Friday, 18 November 2011

Cyclist seriously injured in Heysham

Police are appealing for witnesses after a 28-year-old cyclist suffered serious injuries following a road traffic collision in Heysham.

At 11.59pm on Saturday 12th November, a pedal cyclist and a silver Citroen Saxo were involved in a collision at the junction of Kingsway and Bleasdale Grove.

The male cyclist, who is from Huddersfield, received serious head and chest injuries and was taken to the Royal Lancaster Infirmary.

He was later transferred to the Royal Preston Hospital where he remains and his condition is described as being serious but comfortable.

The driver of the Saxo, a 21-year-old man from Heysham, was uninjured. The road was closed for a short period of time whilst officers examined the scene.

PC Shaun Canning said: “An investigation into the circumstances surrounding this collision is underway and I would ask anybody who witnessed it or has any information they think could assist us to come forward.”

• Anybody with any information can contact 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.

Market Closure to go ahead after years of poor policy decisions

Although Lancaster City councillors  voted in favour of the closure of Lancaster Market on Wednesday, it was a decision taken by some with the greatest reluctance, according to  Green Party councillor Chris Coates.

The Green Party had long fought hard to retain the Market, but changed its policy in the run up to the meeting on the grounds of the increasingly unaffordable costs of leasing the building.

Councillors voted to negotiate a buy out from the lease with the building's owners, Allied (Lancaster) Ltd, at a Full Council meeting on Wednesday and offer compensation to traders still in the building.

The Lancaster Guardian reports the Market is projected to lose £642,000 in 2011/12 and th closure of the market could cost the taxpayer up to £20 million although a council report claims remaining in the lease could cost around £64 million.

As we reported earlier this week, the Council is reportedly seeking to borrow £8 million - about the equivaent of threee years rent on the building -  to finance breaking the lease. (The Council has declined to confirm this amount).

Coates told virtual-lancaster this morning that "Marketgate now seems a strangely appropriate name for the whole 20 year fiasco that has befallen Lancaster Indoor Market.

"Quietly slipping over the years into what has turned out to be terminal decline ‘Marketgate’ will have cost the council considerably more than it lost on Blobbygate and to Icelandic Banks combined," he opined in a peronal statement.

"It would be easy to blame the Councillors and officers who signed up to the terms of the deal in the first place – and I do lay some of the blame at their door. It would be easy to blame greedy property developers fleecing the council for all they could get – and they need to shoulder their share of the blame as well. We could look to blame lacklustre management over the last decade... But I don’t think it’s as easy as that.

"On the wall in the old Judges retiring room in Lancaster Town Hall there is a picture presented to the council by the Market Traders Association thanking council for the way that it had worked hard to reinstate the market after the fire that destroyed the old market... little did they know how it would all end.

"I don’t blame current councillors for wanting to buy their way out of the mess they find themselves in and for wanting the continuing financial bad dream to be over. But the bad dream is still set to carry on for another 20 years as the council pays off the multi-million pound loan that it will need to take out to buy itself out of the lease.

"All that has happened is the a small light has been turned on at the end of a 20year long tunnel. In the end I could not bring myself to vote to close the market.

"Closure of the Market is a bad day for Lancaster City Council, a bad day for the City and most of all a bad day for the market traders – to whom I would personally just like to say sorry."

Councillor Jon Barry, a fellow Green, called the decision" incredibly sad."

“I’ve fought hard for the market," he commented. "But reluctantly, it’s in the best interests of the council to negotiate a buy out.”

The Lancaster Guardian reports Council leader Eileen Blamire has given her personal assurance that traders would be treated fairly.

“We need to stop the uncertainty and stop the slow death and increasing costs,” said Coun Blamire.

Market traders have placed the blame for the decline of the Market fully on the Council, noting many past poor decisions in our previous story, incuding the proposal to hand it over to the dubious and now moribund and derided ASCO company, a decision which certain top level council staff and some now ousted councillors have successfully avoided being investigated for, despite concerns and complaints raised by market traders and local taxpayers.

“I’m gutted," said Peter Corke, chairman of the Market Traders Association, "but we knew it was coming.

“We now just want (compensation) for what the businesses are worth.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Lancaster Cohousing project forges sustainability at Halton

Lancaster Cohousing's new site project is under construction at Forge Bank and will be an intergenerational cohousing community, consisting of 41 ecohomes, communal buildings and Halton Mill. The project is planned as a cutting edge example of sustainable design, for both living and work with close links to the local communities. Project member Dawn Keyse told Virtual-Lancaster; "Our community will be built on trust, respect, friendship and understanding rather than rules and regulations."

What is Cohousing?
Lancaster Cohousing is a housing development that aims to balance the advantages of private homes with the benefits of shared facilities and connections with your neighbours. Designed to encourage both social contact and individual space, the project is organised, planned and managed by the residents. The houses are being built to PassivHaus standards, making them highly energy-efficient. They contain all the features of conventional homes and, like many other successful models of community living, are clustered around a common house with shared facilities such as a dining room, play areas, guest rooms, workshops and laundry.


Virtual Lancaster asked some of the questions that we'd been wondering about:

Q. What happens if you have to / want to leave the project?
A. You sell your own individual housing unit. Ideally the purchasers would be in line with the cohousing philosphy

Q. Can you sell your share? Mortgage it?
A. Your share is your house, so it's the same answer. Mortgaging is straightforward as any other mortgage. We have 2 ethical building societies who are very keen on our project and keen to be approached with regard to lending.

Q. How do you take your money out?
A. Sell your house

Q. If a member dies, can their share / space be bequeathed / inherited?
A. Not such a straightforward answer. Mainly yes. Although the person who is going to live in the house would ideally be inline with the cohousing principles. We have clear policies on all of these things so a prospective member will have these sort of conversations with one of the directors.

There are pages on the Lancaster Cohousing website about 'How to Join' and 'How to Leave'.

Find out more
To find out more visit the website at or ring Dawn Keyse on 07515 426670. The blog gives the latest updates on the build, which is scheduled to be fully completed by the end of 2012 with workspaces available in the Mill by early 2013. The project currently has a few houses left to sell at the time of posting.

Luneside Studios offer space for artists to develop their work.

Are you an artist looking for studio space locally to develop your work in? Luneside Studios at Castle Park tell us that they have space on their waiting list for artists seeking an affordable studio environment.

Luneside Studios have been providing studio spaces for artists in Lancaster for nearly thirty years. Originally located on St George's Quay they moved to 26 Castle Park in 2008.

Waiting time on the list is not necessarily over long as they have an ongoing short-term programme for those who only need studio space for a limited period as well as those hoping for a more permanent base.

The ethos of the Studios has always been 'to provide a working environment for artists that gives them the space and resources to develop their work'. And, as their record demonstrates, they have done so. Over one hundred artists have been members of the Studios and many have exhibited locally, nationally and worldwide, as well as some moving on to higher education.

If you are interested in finding out more about Luneside Studios and the waiting list, you can email or telephone 01524 848390
Luneside studios are located at 26 Castle Park, Lancaster, LA1 1YQ.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Lancaster Store manager ordered to pay back cash following theft

A shop manager who stole over £30,000 from his employers has been ordered to pay back some of the cash at a Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) hearing.

Kenneth Meadwell pocketed £35,167.52 while working as the manager of the Spar store on Bowerham Road, Lancaster, in a bid to tackle his personal debt problems. The 41-year-old banked store takings into his own account - the shortfall in takings then highlighted Meadwell’s theft to bosses.

Meadwell, of Broadmeadow, Lostock Hall, was arrested in December 2010 and appeared before Preston Crown Court in June of this year. He was jailed for two years after pleading guilty to theft.

At a POCA confiscation hearing at Preston Crown Court yesterday (Monday November 14) his available assets were identified as £3,900 and he was ordered to pay this within six months or face a further three months in prison.

Anna Willetts, financial investigator for Lancashire Constabulary, said: “This is a case where the available assets will be paid to the victim – in this case to the company for which Meadwell worked - and the outstanding amount can be revisited anytime in the future should we become aware that further assets are available.

“POCA is a useful tool for us to use, not only for stripping criminals of their ill-gotten gains but also for allowing us to return money that is rightfully theirs to the victims of crime.”

Galgate man gets seven years for violent attack

Jason Moon
A man who smashed a pub customer over the back of the head with a bottle has been jailed for seven years.

Jason Moon, 29, of Main Road, Galgate, carried out the attack after being asked to leave the New Inn pub, also on Main Road, on 2nd July. 

Moon had been drinking in the venue with his girlfriend when she became abusive to other customers and the couple were asked to leave.

Loud banging noises in the car park then drew the landlord and a few customers outside, where Moon then set upon one of the customers, forcing him to the floor and hitting him over the head with a bottle before fleeing the scene.

Moon’s victim, who was 29 at the time of the attack, was left with lacerations to his head and neck and a severed artery which required hospital treatment.

Appearing at Preston Crown Court yesterday, having previously pleaded guilty to wounding with intent, Moon was sentenced to seven years imprisonment.

Speaking after the sentencing, Detective Sergeant Steve Craig said: “The injuries inflicted by Moon could have potentially been life threatening. What was started inside the pub escalated into a violent attack.

"I hope that this sentence serves as a warning to others that violence, especially that fuelled by alcohol, will not be tolerated and that we will seek to put those who commit such acts before the courts.”

Cawthorne Street stabbing: man arrested

A 42-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of murder after a man died in Lancaster.

The 41-year-old victim was found with injuries at a property on Cawthorne Street, between Fenton and High Street, at about 9.00pm on Sunday.

Police say the man, who later died in hospital, did not live at the house where he was discovered.

The Lancaster Guardian reports a team of detectives is working to establish the circumstances surrounding this incident, and the house was sealed.