Friday, 7 January 2011

'Big Howard' back at Borough for Comedy Club

Howard Read is returning to
Lancaster's Comedy Club.
Photo: Alan Moyles aka photobat
Always ones with an eye for a great deal, those nice folk down at The Lancaster Comedy Club have put together a rather special deal for those who enjoy a good guffaw and gourmet grub! As the food is coming from The Borough's Michelin recommended brasserie (the twice monthly comedy gig is held above it) then buying now while stocks last is definitely recommended!

The delights on offer include IPA Battered Mini Fish and Chips served with chips and minted mushy peas, a 4oz Locally Reared Flat Iron Steak or The Borough’s World Famous Club Sandwich which combines free range chicken, smoked bacon, lettuce, mayonnaise and a lightly tossed salad.

In terms of comedy, Sunday 16th January sees Perrier Award-noninated comedian Howard Read return to The Borough after taking the roof off a year ago.  Although best known to the nations kids as 'Big Howard, Little Howard' from CBBC it's fair to say Howard's stand up set really isn't something you would want the kids to see...

Howard is joined by half Irish, half Jamaican comic Mike Belgrave, Rhys Jones and Hull's Sam Harland.

Roger Monkhouse
The fun continues on Sunday 30th January when stand up veteran Roger Monkhouse shows Lancaster what has kept him at the top of his game for the last fifteen years; as Chortle puts it, "unfailingly entertaining and skilfully able to pull punchlines, seemingly, out of thin air."

Roger will be more than ably supported by two of the star's from TV's FHM Stand Up Hero series - Kai Humphries and Danny Pensive with the madcap Phil Ellis compering.

The shows start at 8.00pm prompt and admission is £8 on the door, or £6 in advance from The Borough, or online via their website. The special offer on comedy and dining is strictly limited and needs to be paid for in advance on 01524 64170.

And the price? £10.75 for both! It would seem safe to assume that The Borough's phone is going to be very busy...

Phone use warning to motorists - and pedestrians

Lancashire Constabulary is warning drivers of the dangers of using their mobile phones whilst driving as they launch a month-long crackdown.

Throughout January, road policing officers across the county will be targeting those who use their mobile phones when behind the wheel.

They will also be warning pedestrians to take extra care on the roads -- especially if they are using mobile phones, iPods and MP3 players whilst out on the roads.

“The consequences of driving whist using a mobile phone can be catastrophic," explained Road Policing Inspector Martin Bishop.  It diverts attention away from the road and increases the chances of being involved in a road traffic collision.

“We are determined to reduce the number of people who are killed and seriously injured on our roads," he added.

"We take action against those who use mobile phones whilst driving throughout the year but the concentrated activity taking place this month sets out to let motorists know that this behaviour will simply not be tolerated."

Inspector Bishop also highlights concerns about pedestrians using mobile devices while waking or crossing roads.

“It is also timely to remind pedestrians of the dangers of not being fully aware of vehicles, especially around the major roads," he commented. "Many people have received new phones, iPods and MP3 players at Christmas and will be putting them to full use, but we would urge them to take care when they’re out and about, particularly when crossing roads.”

People caught driving whilst using their mobile phone will be given a fixed penalty notice and will receive three points on their licence.  Those who cause a road traffic collision whilst on the phone face a criminal investigation and being put through the judicial system.

The activity 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.

Thieves raid Garstang industrial park

Garstang police are appealing for people to come forward with information after rolls of fencing and barbwire were stolen from an industrial park in Garstang last weekend.

The offence took place between 6.30 and 8.15pm on Sunday 2nd January at the industrial park on Green Lane West, Garstang.

The offenders, believed to be two men, have driven through a closed security fence at Coars Ltd and gained access to the compound by removing bolts from metal fence poles.

The men, both wearing dark clothing with hoods up, have then targeted 30 rolls of rylock netting and 30 rolls of green barb wire stored on wooden pallets worth several thousand pounds.

The property has been loaded into the rear of what is thought to be a transit van before returning to steal metal feeding troughs used for farming.

This is the third time the premises have been targeted with an attempted burglary on Wednesday 29th December and a burglary on Wednesday 8th December where similar items were stolen.

All three offences have occurred around the same time of day but police are unable to confirm they are linked at this stage.

“It's clear that these items have been deliberately targeted and perhaps stolen to order," says PC Iain Walker from Garstang Police.

"I would urge anyone that has any information about these offences to get in touch as soon as possible.”

• Anyone with any information can contact police on 08451 25 35 45 or can contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Council seeks views on air quality in Galgate

With a near constant stream of traffic pouring through the village along the A6, Galgate residents may be pleased to hear that Lancaster City Council is inviting comments from members of the public on the issues raised by its Further Assessment of air quality in the Galgate Air Quality Management Area.

This follows the declaration of the Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) in the centre of Galgate, which was made after the council monitored air pollution levels in the area to deal with high levels of nitrogen dioxide caused by exhaust emissions from road traffic.

Each UK local authority has been carrying out a review and assessment of air quality in their area since 1997. This involves measuring air pollution and trying to predict how it will change in the next few years.

The aim of the review is to make sure that the national air quality objectives will be achieved throughout the UK by the relevant deadlines, put in place to protect people's health and the environment.

If a local authority finds any places where the objectives are not likely to be achieved, it must declare an Air Quality Management Area there. This area could be just one or two streets, or it could be much bigger.

Lancaster City Council has three AQMAs - one for Lancaster, covering city centre gyratory system, extending 20 metres from the roadside (and including any property partially encompassed by this area), one for Carnforth (encompassing the A6 between North Road and Booth's supermarket access road, and Market Street between the junction with the A6 and Haws Hill) and the Galgate AQMA, which covers properties along both sides of the A6, extending from the railway bridge south of the crossroads, to just north of Whitley Beck Bridge.

Having declared the AQMA and undertaken the Further Assessment, the council must now produce an Air Quality Action Plan which will identify and implement actions designed to reduce the levels of nitrogen dioxide to below the objective. The council is consulting stakeholders, including the public, and inviting them to comment on the issues raised in the Further Assessment and to suggest actions to be included in a long list.

Copies of the Further Assessment are available for viewing on the council’s website, and also at Lancaster Library and Lancaster and Morecambe Town Halls.

"We would welcome the suggestions of residents, businesses and motorists on the findings of the Further Assessment," says Coun Jon Barry, cabinet member with responsibility for the environment. "We would also welcome other ideas on what actions we could take to reduce pollution in Galgate."

• Any comments can be sent by email to or by post to the Head of Health and Housing, Lancaster City Council, Town Hall, Morecambe, LA4 5AF. The closing date for feedback is 31st March 2010.

Air Quality Management Areas in the UK - DEFRA web site

Yet another supermarket for Lancaster?

The Lancaster Guardian reports that plans for a new 24-hour supermarket off the A6 in Lancaster are being opposed by rival developers Centros and Booths.

The newspaper, on sale today, notes that developer Commercial Estates Projects hopes to attract a major supermarket to the greenfield site as part of a development which would also include a petrol station, a 50-bed hotel, a family-friendly pub and restaurant and a 500-space car park.

Booths, which has its own plans for a new 2,052 square metre store next door at Lawson’s Bridge, has lodged an objection, claiming the larger Commercial Estates plan – which sparked 33 objections from residents – would affect the vitality of Lancaster city centre.

Commercial Estates Group was established in 1989, which has offices in London, Harrogate and Carlyon Bay, Cornwall, utilises its management, investment, development and financial skills to add value to property assets throughout the UK.

Commercial Estates Group together with related entities, "The Group" is active in the office, industrial, retail, residential and mixed use sectors. Its UK portfolio extends throughout the country and has a capital value of about £682 million, rental income of £42.7 million and an estimated rental value of £56.3 million.

Its web site note describes it as "a rapidly developing business seeking to continue its growth by investing both in its existing projects and new acquisitions."

Centros, who are also objecting to the CES scheme, are continuing to discuss their own plans for a retail development centring on Lancaster's Edward Street Car park area and the Canal Corridor with the City Council. Their original plan, rejected by government, was opposed by a number of groups including It's Our City.

Last month, IOC reported that following the listing of the Mitchells Brewery malthouse, part of the area affected by the Centros scheme, they were dismayed to learn that the roof of the malthouse is now mostly missing, and has been open to the elements from at least 22nd November.

"This listed building is crucial to future conservation led development in this part of the city, and its deterioration would only serve the interests of developers Centros and owners Mitchell's Breweries," the group says. "We have contacted Lancaster City Council, asking them to ensure that Mitchell's deal with it and received a reply from Head of Plannning, Andrew Dobson, saying that Mitchell's have been told to deal with it or face formal action."

In addition to their headline story about the new supermarket plan for the A6, this week's Lancaster Guardian also features news on a £2 million refurbishment project for Lancaster and Morecambe town hall, along with other council properties such as Lancaster's Assembly Rooms (some tenants relocated to the Market this week while work took place); the jailing of a driver for causing a fatal collision; and Mayor-Elect Paul Woodruff's intention to attend civic functions by bike.

There's also a competition to win £500 of DIY goodies and a healthy looking jobs page, if you're on the look out for new employment.

• The Lancaster Guardian is on sale in all good local newsagents now.

Read the full story about the supermarket plan online on the Lancaster Guardian web site

Commercial Estates Project web site

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Bay inspires artists at The Dukes

Five local artists inspired by the landscape of Morecambe Bay exhibit their work at The Dukes gallery from 10th January.

Quicksands is an exhibition of contemporary mixed media artwork taking its inspiration from Morecambe Bay, its stories, histories and secrets.

It is being staged to coincide with Quicksand, the Dukes new play telling a story of forbidden love on Morecambe Bay which runs from 27th January.

Five artists, all from the Lancaster and Morecambe district working across a range of media, including painting, textiles, ceramics and sound art, take a variety of approaches to exploring and representing the Bay area, responding to the themes of this powerful play.

The artists became friends through their art, either training together at Manchester Met or working together as lecturers, but this is the first time they have exhibited together.

Ann Woodfine found the Quicksand script particularly inspiring as she investigated the distinctive, ever-changing coastal landscapes of Morecambe Bay through a series of drawings and paintings.

Preston College lecturer Christine Stanford unravels the relationship between landscape, family and community in a series of textile artworks and her fellow tutor, Gerry Hickson from Arnside responds to this unique environment in a combination of ceramics, textiles and painting.

Sisters Priscilla Jones and Prudence Edwards combine sound and textile art to bring local histories to life.

Quicksands runs from 10th January - 13th February at The Dukes gallery which is open from 10.00 am to 11.00 pm, Monday to Saturday. Please call box office on 01524 598500 to check opening times if you’re making a special journey as occasionally the space is closed to the public.

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Dukes hits the big 4-0 in 2011

Lancaster's The Dukes arts venue will be celebrating a silver anniversary and milestone birthday in 2011.

This year will see The Dukes mark the 25th anniversary of its shows in Williamson Park during the summer and the 40th birthday of the Lancaster theatre as a whole.

And as well as these important milestones, the venue is also celebrating an increase of 30,000 attendances and greater income as a result.

Dukes director, Joe Sumsion said: “Much of the time, people don’t recognise the richness of things on their own doorstep and that’s why events such as the 25th anniversary of the park show are really important.

The anniversary show will be Merlin & The Legend of King Arthur (8th July - 13th August).

“People travel from across the country and from abroad to see Lancaster’s outdoor theatre and you would be hardpressed to find any other city of this size producing work that’s so nationally recognised,” said Joe.

“25 years ago, outdoor theatre was a new idea which The Dukes championed and now it’s an institution.”

That ethos of championing new work continues to this day at The Dukes which begins 2011 by staging the world premiere of Quicksand (27th January - 12th February) which is set on Morecambe Bay.

The theatre’s enthusiasm for plays rooted in the North continues into the spring when it presents The Rise and Fall of Little Voice (24th March 16th April) in its first outing since its recent West End run.

And during its 40th anniversary year, The Dukes welcomes back one of its former directors, the Olivier Award winning David Thacker with his version of Arthur Miller’s The Price (3rd - 7th May).

As well as being the only theatre in Lancashire producing home-grown plays, The Dukes also boasts a varied touring programme bringing the best of the rest to the county.

“In these difficult times, we know we have to work harder and harder to deliver more of what people want,” said Joe.

“If we didn’t have public investment, we wouldn’t exist but we also know we have to do our bit. The growth in audiences generates more money at the box office, we’re finding more sponsors, and encouraging more people to join our Friends scheme.

“The Dukes is a charity and the more people who invest, whether that be with their time or donations, the better we will be able to deliver for our audiences.”

• To book tickets for any of the new season events, ring The Dukes box office on 01524 598500 or visit