 signatures or more (or 200 where it relates to a local matter which affects no more than two wards), it will also be scheduled for a council debate.

Online ways to contact and complain about your local council aren't new, or course. FixMyStreet offers an online way to report local problems like litter or broken lights, for example, and reports are routed to either the City Council (which doesn't tend to respond in detail) or the County Council (which does).

At national level the Number 10 petition web site became something of ridicule and, currently, is under review.

• Details of the e-petitions system and more information can be found at

View current petitions here

• Paper petitions can be sent to the Head of Governance, Town Hall, Lancaster LA1 1PJ.

Have a Spooky Christmas: an introduction to Haunted Lancaster

Local ghosts expert and author Ian Dale-Bell has just released Walking Ghostly & Gruesome Lancaster on iPad and for eBook readers.

Whether you live locally or plan to visit Lancaster at some point in the future, his local guide shows you some of the more interesting spots to look out for if you're a ghost hunter. Just like the many wonderful guided walks around the city, this book offers an illustrated pedestrian's guide that is easy to follow, offering information on places to look at and gruesome tales along the way.

The guide also includes plenty of internet links providing you with lots of extra information on local museums and places to eat and drink.

Here, he offers a introductory guide to Lancaster's spooky history...

The Romans came to Lancaster in around 55AD, and some of its historic streets have borne witness to pillage from the north, the Reformation, the War of the Roses, the Black Death, witch trials and many other traumatic events. It is, perhaps, no wonder that tales are told of restless spirits who still roam ancient sites and old buildings.

Of course, the site of the Castle and the Priory has been occupied from the very start of the settlement of Lancaster. Some of the oldest streets would have followed a path from the original fort to villages in the outlying areas; these would include Church Street and the road south to Preston. Underground springs originate from the hill upon which the castle is built, one follows the back of Church street and formed the old mill stream, another runs down to the River Lune and through the public house ‘The Three Mariners’ itself.

One theory of ghosts and spirits is that they are attracted to the electro-magnetic fields generated by features such as running water. Perhaps then it is no coincidence that some of the buildings near these underground streams are the location of some of these ghostly tales?

There are many gruesome tales to be told from this city’s sometimes-turbulent past. The Black Death swept through this land in the late 14th century and took many lives, the dead being buried on the moors above Lancaster, away from the population. Religious intolerance cruelly led to the horrific deaths of the Lancashire Martyrs, and Lancaster itself had so many public executions at one time that it was knows as ‘the hanging town’. Life was hard and a death sentence could be given for what now would be considered minor offences. Sanitary conditions were poor and life expectancy was short.

It is not wonder that ghostly and gruesome tales attach themselves to these ancient streets...

• You can buy Ian's book Walking Ghostly & Gruesome Lancaster for £2.99 from by PayPal. Purchasers buying this book will receive his other book, Exploring Paranormal Morecambe and the Surrounding Area free.

Warning Over Winter’s Effect On Local Wildlife

A blue tit. Image courtesy Lancashire Environment Record Network.
With the return of another cold snap so soon after snow and ice covered our region, local wildlife may be struggling to cope, warns the Wildlife Trust for Lancashire, Manchester and North Merseyside.

Our wildlife is amazingly hardy and adaptable and can put up with a pounding from the weather. But prolonged periods of cold, continuing for weeks or months at a time, or severe and sudden changes in the weather, can cause it major problems.

Last winter was a bleak one up here in our area. Snowfall before Christmas was unusual enough, but early January saw temperatures falling even more dramatically than the heavy snow that blanketed our landscape for what felt like months. It was very nice to look at, of course, but highlighted how important it is that we all make a special effort to look after our region’s wildlife again this time around.

Grazing animals, whether domestic sheep or wild hares, may not be able to get to the plants to feed because the ice. And the frozen ground prevents rabbits and hares from nibbling grass, making these plant-lovers stay at home, so predators like stoats and owls find it harder to spot and catch them.

There is also less food around in hedgerows and woodlands for foragers - leaves have gone, plants withered or covered with snow, hedges stripped of berries, and insects dead from the cold or stuck in frozen soil or ponds.

Not many of our mammals actually hibernate for long periods during winter, they simply prefer to sleep when it gets cold, occasionally emerging to see what food might be available. But when severe weather hits, it's much harder for mammals like badgers, hares, stoats and foxes to graze, forage or hunt for food: already we're seeing foxes being more bold and more active in broad daylight.

Putting out fruit, vegetables and meat (like dog food) in your garden will help them when other food is either covered in snow or the ground is too hard to dig into. Don’t leave out bread or milk for hedgehogs, but a shallow bowl of water will certainly help in times when ponds are frozen. If you come across buried food, make sure you leave it so that whatever buried it can find it again.

It can cause problems for some insects too. Those which are active in the winter, such as winter-gnats and minotaur beetles, can cope with periods of cold weather, but deep snow may prevent them feeding for weeks at a time.

Perhaps surprisingly, insects and other animals which hibernate usually do better in cold winters: they use less energy while hibernating, and are less likely to be disturbed and come out to look for food which isn't there. So, butterflies like the brimstone, peacock and comma, which hibernate as adults, and indeed, the other resident butterflies which spend the winter as eggs, caterpillars or crysalids, could benefit from this cold winter.

Likewise the mammals which do go into real hibernation, the dormouse and the bats, may appreciate the cold. Perhaps the most difficult circumstance for most wildlife is bouts of severe cold and snow, interspersed with warmer-than-normal conditions, which wake them up, only for the next cold spell to drive them back (or, in the case of plants, harsh frost might even damage the premature tender shoots).

If you'd like to help our wildlife cope this winter and in future winters, try the following steps:

- Put out nuts, seeds, fat and water for garden birds.
- Grow patches of tall grass in your garden to shelter butterflies.
- Don't cut back your herbabeous plants till the spring, so their hollow stems can provide snug hibernation sites for ladybirds and other beneficial insects.
- Provide insect homes for over-wintering lacewings and other invertebrates.

The easiest way to make a snug insect home is to take a bundle of bamboo canes or twigs, tie them together and hang somewhere in your garden. Alternatively, you can stuff dead leaves into a plastic bottle (with the bottom cut off and holes cut in the sides) or a plant pot and place or hang them somewhere damp. Either of these methods will give bugs in your garden a great place to hide from the harsh weather.

- Buy or make a hedgehog home for hibernating hogs.

A sturdy crate or box will provide a hedgehog with a great place to hibernate and stay warm and safe from predators. Kids will need help and supervision from a grown-up to remove partitions from crates, or to make a new box from plywood. Make sure you build a front door for the hedgehog to get in and out! You don’t need to line the box with leaves, they like to decorate their new homes themselves. When it’s ready, place the hedgehog home somewhere damp and secluded in your garden.

- Grow climbers like ivy to provide shelter for birds and insects.

- If you’re lucky enough to have red squirrels in your area, like birds, their main problem in snowy conditions can be finding food, so leaving out nuts will help them get the food they need when it’s in short supply elsewhere.

Wildlife Trust for Lancashire, Manchester and North Merseyside web site

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Splash out on a quid-a-swim this Christmas

Lancaster City Council is inviting people to make a splash at their local pool this Christmas for just £1.

Quid-a-swim sessions have been available each week at Salt Ayre Sports Centre and the community pools in Heysham, Hornby and Carnforth since August.

The weekly sessions have proved so popular with those looking for a way of keeping fit whilst watching the pennies, the offer has now been extended to cover all public swimming sessions throughout December (lessons and fitness classes not included).

For information on quid-a-swim times at your nearest pool, visit or contact one of the council’s pools directly:

• Heysham Community Pool 01524 420763
• Salt Ayre Sports Centre 01524 847540
• Carnforth Pool 01524 734699
• Hornby Pool 015242 21119

Please note that the pools are closed from 25th - 28th December 2010.

"Real cuts to services" for Council as government cuts begin to bite

Lancaster City Council says it is carefully scrutinising the provisional Local Government Finance Settlement to determine its impact on the council’s budget and future service provision.

On Monday, the Government announced that the city council’s grant, which forms the majority of the money the council receives to run its services, is to be cut by 13.8% in 2011/12 and 10.9% in 2012/13.

“Because of previous Government announcements we had anticipated that our grant was going to be cut and, this does, as expected, leave the council in a challenging position," says Liberal Democrat Coun Stuart Langhorn, leader of Lancaster City Council.

“However, Cabinet has already started the process and is meeting regularly to draft a budget for consideration by Council.

“While many of the discussions are still in their formative stages, it is clear that  we will have to make real cuts to our services if we are to balance the books.

“We will be examining the budget carefully to ensure that all our services contribute towards the council’s priorities.”

The Council is considering a recommendation from Cabinet today to freeze Council Tax in 2011/12. If Council approves the recommendation the Government will provide additional funding equivalent to a 2.5% rise.

Taking this and the settlement into consideration, Lancaster City Council will have to find savings of £799,000 in 2011/12 and £1,934M in 2012/13.

This is sure to mean massive reductions in services and staff redundancies.

Cabinet will present its draft budget to Council on 2nd March 2011.

The Bear Around Your Neck: a chat with singer songwriter Nathanial Scott

Nathanial “Nat” Scott was 19 when he recorded At Lake Bury Me (released by local label Barnbox last year) with Barnbox’s Tom Diffenthal and Kriss Foster. Then dividing his performing life between Preston and Lancaster, The Bear Around Your Neck saw Nat and singer Megan Laura Whyte sharing his songs over acoustic guitar and Dylan-rack harmonica.

Citing inspiration from the likes of the late, critically acclaimed singer/songwriter Elliott Smith, Nat’s songs set their characters up against seemingly insurmountable forces (ghosts, time, gravity), inviting the listener into world of nocturnal bike rides, ghost lovers and spurred romance. Both congruent and precise, the EP sounds assured and yet vulnerable - like it could ‘break any minute’.

A year on from its release and by now relocated to Manchester, Tom Bramhall spoke to Nat about the record and some of his experiences playing music in and around the area. We touched on his relationship with the visual arts - Nat’s own contribution to the Barnbox design having added a charismatic dimension to both the label’s and his own output - in addition to some of his experiences living in the city.

Tom Bramhall: Nat, you've described your songs as sounding like 'brittle bones'. At Lake Bury Me sounds vulnerable and assured at the same time. I'm wondering how conscious you've had to be of these things? 

Nat: I wasn't really, I don't think. I just wanted the songs to be left as they were. My friend once said when he was watching me play, it looked like it could all go wrong, or 'break', any minute.

Tom Bramhall: When did you notice yourself start writing songs?

Nat: When I was about 13/14, It's hard to remember. Although I didn't start writing for The Bear Around Your Neck until I was like 15 or 16. Meg and I recorded the first songs for The Bear Around Your Neck on our high school results day.

Tom Bramhall: When did you decide to share them with other people?

Nat: Around the time we recorded the songs.

Tom Bramhall: You've got declared influences - fancy talking about them?

Nat: Yeah -- I like Elliott Smith, Bob Dylan... All that. A lot of the music I listen to is 'lyrically focused.' I just enjoy it more than listening to music that isn't. I don't know why.

Tom Bramhall: Do you read comics? 

Nat: I often used to, but not so much anymore, but I'm still really interested in the drawing style.

Tom Bramhall: Who painted the cover for the Barnbox CD?

Nat: Me. I like to do the covers myself.

Tom Bramhall: Are you still in touch with Barnbox?

Nat: Yeah, we're half way through the next E.P at the moment. Moving away has meant we haven't talked much, but that's natural I think.

Tom Bramhall: How did you come across one another?

Nat: I played a gig for one of their nights, and afterwards Tom Diffenthal asked if I wanted to record with them.

Tom Bramhall: So, any observations from a Wyre & Fylde man on living away in Manchester?

Nat: So far, it's been fast. I feel like I've been here a week. Size is a huge difference, as Lancaster is quite a small city. I was pretty apprehensive about it at first, and still am, I suppose.

Tom Bramhall: Are you playing at all?

Nat: Yes. There are a lot more places to play, so I've been playing around as many places as I can.

Tom Bramhall: What are the best and worst things so far about living in the City?

Nat: I think the best thing is the fact there are more venues, more musicians, and some friends moved here too. So I haven't been alone all the time.

Tom Bramhall: Are you working/studying out there?

Nat: I'm studying Illustration with Animation at MMU. It’s going okay.

Tom Bramhall: What's hot in Manchester right now?

Nat: I'm not sure. I've just pretty much kept myself to myself, and got on with what I enjoy.

Tom Bramhall: As someone who's performed live music in Lancaster - what would you say - if anything, distinguishes it from other towns and cities?

Nat: Lancaster has a large group of performers, in a smaller city, that all know each other, or know of each other. It's really great. Much more tighter knit than other surrounding towns or cities.

• Nathanial Scott writes and plays for The Bear Around Your Neck. ‘At Lake Bury Me’ was released by Barnbox Records last year -

• Tom Bramhall writes for po)))nies. A selection of recordings can be heard at

Liverpool man charged with Lancaster Post office robbery

30-year-old Eoghan McMullen of Pinehurst Avenue, Anfield has been charged with robbery in connection with a robbery at the post office on Cleveleys Avenue, Scale Hall back in October.

Two men, one of them wielding a hammer, threatened the postmaster and his wife at the branch, escaping with a substantial amount of money and leaving the couple extremely distressed but unhurt.

The police quickly released CCTV footage of the suspects after the incident.

McMullen has been remanded to appear before Lancaster Magistrates Court on 15th December.

Two woman aged 50 and 23 from Lancaster have also been arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to commit robbery and are on police bail until 23rd February.

BBC Report 2nd October: Armed robbery at Lancaster sub post office

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Alternative Christmas Party at the Storey

Celebrating the recent re-issue of the original ‘stalk and slash’ movie and because adults deserve a party at Christmas time, Enigma Promotions are presenting Black Christmas, an exclusive party to be held at The Storey in Lancaster on Thursday 16th December.

The party will include a private showing of the Special Edition of Black Christmas, a 1974 Canadian slasher film directed by Bob Clark largely based on a series of murders that took place in Quebec, Canada around Christmas time. It follows a group of college students who must face a deranged serial killer lurking in their sorority house and stars Olivia Hussey, Keir Dullea (best known for 2001: A Space Odyssey), Superman actress Margot Kidder, Marian Waldman, and John Saxon.

The party will also include close-up magic tricks, raffles, an ice-cream Buffet and charity auction.

Local artists have created works inspired by the film and these will be auctioned to raise money and awareness for the Help for The Heroes Charity.

"This Party will appeal to anyone who enjoys great atmosphere and the darker side of Christmas," say organisers.

• Tickets are £15 for a single ticket (admits one person and two raffle entry tickets), £25 for a single plus one ticket (admits two persons and three raffle entry tickets). For further information about the event and/or book your places please contact either Enigma Promotions on 07921 990295 or 07595 300232 or alternatively ask at The Storey 01524 509000

Lancaster's Christ Church nursery burglary target for second time

Christchurch School on Derwent Road (via Google Maps)

Police are appealing for information after a children’s nursery in Lancaster was targeted by burglars for the second time this year.

Sometime between 4.00pm on Friday 3rd December and 9.30am on Saturday 4th December, an offender or offenders broke into the Christ Church Nursery on Derwent Road, gaining access to the premises through a rear window using a child’s bench.

Once inside, they searched the property before making off with various items including a television with DVD player, a laptop, two cameras, a mobile phone and a quantity of cash.

This is the second time the nursery has been targeted since May this year. On that occasion a television and a laptop were stolen.

“This is a particularly heartless crime which is made all the more upsetting for the children and staff given the time of year," commented DC Sarah Cole. "I would ask anybody with any information about this incident to contact police.”

The playgroup opened in 1966 and offers services to up to 20 children at a time from a self-contained building situated in the grounds of Christ Church School.

• Anybody with any information should contact Lancaster CID 01524 63333 quoting log LC-20101205-1349 or call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Shop workers praised following teenage test purchase operation

The vigilance of shop workers has been praised after just one venue failed a police test purchasing operation carried out on off-licences in Lancaster.

Police, working in conjunction with Trading Standards officers and volunteer teenage test purchasers, carried out the test purchase operation on Saturday night, visiting 11 establishments across the city.

In the one off-licence which failed, the 15-year-olds were able to buy a bottle of wine without being challenged for ID but in all of the other stores the teens were asked for proof of age and sales were then refused.

The off-licence that failed to carry out the correct procedure will now face a licence intervention, where the licensee will have to meet with the police licensing officer to discuss how underage sales can be avoided in the future. The worker who served the alcohol has been given an £80 fine.

“Selling alcohol to children is not only against the law but can also put these children at risk from harm," says licensing officer PC Graeme Cheetham. “I was pleased to see that the vast majority of staff in off-licences that the teens visited were aware of their responsibilities and took action not to serve our test purchasers.

“We will continue to carry on with our enforcement of the legislation over the coming months and will take robust action against those who pay scant regard to their responsibilities when it comes to refusing sales to under-18s.”

Police are now looking for teenagers to assist with future test purchase operations. Volunteers must be aged 13 – 16, must look their age and be willing to take part for around five hours on an occasional basis. Parental consent must be given.

Full training is given; volunteers are supervised at all times and will be collected from, and returned to their home addresses. Refreshments are provided and participants are provided with a small gratuity for their efforts.

• Please e-mail and with your name, address, date of birth and your parents name and contact number and a brief paragraph as to why you are interested in becoming a test purchaser.

Monday, 13 December 2010

Some Community Support Officers jobs saved for next two years

Trade Union UNISON has welcomed news that funding for Police Community Support Officers is to be kept for the next two years, after fears all of Lancashire's officers would lose their jobs early next year.

Police bosses made it clear that all PCSO’s would have been vulnerable to redundancy if the ring-fenced funding for them was to disappear employed by Lancashire Constabulary (see news story). The Lancashire Police Branch of UNISON had been served with a Section 188 Notice under the Trade Union Labour Relations Act 1992 back in October and has been campaigning widely since to retain current funding.

The original announcement provoked a storm of protest and some MPs were quick to challenge the plans to cut the officers, who provide vital community contact for the police.

“We are extremely happy today following the announcement in parliament to retain the funding stream," said Maureen Le Marinel, Branch Secretary of UNISON. It means that the majority of our PCSO colleagues will be safe from redundancy.

"I would like to thank my UNISON colleagues and all PCSO’s who have since late October been out lobbying Lancashire’s MP’s, Peers and Councils raising the awareness of what the effect will be.

"But most of all I would like to thank the communities of Lancashire who have backed our campaign and have taken action themselves by contacting their MP’s and signing our petition which has in excess of 11,500 signatures this is a fantastic result. Our campaign has seen a speech in the House of Lords by Lord Greaves, an Early Day Motion in Parliament, media coverage local, regional and national.

Let’s be clear," she added, "and leave no-one under the illusion that we believe that it is our campaign and our action with the support of our communities that has had a significant impact on this government and the Home Secretary taking the decision to keep the ring-fence."

Despite today's announcement, UNISON warned there was still more to do to try to ensure jobs were not lost, as the governments began to set out more details of its swingeing public spending cuts.

"This is the first stage of our campaign," says Maureen. "The second stage will be targeting Lancashire’s councils and other partners who ‘part fund’ some 170+ PCSO’s across Lancashire and we now want to see them make the right decision.

"If the external funding provided by local authorities, parish councils, schools and PCT’s is withdrawn then some PCSO’s will still be extremely vulnerable to redundancy and those areas were these either partly or fully funded PCSO’s work will lose the resource that they have fought with us to keep.

"So I would urge the public to ask their local authorities if their PCSO will remain or disappear and tell them they want them to remain.

"Our fight will continue but for now we welcome this news today.”

Lancaster cycle path assault appeal

Police are appealing for people to come forward with information after a man was assaulted on a Lancaster cycle path over the weekend (Saturday 11th December).

The incident happened around 12pm when the 19 year old Morecambe man was walking along the public cycle track off Morecambe Road close to Asda and the local college.

He was approached by three men who assaulted him with twigs and poured lager over his head before making off.

The offenders were walking a golden coloured dog and police are appealing to anyone that saw them on the cycle path to get in touch.

“Although the man was not injured during the assault, it was completely unprovoked and we would urge any witnesses or anyone with any information about the incident to come forward," says PC Rebecca Rooke from Morecambe Police.

Police believe it is possible the men may also have approached other people on the cycle path that day and are urging anyone with any information to come forward.

A 27 year old man from Lancaster, 20 year old from Lancaster and a 25 year old man from Morecambe have all been arrested on suspicion of section 39 assault and are currently on police bail.

• Anyone with any information about any of these offences should contact police on 08451 25 35 45 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.