Friday, 21 October 2011

Police appeal after Morecambe assault leave man with broken jaw

Police are appealing for information after man was assaulted as he walked home through Morecambe, leaving him with serious head injuries and a fractured jaw.

The 30-year-old man was walking along Euston Grove at some time between 9.45 and 10.15pm on Tuesday 18the October when he was approached and punched and kicked to the floor, where the unknown assailant continued to attack him.

The man was taken to the Royal Lancaster Infirmary for treatment.

“We are still trying to piece together exactly what happened and this appears to be a completely unprovoked assault," notes DC Clare Wilson. "I am really keen to speak to anyone who may have seen what happened.

“I would urge anyone who may have been in the area at the time to come forward and contact police if they saw anything at all suspicious.”

• Any information can be passed to police on 08451 25 35 45 or you can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or on-line at No personal details are taken, information is not traced or recorded and you will not go to court.

Wear your red (or white) poppy with pride on Remembrance Day

Image via Wikipedia
The Mayor of Lancaster, Coun Paul Woodruff, is urging people to take time out to remember all those who have died or been injured in the service of their country.

This year Remembrance Sunday falls on 13th November and a number of services have been arranged in the Lancaster district.

Coun Woodruff is asking everyone who lives in the district to take the time to remember all who died for their country in the two World Wars and also those injured or traumatised by more recent operations overseas.

Since 1921 the Royal British Legion’s mission has been to help those members of the serving and ex-service community who needed it.

Eighty eight years later the Legion continues to safeguard the welfare, interests and memory of those who are serving or who have served in the Armed Forces.

The Poppy Appeal provides the main source of funds to maintain the Legion’s many welfare and benevolent schemes in which over 300,000 people are helped each year.

“The Poppy Appeal is the main source of funding that directly supports the Legion’s welfare and benevolent work," says Coun Woodruff. "The calls upon the Legion’s Services continue to grow with each passing year and it is expected that the need for Poppy Appeal funds will continue for many years.

The red poppy was chosen to remember the fallen of the First World War after those who fought in Belgium and northern France remarked on the extraordinary persistence and profusion of an apparently fragile flower: the cornfield poppy, which splashed its blood-red blooms over the fields every summer. It blooms there to this day, on the fields now returned to the farming they were meant for, and from which the bones of the dead are still collected as the farmers' ploughs uncover them.

The British Legion  produces over 32 million 'lapel' poppies, 100,000 wreaths and 400,000 Remembrance crosses annually, and they're seen most prominently in the lapels of people normally discouraged (or even barred) from advertising their favourite charities - such as politicians, the police, and TV newsreaders.

“Remembrance Day ceremonies and participation in the two minutes silence on November 11 each year provide a special focus for communities to remember those who have given their lives in the service of their country.  I urge local people to give generously to the Royal British Legion Poppy Day Appeal and wear your poppy with pride.”

Those concerned by the military connections of the red poppy might want to consider a Peace Pledge Union white poppy instead, which are on sale locally in Single Step, Lancaster.

The Peace Pledge Union notes that the red poppy has had its problems. Some people who have chosen not to wear it have faced anger and abuse. "It's also got involved with politics," they note. "In Northern Ireland, for example, it became regarded as a Protestant Loyalist symbol because of its connection with British patriotism. And a growing number of people have been concerned about the poppy's association with military power and the justification of war.

"Some people have wondered why, with a state welfare system, the services of the British Legion (slogan: 'Honour the dead, care for the living') are still needed; some say it's disgraceful that they were ever needed at all - though the many suffering people who have depended on help from the British Legion are profoundly grateful. (Governments have been grateful too: 'Governments cannot do everything. They cannot introduce the sympathetic touch of a voluntary organisation'!)

"But the question lingers: if the dead are said to have 'sacrificed' their lives, then why weren't the living, who came out of the same danger, being suitably honoured and cared for by the state that sent them into it? The language of Remembrance, in the light of that, looks more like propaganda than passion.

Contrary to the claims of some in the press, the idea of decoupling Armistice Day, the red poppy and later Remembrance Day from their military culture dates isn't new. It actually dates back to 1926, just a few years after the British Legion was persuaded to try using the red poppy as a fundraising tool in Britain.
A member of the No More War Movement suggested that the British Legion should be asked to imprint 'No More War' in the centre of the red poppies instead of ‘Haig Fund’ and failing this, pacifists should make their own flowers.

The Peace Pledge Union, which has been working for peace since 1934, notes that details of any discussion with the British Legion are unknown but as the centre of the red poppy displayed the ‘Haig Fund’ imprint until 1994 it was clearly not successful. A few years later the idea was again discussed by the Co-operative Women's Guild who in 1933 produced the first white poppies to be worn on Armistice Day (later called Remembrance Day). 

The Guild stressed that the white poppy was not intended as an insult to those who died in the First World War - a war in which many of the women lost husbands, brothers, sons and lovers - but a challenge to the continuing drive to war. The following year the newly founded Peace Pledge Union joined the CWG in the distribution of the poppies and later took over their annual promotion. You can read more about white poppies here

• However you wish to mark Remembrance Day, services will take place as follows:
Garden of Remembrance, Town Hall Lancaster commencing at 10.20am, to be followed by a service in the Priory Church at 11.30am. There will be a parade and March Past leaving the Priory Church at approximately 12.25pm ending at Lancaster Town Hall.

Cenotaph, Marine Road – procession will form up at The Platform at approximately 10.20am for a Service at the Cenotaph at 10.55am.

Parade will leave the Carnforth Town Council offices at 10.35am for a service and wreath laying ceremony at the Cenotaph.

To help people to pay their respects, Lancaster City Council has suspended parking charges on the car parks at the Bay Arena in Morecambe and Nelson Street in Lancaster on Sunday 13th November.

• For further information about the services or to express an interest in laying a wreath please contact the Mayor’s Office, Town Hall, Lancaster, LA1 1PJ, telephone (01524) 582070 or email

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Illegal gas fitter gets jail for endangering lives

The unsafe chimney flue Stephen Jonathan installed at the house on Willows Lane in Accrington

A Lancashire man who falsely claimed he was a registered gas engineer has been sent to prison for two years for endangering people’s lives at two properties - including a house in Lancaster.

Stephen Jonathan was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive for committing a total of six offences, after his work was classified as being "immediately dangerous".

Burnley Crown Court heard the 35-year-old’s actions had put residents at risk of being killed or seriously injured in a gas explosion or from carbon monoxide poisoning.

The court was told Mr Jonathan falsely claimed he was a registered gas engineer when he installed a new boiler at a community nurse’s home on Willows Lane in Accrington in October 2010. Geoff Street regularly looked after his sister’s baby in his house, without knowing the boiler was operating dangerously.

An engineer was sent to repair the boiler after it was reported to the manufacturer as being faulty. He classified the installation as being ‘immediately dangerous’, and disconnected it from the gas supply straight away.

Mr Jonathan’s work was reported to Gas Safe Register, which holds the official list of legal and safe gas engineers, and HSE, which carried out an investigation. It found that he had also installed central heating at a house on Avondale Road in Lancaster during November and December 2010.

He had again claimed to be a registered gas engineer, and the installation of the boiler had again been classified as being ‘immediately dangerous’.

Stephen Jonathan, of Collins Drive, Baxenden, admitted putting lives at risk, and of carrying out gas work while falsely claiming to be a registered gas engineer. He was sentenced to 24 months in prison at Burnley Crown Court on 20 October 2011.

Geoff Street, 52, spent £1,700 on making the boiler safe at his house on Willows Lane in Accrington.

“It’s shocking that Stephen Jonathan didn’t have any consideration for my life or anyone else’s. I was looking after my sister’s baby in the house without knowing both our lives were being put in danger by the boiler he installed.

“He appeared quite professional when I first met him," he added. "But he refused to come back when I told him the boiler kept switching itself off, and I eventually found out it was actually dangerous.

“I’d advise people to check the Gas Safe website or ring the helpline before agreeing to gas work being carried out. There are some people out there just out to make a fast buck, with no regard for health and safety.”

“Mr Jonathan has displayed an appalling disregard for the lives of other people, and a total contempt for the law," noted Stuart Kitchingman, the investigating inspector at HSE. "He went out of his way to fake qualifications and he continued to carry out gas work illegally. His actions caused a considerable amount of cost and distress to his customers, and it was only luck that no one was seriously harmed.

“It's vital people become members of the Gas Safe Register before carrying out gas work, or they risk putting lives in danger," he urged. "Members of the public and landlords should also check that gas engineers have a valid Gas Safe Register ID card.”

The prosecution follows a recent Gas Safety Week, which srved to highlight the fact that every year, millions of people are putting themselves and their families at risk of serious danger or indeed death in the home by turning a blind eye to the hazards posed by unsafe gas appliances.

“We work closely with the HSE to investigate unregistered gas fitters and the prosecution of Stephen Jonathan comes as welcome news to us all," says Paul Johnston, Chief Executive of Gas Safe Register.

“Gas fitters working unregistered like Stephen Jonathan are far more common than you think – we estimate they’re doing 250,000 illegal jobs each year, causing fires, explosions, gas leaks, carbon monoxide poisoning and leaving people out of pocket.

“All gas engineers have to be Gas Safe registered – it’s the law. Our message to everyone is clear – check the engineer’s Gas Safe Register ID card before letting them work on gas.”

• Homeowners and landlords can check whether a gas engineer is registered by visiting or calling 0800 408 5500.

Caught on camera...

Caught on camera – some shocking behaviour shot somewhere in Lancashire. Check out  more at:

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Council launches new lettings scheme, promises wider choice

Lancaster City Council has launched Ideal Choice Homes today - a new choice based lettings scheme to make choosing and applying for council accommodation much easier.

The new scheme allows people registered on the city council’s housing register to bid for the properties that they are interested in, subject to eligibility. It includes council and social housing, shared ownership, private rented accommodation and mutual exchange properties.

Vacant properties are advertised on a weekly basis and applicants can express an interest online, via text, by phone or in person at Lancaster or Morecambe Town Halls.

"By bringing together the range of housing options available to local people under one roof, those looking for rented accommodation including council housing will be offered a greater opportunity to find a home of their choice," commented Councillor Karen Leytham, the Council's Cabinet member with responsibility for housing, "and one which fulfils their individual needs."

• To find out more visit or call 01524 582005.

Monday, 17 October 2011

M6 Link Road Coast spiral ever upwards, campaigners reveal

Despite massive cuts to its overall budget, Lancashire County Council's proposed Heysham M6 Link Road is on course to be the costliest of all Britain 's local authority road schemes, according to figures released by the Department for Transport this week.

At £41 million per mile, it beats its nearest rival, Kingskerswell in Devon,  hands down, with an estimated cost of £25,677 per metre (or £648 per inch, if you prefer) copmpared with £19,582 per metre.

Despite this - and the unpopularity of the scheme with many local residents - the County Council is ploughing on, full steam ahead, to fund this top-priced scheme.

"In the same universe as the one where councils such as Lancashire are cutting services, everything from youth services to residential care homes and many jobs, cuts that damage people’s lives," notes David Gate from Transport Solutions for Lancaster and Morecambe, a campaign group arguing for alternative, cheaper changes to the local transport system instead of the new road.

"What’s more, Lancashire County Council has earned the promise of some government funding by increasing its own contribution to £12.3 million, and accepting all cost overruns.

"As the transport mandarins coldly put it: cost risk sits with the promoter.

"Road schemes always go over budget," he continues. "We have been making the case ever since Lancashire County Council’s 'Best and Final Funding Bid' in January 2011, that the real cost estimate for the Heysham-Morecambe M6 link is at least £17 million more than currently admitted, all of which will end up being paid by the Council.

"The Council’s response so far has been a deafening silence.

"And even that is not the end of the story. Of nineteen recently completed bypasses, Better Transport motes the average increase in costs during the construction period is 13% (PDF link). That would be another £16-18 million for Lancashire’s taxpayers to find.

"For cutting essential services and for spending on the country’s most costly road scheme, Lancashire leads the way."

Take a poetic walk around Lancaster

Lancaster Visitor Information Centre is inviting you to take a poetic walk around Lancaster with Litfest's Walking in Circles.

Walking in Circles is a collection of three poetic walking tours which explore the history and people of the city. The tours were commissioned by Litfest's publishing imprint Flax to accompany a specially designed map to introduce visitors and residents to stories, real and imagined, of the city.

Elizabeth Burns
They've been written by local poets Elizabeth Burns and Rebecca Irvine Bilkau and Cumbrian resident Martyn Halsall.

Rebecca Irvine Bilkau
"I hope the tours will introduce visitors and inhabitants to a different side of Lancaster"to some of our wonderfully talented local poets," says Sarah Hymas of Litfest,  and to encourage us all to see familiar buildings in a new light."

All walks start at the The Storey, where you can pick up a map of all three routes from the visitor information centre at a price of just £1. You can also borrow an MP3 player from the centre with recordings of the poems to listen to as you go (for a refundable deposit of £10).

Walking times range from half an hour to an hour and a half.

Martyn Halsall
• Lancaster Visitor Information Centre at the Storey Creative Industries Centre, Meeting House Lane, Lancaster is open Monday - Saturday from 9.30am - 5pm. 

• Maps and audio of the poems are also available to download from the Flax029 page of the Litfest website -