Thursday, 8 September 2011

City Council launches online housing choice scheme with drop-in sessions

Lancaster City Council is launching 'Ideal Choice Homes', on 19th October. Choice-based lettings is the brand new way the Council will be letting council accommodation in the Lancaster district.

If you are already on the housing register you will need to re-register and you can do this online at from next Monday 12th September. When you re-register for the new system, you will keep any waiting time you have already built up.

The new scheme will allow people registered on the city council’s housing register to bid for the properties that they are interested in, subject to eligibility.

Over this coming week the council is holding a number of drop-in sessions (listed below and in the Virtual Lancaster events listings) in libraries across the district, to guide people through the new system. Staff will be available to to help you register on the new system, show you how the new system works and answer any questions you might have.

The scheme will include: housing association properties, shared ownership properties and social housing tenants who are looking for a swap (mutual exchange).

Currently, council accommodation is let by council officers who offer vacant properties to the next applicant on the housing waiting list, based on their housing need.
Under Choice Based Lettings vacant properties will be advertised, on a weekly basis, online and in a newsletter available at the Town Halls and the Housing Office on Cable St, Lancaster and applicants will be able to express an interest online, via text, by phone or in person at Lancaster or Morecambe Town Halls.

At the end of the advertising period, the person in the greatest housing need out of all those who have placed a bid for a property will be offered and invited to view it.

A bid does not involve any money. By bidding applicants are simply expressing their interest in being considered for the vacancy.

As part of the change to choice based lettings the council will also be moving from a points based assessment of housing need, to a simplified banding system. Some properties will only be available to people in a particular band, and so the person with the longest waiting time within that band will be successful.

To be eligible to bid for properties through Ideal Choice Homes you must apply to join the Lancaster City Council housing register. From next Monday you will able to do this on-line at

The council has written to people already on the Housing Register explaining the changes and explaining what to do.

The drop-in sessions will be held on:

Monday September 12, 10am – 2pm, Morecambe Library

Tuesday September 13, 10am – 2pm, Lancaster Library

Wednesday September 14, 10am – 12pm, Carnforth Library

Thursday September 15, 10am – 2pm, Heysham Library

Friday September 16, 10am – 12pm, Bolton-le-Sands Library

Monday September 19, 10am - 12pm, Halton Library

• Further information is available from

• The website will be operational from Monday 12th September

Cannabis seized in Lancaster searches

Cannabis with an estimated street value of £500 and hundreds of pounds in cash was seized by police in Lancaster yesterday (7th September).

A man was searched on Westbourne Road and cannabis – some of which police suspect had been prepared ready for dealing – and cash were seized. A subsequent search of a flat on the same street led to the seizure of more cannabis.

A 22-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of possession of cannabis with intent to supply. He has been released on police bail until 7th November, pending further inquiries.

Lancaster Sgt James Edmonds said: “We are committed to taking action against those who we suspect to be involved with illegal drugs.

“I would urge residents to work with us and report any suspicious activity.”

• Information about drugs can be reported to the police on 0845 1 25 35 45 or to Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111

Monday Full Moon brings Chinese Mooncake Festival 2011

Lancaster and Morecambe Chinese Community Association and Help Direct invite you to experience Chinese culture at the Mid-Autumn Mooncake Festival next Monday; a popular traditional Chinese Harvest festival celebration, held at the full moon and dating back over 3000 years!

The event, which runs from 6pm to 9pm at Lancaster Town Hall on Monday 12 September, will feature authentic and traditional stalls, food and drink stalls, cultural performances, a lantern and dragon parade and a raffle.
Great fun for the whole family. Admission is £2 per person, with tickets available on the door only.
The big, shiny moon to light your way home is included free! Enjoy!

Heritage Open Days Festival begins - access all areas

Heritage Open Days is a 4-day festival running until this Sunday 11 September celebrating England’s architecture and culture. Visitors are allowed free access to interesting properties that are either not usually open, or would normally charge an entrance fee. Heritage Open Days also includes tours, events and activities that focus on local architecture and culture. This year St John the Evangelist's Church in particular will feature not only a vintage bike exhibition, but heritage music performances by Gladly Solemn Sound and The Brewer's Apron, beautifully demonstrating the building's renowned accoustic qualities.

Here's a rundown on just some of the opportunities to access remarkable heritage buildings happening locally this weekend:
Click here for all event links and more info

Cockersands Abbey Lancaster. Open Sat + Sun: 12 - 5pm. Sunday: 1200-1700

Lancaster Maritime Museum. Open Sat + Sun: 11am - 5pm

Lancaster Town Hall Lancaster Sat + Sun Free Tours 11am, 12pm, 1pm & 2pm. Booking required.

Lune Aqueduct Lancaster Sunday: Free Boat Trip 11am + 2.30pm Booking required.

St John the Evangelist's Church Lancaster Vintage bike exhibition and other events. Open Thurs - Sun: 10am-4pm. Sat: Gladly Solemn Sound 1pm Brewer's Apron Singers 2pm
Sun: Brewer's Apron Singers 2pm

Sts Thomas & St Elizabeth RC Church, Thurnham Lancaster. Open Fri-Sun 11am - 4pm

Tours of The Shire Hall, Lancaster Castle Lancaster Sat + Sun: 10.30am - 4pm; free tours every half hour

Morecambe Town Hall Free Tours Sat + Sun 2.30pm. Booking required

Winter Gardens Morecambe Sat + Sun. Open 10am - 4pm

Many other local buildings of note will also be offering free access this weekend.

Morecambe Seaside Festival this weekend!

Visitors to Morecambe will be in for a special treat this weekend as the popular Morecambe Seaside Festival gets underway. This excellent Festival is the star of the local season of attractions and is a free vintage feast of flyovers, fireworks, music and much more.

On Saturday the open promenade arena stage will host a showcase of live music throughout the day performed by top local talent. Headliners Re-Take That will take to the stage at 7pm to wow the crowds with a show that will capture the very essence of the world famous boy band pioneers.

Saturday’s programme of entertainment ends with a magnificent firework display at 9pm, launched from the Stone Jetty against the stunning backdrop of Morecambe Bay.

The lively mix of music from local groups continues with, amongst others, local six piece soul band 24/7.

The Red Arrows have confirmed that they will perform an aerobatic display at noon on Sunday.
More news will be posted at as soon as it becomes available.

The Battle of Britain Memorial Flight will also be paying a visit to the festival at around 3pm. World War II fighters on display this year will be the Hurricane, Spitfire and Dakota.

And don’t forget to look out on the promenade for the cavalcade of vintage cars arriving as the festival welcomes the 23rd Bradford to Morecambe Historic Vehicle Run.

Complementing this amazing display of vehicles, some dating as far back as the 1930s, will be a classic bike display at the Winter Gardens.

The Platform is being transformed into a vintage fair and vintage tearoom for the festival. Here you'll be able to relax and enjoy homemade cakes and tea along with fabulous stalls selling vintage clothing, homeware, crafting and other vintage items.

Town House Gallery will be exhibiting the work of local artist Chas Jacobs at the Platform during the weekend while Chas himself will be inspiring budding Picassos with painting workshops.

Morecambe Children’s Centre will also be on hand throughout the weekend to keep the younger audience entertained outside the Platform where there will also be a number of small fairground attractions.

For a full programme of events, visit or contact Morecambe and Lancaster Visitor Information Centres (Tel. 01524 582808).

Please note that due to the large number of people expected to attend the event, traffic congestion is likely.

To minimise the impact on the road network motorists are advised to use routes which avoid the Shrimp roundabout on Morecambe Road. Visitors travelling from Lancaster are advised to use the A6 via Coastal Road. Alternative routes will be signposted.

See earlier post: Red Arrows set for Morecambe show this weekend

Sponsor Mary Kinane's ride for a local hydrotherapy pool

Lancastrian Mary Kinane is planning a sponsored pillion ride to help raise money for a hydrotherapy pool to be provided locally.

Pain Relief
Does chronic pain affect you, a family member or a friend? If it does, Mary can honestly sympathise, having lived with chronic pain & muscle spasm since contracting pollio at 13 months. She knows that hydrotherapy can make a big difference, not just in helping people to manage pain but in reducing dependance on painkillers. Unhappily, there isn't a local pool available for them to use. That's why Mary is raising money for the charity Bay Aquatics Therapy (BAT).

BAT is a Charity Fund managed by Morecambe Bay Hospitals Charity (MBHC) and was started by Zoe Hamilton, Physiotherapist. Zoe is dedicated to promoting much needed hydrotherapy treatment for adults living with chronic pain in the Morecambe Bay region. There is no permanent accessible facility for BAT to continue to provide sessions.

Mary Kinane aims to ride pillion on a 70 miles round trip on the back of a friend's trike - and she's looking for sponsors. Mary says, "It's pretty exciting for me to be planning this ride! I'm working on a programme of exercises aimed at building me up for the challenge." It will make a big change from her usual mobility scooter, that's for sure.

Mary's plan suffered a setback when the trike she planned to ride became unavailable and she had to postpone her attempt, previously scheduled on 4 September. However members of the Goldwings North-West Motorcycle Club went ahead with the 70-mile round trip.

Meanwhile, the Morecambe & District Motorcyle Club (MAD MCC) have promised to come up with a Trike Ride for Mary at a convenient time later this month, and maybe even this week. We'll keep you posted.

Mary tells us, "Donations so far have been really generous (for which thanks!) both through the Just Giving charity website and in person, and today I reached 42% of my target of £1K. If you would like to know more about what I'm doing, and why I'm doing it, just click on the link and see for yourself - it's a very quick and easy process:

Every little helps.

Appeal after Lancaster man assaulted in Blackpool 'road rage' incident

Police are appealing for witnesses after a man was assaulted during a ‘road rage’ incident in Blackpool.

Around 4.45pm on Friday 26th August, a silver VW Golf had stopped at the traffic lights on Poulton Road when a Red Ford Orion stopped a few cars behind.

The driver and passenger of the Orion, both men, got out of their vehicle and walked up to the Golf before punching the male driver, a 31-year-old Lancaster man, through the open driver’s window.

The man suffered two black eyes and a possible broken nose.

“This was a nasty incident, possibly provoked by an incident on the road a short time earlier, and I would urge anybody who witnessed what happened to contact police," urged PC Iain Norton.

“It would have been a busy time of day and I’m sure somebody would have seen something so please do get in touch.”

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

Dock of the Bay Festival really is Somethng for the Weekend

The Dock of the Bay Festival takes place this weekend at Glasson Dock (10th and 11th September), a community site festival with camping and introducing the Melodrome -- a beautiful mobile stage made by craftsmen in Somerset -- to the north.

The event has a fantastic bill of local bands – Baksheesh, Balkanics, Howden Jones, Huevos, Cry Baby Aeroplanes,  Jesse Darby Experience,   Guns of Navarone,   Carpe, Premier Kissoff, Manfredis,  Billionaires, Green Heart, Toe to Toe, Convulsions, Nu-Jazz Conspiracy,  Major Haslam and Colonel Hooper, New Potato Scene. Plus, there are great performers coming from further away like Johnny G, Rachael Gladwin , Emma & the Professor, Boat Band, Weavils, John Bowie, Paul Pearson and Free Beer (that’s a band name, not an offer).

You can camp from Friday evening to Monday morning. Food is provided by Pizza Sluts and there are cafes a stroll away in Glasson Dock where the Dalton Arms are happy to host sessions all weekend - and we’ve got yurts available for sessions on the site as well.

Everyone involved is giving their time free but we hope to pay expenses and if there is enough, small fees to the musicians involved so we are asking for donations of a fiver a day and a tenner for camping. Take the last chance of the season for a weekend of music in the sun with your friends.

Look us up on Dock of the Bay facebook group. See the "Melodrome stage" on YouTube.

LitFest 2011 line-up announced, Jon Ronson to headline

Get ready for Litfest11 - the best ten days of the year! The Litfest programme has arrived hot off the press - and a PDF is avaialable now from the litfest web site (1.7MB)

The long-running writing event's headline guest this year is Jon Ronson, the author, Guardian columnist and documentary filmmaker whose book Men Who Stare At Goats was made into a feature film with Kevin Spacey, George Clooney and Ewan McGregor. His most recent book, The Psychpath Test, is a fascinating investigation into a world of madness, as the trailer above reveals. Find out more about his work on

Carol Birch, the Lancaster author shortlisted for this year's Man
Booker prize
Also appearing will be Lancaster novelist Carol Birch, shortlisted for this year’s Man Booker prize for her 11th novel Jamrach's Menagerie, now a Richard and Judy Book Club Autumn list pick. Carol shares the bill with Jo Baker. Sarah Hall is also making a welcome return.

Hugh Lupton and Nick Hennessey will take you right to the heart of Sherwood Forest with the tales of Robin Hood, whilst Tim Ralphs asks: would you dare play Scrabble with the Devil?

Melvin Burgess, Adèle Geras and Gareth Thompson and other children’s authors ask: how far can you go writing fiction for children? How do pictures affect words?

Add to this poetry, short fiction, a new series of Classics and more, and you’ve got the top 10 days of the literature year. Oh, and why not accept an invitation to a Readers’ Party – have a glass of wine, chat about books, and go home with a gift!

• Book your tickets online or call our Box Office at Lancaster Visitor Information Centre on 01524 582394. Find out more on the lifest website - where you can read about all our events as well as booking online.

The Programme At A Glance

An Evening with Jon Ronson
The author of The Men Who Stare at Goats takes us through The Psychopath Test, his new book exploring the heart of the madness industry.
Live at LICA, Lancaster University, Friday 14th October, 7.30pm

Polly Samson, photographed by
Charlie Hopkinson. ©
Polly Samson and Deborah Kay Davies
Part of the Great Short Fiction day.
2.00pm Saturday 15th October at The Storey. £7.50/£6.00 concs.

Rachel Trezise and Alan Beard
Part of the Great Short Fiction day.
3.30pm Saturday 15th October at the Storey. £7.50/£6.00 concs

Sue Gee and Graham Mort
Part of the Great Short Fiction day. 6.00pm, Saturday 15th October at The Storey. £7.50/ £6 concs.

Simon Robson and Anne Donovan
Part of the Great Short Fiction day.
7.30pm, Saturday 15th October at The Storey. £7.50/ £6 conc

• The Flax Walks Launch
Sunday 16th October at The Storey. Free

Tim Ralphs
Storytelling double bill with Tim Ralphs and Jo Blake
Storytelling double bill with Tim Ralphs and Jo Blake.
Monday 17th October 7.30pm. Tickets £7.50/ £6 concs

Festival Readers Party
Reader's Party with Zosia Wand.
7.30pm, Tuesday 18th October at The Storey.

Jo Baker and Carol Birch
7.30pm, Wednesday 19th October at The Storey. £7.50/£6.00 concs

An Evening with Sarah Hall
7.30pm, Thursday 20th October at The Storey. £7.50/£6 concs

Lunchtime Classic: HP Lovecraft read by David McWilliam
David Williams, Lunchtime Classic.
1.30pm, Friday 21st October at The Storey. £4/£2 concs.

TheLiberty Tree – Tales of Robin Hood and the English Radicals by Hugh Lupton andNick Hennessey
7.00pm, Friday 21st October at The Storey. £7.50/£6.00 concs.

Helen Mort and Paul Batchelor
Part of the Great Poetry Day.
2.30pm, Saturday 22nd October at The Storey. £7.50/ £6 concs

Jen Hadfield
Jen Hadfield and Kei Miller
Part of the Great Poetry Day.
3.30pm, Saturday 22nd October at The Storey. £7.50/ £6 concs.

Jacob Polley and Philip Gross
Part of the Great Poetry Day. 6.00pm,
Saturday 22nd October at The Storey. £7.50/ £6 concs

Jean McNeil and Peter Sansom
Part of the Great Poetry Day.
7.30pm, Saturday 22nd October at The Storey. £7.50/ £6 concs

Words and Pictures
Gareth Thompson and a mystery guest discuss illustrated children's literature.
1.30pm Sunday 23rd October at The Storey. £7.50/£6.00 concs.

Paul Magrs
Pushing Boundaries
Celia Rees, Melvin Burgess, Paul Magrs and Adele Geras give their thoughts on children's fiction.
Sunday 23rd October 3.30pm at The Storey. £7.50/£6.00 concs.

Lancaster's Carol Birch on Booker Shortlist

Our heartiest congratulations to popular Lancastrian author Carol Birch, who has had her latest novel, 'Jamrach's Menagerie' shortlisted for the 2011 Man Booker Prize (see full shortlist here)

And the other good news is that Carol is booked to appear at this year's Lancaster LitFest on Wednesday 19th October at 7.30pm at the Storey, Lancaster. Appearing alongside Carol will be fellow Lancaster author Jo Baker, whose latest novel is The Picture Book. This is part of a strong festival of events of which more below.

Manchester born Carol Birch is no stranger to awards. She won the 1988 David Higham Award for the Best First Novel of the Year for Life in the Palace, the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize with The Fog Line in 1991, and she was long-listed for the 2003 ManBooker Prize for Turn Again Home. Jamrach's Menagerie, her 11th novel to date, was also long-listed for the Orange Prize 2011 and is on the Richard and Judy Book Club Autumn reading list.

Jamrach’s Menagerie is a mid-19th century seaman’s yarn depicting the voyage from youth to maturity of one Jaffy Brown: an otherwise insignificant boy from London’s East End.

Fate pounces on Jaffy in the shape of a tiger, on the loose from Jamrach’s Menagerie of exotic creatures. In his own words,
"I was born twice. First in a wooden room that jutted out over the black water of the Thames, and then again eight years later in the Highway, when the tiger took me in his mouth and everything truly began."
Plucked from the jaws of death by Mr Jamrach – explorer, entrepreneur and collector of the world’s strangest creatures – the two strike up a friendship and Jaffy finds himself embarking upon an eastern expedition with one of Jamrach’s chief suppliers, Dan Rymer, along with his friend Tim and the miscellaneous crew of the Lysander, a whaling ship.

Joe Downes reviewed this gripping story for Virtual-Lancaster in June, writing:

"Birch’s power is undeniable when pitched at the dark extremes of a personal or shared crisis. Her simple imagery is piercing, the protagonist’s introspections poignant, and accounts slurred by drunkenness and delirium touch upon the masterful. The final run of the voyage is particularly moving. The narrative slips into a vital and sinister vein, and with each paragraph’s ebb and flow Birch is firmly established at the oarlocks and adeptly rows."

You can read the full review by Joe Downes here.

Tickets to see Carol Birch and Jo Baker at LitFest are just £7.50/£6 concessions from The Storey, Lancaster, Box Office Tel: 01524 582394
Or you can buy tickets online at

See also: LitFest 2011 line-up announced, Jon Ronson to headline
for a full preview of the superb and diverse line-up appearing at this year's LitFest.
You can download the full programme as a PDF here.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Lancaster Market changes to be debated by Full Council

After many delays and confusion from some stall holders about its future and much-discussed changes to stop it from being closed, the future of Lancaster Market will again be debated at Full Council next week, on Wednesday 14th September.

Although Council previously decided not to close the Market after a huge outcry from the public, it looks like closure could well be an option. A financial appraisal notes whatever future the Council chooses for the the market, it is expected to cost more than approved budget forecasts.

Just for next year, the estimated increase ranges from £123,000 to £189,000. The total increase up to 2015 ranges from £696,000 to £1.026 million.

The Council discussion comes as more stall holders prepare to leave - the most recent high profile move being the two butchers stalls, to premises near Penny Street - and with a financial appraisal drawing attention to many money worries, including over £28,000 being sought as rent arrears.

Councillors will discuss recommendations made by the council’s Cabinet on 26th July, which were that all market traders be moved onto the ground floor, as a matter of urgency, and rents or service charges not be increased at this point. The Council will also be looking for alternative tenants for the upper floor.

In addition legal agreement needs to be reached with traders on the move to the bottom floor and to costs that traders would pay for moving and fitting out.

The changes are needed quickly, not just for the benefit of existing businesses in the Market, but also to protect the Council's future rental income.

The Council meting will also discuss the recommendations in terms of improved marketing and management recommended to Council in the NCS report received in December 2010. These included new signage and improvements to make the Market more "user-friendly", but incredibly, none of the ideas have been implemented despite being suggested some nine months ago.

The Council meeting will also examine the costs of running the market be examined and whether these can be reduced.

In a statement, the Council says that because of the costs associated with the potential move to the ground floor, the Cabinet recommendations were referred to Full Council.

Cabinet also resolved that a detailed appraisal of the market and its potential financial future be produced for consideration by councillors during their discussions and decision making.

The finacial appraisal identifies the potential costs to the council of operating the market in both the medium and long term and, along with the legal implications, is attached as an appendix to the report.

• Full details of the financial appraisal are available as an appendix to the main report at

Tickle me pink! Heysham firm launches Mr Men merchandise range

Heysham-based company ThinkSkins have announced an exciting new addition to their range of high quality technology skins for laptops, iPhones and hand-held gaming devices: Mr Men and Little Miss branded skins.

As the only licensee holder for these products within the UK, ThinkSkins sell high quality Skins to customise and protect a wide range of consumer technology products, with a variety of designs to reflect the personality of the product's owner.

Based in Heysham, ThinkSkins specialises in a range of branded and designer protective skins which help to keep laptops and iPhones looking good. The range may be seen on, and purchased from, the Think Skins website

The Mr Men and Little Miss design skins are made from 3M Controltac Plus graphic film, and are precision designed and cut to fit each item, to ensure the skin does not adversely affect the use or the performance of the item it is applied onto.

The Mr Men and Little Miss range initially includes Mr Tickle, Mr Happy and Mr Bump, along with the Little Misses Princess, Sunshine, Chatterbox, and of course, Little Miss Naughty.

The skins are available for the iPhone and the iPod Touch, and a further special Little Miss Princess skin will be available for the Nintendo DSi, exclusively from the ThinkSkins website.

“We all know and love the Mr Men and Little Miss Brands," says Grant Bodie, owner of ThinkSkins. "Personally I grew up with the books and now watch the animations with my little son -- so since taking on this business it was a brand that I knew would be popular across the generations.

"The people at [license holders] Chorion have been fantastic and I hope to expand the range to other devices very soon with both Laptop Skinsand iPad Skins already in the pipeline. Then come more designs!”

“We're delighted to have ThinkSkins on board with Chorion," added Bettina Koeckler at SVP Licensing. "This is an exciting time for the Mr. Men and Little Miss brand as we are celebrating 40 years and this fun new range reflects the brands enduring and contemporary appeal to consumers”

It's 40 years since author Roger Hargreaves created Mr Tickle and introduced his first six Mr Men books to youngsters. These were followed five years later by the first of his Little Miss characters, and their appeal has grown considerably over the intervening years, now selling over 75 million in the UK alone.

Children still delight in the stories with their simple, colourful illustrations, and the Think Skins Mr Men and Little Miss designs will appeal both to the young and the young at heart, as well as protecting their technology products from the knocks and bangs of everyday wear and tear.

It's great to see a local company landing such a prestigious license -- why not check out their web site.

• More info on the ThinkSkins website:

Seeds for Change seek new co-op member

Local worker's co-op Seeds for Change is looking for a new member, so if you're an activist and an anarchist and want to facilitate workshops and create training resources for other activists, then you might be who they're looking for.

The Seeds For Change Network is a non-profit training and support co-op helping people organise for action and positive social change. The network started in 2000 with informal co-operation between people who were doing workshops in their spare time.

Providing training, workshops and support to grassroots campaigners is still the main focus of the co-op's work, and this is financed by donations and working part time as trainers for NGOs, co-ops and charities.

Seeds for Change says applicants don't need loads of experience in facilitating meetings and workshops, but you do need to be involved in direct action, be into consensus, be reliable, organised and, of course, nice.

You'll be working 30 hours per week (negotiable) doing training for other activists, researching and writing guides on consensus, facilitation and practical action skills as well doing fundraising and other admin type stuff.

If you're up for it - and let's face it, how often do you see a job vacancy for an anarchist? - then there are details of the job and selection process, plus application forms to download at

Alternatively, you can ring them on 01524 840028 or email with any questions. Or
send an SAE to Seeds for Change Lancaster, 96 Church St, Lancaster, LA1 1TD asking
them to post you an application pack.

The deadline for applications is the 24th October 2011, and they hope to hold interviews in the week beginning 21st November 2011.

• Seeds for Change Lancaster is online at:

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Lancaster University aims for Top of the World (rankings, that is)

Lancaster University has stormed up quality rankings of the world's universities, new figures reveal.

The University is one of the biggest risers in the QS World University Rankings published on 5th September 2011, making a gain of 28 places to be ranked 153 out of 300 Universities globally and in the top one per cent in the world.

According to a report on the University's web site, Lancaster is also ranked 100th for employer reputation and 85th for the proportion of international students.

Lancaster is also ranked 84th for Social Sciences and Management and 122nd for Arts and Humanities.

This latest global ranking follows top ten positions for Lancaster in all the major UK university league tables.

• More info at:

Council's vital planning consultation for area's future ends soon

Lancaster City Council has been consulting the local community over the summer on future planning policies and potential development sites for the Lancaster district - but now that call for views is coming to an end.

The Council says that many local residents have had their say on the implications of the draft Development Management and Land Allocations Development Plan documents at a series of exhibition events. Although those have now finished, there's still a chance for people to have their say and help shape the future of the district.

The draft Development Management Development Plan Document includes a number of policy topics which the council believes require more detail at local level than the national planning guidance provides.

The document, which has attracted comments from local people online (although it could do with a lot more, perhaps), the Duchy of Lancaster and Network Rail, is split into three parts: promoting the local economy, protecting the local environment and the creation of sustainable communities.

Within each part there are a series of policy and sub-policy areas which will provide a local planning framework that can be used in the approving or refusing of planning permissions. This will eventually replace the policies contained within the Lancaster District Local Plan, which was originally adopted in April 2004. As this document continues its preparation process through the course of 2011 and 2012, further information will be added to each policy area including criteria thresholds and standards (where required), all of which can assist in guiding future development.

The draft Land Allocations Development Plan Documents include position statements on issues ranging from the natural environment to transport, from housing to retail. These position statements set out the current issues affecting the district, the evidence base which underpins our understanding of them and what the council will seek to do about them.

The draft DPD will identify a series of 'Strategic Sites' (if they are allocated for development, they will be very important for meeting Lancaster district's development needs - particularly in relation to housing). Whilst not all these potential 'Strategic Sites' will be needed, the council does believe that some of the sites identified will be required to meet the future demand for housing, employment or retail needs.

There is also an appendix to the Land Allocations document which contains a portfolio of sites (over a specified size threshold) which have been put forward by landowners / interest parties for their future development potential. As with the list of Strategic Sites, not all the sites identified in the appendix will be needed for future development, however, some sites will be needed to meet the needs of the district as a whole, and in particular the needs of the communities within that locality.

• The consultation period ends on 16th September 2011 and until then you can still make comments on both the draft documents via the council's website - via - or by email or by post.

All written comments that the council receives to the consultation will appear on-line. So whether people use the Consultation Portal directly, send an e-mail to or write a letter, everything will be made available to view.

For comments that are submitted straight to the Portal these are read through prior to publication, and then they appear on the Portal a little later. The e-mails and letters received by the Council will be uploaded onto the Portal once the consultation has closed. Previous experience suggests that many comments arrive towards the end of the consultation period.

During the summer Planning Officers had discussions with many residents at exhibitions and evening meetings; including a Saturday in Lancaster's Market Square and a Saturday at the Morecambe Sandcastle Festival. These discussions were very useful in sharing views, knowledge and understanding about local issues. It is anticipated that many people who had discussions with Planning Officers will submit their views in writing; it is felt that these face-to-face discussions often help people in compiling their responses.

• You can email comments to or by post to The Local Development Framework, Lancaster City Council, PO Box 4, Town Hall, Lancaster, LA1 1QR

• If you wish to discuss the documents in person, you could also drop into Morecambe Town Hall to talk to planning policy officers or contact them on 01524 582000

CCTV released after Morecambe pub assault

A CCTV image of a man police would like to speak to in connection with an assault at Morecambe's Imperial pub last month has just been released.

Police were called to the pub on Regent Road after a fight broke out at around 11.15pm on Tuesday 30th August.

It is believed that the fight, involving a group of men and women, began inside the pub but then spilled out on to the street outside.

On arrival, police found a 49-year-old man with serious head injuries and he was taken to Royal Lancaster Infirmary. He has since been discharged, but is continuing to receive hospital treatment.

Detectives are now making a renewed appeal for anyone who may have been in the area at the time to contact them.

“We're keen to trace the bald headed man in the light coloured shirt captured on CCTV," asks DC Clare Wilson from Lancaster CID, "and I would urge anybody who knows him to come forward.

“This was a nasty assault that resulted in some serious injuries and I would appeal to anyone who has any information that could help with our investigation to come forward and contact us.”

• Anyone with any information can contact police on 01524 63333 or via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

The Dukes plays host to Charlie and Lola's 'Bestest Play'

Everyone’s favourite brother and sister off the telly – Charlie and Lola – are bringing their magical stage show to The Dukes, Lancaster.

Charlie and Lola’s Best Bestest Play is a wonderful chance for children aged three and older to experience a show designed especially for them.

Charlie is seven and Lola is four. She adores her older brother and has an imaginary friend, Soren Lorenson. Find out if Lola will ever tidy her room or if Charlie will get Lola to sleep, even though she is not sleepy and will not go to bed.  The Tigers want their bedtime milk, the Dancing Dogs have borrowed Lola’s pyjamas – not to mention the Ogre in the wardrobe!  Who’d have known there were so many problems to overcome? 

Now in its third season on CBeebies, based on the books by Lauren Child, Charlie and Lola is a multi-award winning cut out photomontage celaction 2D animation series aimed at a pre-school audience. In each episode, Charlie and Lola deal with issues that they as young children, encounter everyday -- little issues spiral into a succession of imaginative games, role plays and flights of fancy, normally invented by Charlie to coax his spirited little sister Lola round to seeing things in a more reasoned way.

Presented by four puppeteers and using the voices from the TV series, Charlie and Lola appear as cut-out cartoon characters in the same magical world they inhabit in the books and BBC TV series featuring music, magic tricks, pink milk and party rings.

Charlie and Lola will be performing three shows during their visit to Lancaster on Saturday 17th September at 11.00am, 1.30pm and 3.45pm.

• Tickets are priced £12/£10. Concessions £2 off. To book, please contact The Dukes box office on 01524 598500 or

Monday, 5 September 2011

By George! Quayside pub wins Real Ale award

Kye Lloyd and partner Ian with
their CAMRA award.
Photo courtesy CAMRA
Staff at the George and Dragon on Lancaster's Quay are celebrating after winning a coveted award from the Campaign for Real Ale from the Lunesdale Branch of CAMRA.

The award is given to pubs that have demonstrated dramatic improvement in areas such as facilities, drinking environment, atmosphere and ale quality.

Delighted licensee Kye Lloyd, who has ran the Admiral Taverns-owned pub for the past two years alongside her partner Ian, said: “I’m over the moon with the award, all of the staff work so hard and they deserve some recognition.

“The secret to our success is that we talk regularly to our customers to see what they want – which is fine cask ales and great food.

“We go through 10-12 barrels a week and we serve cask ales from all over the UK, not just the North West.

“It is such a friendly atmosphere here and we get a wide range of people; from accountants to builders, and everyone socialises together and gets on.”

The Lloyds say they are trying to research the history of the pub and would welcome information about its past.

"Tenants Ian and Kye have transformed the George and Dragon since taking it over," said Julian Holt from CAMRA. "It is now a thriving, lively community pub with a friendly atmosphere. The pub has a strong local following but also gives a warm welcome to newcomers.

The George and Dragon
Image via official web site
“Most importantly, it offers an imaginative selection of real ales, always in immaculate condition. Such progress doesn't take place by accident, but through hard work and dedication - and Ian and Kye are to be congratulated on their superb achievement."

This is the first time the MIPA certificate has been awarded by the branch.

• George and Dragon online at:

• Lunesdale CAMRA:

Red Arrows set for Morecambe show this weekend

Image: Tim Beach
The Red Arrows have confirmed that they plan to attend the Morecambe Seaside Festival on Sunday (11th September).

The visit had been put in doubt due to the recent tragic death of Flight Lieutenant Jon Egging, who died following a crash last month but following a period of mourning, the Arrows have confirmed that they plan to continue the rest of the season’s public displays.

This includes a visit at noon on Sunday to the Morecambe Seaside Festival.

“This has obviously been a very emotional time for the Red Arrows and we would have understood if they had cancelled their visit to Morecambe," notes Coun Ron Sands, the City Council's Cabinet member with responsibility for tourism.

“However, it’s great news that they have announced that they will be continuing their displays and I’m sure it will be a fitting tribute to Flight Lieutenant Egging.”

The Seaside Festival kicks off on Saturday and features a live music stage, culminating with Take That tribute Re-Take That at 7.00pm and a fireworks display over Morecambe Bay at 9pm.

On the Sunday, as well as the planned appearance by the Red Arrows, the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight will be flying into town along with more live music.

Programme of events

Saturday 10 September

11.00am: Chas Jacob’s Exhibition and Vintage Village Hall Display - Platform
Noon: Batala Lancaster Live Music - Arena
12.45pm: Brendan Cleary Live Music - Arena
1.30pm: Silhouette Live Music - Arena
2.15pm: The DH Five Live Music - Arena
3.00pm: Nancy Kent Live Music - Arena
3.45pm: The Reggimentals Live Music - Arena
5.15pm: Break
7.00pm: Re-Take That (Tribute) Live Music - Arena
9.00pm: Fireworks From Stone Jetty

Sunday 11 September

10.00am: Classic Bike Display - Winter Gardens
11.00am: Chas Jacob’s Exhibition and Vintage Village Hall Display - Platform
11.00am: Historic Vehicle Rally - West Promenade
Noon: Red Arrows Display
12.45pm: The Hustle Live - Music Arena
1.30pm: Rockitt 88 Live - Music Arena
2.15pm: Free Beer Band Live - Music Arena
3.10pm: Battle of Britain Flyover
3.30pm: Katy Pickles Band - Live Music Arena
4.15pm: 24/7 - Live Music Arena

Blight puts part of Williamson Park out of bounds

Urgent work is being carried out in The Dell in Lancaster's Williamson Park in a race to preserve woodland around the park.

The Dell has been blighted with diseased Rhododendron bushes and Lancaster City Council says the area will be inaccessible to the general public until they are removed. It is necessary to remove the diseased plants to prevent further infection.

The Rhododendron ponticum bushes are not native to Britain and are the bane of many working on environmental and wildlife projects around the country (there are even "Rhodie Bashing Days" to get rid of it). They're known to be very invasive and, once established, outcompete many native species. Due to their low habitat value they also drive many birds and wildlife species away.

Since their introduction to Williamson Park some areas have also developed a disease known as Phytophthora ramorum that threatens other areas of woodland in the park.

The disease is a fungus-like pathogen of plants that is causing extensive damage and mortality to trees and other plants in parts of the United Kingdom. It has also been found in a number of European countries, but mostly on plants and shrubs and has caused significant damage and mortality to many trees and other plants.

It was first identified in the mid-1990s as the cause of widespread devastation of wild oak trees in California and Oregon in the United States (which earned it the name 'Sudden oak death'), the pathogen was subsequently found in the nursery trade in North America in 2001. In Europe, including the UK, Phytophthora ramorum has been found mainly on container-grown Rhododendron, Viburnum and Camellia plants in nurseries. It was first detected in the UK in 2002 and measures to prevent its spread include the destruction of infected plants, a ban on imports of susceptible material from affected areas of the USA, and notification of movements of susceptible nursery stock.

The Forestry Commission says that infection of larch trees has now been confirmed at sites in Lancashire and Cumbria in North West England, the Peak District of Derbyshire in central England, and on the island of Mull in western Scotland. Other larch sites in Lancashire and Cumbria are also strongly suspected of being infected and are being further investigated.

Lancaster City Council are working closely with DEFRA to deal with infected species in Williamson Park and are taking preventative measures with the assistance of the Forestry Commission through Woodland Improvement Grants.

"It’s important to keep the park as healthy and as natural as possible," explains Elliott Grimshaw, Senior Outdoor Ranger for Lancaster City Council, "and the Rhododendron has spread so widely that it is decreasing the value of our woodlands.

“Williamson Park is renowned for its wide range of woodland flora and fauna, yet the Rhododendron are threatening the existence of these native species.

"It’s therefore important that we manage the park in a sustainable manner and increase the biodiversity within it to ensure it is available for others to enjoy in years to come.”

The current improvement works will commence in October and be completed by March 2012.

Fact sheets explaining to park visitors what is happening will be made available during this time.

• For further information about the removal of Rhododendron bushes in Williamson Park, please contact the park on 01524 33318 or visit

• For more information about the Rhododendron ponticum bush and the problems it can cause please visit:
Forestry Commission website: