Friday, 4 February 2011

Garstang burglary evofits released - thieves who attacked with a pick hammer sought

Police have released evofits of two men they want to speak with following an attempt aggravated burglary in Garstang last week (Wednesday 26th January).

The incident happened around 9.15pm at a residential address on Dimples Lane when two offenders have gained access through a side door.

The men have entered the lounge where the family were sat watching television. One of the men has grabbed the 60-year-old male occupant around his throat and threatened him with a pick hammer demanding money, but the victim  fought back and challenged the offenders, who have then fled empty handed.

Fortunately the man and his teenage daughter were not injured during the incident but they were left badly shaken.

The first man is described as white, around 25 years old, slim build with a round face and shaved head and stubble.

The second man is described as being Asian, medium build with dark eyebrows which appear to be cut short. He was wearing a dark hooded top with a hood up covering both sides of his face.

“This was a violent and targeted attack on a family in their own home," commented Detective Inspector Alex Myers from Wyre CID, "and we need the public’s help to catch the men responsible.

“A full search of the area was made on the night, house to house enquires have been completed and an investigation is on-going.

“I would urge people to take a close look at the evofits and if anyone recognises them or is able to put a name to the pictures I would urge them to call us.”

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

Protests Planned as County Council to Vote on Service-Slashing Budget

Stop the CutsProtests are planned throughout Lancashire as Lancashire County Council faces a vote on plans to cut £179.1m from its budget over the next three years.

According to their budget proposals, which you can view on the LCC website here (PDF download) the brunt of the pain is to be born by the Social Services. Care Services to elderly and disabled people are already feeling the impact, as 'moderate' care needs, cleaning, cooking and shopping, are no longer part of the LCC assessment, leaving only personal, physical care and frozen dinners.

Care agencies are reeling from the loss of clients, as many frail, elderly people can simply not afford paid help out of shrinking pensions.

Virtual-Lancaster has been informed that disabled people with medical conditions may find their care needs reclassified as ‘health care needs’ and some are having services withdrawn and being referred over to the NHS for assessment with a view to negotiating a new NHS package of care. It’s a way of moving the strain onto the NHS budget.

Children & Young People’s Services are being cut back, and subsidised bus routes dropped. Both central and local government funding for voluntary agencies and charities is affected with the Citizens Advice Bureau facing a potential loss of 45% of its funding – a disaster for an organisation which is already overstretched as demand grows for its services to people in financial crisis. One Voice has lost its disabled hub premises at Cornerstones off Dalton Square and is now resettling into St Leonard’s House.

On Thursday 17 February the full Lancashire County Council meets at 1.00pm in Preston to decide whether to approve the cuts as laid out in the plans, for a £71.7m saving in 2011-12, followed by a further £50m in 2012-13 and another £57.4m in 2013-14 - a total of £179.1m over the next three years. Protesters will rally at County Hall at noon.

An all-Lancashire protest against these proposals is to take place in Preston Flag Market at noon on Saturday 12 February. Lancashire is one of the counties hardest hit by the coalition government cuts in funding to Local Authorities. Critics claim that the Conservative majority on the County Council are too accepting of the Conservative-led government’s distaste for channelling public money towards people outside their millionaires' circle of overpaid tax-dodgers.

• Visit the Lancaster & Morecambe Against the Cuts facebook group.

This article is a balancing article to News International.

Past meets present at Morecambe's Platform

Fun at the fair in wartime
Morecambe. Photo courtesy
Lancaster City Council
Lancaster City and Maritime Museums have been delving into their archives and stores to put together a brand new display at the Platform, Morecambe.

"Come to Morecambe!" celebrates the town's development and heyday as a holiday resort. It highlights how the coming of the railways changed Morecambe forever and shares some of the memories of Morecambe's famous entertainment scene.

The two displays are situated in the entrance foyer and the main hall and museum staff are hoping a little of Morecambe's unique history will reach new audiences who are passing by to use the visitor information centre or attend an event at the Platform.

The project is one of a number of initiatives being developed by Lancashire County Museum Service and Lancaster City Council to share museum collections around the district and give local people greater access to objects held in the museum stores.

A similar display can be found at Salt Ayre Leisure Centre which is updated throughout the year.

“I'm very pleased that we are able get some items out of the collection and on show at the Platform," says Museums Area Manager Paul Thompson. "It's also great to tell a little of Morecambe's fascinating history.

“Morecambe born and bred I think it a privilege to promote the town’s past, present and future.”

"These attractive displays and photographs from Morecambe’s halcyon days have not only enhanced this Edwardian building," feels Lancaster City Council Platform Manager Mary Lucas, "but have been met with such positive comments and smiles from both the young and the not so young.”

Take advantage of introductory trader rates at Morecambe’s Festival Market

Ever fancied running your own business but don’t know where to start? Why not take advantage of the special introductory trader rates on offer next month at Morecambe’s Festival Market.

This exciting opportunity awaits anyone wishing to expand or re-locate an existing business or those looking to start a new venture in a traditional, bustling and popular market. To qualify for the special rates on offer, which aim to attract new types of stalls to the market, traders should be offering commodities from the following list:

Branded sportswear, denim wear, ladies OS wear, foam products, gold and silver jewellery, health foods, cycles and accessories, fishmongers, cobblers, tableware, motor accessories, lighting, fashion footwear, toys, army surplus/camping, dry hairdresser, dressmaking services/fabric and decorating products (wallpaper/paint).

Morecambe Festival Market is a traditional covered market close to Morecambe Promenade offering over 100 stalls, shops and cafes. It is open on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, Sunday and Bank Holidays throughout the year.

During March there will also be a number of events to attract customers to the market including discounts for pensioners and a ‘Where’s Eric’ competition. An Easter Eggstravaganza is also planned for April.

Alan Greenhalgh, who has been a trader on the market since it opened in 1996, said: “The benefit of the market is that some people come to shop, others for a day out - but are impressed enough to come back and tell their friends. If you join the traders in the market you won’t make a million overnight, it takes time and commitment to get your rewards but I, like many others, have never regretted being here”.

For more details, please contact the Market Manager Tracey Bruce on 01524 414251, email or visit

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

All knotted up at the Storey for Chinese New Year!

Memento by Ed Pien. Image courtesy Storey Gallery on Flickr

Memento, an exhibition by Taiwanese-born artist Ed Pien opens at the Storey Gallery this week (5th February).

Commissioned by the Chinese Arts Centre in Manchester, Memento is a contribution to Lancaster's Chinese New Year Festival. It's a walk-through environment created from knotted ropes, paper-cut silhouettes, video projections, rotating mirrors, sand-bags, shadows, and sound. In the dim light, the visitor plunges into another world, navigating their way amidst the shadows beneath a rope net canopy, while projected images spin around the gallery walls.

Artist Ed Pien, who has has exhibited internationally and will talk about the exhibition at an event this week at the Gallery, was born in Taiwan and lives in Canada. The exhibition was developed from his research into the plight of illegal immigrants who take great risks in the hope of achieving a better life.

These people often have to live ‘ghost-like’, hidden from society, such as the Chinese cockle pickers in Morecambe Bay and the ‘Faujis’ from India living in the UK without identities, and the thousands of North Africans who try to cross the Mediterranean in small boats, some of whom perish on the way.

Memento opens Tuesday-Saturday 11am-5pm;  late night Thursdays 11am-8.30pm, from 5 February – 2 April 2011, the Storey Gallery,  Storey Institute, Meeting House Lane, Lancaster LA1 1TH. Telephone 01524 844133. Web:

• Ed Pien will talk about his work at 7.30pm on Friday 4th February at the Gallery. Tickets: £3, booking recommended via or telephone 01524 844133

Lancaster University hosts special seminar on Egypt

A special seminar on events in Egypt will be held by the Department of Politics, Philosophy and Religion (PPR) at Lancaster University this week to discuss the important recent and ongoing events in Egypt. 

Chaired by Professr Chakrvarthi Ram-Prasad, speakers include Shuruq Naguib, a lecturer in the Department of Religious Studies at Lancaster University, and Amalendu Misra, a senior lecturer at the Univeristy's Richardson Institute.

Amalendu's  current research includes the interrogation of violence in the political process.

• Special Seminar. Revolution Today: Egypt and the Arab World takes place on  Friday 4th February 2011 in Bowland North Seminar Room 6 (North Spine) at Lancaster University, 5.30pm-7.00pm. All Welcome

• For further details contact Shuruq Naguib ( or Amalendu Misra (

Council seeks views on new Morecambe Action Plan

Lancaster City Council is asking for your help in planning a new heart for Morecambe.

Over the last year, the council has been talking to local people and now has a much better understanding of what they think about the centre of Morecambe and how it looks, feels and works. Unsurprisingly, people want Morecambe to improve, which means attracting more people and activity to the “heart” of Morecambe by making the town centre work better.

“It’s vital that we establish the right conditions and opportunities to encourage people and businesses to invest in Morecambe," feels Coun Abbott Bryning, Cabinet member with responsibility for regeneration, "in order to make it a better place to trade in, to live and work in and to visit.”

The council has prepared a topic paper explaining the issues, and is inviting local people to submit their views and suggestions about what you think should go into the Morecambe Area Action Plan.

The input of local people and organisations will help the council prepare options for the content of the plan. A full options consultation will then follow later in the year.

Anyone interested in having a say can also take part in two daytime presentation and discussion sessions at which you are invited to join officers to discuss any issues.

These will take place at The Platform, Morecambe on Monday 28th February (2pm – 4pm) and Thursday 3rd March, (10am – 12pm). To book a place on one of the above sessions or for a copy of the topic paper, email or phone (01524) 582375 or 582362 before Friday 25th February 2011.

Anybody wanting to talk to a council officer about the action plan can call in at Morecambe Town Hall during office hours (9am to 5pm).

• Topic Paper 2: Developing Options is available to download from which also contains more information on the ways in which you can respond. The closing date for responses is Friday, 18th March 2011

Council warn on bogus charity collections

Two men suspected of posing as door-to-door charity bag collectors were stopped in a joint operation between licensing enforcement officers from Lancaster City Council and the police.

Officers stopped a van being driven by the men on Morecambe Road on Friday morning at a routine checkpoint.

Inside the van were around 100 bags of clothing which had been donated by local residents, believing they were going to charity.

Checks revealed that the men were operating without a licence from Lancaster City Council, and as a result the bags were seized and given to local charity St John’s Hospice.

The association of charity shops estimates that charities lose between £2.5 million and £3 million a year through theft and people giving clothing to organisations which they think are charities but may be commercial companies collecting for profit. Other research puts the problem much higher, at £14 million a year.

“Bogus charity collections are very damaging to the many legitimate charities who operate throughout the UK in collecting clothing and other items for good causes," notes Coun Tony Wade, chairman of Lancaster City Council’s licensing regulatory committee. “The  message from us is clear - please don’t be taken in and make sure you know who your donation is going to.

“Read the small print and make sure the name of the charity is specified and if so that it's one that you know about.

“Genuine house to house collectors are licensed and you can contact the council on 01524 582033 to check them out."

House-to-house collections are regulated by the House to House Collections Act 1939, and the gorvernment appears to be making time to address the issue of bogus charity collectors after Conservative MP for Chatham Tracy Crouch successfully gained a debate in the House of the Commons on the subject last October.  (The transcript of the debate can be found here).

All house to house collections for a charitable purpose in the Lancaster district must be licensed by Lancaster City Council, and the collectors authorised by the promoter.

Although some of the leaflets and bags requesting donations of clothes and goods are from genuine registered charities, some of these leaflets come from anonymous commercial companies.  Often these leaflets are worded in such a way that encourages people to assume that the items collected are for charity.

As a result of the debate by MPs last year,  the government has begun a review of the Charities Act 2006, the main legislative document relating to charities, which MP Tracy Crouch argues is essential to providing the legal base on which the thieves can be prosecuted.

Residents Car Parking launches in Regent Street, Dallas Road area

New residents’ parking schemes came into force in the Dallas Road, Regent Street and Brook Street areas of Lancaster area today (1st February), leaving previously clogged up streets clear of cars.

"Regent Street is almost totally empty," one resident told virtual-lancaster. "It's weird and very quiet."

The Council introduced the scheme after numerous problems caused by commuter parking, which included, on one occasion, a fire engine crew having to 'bump' cars to respond to an emergency call.

Schemes are being brought in at the following streets: Blades Street, Dallas Road (part), Ushers Meadow, Villas Court, Wheatfield Street (Zone F); Aldcliffe Road, Lindow Street, Dallas Road (part), Portland Street, Lindow Square, Regent Street (Zone H); and Aldcliffe Road, Cromwell Road, Brook Street, Regent Street, Carr House Lane (Zone I).

The schemes are a partnership between Lancaster City Council and Lancashire County Council and mean that only residents with a valid permit, and their visitors, will be eligible to park in the areas.

Permit holders from zones F, H and I can also park free of charge in Dallas Road car park before 8am and after 4pm Monday to Friday, before 10am and after 4pm on Saturdays and all day Sunday.

“The city council has received reports from residents living in these areas that they were experiencing difficulties in parking their vehicles close to their homes due to commuters and shoppers parking there for long periods over a number of years,” commented Coun Stuart Langhorn, leader of Lancaster City Council.

The restrictions met with much opposition during the planning stages but, quick to adjust to the new restrictions, we understand many commuters are now parking on the free stretch of Aldcliffe Road alongside the canal after Haverbreaks Bridge.

• More information on residents’ parking schemes in the Lancaster district can be found at

Police appeal after woman assaulted trying to break up a fight

Police are appealing for witnesses to come forward after a woman was assaulted as she tried to break up a fight on Pitt Street earlier this month.

The incident took place around 1.15 am on Saturday 22nd January when the 18-year-old Morecambe woman and her boyfriend were followed out of Ikys takeaway by a white man in his 20s.

He started a fight with her boyfriend and she was pushed over and kicked as she intervened.

The woman was helped to her feet by three young men and police are keen to speak with these men as witnesses.

She was taken to the Royal Lancashire Infirmary where she received treatment for cuts and bruises.

“I would appeal to anyone that witnessed this incident to contact police," urged PC Phil Salliss. "In particular, I would like to speak with the three young men, possibly students who helped the victim to her feet as they could be key witnesses.”

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

Seatbelt crackdown as part of Operation Pathway

Drivers and passengers are being reminded to ‘belt up’ – or risk putting their lives in danger – ahead of a crackdown on the correct use of seatbelts.

Throughout February, police officers across Lancashire will be carrying out roadside checks on motorists to make sure they are wearing seatbelts. 

“It's evident from our observations and injuries suffered in crashes that too many people still don’t wear their seatbelts," says Road Policing Inspector Martin Bishop. “It’s an offence that is viewed as trivial to many.

"However, in that moment when you need it, a seatbelt will make the difference between suffering a minor injury to one that is life-threatening or life changing.

“We hope that people will listen to this message and help us to reduce the seriousness of injuries suffered unnecessarily.”

The fine for not wearing a seatbelt is £60.

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.