Friday, 16 September 2011

Did junior vandals smash up Halton school toys?

Lancaster police are appealing for information after toys from within a school play area in Halton were destroyed earlier this month.

The offence took place at St Wilfrid’s School on Penny Stone Road between 4.30pm on Friday 2nd September and 6pm on Sunday 4th September, when somebody climbed into the small, fenced off children’s play area in the school grounds during the holidays.

They forced open a door to a shed and threw an assortment of soft play toys around, leaving some on the roof and on the grass. As a result, many were later destroyed by heavy rain and the shed will now need repair.

“We suspect children are responsible for this damage and have written to all parents at the school," notes Community Beat Manager PC Linda Head. "However, I would urge anybody that witnessed anything or with any information about those responsible to contact police.

“The shed will need replacing, as will many of the toys and it is sad that the children will not have toys to play with for the start of the new school year.”

Prior to the damage the school was also targeted between 4.15pm on Thursday 1st September and 8.45am on Friday 2nd September when somebody has entered the same fenced off area and damaged the shed.

• Anyone with any information about the damage should contact Carnforth Police Station on 01524 63333

Morecambe Bay NHS Trust faces clinical negligence case over death of pregnant woman

Blake Lapthorn, one of the UK's leading law firms, is representing the family of Mrs Niran Aukhaj in relation to a potential clinical negligence claim against University Hospital of Morecambe Bay NHS Trust, the NHS body with responsibility for Furness General Hospital.

Niran very sadly died suddenly in April 2008 when she was 34 weeks pregnant with her second child. Her baby died at the same time.

Earlier this month, Cumbria Police announced it was investigating the circumstances surrounding the death of a number of mothers and babies during 2008 that were under the care of the maternity services at Furness General Hospital at the time. Niran's husband Jay Aukhaj had however instructed solicitors some time previously to look into the circumstances surrounding his wife's death as he had been unhappy with various aspects of her care.

During her first pregnancy, Niran suffered from high blood pressure resulting in the need for an emergency caesarean section. Her son, Akash, now 12-years-old, was thankfully delivered safe and well. When she became pregnant again Niran made sure that the staff at Furness hospital were aware of her previous antenatal history; she was diabetic and was therefore referred jointly to the antenatal and diabetic clinics.

Blake Lapthorn says that medical records show that there were a number of occasions during Niran's pregnancy where no blood pressure reading or urine analysis was recorded. At an appointment on 31st March 2008 the doctor underlined an increased blood pressure reading in the notes but no action was taken.

On 14th April, Niran attended the antenatal clinic again and Mr Aukhaj recalls an extremely high blood pressure reading being taken by the nurse at this appointment, but there is no blood pressure recorded in the notes. Niran was expecting to be seen by the obstetrician as well as the diabetic nurse but was told she could go home without seeing the consultant who would see her next time.

On 20th April, Niran complained of feeling weak and had a headache. That night, she went to bed in her son's room who woke in the early hours having heard a thump and found his mother lying on the floor and called his father who then immediately rang for an ambulance.

Despite extensive resuscitation, Niran was pronounced dead shortly after her arrival at Furness General Hospital.

A post mortem was carried out and the pathologist originally stated that the most likely cause of death was eclampsia. However at an inquest before HM coroner Mr Ian Smith on 10 September 2009, the cause of death was amended to 'unascertained'.

The family believe that if Niran's condition had been properly monitored throughout her pregnancy, it would have been recognised that she was developing signs of pre-eclampsia. This would have led to admission to hospital and safe delivery of her son before full-blown eclampsia developed, thereby avoiding her death.

"This is a particularly sad case that resulted in the death of a young wife and mother, and her unborn child," says Kym Provan, who is a senior solicitor in the Clinical Negligence team at Blake Lapthorn. "Niran was correctly identified at the beginning of her pregnancy as being in a high risk group and the intention was that she would be monitored and managed jointly by the diabetic clinic and the obstetricians. Unfortunately this does not appear to have been followed through.

"Basic but vital checks should be conducted at every antenatal appointment but these simple checks do not appear to have been routinely performed in Niran's case. It is alleged that as a consequence her increasing symptoms went undiagnosed and unchecked to the point where she suffered a fatal collapse on 21 April 2008."

The police investigations into a number of deaths at the maternity unit are presently continuing. In the meantime Niran's family are awaiting a response to the allegations of negligence that they have made, from University Hospital of Morecambe Bay NHS Trust.

Asked for comment, Tony Halsall who is Chief Executive at University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust, told virtual-lancaster “Cumbria Constabulary has not yet confirmed to us the scope of their investigation or the number or details of the cases involved but we will, of course, cooperate fully with them.

"In light of this we do not feel that it is appropriate to comment further at this time except to offer our sincere condolences to any family for the tragic loss of a loved one.”

Council delays decision on Lancaster Market's future

(Updated 19th September 2011): Councillors have decided to defer a decision on the future of Lancaster Market after council staff told councillors some traders could not be persuaded to go along with the proposal to move them all to the ground floor of the building.

The future of the Market was discussed at Full Council on Wednesday, and considered recommendations made by the council’s Cabinet back in July, which were referred to Full Council because of the costs associated with the potential move of tennants to the ground floor.

At the meeting, a new report stated that some traders were not willing to move from the first floor to the ground floor or to relocate within the ground floor - which was one of the key money-saving proposals Council was asked to consider.

"It would only be possible to achieve a move to the ground floor if the court action results in a break clause being included in the new leases," a report prepared by council officers, prepared just 24 hours before the Full Council meeting, noted. "However, it is by no means certain that the court will incorporate a break clause into the new lease, and even if it does, there will be a considerable delay in being able to implement such a clause in order to enforce a move to the ground floor.

"It will not be possible therefore to undertake any move with some urgency, if at all."

After a lengthy debate, councillors requested further clarification on the options available to them and agreed to defer consideration of the recommendations until the next meeting of Full Council on Wednesday 16th November.

Sadly, it would appear that this further delay brings into question the ongoing viability of the market as a whole. "Some traders could leave during this period due to the continuing
uncertainty as to the future of the market which in itself has an effect on the level of
footfall and trade," the report suggests. "This would mean that the actual decision on any capital investment would need to be reconsidered at the time of the outcome of the court
proceedings, taking account of the market’s trading position at that time."

"The future of Lancaster's indoor market and the large costs involved are major issues for Lancaster City Council," explained Coun Eileen Blamire, Leader of Lancaster City Council, "and councillors want to make sure they have all the information available to take this decision."

Update, 19th September: Peter Corke, Chairman of Lancaster Market Tenants Association has contacted us to say that all the traders on the upper floor wish to move to the ground floor of the Market, contrary to the report presented to Council. "I think some council officers have another agenda that would suit them better if the market were to close," he says, adding that the council officers costings for the proposed move are also astounding.

"It would cost nowhere near £271,000 to relocate seven businesses to the ground floor," he states.

The ‘Benefit’ of Burlesque and ‘Girly’ Makeovers - courtesy of Ludus

A brand new offer at Lancaster's Ludus Dance comes with added ‘Benefit’. The first 10 lucky people to book onto and pay for the new, Burlesque session at the Ludus Dance Studio in King Street, Lancaster on Friday 30th September, will receive a free makeover from Manchester-based company, ‘Benefit’.

The team at Ludus will be taking note of the names and details of the first 10 people to book, letting them know the good news as soon as the magic number ten is reached. They will be invited to the Studio from 5.30 – 7pm on Friday 30th, so that they will be beautifully made-up and made-over for the session, which begins at 7.00pm.

All other participants will have the opportunity of a free makeover, but will need to book their own session and travel to the Benefit centre in Manchester.

If that’s whetted your appetite, then you’ll be delighted to learn that you can book for the Burlesque session online right now and you don’t need to do anything else to take advantage of the Benefit opportunity.

If you can’t make that date, there are three more sessions you could attend. These take place on 21st October, 18th November and 16th December, but  these do not include the Benefit makeover option.

• If you'd like to know more then visit the Ludus Dance Website – – or call 01524 35936

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Cash reward in hunt for pterol station thieves

Image via Google Maps
A £10,000 reward is being offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for a cash machine burglary in Lancaster last month.

As we previously reported, the offence happened around 2.30am on Friday 26th August at an ATM machine next to Ryelands service station on Owen Road, Skerton.

The offenders forced their way inside the room that houses the cash machine and disabled the alarm, then spent a considerable amount of time cutting a hole into the cash box and stole a large amount of money.

 "There is a substantial reward on offer for any information that results in the conviction of the people responsible for this offence," notes Detective Sergeant Colin Forsythe, "so I would urge anybody that has any information that could assist us to contact police.

“I would also continue appeal to anyone who was in the Owen Road or Torrisholme Road area of Lancaster between 9.30pm on Thursday 25th August and Friday 26th August to come forward if they witnessed anything suspicious.

"If anyone has any information that would assist this investigation then I would ask them to call Lancaster CID on 01524 63333 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111."

Two men aged 35 and 36 from Bishop Auckland, County Durham have been arrested in connection with the incident and are currently on police bail.

Lancaster duo charged with gun and drug offences

Two Lancaster men were charged on firearms and drug charges earlier today.

Adam Bradley, 18, of Denny Avenue, Lancaster and Neil Bradley, 20, of Austwick Road, Lancaster have both been charged with possession of a shotgun and possession of class A, B and C drugs.

Both have been remanded in police custody and will appear at Lancaster Magistrates Court on Thursday the 15th September.

The charges follow the recovery of a holdall by police from waste ground at the rear of Austwick Road on Ryelands Estate, Lancaster on Saturday the 18th June. Within the bag were machetes, a 0.410 calibre shotgun together with a quantity of shotgun cartridges for that weapon, a quantity of Class A Drugs (Cocaine), Class B Drugs (Cannabis Resin) and Class C Drugs (Buprenorphine).

Guitar virtuoso Eduardo Niebla to play in Kirkby Lonsdale

Formidable flamenco-jazz guitar virtuoso, Eduardo Niebla travels north to play a concert at The Harlequin Theatre, Queen Elizabeth School, Kirkby Lonsdale next month.

In a career spanning four decades, guitarist and composer Niebla has been acclaimed as one of the world's great guitar virtuosos and a potent force in flamenco jazz fusion today. He takes his flamenco gypsy jazz roots and fuses them with Latin, Arabic, classical and Indian influences to produce the most electrifying, brilliant and poetic guitar playing.

His music is not only marked by brilliant technique, passion and verve, but a poignancy that comes from his childhood years "growing up with the Gypsies on the outskirts of Girona, Spain"

Accompanied by Matthew Robinson on guitar, Eduardo is touring to village halls in rural locations across Northumberland as part of the county's touring scheme 'Highlights'. The concert will feature music taken from his new album My Gypsy Waltz, launched at the Queen Elizabeth Hall earlier this year and will include intricately brilliant, passionate flamenco infused with a myriad of Eastern colours and a Gypsy-jazz edge.

Eduardo's impressive list of collaborators includes Nishat Khan (sitar), Lol Coxhill (sax), George Michael and Craig David as well as appearances at festivals, film, and venues across the continents.

“It's wonderful that small communities can see such a big talent locally," enthuses Helen Baines, who is promoting the event at Queen Elizabeth School. It's an amazing opportunity for us to hear world-class playing on our doorstep.”

• Eduardo Niebla, Friday 7th October at 7.30pm, The Harlequin Theatre, Queen Elizabeth School, Kirkby Lonsdale. Tickets: £7/£5 Concessions, Family £ 22. Bookings: Tel 015242 71275 or email:

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Woman sexually assaulted on Lancaster cycle path

Police are appealing for witnesses to come forward after a woman was sexually assaulted as she walked along a cycle path in Lancaster on Friday 2nd September.

The incident happened around 6.30pm when the 26-year-old local woman was walking along the cycle path between Longmarsh Lane and the Millennium Bridge when a man has approached her and squeezed her right breast over her clothing before running off in the direction of Longmarsh Lane.

The man is described as a white, aged in his mid-twenties to early thirties, and around 5ft 6” to 5ft 8” tall, with short light brown hair. He was wearing thick rimmed glasses, a dark coloured zip up jacket with dark coloured trousers and was carrying a rucksack.

PC Martin Wilcock from Lancaster Police said: “I would urge anybody that witnessed this incident or with any information about the person responsible to contact police on 08451 25 35 45.”

Morecambe burglars assault home owner and make off with laptop and mobile

Detectives are appealing for information following a violent robbery in Morecambe, which took place on Friday 9th September at around 8.00pm on Clarendon Road.

Three me entered the victim’s home and assaulted the man and stolen a laptop computer and a mobile telephone. The victim suffered from cuts and bruises from the attack.

One of the men is thought to be between 20 and 30 years old with olive skin, tall and slim with dark receding hair. The second man is described as being 50 years old and he had a white terrier with him. The third man was dressed in black and was wearing a straw trilby.

Detective Sergeant Mark Stephens from Lancaster CID said, “I would appeal to anyone who was in the area at the time and witnessed anything suspicious to come forward and contact us.

“This is an unprovoked attack on a man in his own home and the people responsible need to be caught and brought to justice.”

• Anyone with information is asked to call Lancashire Constabulary on 0845 1 25 35 45 or call Crimestoppers

September is never too early for Santa - well, a Santa Appeal, that is

Santa Claus is coming to town… and he’s got company!

Lancaster is gearing up once again for the Santa Dash, which will see hundreds of Santa’s and their trusty reindeer running, jogging, walking, rolling, dancing, prancing and jingling all the way from Salt Ayre Sports Centre into Market Square, to raise funds for local charity, CancerCare. The short, flat route, approximately 1.5 miles is suitable for all ages and abilities and is fully accessible for wheelchairs and pushchairs

Santa Dash returns on Sunday 4th December, the race will start at 11am, with registration opening at 10am.

Registration fees for pre-registered participants are as follows: Adult (over 11) £12.50; Child (11 or under) £7.50; Family (2 adults + up to 2 children) £30.00; and Adult group (max. 4) £40.00

Santa suits for the big kids and reindeer antlers and noses for the under 11’s are included in the registration fee with all proceeds from the event going to local charity, CancerCare.
If you would like to get involved in the festive fun run, download a registration form from, or contact the fundraising team on 01524 381820.

• For more information on the event, visit the Santa Dash 11 website:

Weekend burglaries prompt police appeal

Police are appealing for information following three burglaries in Lancaster over the weekend.

The incidents happened between Saturday 10th and Monday 12th September on Beaumont Street, De Vitre Street and Dumbarton Road.

The incident on Dumbarton Road took place between 11.30pm on Friday 9th September and 7.00am on Saturday 10th September. The offender entered the house there via a ground floor window and stole a laptop computer, a mountain bike and some food items from the fridge.

At Beaumont Street, between midnight and 5.00am on Saturday 10th September, the offender climbed through the kitchen window and stole a number of items including a purse, a pair of trainers and a small amount of cash.

The incident on De Vitre Street took place between 7.30pm on Sunday 11th September and 4.30am on Monday 12th September. The offender entered the property through a window and stole a laptop computer and a mobile phone charger.

Detective Sergeant Mark Stephens said, “We would appeal to anyone who has information about these offences to come forward and contact the police.

“We would also urge people to make sure that they leave their doors and windows locked when they are not at home or through the night and not to give thieves the opportunity to take advantage.”

• Anyone with information is asked to call Lancashire Constabulary on 0845 1 25 35 45 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Postman's love of Morecambe revealed in new Dukes exhibition

Yacht Club by Richard Davis
A postman’s love affair with Morecambe has produced a new photographic exhibition at The Dukes, which runs until 25th September.

Richard Davis is often inspired to take images of Morecambe while on his round in the West End of the resort.

“I love the natural beauty of Morecambe Bay, but also the character of the West End, “ Richard, who has lived in Lancaster for eight years, explains.

Many of the shots on display are unusual views of the West End as well as more traditional Morecambe landscapes and portraits of some of the artistic friends he has made while organising events such as Wired In which is regularly hosted by The Dukes.

“Because I’m an outsider and don’t know much about the history of Morecambe, I think I see things differently and feel there’s a lot of variety in the town which I’ve tried to capture in my photographs.”

• Under Morecambe Skies runs until September 25 at The Dukes gallery which is open from 10am to 11pm, Monday to Saturday.  Please call the box office on 01524 598500 to check opening times if you’re making a special journey as occasionally the space is closed to the public.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Lancaster's Nuffield Theatre's new season line up announced

The Featherstonehaughs - at
the Nuffield in November
Lancaster University's Nuffield Theatre regularly attracts high-quality theatre and dance companies who regularly receive excellent reviews in the national press and its new season, which has just been announced, is no exception.

One of the autumn highlights is the last ever tour of contemporary dance company The Featherstonehaughs. Their show, Draw on the Sketchbooks of Egon Schiele, involves the dancers cleverly recreating the bodies in the Austrian expressionist painter’s dramatic pictures. It’s on at the theatre on November 3.

The night before (November 2) the highly acclaimed dance company will be performing Edits which looks at how time is played with in film. This will be followed by a post-show discussion.

Another autumn highlight is dance/theatre Company Chameleon with their show Kith/Kin on 20th October. The company – described as ‘breathtaking’ in The Times newspaper - was set up in Manchester in 2007 so this is a chance to view some real northern talent.

In the same month, there’s an exciting chance to see Lancaster from a different perspective. Proto-type Theater is bringing their award-winning project Fortnight to the city on 17th October, where people are invited to sign up to a playful experience where they will be invited to secret events and locations across Lancaster and sent various communications over a two-week period.

Other events at Live at LICA (which incorporates the university’s theatre, concerts and exhibitions programme) include the return of Quarantine, who are performing their innovative show Entitled on 22nd October. The piece, commissioned by the Royal Exchange Theatre and Sadler’s Wells, attempts to make theatre out of real people’s lives. It recently attracted a four star review in the Guardian.

Other companies returning to Lancaster by public demand include ever-popular Reckless Sleepers, who are performing a revised version of their 1998 show Shrodinger. The Anglo-Belgian company always attract big crowds so it’s best to book ahead for this one which is on 10th - 11th November.

Music lovers might also like a double bill by Action Hero & Juneau Brothers who have created a part gig/part performance show which is at the Nuffield at 8.00pm on 22nd November.

• To book and for more information about lots of other events, prices and concessions log on to or ring 01524 594151.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Lancaster's Greenfield sites under threat from development?

Lancaster’s Green councillors are calling on the City Council not to support development on major Greenfield sites across the district, but to concentrate instead on regenerating brownfield sites including the canal corridor in central Lancaster.

The call comes as the consultation period on the Council's draft Development Management and Land Allocations Development Plan documents draws to an end (see news story): any comments must be made by 16th September.

The list of land allocation sites in the public consultation includes some of the most important greenfield and public open space sites in the district including: Whinney Carr, Bailrigg, Grab Lane, Miss Whalley’s Field (on Derwent Road), Freeman’s Wood and various sites off Aldcliffe Road and Ashton Road.

Council should focus on brownfield site development such as Luneside East, say Greens
“The Green Party is very keen to support mixed use, community-oriented, development on former industrial sites such as Luneside East and Luneside West, or on large areas of ugly car parking such as the canal corridor," insists Councillor Jon Barry. "However, we cannot support large scale development of the countryside and open spaces.”

“In my own ward, the area of Freeman’s Wood has been used by local people for many years and is a vital source of recreational space for the Marsh. The area also supports a wide variety of wildlife, including deer. The sites off Aldcliffe Road have previously been dismissed in a report by planning experts for the Council – so I don’t know why the Council is still putting these forward.”

Commenting on the proposals for Whinney Carr, Councllor Chris Coates said “We already know that traffic on the A6 is at full capacity. Developing sites at Whinney Carr, Grab Lane and Bailrigg would create gridlock in the southern approaches to the city and unacceptable urban sprawl.

"The Council’s planning exercise earlier in the year showed that it is perfectly possible to put virtually all of the houses on brownfield sites, and this is what they should be concentrating on.”

The Greens concerns echo concerns from other locals to the consultation process. "The exhibitions the Counci ran over the Summer were merely to tell local people that there was a copy of War and Peace available for them to read," feels local Rick Seymour.

"Many people have commented on the Land Allocation Plans, in a 'NIMBY' way, but this misses the bigger picture of the development document [which fewer people have commented on], which that will be the planning policy of the council.

"When the DPD comes into effect it will replace all planning policy and guidelines. This is really a very big deal."

The Council seems well aware the Land Allocations document would attract more comment than the more important Development Management plan. "While we have taken every reasonable step to engage with the public at this interim stage of the Development Management DPD process, we are aware that the Land Allocations document can be seen being as more engaging to the public as lines begin to be drawn on maps," a member of council staff told one respondee to the plans. "This can be shown by the larger number of the comments on the Land Allocations document and the greater variety of commentators."

• To view the consultation documents and make comments, please visit Alternatively you can email your comments to 

• View the Green Party response to the proposals (PDF)