Friday, 8 July 2011

Council gets set for "Square Routes" work to improve City Centre

(updated 15/7/11, comment from Lancashire County Council added): Lancaster City Council is ramping up some improvements to Lancaster city centre which look sure to put a bit of shine back on its look.

That's the official word from Regeneration Officer Kate Smith, after virtual-lancaster raised concerns - shared by city centre businesses - about the recent replacement of broken paving stones with 'infill' tarmac by the County Council, who is responsible for most of the city's streets.

Infill tarmac has replaced broken paving
stones on Penny Street
"The very subject of the condition of City centre paving was discussed earlier this week at a Chamber meeting concerned with the creation of a Business Improvement District for the City centre," Jerry North, retail director of Lancaster's Chamber of Commerce tells us.

"A team from Regeneration at the City Council made a presentation on progress of the 'Square Routes' project with some interesting developments in improvements to the street fabric which we will see take place later this year and early next, particularly centred on Market Square and Ffrances Passage."

Because Penny Street, where much of the remedial work has taken place, is an adopted highway, the County Council has responsibility for its upkeep, but Kate Smith says the County have advised that the tarmac infilling is a temporary solution and they are currently considering a full re-surfacing along Penny Street which may happen this year or next.

"The condition of the main pedestrian thoroughfares in Lancaster City Centre has significantly deteriorated over the years, mainly due to an increase in heavy goods vehicles using the pedestrian area to make deliveries to shops and businesses," Ian Welsby, Head of Public Realm for North Lancashire, told virtual-lancaster. "Our first priority has to be to provide a safe and level surface to prevent slips and trips, which is why tarmac has been used to make temporary repairs where we've had to remove damaged paving.

"We're currently working with Lancaster City Council to investigate a wider scheme to conserve the historic character of the city by replacing areas of existing paving with new paving of a higher specification, which can withstand the higher demands being placed on it."

Such work would sit well with the City Council's plans. It's now generally accepted that investing in quality public spaces generates economic benefits; it enhances visitor experiences, stimulates growth in the visitor economy, raises property values and helps to increase income and profit for local business.

"Whilst this is not our direct responsibility, the appearance and functioning of the city centre is clearly very important to us," says Kate. "For this reason, we've been working up an initiative called Lancaster Square Routes."

The Northwest Regional Development Agency awarded money to the council in late 2008 to prepare detailed design proposals to upgrade a number of spaces within the city centre. Lancashire County Council also awarded money to support the involvement of an artist throughout the project.

The council then sought comments from all users of these spaces, including residents, visitors and traders to help analyse and evaluate the current issues and potential opportunities.

"In 2009/10 we commissioned a design team led by consultants Gillespies to produce a series of detailed design visions for how key spaces and routes along the city centre's east-west axis could be transformed," Kate continues. "These visions seek to better connect the retail and commercial heart with the more cultural offerings towards the Castle and quay, and includes detailed designs for Market Square, Sun Square and Horseshoe Corner amongst others."

Design for a new look Market Square

Artists and architects Amenity Space worked alongside Gillespies to enhance these proposals, and created the video, above about the proposed improvements as part of the Lancaster Square Routes project.

"By investing in quality public realm, we're seeking to improve activity and therefore raise the social and economic performance of the city," Kate argues. "These visions constitute a programme of work that is variously deliverable over time as opportunities and funding permits.

"Each location proposed for improvement makes for a physical project that in turn can be disaggregated into work packages."

By breaking up the program, the Council can implement according to the availability of funding, the primary constraint on delivery.

"We have the funding in place to deliver a first phase of works to Market Square this autumn, completing before the Christmas period commences, and then undertaking works along Ffrances Passage early in the new year, edging into Gage Street if funding permits. Both of these will include surfacing and lighting improvements."

As Horseshoe Corner is one of the key spaces identified by Square Routes the City will be working closely with the County as they consider the Penny Street improvements - so hopefully that ugly-looking tarmac won't be there for too long.

Combined with a major refurbishment of St. Nicholas Arcades, the new look to Lancaster's historic centre, created in consultation with local people, looks set to really spruce up the city.

• More information, including the approved designs can be found at

Lancaster's Fading High Street? Penny Street Photographs, June-July 2011

Police crackdown on late night Lancaster takeaways after late night troubles

Police have been conducting a crack down on Lancaster city centre takeaways in a bid to reduce late night disorder - which has resulted in some having their licenses revoked.
Over the past five months, officers have been carrying out high visibility inspections in the early hours to ensure that fast food outlets are operating within the conditions of their licences. The operation was put in place in order to prevent violent incidents in and around city centre takeaways.

virtual-lancaster has reported on some assaults in Lancaster takeaways, including one in MacDonalds at the beginning of June and another at Ikys in St Leonards Gate in March.

Late night refreshment venues must hold a licence if they are to supply hot food between the hours of 11pm – 5.00 am the following day. Each licence contains its own conditions to enable compliance with the licensing objectives as set down in the Licensing Act 2003. Three of these objectives are the prevention of crime and disorder, the prevention of public nuisance and public safety.

The polices say it is essential that the objectives are complied with to ensure that the premises are not a magnet for crime or anti-social behaviour. As well as the time the outlet is to stop supplying hot food, conditions may also include how many door staff are employed at night and the use of CCTV to ensure the safety of both staff and customers.

Following an initial inspection in February, a number of venues were found to be operating outside their licensed hours to get more custom from revellers leaving nearby bars and nightclubs. Some were also found to be sending door staff home early, or failing to have any at all.

These outlets were then made the subject of a surgery with both police and council licensing officers and were offered help and advice on how to improve the way in which they were operating. However, a second inspection revealed that some takeaways had failed to make any changes.

As a result, Hot Stuff, on Penny Street had its licence revoked in April. The revocation was later withdrawn, but only after a new licensee took over and new licensing conditions were agreed. Star Kebab, also on Penny Street, had its licence suspended for 14 days in April and Ikys, on St Leonards Gate, had its licence suspended for four weeks on 30th June.

“Lancaster is a great place to go for an evening out and the majority of people will enjoy an incident-free night," explains Sergeant James Martin, licensing officer for Lancaster police. "Unfortunately there has been an issue with drunken customers coming into takeaways and starting fights or making a nuisance of themselves.

"The venues have a responsibility to ensure that such incidents are kept to a minimum, or dealt with quickly when they do occur, but due to a lack of door staff or opening later than they should be this has not been happening.

“In one incident door staff were sent home when the official opening hours ended, the venue continued to trade and an off-duty soldier was assaulted quite badly inside the premises.

“By carrying out these inspections to review licences we hope that those takeaways that are not operating within their licences will now address these problems," he added, "so that Lancaster remains a safe place to have a night out.”

Woman dies in fatal Lancaster accident

An elderly woman has died after a road traffic accident in Slyne yesterday afternoon.

Police says the incident happened on Arden Close at around 4.30pm, when a Ford Ka collided with a wall. The driver, an elderly woman was taken to the Royal Lancaster Infirmary but sadly died.

A full investigation is underway, but one of the lines of the investigation is that she could have been taken ill at the wheel.

More information on the accident is expected later today.

virtual-lancaster extends its sympathies to friends and family of the deceased.

Labour 'Save the NHS' Meeting in Carnforth tonight

Morecambe Labour Party are holding a public meeting to debate the NHS Reforms tonight (Friday 9th July) at the Royal Station Hotel, Carnforth, starting at 7.30pm

The guest speakers will be Martin Rathfelder, Director of the Socialist Health Association and who edits the Association website. He is also a member of the North West Regional Advisory Committee on Clinical Excellence Awards and an elected NHS Trust Governor.

The meeting is another organised to continue the campaign to defending the NHS and stop the privatisation of Health Care.

Morecambe Labour Party argues the private sector is delighted by the government's controversial proposals, seeing the opportunities of increasing their market share. The business manager of public services company Tribal, which broadly supports the proposed changes, said: "This white paper could amount to the denationalisation of healthcare services in England and is the most important redirection of the NHS in more than a generation, going further than any Secretary of State has gone before."

"At a time of austerity, to spend £1.7 billion on restructuring the NHS and replacing it by an untried system seems the height of folly," said a spokesperson for Morecambe Labour Party. "We must oppose this bill vigorously.

"GPs are not trained to do commissioning and will have to use managers either displaced from the NHS or from private organisations. The BMA Council has elected to take part in 'constructive engagement' with the government but grassroots doctors are unhappy, particularly hospital consultants whose expertise has been ignored."

- General Campaign site (not party affiliated):

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Lancaster's first Freewomen of the City to be admitted this Saturday.

For the first time, women will be admitted as Freewomen to the Roll of Freemen of the City of Lancaster. This Saturday, 9 July, the Court of Admission sits from 10am in the Council Chamber at Lancaster Town Hall and the public are welcome to attend if they can be in their seats by 9.45am.

In June, Lancaster City Council invited people who met the criteria to apply to join the roll. But their invitation specified that all applicants be male. Following a challenge by a local woman (see previous report), the criteria were re-examined and it was discovered that the council were legally obliged to admit applications from women under just one category - that of being the daughter of a Freeman. Ms Simpson was informed of this discovery. It didn't apply to her but, after a few days of her reminding them, the council was kind enough to issue an amended Press Release, inviting those women that it did apply to.

Applications have indeed been received from women and it now remains with the Court of Admission to determine their validity.

Gender discriminatory (ie sexist)conditions remain in the criteria however, in defiance of the Equality Act 2010. Men who have been resident in the city for seven years, or who were born here, or who have served a 7-year apprenticeship under a Freeman are eligible. Women who satisfy the same conditions are still not.

The council say that these criteria can only be changed if 3 Freemen from the Roll propose it and a ballot of the Roll members passes it. However one Freeman anonymously commented on our blog that he knew nothing about this.

Ms Simpson asked the City Council to promise that the Freemen would be informed of their rights in this regard and that any requested ballot would come in time for the 2012 intake.

Sarah Taylor, Lancaster City Council's Head of Governance replied on 1 June:

"It is my intention to ensure that staff resources within Democratic Services are provided during the next 6-9 months to support the arrangements for a ballot. This is of course subject to resource availability and other demands on the Service. If the result of such a ballot is that a qualifying resolution is passed, then, in accordance with Schedule 28A of the Local Government Act 1972, an order of the Secretary of State will be required to amend the County of Lancashire Act 1984, in order to implement the resolution. Clearly, the timing of such an order is outside the Council's control, but the Council will use its best endeavours to arrange the ballot with a view to implementation of any resolution in 2012."

Women have, infrequently, been admitted as Honorary Freewomen of the City. The title Honorary Freeman is the highest honour a council can bestow on an individual or a group of individuals 'who have in the opinion of the council, rendered eminent services to the Borough or City'. It requires a resolution to be passed, at a Special Council Meeting. Out of 28 recorded since the first recipient in 1887 there are just four women on the list: The Lady Ashton, CBE, Sister Aine Cox, MBE, SRN, SCM, MTD,
H.R.H. Princess Alexandra and Alderman Cecilia Mabel Pickard, MBE, CA, the former two now deceased.

An Honorary Freeman is not eligible for the rights and benefits reserved for actual Freemen.

Spotlight Club returns with horror, poetry and music

Writer and Muscian Mollie Baxter

(Updated 17th July with line up changes) Spotlight Club is back next week (Friday 15th July) at the Storey Auditorium in Meeting House Lane, Lancaster, offering a night of poetry, horror, comedy and very good music.

Compered by virtual-lancaster's very own John Freeman, the event kicks off with an Open Mic session, open to brave souls drawn to perform and offering them five minutes of fame; and the following acts...

Poet Norman Hadley, whose works hop from tragic to comic to sentimental weird in the flick of a metaphor aspiring to the pigeonhole marked 'un-pigeon-hole-able'.

Author and World Fantasy Award nominee Simon Unsworth, whose collection ‘Quiet Houses’ was published by Dark Continents last year.

Comedian Christopher Kay - a tiny man spouting rambling nonsense as he leads you through his exceptionally eccentric thoughts about life.

Poet Mihkel Hassan offers a powerhouse of hard-hitting real-life experiences.

Plus there's music from The Low Countries - Nigel Parrington and Els D'hooge, whose third album, A brown cafe at 3am, was nominated for a 'best contemporary folk' Grammy - and the ever wonderful Mollie Baxter makes a welcome return to the Club with a set of some of her more recent songs.

• Doors will be open from 8.00 pm; Open Mic 8.30 - 9pm. Admission £4 / £2 (conc.). More info:

• Lancaster Spotlight is funded by Arts Council England and works in close association with litfest.

Council to mark London 2012 Open Weekend

Lancaster City Council and more than 20 local sports clubs, societies and venues are joining forces to celebrate the London 2012 Open Weekend by offering a wide range of activities and taster sessions to mark one year to go until the Olympics.

The weekend takes place on 22-24 July 2011 and with more than 40 activities to choose from promises to offer something that everyone can enjoy. The majority of activities are free and others can be enjoyed at discounted rates.

Taking place at a variety of locations across the district, taster sessions range from water polo, cycle racing, rowing, archery, tennis and boxing to tea dances at the Platform, arts and crafts and indoor bowls.

Lancaster City Council will be also be putting on many of its own events including family swim sessions at all of its pools for a price befitting the occasion of just 20 pence adults and 12 pence children.

• For more information and a programme of events visit

Responsible Journalism?

As the growing controversy continues about phone hacking allegations by the News of the World, we bring you this screenshot of a letter sent to NOTW staff by editor Coin Myler which we thought included some rather peculiar advertising under the circumstances...

The original article is here on the News of the World web site.  We'd love to know if it's still visible to some visitors.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Lancashire Police consultation addresses published

Lancashire Police have had a number of queries about how those who do not have access to the internet can express their views on the previously reported proposals surrounding the potential closure of front counters and the sale of some police buildings.

Members of the public can let officers know their opinions at their local PACT meetings or they can also write to their divisional commanders or their local Police Authority representatives.

The addresses for the divisional commanders are as follows:

Northern Division (Lancaster, Morecambe and Wyre):

Chief Superintendent Richard Bayly, Lancaster Police Station, Thurnham Street, Lancaster LA1 1YB

Western Division (Blackpool and Fylde)

Chief Superintendent Richard Debicki, Blackpool Police Station, Bonny Street, Blackpool FY1 5RL

Central Division (Preston)

Chief Superintendent James Lee, Preston Ops Centre, Lancaster Road North, Preston PR1 2SA

Southern Division (Chorley, South Ribble and West Lancashire)

Chief Superintendent Stuart Williams, Leyland Police Station, Lancastergate, Leyland PR25 2EX

Eastern Division (Blackburn with Darwen, Hyndburn and Ribble Valley)

Chief Superintendent Bob Eastwood, Greenbank Police Station, Greenbank Business Park off Whitebirk Drive, Blackburn BB1 3HT

Pennine Division (Burnley, Pendle and Rossendale)

Chief Superintendent Clive Tattum, Burnley Police Station, Parker Lane, Burnley BB11 2BT

You can also write to the Lancashire Police Authority office at PO BOX 653, Preston PR2 2WB

• To comment online, email with your views via; Tweet via @LancsPA; FaceBook - or post your views via the web site at

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Heroin and cannabis seized during Morecambe raids

Police seized 36 bags of heroin and over 40 cannabis plants during a series of drugs raids on properties in Morecambe, Heysham and Bolton-le-Sands last week - in a crack down on drug dealing activity.

Warrants were executed at properties in Sefton Road, Heysham, where 36 bags of heroin worth £360 were seized; in Monkwell Avenue, Bolton-le-Sands, where 40 cannabis plants were seized and in Meldon Road, Heysham, where six cannabis plants were seized.

Warrants were also executed at Yorkshire Street, Aldingham Walk and Delamere Avenue.

A 25-year-old male was arrested on suspicion of possession with intent to supply heroin, a 38-year-old female was arrested on suspicion of possessing amphetamine and a 25-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of possession with intent to supply cannabis.

Sergeant Adie Knowles, West End and Heysham neighbourhood police team said: “Drugs have a negative impact on our communities and where we have information that drug dealing is taking place we will take action.

“It is important that residents come to us with any concerns that they may have about drugs in their area so they we can work together to tackle the problem.”

• Anyone with information about drug dealing should contact police on 0845 1 25 35 45 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Gillow Folk Line Up for July features Roger Wilson and John Harper

Roger Wilson - at the Gillow this week
Folk is back at the Robert Gillow, Lancaster, throughout July - and once again, the venue has some amazing artists lined up, including the rare musical talent of Roger Wilson this week and the talented John Harper later in the month.

Roger Wilson (Thursday 7th July) is a unique and extraordinary guitar and fiddle player, with a wonderful voice and immense capacity for original and inspired songwriting.  He has gained enviable international acclaim for his musicianship with such artists as Sarah Grey, John Tams, the USA-based House Band, Chris Wood and Martin Carthy.

He has three solo albums to his credit - The Palm of Your Hand (1988), Stark Naked (1994) and You Look Familiar (2007) and featured on countless others - and spent two years as the mainstay of the orchestra in the award-winning theatrical milestone “War Horse” in London’s Drury Lane and recently toured with a revitalised “Lark Rise To Candleford”.

Ace Local band Moorgate (appearing Thursday 14th July) comprise Simon Booth playing melodeon and harmonica; Richard Robinson playing clarinet; and Tony Cooke on guitar.

All three have been playing folk dance music for years (with The Ran Tan Band, Free Reed Band, Shake A Leg, One Foot In The Gutter, Slur et al.) so this is one belting-good ceilidh band!

The music comes from all over Great Britain and other parts of Europe and has strong melodies, subtle harmonies and traditional dance rhythms.

John Harper makes another welcome visit to the Gillow on Thursday 21st July - an exceptionally talented guitarist and singer.

John is a regular Lancaster entertainer who always dazzles everyone with his powerful renditions of British and American contemporary songs, his own compositions and traditional folksong.  He's the kind of performer who delivers music to make you sing!

A month of great folk music closes out with Keith Davis (Thursday 28th July), a firm favourite of  at The Robert Gillow. He comes all the way from Bristol to play in Lancaster - a classic blues singer and a simply amazing guitarist and technically the most accomplished bluesman in the country.

He performs a mixture of “straight” blues, ragtime/hokum styles and slide/Dobro guitar and is widely regarded as one of the great British acoustic entertainers.

• More information on music and other events at the Robert Gillow on their official web site:

Monday, 4 July 2011

Food hygiene to go - local companies clean up their act

Min Yi Che of the Lucky Inn Takeaway on
Noel Road, Skerton  - pleased with the new scheme
The launch of a national food hygiene inspection scheme in the district has seen more than 80 local food businesses clean up their act since coming into force in November last year.

The results have netted good scores for businesses such as Ali Baba Kebab Takeaway in North Road, Hodgson's Chippy (Prospect Street),  Shelleys, Shengs Chinese Takeaway and many others, but based on the scores published, there is still room for improvement from some of our local takeaways.

This national scheme, developed by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) in partnership with local authorities, provides at-a-glance information on food hygiene standards to help people make informed choices about where to eat or shop for food.

Once local food outlets have been inspected by food safety officers, to check that hygiene standards meet legal requirements, they are given a rating from 0 to 5.
The owner is informed of how the rating was achieved, together with advice on what to do to improve the score if necessary.

Since being launched, more than 1,042 businesses, including hotels, restaurants, pubs and takeaways are now able to display their rating in the form of a window sticker and a certificate to display inside the premises.

The score remains in force until the next inspection.  Those that wish to make early improvements to raise their score, can apply for a re-inspection once they are confident they have complied with all the requirements.

A rescoring visit, like all inspections, can be made at any time without warning so it is possible for a score to stay the same or even reduce if problems are found.

“The scheme has proved to be a real incentive for many businesses to make improvements and reach and maintain a good level of compliance with legal requirements," says Lancaster City Council Food Safety Officer Julie Grieve. “All businesses should be capable of achieving a 5, irrespective of size or nature of business which in the long term will encourage more customers through their doors.”

Businesses rated 1 - indicating major improvement is required - include Delhicious and M T Belly in Lancaster and a number of Morecambe takeaways, including Bodrum, the Happy Palace, Pizza Cottage and Pizza King Express and Rehmans, both on Queen Street.

But one business which has seen its rating improve from 0 to 5 is the Lucky Inn Takeaway on Noel Road, Skerton, which has just had its inspection in the last fortnight.

“When my takeaway was visited by a food inspection officer three months ago, I was very new to the trade," explains Min Yi Che, owner of the business. "Although my premises were very clean, there were lots of things I needed to learn and do to ensure I met the relevant standards.

“At that time, I was given a score of 0 but using the help and advice given by the inspector and after attending a food hygiene course, my business was re-inspected and awarded a rating of 5.  I was really pleased and can now reassure customers that I intend to maintain high standards in order to retain the highest rating.”

• Scores for local food outlets are published nationally online at or via the city council's website at

Specific Searches: you can fine tune results to see who is scoring best (and worst)

• Lancaster Food Hygiene Ratings Search:

• Morecambe Food Hygiene Ratings Search:

Another new wind farm for Heysham?

Plans for a proposed new wind farm in Lancaster are set to go on show to the public at two exhibitions being held later this month.

Banks Renewables, part of the Banks Group based in County Durham, is putting forward plans for the proposed Heysham South development, which would be situated on agricultural land to the south of the A683, around 1km to the south east of Heysham itself.

The scheme will consist of three turbines with a maximum tip height of 125m, and would have an installed capacity of up to 7.5MW, which is enough to meet the annual power requirements of around 4,200 homes.

The scheme would see an investment of approximately £7.5 million by Banks Renewables to build the wind farm, and during construction between 10 and fifty people would be employed on the site at any one time.

The proposed site falls within an area that has previously been identified by Lancaster City Council as somewhere where wind farm development should be promoted and encouraged, and Banks will now be showing residents the finalised design of the scheme.

The exhibitions will both take place between 3pm and 7.00pm on Wednesday 13th July at Middleton Parish Hall on Low Road in Middleton, and at Overton & District Memorial Hall on Middleton Road, Overton.

Representatives of Banks Renewables will be on hand at both events to answer any questions visitors have about the scheme and to gather feedback from them.

Exhibition visitors will be able to see accurate photomontages of how the wind turbines would look from different vantage points around the area, and they will also be able to make suggestions about the sorts of new local facilities that could be funded through the dedicated community benefits scheme that would be introduced if the scheme is approved.

Banks is one of the UK’s leading developers in the wind farm sector, and has a number of similar completed and ongoing projects at various stages of development across the north of England and Scotland.

“The Heysham South project has the potential to make a significant contribution to low carbon energy generation in Lancaster," argues

Phil Dyke, development director at Banks Renewables, says:, "and to also have a very positive impact on local residents.
“Working closely with local communities is central to the development process for all our proposals, and we’re keen to hear local people’s ideas about how they would like to see the wind farm, should it be approved, provide support and funding for local community groups and initiatives, in order to help ensure that our presence in the area has a tangible positive long-term impact.

“If planning permission is granted Banks will provide funding to enable the establishment of a Warm Zone," he continues. "This would help alleviate fuel poverty in the area and would have the potential to create up to 50 jobs in the area to deliver the scheme. In addition there will be a community benefits fund of at least £10,000 per annum to support local groups and projects.

“The site we’re proposing to develop is not subject to any landscape, cultural or heritage restrictions, and our professional planning opinion is that this is an excellent location for a wind farm of this type.

“The forthcoming exhibitions are a key part of the public consultation process that we are carrying out around this scheme, and we hope as many people as possible will come along to find out more for themselves about our plans, so they can then make up their minds about them based on accurate information.”

This proposal from Banks Renewables comes hot on the heels of plans for three wind turbines from Peel Energy at Heysham Port, which would be located on the sea front near Heysham Power Station.

The Port of Heysham Wind Farm is a proposal to install up to three turbines on the dock wall in the Port of Heysham. The scheme, with a capacity of up to 9MW, would be designed to have an operational life of at least 25 years and Peel Energy say they could generate enough electricity to meet the average needs of approximately 4, 600 homes – 50 per cent of the households in Heysham.

• View a a ten page document about the Banks Renewables Heysham South proposal here (PDF) via the Heysham Online web site.

• A planning application for the Banks Renewables plan is expected to be submitted to Lancaster City Council before the end of the summer. Anyone who is unable to attend the exhibitions, but who would like more information on the Heysham South proposals or to express an opinion about them, can contact Banks’ community relations team on 0191 378 6100 or email

• View the Proposed Peel Energy Harbour Turbine Development Site here or read a summary of their recent presentation via Heysham Online. (Be aware, this is a sizeable file, approximately 13mb, and takes a few seconds to download).

Monday Mirth by Pete Scott

Cartoon by Pete Scott. We make no claim that such activities happen in any local council meeting, of course.

Scouting never stops for "Silver Acorns"

Derek Holt, Helen Plumb, Pat Griffin and Jim Holland

Lonsdale District Scout Council holds its 37th Annual General Meeting on Wednesday 6th July 2011 at Lancaster Town Hall. It's a time to reflect on a very successful centenary year for the organisation, and to celebrate the award of three Silver Acorns and 2 Bars to the Silver Acorn in this year’s St George’s Day Awards.

District Chairman Terry Bond MBE, District Commissioner Pat Griffin and Jim Holland, Assistant Group Scout Leader at 16th Lancaster (St Paul’s), were all awarded the Silver Acorn, which “is awarded after a period of no less than 20 years of specially distinguished service while holding an adult appointment.”

Derek Holt, Group President at 34th Lancaster (St Chad’s) and Helen Plumb, Group Scout Leader at Caton Church, were both awarded the Bar to the Silver Acorn, which “may be awarded after not less than five years of further especially distinguished service while holding an adult appointment.”

Pat, Helen, Jim and Derek traveled to St George’s Chapel Windsor on St George’s Day to the Queen’s Scout celebrations where they received their awards.

These five richly deserve the awards and show that the fun, challenge and adventure offered by Scouting really never does stop.

Scouting in Lonsdale is a modern, forward looking, co-educational youth movement for the 21st Century.  With around 1200 members across the District led by a dedicated team of adults, Scouting continues to offer a progressive programme of  interesting, exciting and challenging activities to young people in the 6 - 25 year old age range.

Approximately 80 per cent of young people across the District live less than 15 minutes drive from their nearest Scout Group.

• Lonsdale Scouts online:

Local butchers and restaurant larders checked for poached venison

Visits have been made to check that meat being sold by butchers, restaurants and game dealers across Lancashire does not include poached venison.

Over 80 premises which stock the product have received letters explaining the regulations surrounding the sale of the meat, which are designed to ensure the venison is safe for human consumption and that animals are not subjected to unnecessary suffering during the hunting period.

Lancashire Police’s wildlife officer Mark Thomas is now visiting the identified premises along with staff from the Food Standards Agency to check that larders do not contain any poached meat.

Mark Thomas said: “Premises should be able to provide a clear paper trail to show where they have sourced their venison from and the idea of these checks is to prevent poachers from offloading their illegally gained meat via the back doors of shops and restaurants.

“If the venison has been obtained illegally then there is a chance that the deer suffered horrific injuries at the hands of a poacher before it was killed. Poachers do not care about killing an animal humanely and they do not care about the standard of meat they are selling on – which means that there is also a danger to the consumer who ends up eating it.”

He added: “Where poached meat is found to have been bought by vendors hoping to take advantage of the cheaper price of illegal meat we will be seeking to bring a prosecution against them.”