Saturday, 21 May 2011

Morecambe MP accuses European Union of 'environmental vandalism'

Morecambe MP David Morris has accused the European of "environmental vandalism" over its fisheries policy.

His comments in the House of Commons during a recent Fisheries debate came after he revealed he had "discovered" Morecambe no longer had much of a fishing industry, in stark contrast to its busy past.

"For many years now, the common fisheries policy has blighted coastal towns such as those in my constituency around Morecambe," he told members. "It might surprise hononorable Members to know that, although I represent a seaside resort and coastal town, I have learned from recent discussions with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs that I represent very few fishermen. But let us be clear: my predecessors would have been able to say that they represented hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of them.

"This illustrates the economic decimation of fishing that this policy has created, and, even in communities like mine, it has been accepted. For years we complained, in my view rightly, but our complaints fell on deaf ears in Brussels and we lost this important form of employment. We have now accepted this and moved on."

Mr Morris then outlined his concerns at European Union fishing quotas, and called for a scrapping of the common fisheries policy.

"It is so sad to see fishermen throwing tonnes of fish into the sea because it is illegal to land them under EU rules," he noted. "I do not blame the fishermen themselves; they are trying to make a living against a difficult backdrop. I blame the common fisheries policy and the European Commission. It is hard for me to believe that the Commission is ignorant of the environmental vandalism that it has unleashed on our waters. The fact is that it does not even care.

"Given that the EU does not want to make the situation better, it must fall to us in this country to do something about it," he suggested. "We must demand a significant reform or, better still, the scrapping of the common fisheries policy. Call me old fashioned, but I would like to go back to the time when only British and Irish vessels could fish in the Irish box. When that rule was abolished, Spanish industrial trawlers mounted their ruinous campaign against our fishing stocks — a campaign that has arguably moved to the coast of Africa and ruined the livelihoods of fishermen in places such as Somalia. Many believe that that has turned Somali sailors to piracy.

"In summary, my view remains that the British fishing fleet has been treated badly. My community has lost an important industry, but we must not allow fish stocks to be destroyed for future generations. ... My sincere hope is that we stop this great environmental crime before its effect cannot be undone."

Friday, 20 May 2011

Appeal after bar man is threatened in Lancaster

Police have issued CCTV images of two men they are keen to trace after a bar man was threatened after he refused to serve two drunk men in a town centre bar.

The offence took place at the Mint bar on Church Street just before 1.00am on Thursday 28 April.

The bar man refused to serve two men alcohol as he believed them to be intoxicated. Unhappy, the two men then moved around to the service side of the bar and picked up bottles from behind the bar whilst making threats and displaying very intimidating and aggressive behaviour.

One of the men also attempted to grab the member of staff as he tried to flee past them and call the police.

The first man is described as a stocky build, bald and was wearing a grey cardigan. The second man is also described as stocky with short black hair, facial stubble and was wearing a hooded jumper.

PC Dave Nicholls said: “An investigation is underway and I would urge people to take a close look at the CCTV images and if they recognise either of the men to contact police on 01524 63333 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.”

Win tickets for As You Like It in Williamson Park

Photo courtesy the Globe Theatre

The world renowned Globe Theatre will be bringing to life one of Shakespeare’s greatest romantic comedies 'As You Like It' in the beautiful grounds of Williamson Park, Lancaster next month - and has two pairs of tickets to give away.

Rosalind, the daughter of a banished duke, falls in love with Orlando at a wrestling match, but her uncle, jealous of her popularity, banishes her from court. Disguised as a boy, she seeks out her father and his friends in the Forest of Arden. Here she meets Orlando again and, under the guise of a young man, counsels him the art of love.

The Globe’s actors will be following the experience of Elizabethan players, taking all the equipment they need and adapting the play to a wealth of glorious venues including the Williamson Park's natural amphitheatre 'The Dell'. So, pack your picnic rug and sun-cream (or waterproofs and a hot toddy!) and join the troupe of travelling players!

The Shakespeare Globe Trust is dedicated to the experience and international understanding of Shakespeare in performance. Uniquely its work celebrates the fact that the greatest dramatic poet in the English language lived and worked in London and that the cradle of English theatre was on Bankside by the River Thames. With Globe Theatre, Globe Exhibition and Globe Education seek to further the experience and understanding of Shakespeare in performance.

This tour forms part of the Globe’s most ambitious theatre season to date, The Word is God – and Artistic Director Dominic Dromgoole’s vision to extend the global reach of the venue.

'As You Like It' -- a two-and-a-half hour performance and suitable for all ages -- runs from Thursday, June 9 until Sunday 12th June. Evening performances (Thursday, Friday and Saturday) start at 7.30pm. The final performance (Sunday matinee) starts at 3.00 pm.

Thanks to Lancaster City Council, Virtual-Lancaster has TWO pairs of tickets (worth £70) to give away for a performance of the winner's choice. All you need to do is answer the question below and send your entry by email only to by 12 noon BST on Monday 6th June 2011. (Don't forget to include your name and address in the entry so we know where to send the tickets!)

• What is the name of the forest which is featured in Shakespeare's 'As You Like It' ?

• Tickets cost £17.50 adults and £12 children - available from Williamson Park (01524 33318), in person at Lancaster and Morecambe Visitor Information Centres or on-line at

• For more information visit

• More about Shakespeare's Globe at

CCTV appeal after man assaulted in Lancaster bar

Lancaster Police are appealing for information after a man was verbally assaulted and had a drink poured over him in a bar in Lancaster at the weekend.

At some time between 2am and 3.00am on the 9th May, the man, who was out drinking with his partner in the Revolution bar on Penny Street, was approached by a man who pushed into him, made a homophobic remark and poured his drink over the victim.

Police have issued CCTV images of a man they would like to speak to in connection with the incident and are asking anyone who may recognise him to come forward.

He is described as white, around 6 feet tall and of heavy build with a bald head.

• Anyone with any information can contact Lancaster Police on 01524 63333.

Police appeal after raid on Bowerham Chemists

Image via Google Maps
Police are appealing for information after a break in at SP Tanna chemists shop in Bowerham on Monday (16th May 2011).

At around 2.00am on Monday morning, the alarm was activated at SP Tanna chemists on Gordon Terrace, Bowerham Road after someone smashed the glass in the front door with a large rock and went inside the shop.

It would appear that the offender then went inside and searched the whole shop but it is not thought that anything has been stolen.

Police are appealing for any witnesses or for any information that could assist in their investigation.

In particular, officers are asking for any information from any taxi drivers who may have been in the area at the time that might have seen anything suspicious or who might have even had a pick up from the location to come forward and contact police.

• Anyone with any information is asked to contact police on 08451 25 35 45 or via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Wasted Lives programme transforms young drivers attitudes, say students

Photo: Wasted Lives Young Driver Programme
A generation of Lancashire students say a hard-hitting road safety course has transformed the way they think about driving, making them safer behind the wheel.

The Wasted Lives Young Driver Programme has now reached over 13,000 students since being launched in September 2008 to help cut the tragic toll of death and injury among young drivers.

It encourages them to examine the attitudes that cause risky driving and to confront the potential consequences of making the wrong decision.

Nearly three quarters of those who respond to a survey three months after taking the course say they now take fewer risks.

"The Wasted Lives course has become part of growing up for more and more students in Lancashire since it was launched three years ago," notes Steve Whitehouse, manager of the Lancashire Partnership for Road Safety for Lancashire County Council.

"The careful research that went into creating it means Wasted Lives is very effective at triggering emotions such as guilt and regret, helping young people realise the devastating consequences of making the wrong decision.

"It's satisfying that students tell us the programme has had a real impact on the decisions they make while driving, which we hope will stick with them for life."

Research shows that drivers are most at risk of being involved in a car crash or breaking the speed limit between the ages of 17-21. Many are overconfident of their driving abilities, making them more likely to take risks.

Wasted Lives sees students work in small groups with a facilitator to discuss, share and reflect on their experiences of driving and the issues – such as peer pressure and images in the media – which influence their behaviour.

Topics covered include inappropriate speed, use of seatbelts, drink and drug driving and the consequences of taking risks.

Delivery of the course is shared between Lancashire County Council, whose road safety advisors have been instrumental in taking the course to schools and colleges, and Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service. LFRS began delivering the course last year – helping the safe driving message reach a further 3,000 young people.

Wasted Lives has won two awards in 2009, being named North West Road Safety Project of the Year and receiving an accolade from the Prince Michael of Kent International Road Safety Awards.

The numbers of people killed and seriously injured on Lancashire's Roads has fallen from 1,024 in 2005 to 668 in 2010.

• Schools, colleges, community groups and training providers can find out more about the free one-day course by contacting 01772 534531, visit, or email

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Will Mary Portas save Lancaster's shops?

Retail expert Mary Portas - regarded by many as the UK’s foremost authority on retail and brand communication - has been challenged by the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister to undertake an independent review on the Future of the High Street – to help ‘bring back the bustle’ to our town centres.

And with town centre vacancy rates doubling over the last two years, the need to take action to save our high streets has never been starker - and both Lancaster and Morecambe face the same problems as many other towns, judging from comments left on her official website.

As founder of one of London’s most respected retail & brand communication agencies, Yellowdoor, Mary is recognised throughout the trade as the Queen of Shops. For her third and final BBC series of Mary Queen of Shops, Mary took on the supermarkets by rescuing six British shopkeepers and showcasing their struggle to stay in business in June 2010. She's now got a new show on Channel 4.

"I am calling on business, local authorities and shoppers to contribute their ideas on how we can halt this decline in its tracks and create town centres that we can all be proud of," Mary challeneges.

"If you’ve got something to say about the state of our high streets – be it an observation, insight, initiative or idea – please add your own contribution to the debate."

Lancaster City Council has a duty to monitor the health of its town centres and to monitor the need for new retail development and  is broadly seeking to direct new retail development to existing centres, both to expand Lancaster’s retail offer in a planned expansion and to promote the regeneration of Morecambe. The challenge planners face is to do it in a way that doesn't destroy other retail offerings - which is the argument levelled against the Centros proposals for Lancaster's Canal Corridor, thrown out by the government in December 2009.

High business rents, car parking and a decline in the city's retail offerings are all issues which affect shoppers desire to visit city centres - and Lancaster and Morecambe are affected by these issues as much as other towns and cities.

Some Lancaster business people have already posted comments to the page, including Mike Dent of Ubertechs.

"You are not going to get great town centres without getting businesses in to the empty shops.
You are not going to get businesses in to these shops unless they can afford the rent.

"In Lancaster (small city up north) a small shop in the centre of town is circa £30,000 rent per year. This is the main reason why shops cannot survive. Who can afford that kind of rent and sustain a good business? I can think of a few but they are certainly not the smaller businesses which you need.

"Get these costs driven down (somehow) and you will see the town centres be in a position once again to flourish."
• You can leave comments about retail development on Mary Portas' Future of the High Street page

• Lancaster City Council: Retail and Town Centre Monitoring
This page includes links to various reports on retail development for Lancaster.
The City Council surveys all shops in Lancaster and Morecambe annually in March and also continuously monitors completions of new retail development.
From time to time, the Council also carries out retail capacity studies and town centre health checks. The last full retail study and health check was the Lancaster Retail Study carried out for the Council by White Young Green in February 2006.
White Young Green carried out an update of the convenience and comparison models in the Lancaster Retail Study in June 2009.

Lancaster City Council: Retail Development Issues 
An overview of 'Policy ER4' which defines the District’s shopping hierarchy and Policy ER5 defines the Council’s approach to new retail development and outlines the problems it has identified.

Monday, 16 May 2011

Picnic, Games and Balsam Bashing!

(with thanks to Fiona Frank): Lancaster Cohousing members and friends are celebrating the start of works on their ecological cohousing site by the river at Forge Bank Weir, Halton, by hosting a family picnic, games afternoon, and ‘balsam-bashing’ event, on Saturday 21st May.
The event runs from 1.30 p.m. until 4.00 p.m. and will take place on the land just upstream from Forge Bank Weir in Halton.

This picnic is part of the UK Cohousing Network’s ‘Intentional Communities Day’, when established and fledgling cohousing projects all over the country will be opening up their projects to the public and celebrating their achievements.

All are welcome and folk are invited to bring a picnic, a blanket, a ball, and your gardening gloves – with your help we’ll be continuing to tackle the Himalayan Balsam problem on the site.

Directions to the event: From The Greyhound pub, go to the end of Mill Lane, pass the cohousing project building site and the weir, up the steps, and along the path – there’ll be balloons to guide you. If it’s wet, we’ll meet in The Centre @ Halton on Low Road.
Info 07778737681 or

• More info at:

• UK CoHousing Newtwork:

£15,000 cannabis factory found in Knott End

Some of the plant seized in the Knott End raid

Police have discovered a £15,000 cannabis factory after carrying out a raid in Knott End.

Officers executed a drugs warrant at a bungalow in Kingston Close at around 10.30am this morning (Mon.)

Inside they discovered around 35 plants, with an estimated street value of £15,000, along with cultivation equipment.

No arrests have been made at this stage and inquiries are ongoing.

PC Dave Kerfoot, community beat manager for Wyre East, said: “It is unusual to find such a large cannabis factory in a rural village like Knott End.

“Drugs can have a really negative impact on a neighbourhood. We carried out the raid as a result of information from the public, so it is clear that drugs are not welcome in this community.”

• Anyone with information about drugs or drug dealing is asked to contact police on 0845 1 25 35 45. In an emergency dial 999. Information can also be given anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Police appeal following incident at Shrimp roundabout

Police are appealing for witnesses following an assault in Morecambe.

The incident happened on Thursday 12th May at the Shrimp roundabout at around 4.50pm. A disagreement broke out between two drivers and a 23-year-old man was struck and suffered injuries to his lip and nose.

Officers are appealing for anyone who witnessed the incident and can help identify the cars involved to come forward and get in touch.

PC Rebecca Rooke from Morecambe police, “I would appeal to anyone who was in the area and spotted what happened to come forward and contact police.”

• Anyone with information is asked to call Lancaster police on 01524 63333 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 11

Appeal following fail to stop collision in Lancaster

Police are appealing for witnesses following a collision in Lancaster in which a car failed to stop.

Around 5.25pm on Wednesday 11 May, a Honda Logo was travelling along Church Brow towards Lancaster when it was involved in a collision with a car travelling in the opposite direction.

The car is described as possibly a black VW Golf or Polo and failed to stop at the scene.

The female driver of the Honda was taken to Royal Lancaster Infirmary suffering from minor injuries.

PC Kevin Illingworth said: “I would appeal to anybody who witnessed this collision to contact police. The black car failed to stop at the scene and we are keen to trace the driver.

“We believe the car may have been a black VW Golf or Polo or something similar. If anybody has any information at all regarding this incident or can help us trace the driver of the black car then I would ask them to get in touch.”

• Anybody with any information is asked to call police on 08451 25 35 45 or call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

This week at the Grand: Girl Traffic

Sneaking into the Grand Theatre this Friday is the 'local heat' of the Miss England pageant. You won't find the Miss Morecambe & Lancaster competition listed on the Grand's website. You aren't invited!

This pageant is a private treat whereby a certain type of 'sponsor' can buy access to young female hopefuls. Sponsors get tickets, can be judges and buy options on use of the 'winners' (age 17-24). There are many side titles in each heat, so plenty to go around.

According to the organisers, MDC Events Ltd, an amount which "may be more affordable than you might imagine" could buy a pageant queen or two laid on for your corporate events. MDC Events get the pay for supplying the girls / young women. These get their travel expences, from the sponsor. And a hotel room. Nice.

It's just a bit of harmless fun?
Some say this is all just a bit of harmless fun - or even a celebration of female beauty. However any beauty that isn't aged 17-24 and a size 14 or less, or happens to be married, or have children, or have a title other than 'Miss' (for example Dr.), is excluded under the rules. Contestants must be young, thin, unattached and without status.

Organisers have justified competitions by claiming that characteristics other than appearance score points - but the contestants' photos are presented for voting on the Miss Morecambe & Lancaster website without any information about them - in fact a well-presented corpse could actually win a title!

Compete for the meat.
It's easier to exploit people if you can eliminate their human characteristics and focus on the anatomical; skin colour, breasts, noses, foreskins etc. This pageant is organised so that various anatomical portions of the 'contestants' can get special titles from individual sponsors too. Mouth, hair, legs, torso... It's a bit like those pictures of animal carcasses you see in butchers with the different joints mapped out.

Trafficking women's bodies is big business:
The all-parliamentary committee on human trafficking estimates that around 12,000 women (a Conservative estimate) have been trafficked into the UK and imprisoned and enslaved against their will. Each of these women was deceived into thinking that she was on the way to decent jobs and opportunities.
Slavery has always been a profitable business. In this case it is so because many thousands of UK men regularly pay to sexually abuse kidnapped women who live lives of terror and torture hidden within our society. This is a growing market profiting from grooming men into rape.

It may seem a stretch, but the creeping 'beauty' pageantry sneaking back into clubs, commerce and even universities, is part of the cultural processes that foster dehumanisation of women, and degradation and brutalisation of men, under cover of supposed 'opportunity' for both.
It's a visible marker of the slippage of women's status in a society in which 75% of people living in poverty are women and in which women's average incomes, already lower than men's, are falling faster.

It's also a marker of increasing unhappiness in our society.
Pageants are heavily backed by the advertising, beauty, fashion and diet industries, all of which have a vested interest in lowering self-esteem generally, in repackaging women as commodities for sale, rather than as acting drivers of their own lives and fortunes, and in grooming bigotry as an alternative to self-fulfillment.

Shame on you Grand Theatre, using young girls this way to pay your bills.

Virtual-Lancaster has approached the Grand Theatre for comments and they have, so far, declined.

See also: Warning: Beauty Pageants May be Damaging Your Health