Thursday, 23 December 2010

Lancaster's Cycling Santa Treats Bike-It Schoolkids

Santa has been rounding off another successful year for 'Bike It' schools by delivering his presents by bike.

Santa was spotted recently cycling to local 'Bike It' primary schools including Skerton St Luke’s, Willow Lane, Moorside, Bowerham and Silverdale to deliver gifts to children who cycle regularly. He also gave tips to all the children on how to be seen when cycling in the winter.

Santa was accompanied by Bike It officer elves Annie Cousins and Kathy Bashford who were rounding up a busy school term of cycling activities.

The term’s activities included a Bike It Action Day at the Borough in Lancaster, where children cycled from Ryelands and Willow Lane Primary Schools to talk to staff from 13 Bike It schools about their successes.

Throughout the term, pupils from Bike It schools across the district have enjoyed Bike It breakfasts, cycle skills sessions on the playground and Pedal Power’s Bikeability courses, as well as bike maintenance classes, school and family bike rides, and bike repairs carried out by Dr Bike (aka Colin Stone).

Also this term increasing numbers of pupils from Carnforth High were cycling to school to get a stamp on their breakfast card to earn free breakfasts. Some of them also cycled together as a ‘bike bus’ from Bolton-le-Sands.

Skerton St Luke’s took part in ‘Wheely Wednesdays’ by cycling to school every Wednesday in order to enter a prize draw. The lucky winner was presented with a brand new bike.

Through creative initiatives like Wheely Wednesdays, the Bike It project is helping over 100,000 children cycle safely to school, with levels of car use at Bike It schools across the country falling by 25%, compared to the UK average where just 2% of children cycle to school. Cycling Santa agrees that the Lancaster Bike-it kids have been very good and deserve presents!

Bike It is managed by sustainable transport charity Sustrans, with support from Lancaster City Council’s Cycling Demonstration Town Project.

For more information visit

Local Labour Elect New Chair Ian Pattison

Morecambe and Lunesdale Constituency Labour Party have elected a new Chairman with strong local links to spearhead their campaign in the run up to the local elections in May.

Ian Pattison, 24 has lived in the West End of Morecambe since birth. He attended Morecambe High School and Lancaster and Morecambe College and is Vice Chair of the Governing Body of Sandylands Community Primary School, which he also attended as a child. He has a degree in History and Politics from Liverpool Hope University and now works for a Lancashire MP in his constituency office at Blackpool.

Ian has pledged to revitalise the local Labour party following the narrow defeat of former MP Geraldine Smith in the last General Election. He is determined to listen carefully to local people and will champion causes that are of concern to the mainstream majority.

"I'm really looking forward to being an active Chair," says Ian, "setting up campaigns across the district, and working collectively with colleagues in order to boost the number of Labour councillors on Lancaster City Council”.

Ian lists among his special interests the education of our young people. “I particularly enjoy working with the teachers and staff at Sandylands on the Governing Body, raising educational standards and improving the learning facilities at the school that gave me so many happy memories of my own childhood”.

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Businesses urged to stay safe if closing over Christmas

Police in Wyre are urging local businesses to take some simple crime prevention steps if they are closing over Christmas.

Many businesses close down for up to two weeks at the end of the year and can become vulnerable if security measures are not in place.

Crime prevention officer Ian Lonsdale said: “Before leaving the property for the Christmas period, spend a little time thinking about security. Make sure all doors are locked and all windows are closed.

“If an intruder alarm is fitted make sure it is properly set and use timer switches to turn lights on as this gives the illusion that the property is occupied.”

He added: “Make sure any vehicles left on the premises are secure, with the keys removed - ideally take the keys off the premises. Gates should be locked using good quality attack resistant locks. If possible, pay regular visits to the premises to check that all is secure and report anything suspicious to the police.

“Crime is low in Lancashire and following these simple tips can help keep it that way.”

• For further advice, Ian Lonsdale can be contacted on 01995 607862 or via e-mail

Nightmare before Christmas for drink drive video blogger

Losing his place in the footie team, his licence, his job and his girlfriend – this has been a bad week for video blogger Robert Lancashire.

Fans of the Love My Lancashire Facebook page have been following Robert’s daily blogs since he was arrested for drink driving at the start of the month.

This week the fictitious character, who is being used by Lancashire Police to promote their annual drink-drive message, lost his driving licence – and is now suffering the consequences.

Robert’s exploits are also captured on a video blog. The latest entry sees the 21-year-old, played by UCLAN student Dominic Hedges, lose his licence for 12 months and get a £500 fine. The conviction means he has to pack in football as he can no longer afford the subs money, loses his job because he needs to be able to drive for work and gets the boot from his girlfriend Donna – who prefers to date someone who can drive.

The final video blog is due to be uploaded on Christmas Eve.

Superintendent Peter O’Dwyer, road policing unit, said: “The video blog is targeted at the 17 – 15 age group, who are most at risk of drink driving this Christmas, but we are finding it is being followed by people of all different ages.

“Everyone is aware of the serious consequences of drink driving – causing potential injuries or death, losing your licence or going to prison but people do not necessarily considered the smaller, yet still significant consequences such as carrying out daily tasks without a car and this affect that this ca have on work or relationships. All of these things are examined in the blog.”

• Follow Rob’s blog (and Dominic’s portrayal in the video clips) at or via the police website page

Scheme is key to tackling emergencies at your property

A special key holder scheme has been set up to help property owners react quickly to emergencies at their premises.

Lancashire Constabulary has set up an information database – called Keypoint – through which residents and business owners can nominate people who can be contacted by the police or other emergency services if an incident occurs at the address. This would include an alarm being set off, or in the event of gas leaks, burst pipes or similar.

These nominated keyholders can then go to the home or business to deal with the problem if the owner themselves is not available.

Keyholders can be members of staff, or a trusted friend or relative, and they should live no more than 20 minutes away from the address.

Iain Hamilton, the force’s head of contact management, said: “If the owner is not able to attend the property themselves in the event of an emergency then it is useful to have a named contact who the police can get in touch with.  This person should know how to turn off the alarm, know where the electricity, gas and water supplies can be isolated and will have information such as if there are any dogs, chemicals or other hazards at the property.”

He added: “This will lead to a speedier resolution to any problems at the property and will provide you with peace of mind.”

A small cost will apply for joining the scheme.

• For more information visit or email or call 01772 410107.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Treat yourself at The Dukes

Looking for that last minute Christmas gift which will bring pleasure all year round?

The Dukes, Lancaster, has the answer.

Now is the time to become a Friend of The Dukes or join the scheme for a friend or relative and receive 12 months membership for the price of 6.

Friends save hundreds of pounds on treats and gifts from Lancaster businesses as well as helping The Dukes to continue delivering top quality art for the region.

Brighten up January by treating yourself and saving money at the same time. Among the Friends New Year offers are a buy one, get one free ticket to see The Dukes homegrown production of Quicksand; a free ticket for any film at The Dukes cinema (excluding NT Live); half price wills courtesy of Joseph A Jones & Co solicitors; a £4.95 offer on any pizza or pasta at any time at Verdes in Lancaster; a free glass of wine with any meal at Quite Simply Food, Tuesday-Saturday after 7pm, and a free bottle of wine with each room booked at The Ashton in Lancaster.

Dukes Friends also receive priority information on events and programmes, invitations to season launches, and early booking opportunities.

Membership normally costs £5 per month or £60 annually but join in December or January and you will pay just £30 for the whole year.

• Download a form from, email or call 01524 598500

Motorists urged to clear all snow from vehicles before taking to the road

Local motorists are being urged to clear as much snow as possible from their vehicles before taking to the roads.

Recent wintry weather conditions have led to many vehicles being covered with snow and this can create a serious risk to both the driver and other road users if it is not removed before a journey commences.

Motorists are advised to –

  • Ensure that ALL windows are free from snow and frost
  • Remove snow from your roof and bonnet to avoid it later falling on to your windscreen
  • Clear away snow from your vehicle’s lights and then use your lights while driving in poor visibility
  • Make sure that snow has been wiped off number plates
  • Carry a bottle of water in the vehicle so that you can pullover and clear your windscreen if your wipers fail.

Inspector Martin Bishop, road policing, said: “It is vitally important that people clear away as much snow as they can before they set off on their journeys.

“If you do not do this, while you are travelling the snow on you roof and bonnet will start to melt and if you break suddenly it can fall onto your windscreen. The weight of the snow can prevent your windscreen wipers from clearing it away, so you are effectively blinded.

“Attempting to then break hard in these conditions is particularly dangerous and can lead to the risk of serious collision involving not just yourself but other road users.”

“Having snow on your roof is a potential danger, which you could be prosecuted for," he added. "You could cause a collision as result of not ensuring that you have visibility through all of your windows, or because snow from your vehicle has fallen onto your windscreen. We want people to prevent any such matters before we even have to become involved.

"Don’t take the risk of hurting yourself or others – take a few extra minutes at the start of your journey to ensure your vehicle is roadworthy and free from snow.”

Lancastrian Beats Freeze With Free Hugs!

Cold Lancastrians dodging through the Christmas shopping crowds today came across a warming sight in Market Street where Mari Winkelman was offering free hugs to all-comers.

"It's keeping me warm", she confided with a radiant smile, and gave me a lovely, gentle, soft hug. I could see what she meant.

And so could the steady flow of willing huggers who all came away glowing. Seconds later an elderly gentleman smiling from ear to ear came dashing back to her with a bag of sweeties that he pressed into her hand. She was thrilled.

A very happy Winter Solstice to all our visitors.

Monday, 20 December 2010

North West Fund for Businesses launched

The North West Business Finance Ltd - backed by the soon-to-close Northwest Regional Development Agency, the European Regional Development Fund  and the European Investment Bank - has announced it is ready to make investments from The North West Fund, which could help new local busineses create new jobs.

The North West Fund - the umbrella name for the six funds that are now available to Northwest businesses to provide debt and equity finance from £50,000 to £2 million to small and medium sized businesses based in, or relocating to, the North West of England to start, develop and grow - is a new £185m evergreen fund for North West businesses.

It's also one of the largest public sector funds of its kind in Europe and the largest in the UK. Between 2010 and 2015 the Fund is expected to create/safeguard almost 14,000 jobs and improve the economic performance of England’s Northwest with an estimated GVA increase of £700m.

Initially, £170m of The North West Fund will be allocated to six Fund Managers, who then have a mandate to invest their allocation into the specific product or sector they manage, before 31st December 2015. The £15m remaining will be available for further allocation and investment through to the end of 2015. Such further allocations will be made as investment needs become more apparent.

The North West Fund is made up of a £92.4m ERDF grant, making it the biggest ERDF project of the 2007-13 programme, and a £92.4m loan from the EIB. The six Fund Managers appointed have also been targeted with securing over £200m of co-investment capital from a wide range of sources including; finance angels, banks, pension funds, venture capital, private equity investors, and other private funds.

It's expected that this initiative will generate total funding in excess of £400m.

The fund managers, who include AXM Venture Capital, managing some £15 million for Digital and Creative projects and YFM Private Equity, managing £45 million of development capital, will operate 13 offices across the North West and, at peak, are expected to employ 48 professional staff based in the region focused on deploying and managing The North West Fund.

“I'm delighted that I can, at last, confirm that The North West Fund is open for business," said Andy Leach, Chief Executive Officer of NWBF. "Whilst it has taken longer than expected to establish, I believe that The North West Fund is now in a position to provide investment capital to a range of businesses across the region at a critical time. This funding will allow these businesses to deliver their own growth plans in, what continue to be, challenging economic times when the availability of alternative funding remains tight.

"Having worked closely with our six Fund Managers over recent months, I am confident that they have the requisite expertise and understanding of the region and their targeted sectors, to ensure that The North West Fund delivers an enduring legacy.”

The NWDA has been working for over two years on the development and creation of The North West Fund from drawing-board to launch and will continue to support it until the closure of the Agency in March 2012.

“The combination of the Agency’s expertise and knowledge has delivered a significant evergreen fund which will help hundreds of businesses to grow and is one of the major legacy projects the Agency is leaving for the region," feels Robert Hough, Chairman of the NWDA.
"The NWDA has worked extremely hard on this complex project over many months with various bodies in the UK and Europe to secure this vital fund for the Northwest. The North West Fund is an important initiative that will leverage hundreds of millions of pounds of private sector investment and, as an evergreen fund, will benefit businesses in our region for many years to come.”

• The North West Fund is now live and applications can be made on-line at . An event to mark the official launch of The North West Fund will take place in the New Year.

Cycle your way to fitness in 2011

Is your New Year resolution to get fit and shift those Christmas pounds?

Celebrating Cycling is offering all ladies the chance to dust down their wheels and cycle their way to fitness in 2011 with a free off-road women only cycling course for beginners and improvers.

The course takes place on Saturday 15th January at Salt Ayre Sports Centre from 12pm - 2pm and will be followed by an optional short bike ride for those who want to put their new skills into practice.

Bikes are available to hire but must be booked in advance.

Lancaster City Council’s cycling team is also running two free kids cycling courses on 29 and 30 December at Salt Ayre for all those lucky children who are getting a bike from Santa this year, and any other children over four who want to improve their cycling skills.

• Visit for more information and book your place by calling 01524 582392 or email

Be careful this Christmas – make sure Santa is the only one coming down your chimney

... or through your unlocked back door, or your open window.

Local home owners are being given crime prevention tips to make sure they don’t fall victim to crime this Christmas.

At this time of year, expensive presents are starting to be placed around trees – and can prove tempting to passing thieves.

Jan Brown, crime prevention officer for Lancashire Police, said: “Having bought all those wonderful presents, don't make it easy for someone to steal from your home.

Keep them out of sight until last thing on Christmas Eve and if you 'hide' or store larger items such as bicycles in the shed or outbuildings, make sure they are very secure.”

Other tips for beating the burglars and keeping your home safe -
  • Take the frame numbers of new cycles and the serial numbers of new electrical equipment for future reference.
  • Remember, empty boxes left outside advertise that you have new goods inside - dispose of packing carefully.
  • If you go out for the evening, make it look like someone is at home by turning on lights and the radio. Don't leave curtains open so people can see your decorations as potential thieves can see in.
  • Be extra careful about locking doors and windows.
  • As a fire precaution, don't leave Christmas lights on in the house whilst you are out.
  • If you go away for the holiday period - use an automatic timer for lights and ask a trusted neighbour to watch your home.
  • Don't forget to cancel newspapers and milk if you have them delivered and either redirect your mail through the Post Office or have your neighbour take mail into the house - unopened Christmas cards and mail are a sure sign that a house is empty.