Friday, 25 November 2011

Cannabis cultivators jailed for four years

Two Vietnamese nationals who cultivated a cannabis factory worth almost £400,000 have been jailed for a total of four years.

Officers discovered the 1,000-plant factory in a property on Alexandra Road, in Morecambe's West End, on Monday 29th August following a report of a break-in at the address.

Canh Le
A number of discarded cannabis plants were found outside the premises and an operational support unit was then called upon to gain entry to the building. Inside, officers discovered a large-scale sophisticated cannabis production set-up on all five floors of the house, with in excess of 1,000 plants at various stages of growth or harvest. The plants had an estimated street value of around £400,000.

Dung Pham
Dung Pham, 28, and Canh Le, 21, of no fixed abode, were arrested and charged with producing a class B drug. Appearing at Preston Crown Court today (Friday 25th November) both were jailed for two years.

“This was a significant seizure of cannabis plants from a very organised and sophisticated production system," noted Detective Sergeant Simon Dent from Lancaster CID. "The seizure of these plants, along with equipment being used to grow them, has ultimately prevented a large amount of drugs from reaching our streets.

“We know that cannabis usage has a number of knock-on effects which cause problems for out communities," he added, "crimes such as burglary, car crime and robbery are often committed to fund a drug habit.

"We are committed to tackling those who produce and sell drugs and the sentences given to these two offenders reflect our dedication to removing drugs from our neighbourhoods.”

Festival of Ideas: boffins have 6 minutes to share their work

Tomorrow sees a Festival of Ideas hitting Lancaster that aims to give an opportunity to the public to learn about the research of PhD students and University Staff.
There will be Poster Presentations in Market Square from 10am - 4pm as Doctoral students discuss their research with passers-by.

Then the Festival moves to the Storey for 6 minute presentation sessions from 4pm - 6pm (PhD students) & 7pm - 9pm (lecturers).
See the full programme of presentations.

They have 20 slides and 20 seconds to talk to each of these, giving each presentation 6 minutes and 40 seconds in total. The festival aims to give an opportunity to the public to learn about the research of PhD students and University Staff. And maybe get an idea what a Dragon feels like.
Drop in for what will surely be a thought-provoking and curiosity-filled day.
A wine reception will accompany this event at which there will be a chance for informal socialising and to carry on the discussion. Everything is free and all are welcome.
More details at: and a full programme is available on the Facebook group "Lancaster University's New Ideas Festival"

Waiting for Godiva - M6 Link protesters strip back to basics

Lady Godiva rode naked through the streets of Coventry to protest at the unjust taxes her husband was extorting from his people. She's coming to Halton on Sunday 4th December to protest at the unjust taxes the people of Lancashire will have to pay for the unjustified and extortionate Link Road, that will have the shirts off our backs.

As the County Council prepares to submit its application for the new plans to the new planning authority, Transport Solutions for Lancaster & Morecambe (TSLM) is inviting you to come and join her – and the people of Halton, Lancaster & Morecambe - to demonstrate against the new plans

According to TSLM, the new plans submitted now for the Heysham M6 Link Road

· Still don’t solve congestion
· Still don’t bring jobs
· Still damage our communities
· Still destroy our Green Belt
· Still ignore alternatives that would work

TSLM says: Cut tarmac, not services because:

· Consultation was a sham
· Council shouldn’t waste £123 million – while cutting jobs & crucial services
· Lancashire taxpayers will have to pay £12.3 million PLUS cost overruns

So local residents and objectors will be turning out outside the Community Centre at Halton on Low Road on Sunday 4th December at 11.30 to follow Lady Godiva who will be riding on horseback to the High Road and down the pavement opposite St Wilfrid’s
Church, where the narrow road will see 74% more traffic, if the Link Road goes ahead.
TSLM say: Bring all the family! Bring banners! Wear bright clothes!

Visit the New TSLM website

Will proposed Superstore traffic appeal to City Planners?

A planning appeal is currently underway at Lancaster Town Hall to consider revised plans for a major development by Countryside Estates (CE), comprising a Superstore, hotel, pub, garage and 500-space carpark at Scotforth, on fields west of the A6 and south of the Boot & Shoe.

Planning permission was granted back in May (see earlier story) for a new Booth's supermarket on an adjacent site, at the same time as CE's larger proposed complex was turned down. Now CE are back with their additional scheme. Their development proposal comprises:

- A 7,250 sqm (square metre)gross superstore (4,350 sqm net sales);
- A petrol filling station;
- A 50 bedroom 1,890 sqm hotel;
- A 400 sqm public house; and
- Associated works including landscaping, servicing arrangements, internal roads and off-site highway works.

Just to give some comparison, the new extended version of Lancaster's Sainsbury's will have 3,055 sqm retail space - about 2/3 the size of the proposed superstore, which would be by far the biggest in the Lancaster and Morecambe area.

Booths have objected to the proposal, on the grounds that South Lancaster will already be getting a new, larger Booths supermarket. On top of that, a discount retailer is expected to be taking over the old Booths premises. They argue that to be sustainable the new complex will have to take substantial trade away from the city centre.

Centros have also objected. Their proposal for a mixed retail and housing development along the Lancaster Canal Corridor is likely to be badly impacted by such a major out-of-town retail complex. Many of the people who currently visit town centre food stores make additional side trips to shop in the City Centre. The loss of this custom would hurt city centre retailers and make the Centros plans even less feasible than they are already. Which, to be fair, given that their planning application collapsed in chaos and has been mouldering ever since, is not very feasible.

From the City Council's point of view, the Canal Corridor must attract development and the released Market Building needs to remain attractive to a major retailer. The emphasis of the retail strategy is to invigorate the city centre as a retail and cultural attraction.

Lancaster University has asked for CE's appeal to be dismissed. Plans for a science park have also been approved, so a new Booths, a discount store and a science park could be expected to generate plenty of traffic on the already overburdened A6 south of the city. A wacking great superstore, hotel, pub and petrol station on top of all that is likely to lead to gridlock, especially as tailbacks form behind cars queuing to turn right.

The land itself is green and currently enjoyed in leisure by the local residents. A new supermarket, plus a superstore, hotel, pub garage and all their accompanying driveways and extensive carparks would substantially change the nature of the entire area.

Booths, Centros Miller, Mitchells and the University all see their projects being thrown into disarray by the new Countryside Estates proposal, and many established businesses are threatened by the prospect of a major out-of-town retailer drawing custom away from the traditional retail areas. Any potential residential development at Whinney Carr would also be thrown into jeopardy - no further plans that might add to A6 traffic could be likely to win approval.

Lancaster City Council (like many other councils) has a long and well-documented history of coming to grief in dealings with sharp commercial operators. It is widely speculated that the new superstore proposed by CE is likely to be a Tesco, who are reputed to be of the sharpest (see for more info on Tesco tactics). However so far, with the united support of just about every other developer, business, organisation and residents' group in the area, the Council has had no difficulty rejecting their anti-city, anti-university, anti-greenbelt proposal. CE will doubtless keep on pushing but with such an unfeasible application they are likely to end up parked next to Centros on the naughty step.

The Appeal will be sitting through next week at Lancaster Town Hall. It has cost a lot of time and money already as you can see from the mass of expensively compiled professional reports and arguments lodged on the city council planning website.
Planning Dept ref: 11/00022/REF

See also Scotforth residents give supermarket plans the red card

Library craft fair attracts plenty of local 'makers'

Lancaster Library’s first arts and craft fair will be overflowing with festive treats on Saturday 3rd December.

Organisers Debbie Stubbs and Kumiko Hotta say they have been inundated with requests for stalls and are happy to announce that 13 different makers will be offering a wide range of handmade Christmas goodies. Pop along to meet and chat with the artists, discover some crafty secrets, and put the sparkle of innovation into your Christmas gift buying.

On offer is the chance to commission your special childs portrait from Debbie, unique yarns and woollen kits, Japanese textiles and jewellery, Christmas candles, silver and beaded jewellery, buttons and bows, lavender pillows, mosaic Christmas decorations signs and plant pots, water colour and acrylic paintings, stained glass and children’s clothes.

The Fair is part of a wider initiaqtive to make Lancaster the "craft hub" of the North West on 3rd December, with three other fairs at the Storey Gallery, Ludus Dance and the Judges Lodgings.

Debbie trained as a theatre designer and moved to Lancaster five years ago. Following many requests she’s just launched, capturing baby’s personality in paint. The oil paintings provide the perfect gift for birthdays Christenings or Christmas.

Kumiko Hotta trained as a graphic designer in Japan and has lived in Lancaster for the past seven years. Her shop specialises and sells unique yarns from Japan and pretty craft accessories sourced from across the world. Following a three month trip to Japan she returns full of ideas, creativity and new products, to tempt everyone this Christmas.

"Shoppers couldn’t really get a more central location," says Debbie. "Lancaster Library is situated in the centre and heart of the market town, so feel free to join us. Admission is free and will include a festive treat!"

The Craft Fair begins at 10.30 am and runs until 3.30pm.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Lancaster Christmas Shelter, please pitch in and help!

Lancaster & District Homeless Action Services are running its 25th Christmas Shelter at St Thomas Church from the 24th - 29th December for those who are homeless or in housing poverty. The shelter offers a warm, safe environment for the homeless over the festive period. It is the only one of its kind in the area with the focus being that no one deserves to go cold, hungry and alone at Christmas.

Last year the shelter served 114 main meals and gave shelter to 47 clients. Lots of people visited and shared their seasonal goodwill. That's what Christmas is for, to make sure that everyone gets through the hard part of the winter together. and Remember good King Wenceslas?

LDHAS told us "In order for us to make Christmas special for our clients we need community support in donating time as a volunteer, and we need food and goods. Donations of money are essential to enable us to provide the Shelter and to assist us with the good work throughout the year.

What can you give:
LDHAS tell us that your goods and toiletries are really useful i.e. toothpastes, nail brushes, combs, hairbrushes etc. (but deodorants would have to be roll-on!!). Socks, boxer shorts, (ladies underwear too!) gloves & hats of all sizes are also constantly required and bags of sweets.
Food that's easy to keep and store and combine is good. And everyone can use treats.
And, crucially, money, which you can send to LDHAS, Edward Street, Lancaster, LA1 1QH.

Volunteers come from all walks of life, and there are many different roles to help out in. There's things to do right now, and more to do later. LDHAS can offer volunteer induction and training in whatever you might feel you need to be more help, if you contact them soon.
To date the following events have been arranged to in order to raise funds:

Collection at Morrisons 2nd and 3rd December
Street Collection 3rd December (11am – 3pm)
Soulrigg and Guests 3rd December, (A music Night in the Grabb Bar), Lancaster University 8am
Gospel Choir Busking 4th December, Lancaster City Centre
Lancaster City Pub Collection, Friday 9th December
Lancaster City F.C, Saturday 10th December
Collection at Sainsburys, Lancaster 15th and 16th December

Find out more and get in touch at
or call 01524 842008

Two chances to catch ace local band The Duo

If you do pop into town to see the new Christmas lights on the Museum, then why not stay a little longer and catch The Duo (from folk to Floyd) who are playing Robert Gillow in Market Street tonight (24th).

Too short notice? then there's also a chance to see them at the Golden Lion in Moor Lane on Saturday.

Both gigs featuring this ace local folk band start at 9.00pm, or shortly thereafter, and will end at 11-ish.  Both are free of charge and will be of immense educative and therapeutic value to you.

… just you wait’n’see…

Lancaster's Market Square gets ready to shine

Lancaster’s old town hall in Market Square - now our Museum - will be shining bright in time for Christmas following the switch on of its new lights at this year's launch of late night shopping.

The event takes place this Thursday (24th November) in Market Square, Lancaster starting at 5.30pm. The old town hall building will be illuminated from dusk and the main Christmas tree and festive lights will be switched on at 7.00pm.

Three of the new building lights will shine down over the face of the building, home to the City Museum and King's Own Regimental Museum, and can be programmed to produce various colours and effects. For the majority of the time this illumination will be white but colours will be used to mark particular dates and events throughout the year.

The new lighting is part of the Lancaster Square Routes initiative to help rejuvenate the historic city centre of Lancaster by investing in high quality streets and spaces to strengthen the city’s position as a quality destination for residents and visitors.

The first phase of works to the square itself is taking a planned pause for the Christmas trading period and will start again and be completed in the New Year.

To date, new surfacing is partly in place at the eastern end and the fountain has been removed with a temporary surface in the footprint of the proposed platform area. Repairs have also been undertaken to the stonework of the old town hall.

Re-surfacing of the western end of Market Square will take place in the new year together with improved street lighting.  A second phase of works to deliver the platform area and further improvements is subject to funding.

• For more information on Market Square and Lancaster Square Routes please visit

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

In Review, Fish - this is how we roll....

To play as you read...

"Dear Satori,

hello…ok, here’s the Fish review…can I explain myself a bit? Ok so I was sent as the Marillion expert hah ha. I know for example that it’s all Peter Hammill and not at all Peter Gabriel. I know that it’s all twisted humour and screwed up desire, and that Fish grew from being intellectual poet into a straight reporter, a photographer who used words and not a camera.
And that he is a political reporter as much as he is the reporter of human emotion. And that was why I wanted to review this gig.

My camera broke so I couldn’t take any pictures and then I was looking at some photographs thinking I’d like to write like the photographer. To not use the word ‘I’. To refer only to the subject and not the self.

So this review is a photograph, it's one moment out of the gig. I’ve translated and transcribed a semi rant, a semi warning that came towards the end of the gig. My Scottish isn’t too great so I might have a few things wrong. If you notice anything please correct it. "

Larry Jones for Virtual Lancaster
23 November 2011

Fish, performing live at The Platform, Morecambe, November 18th 2011

An ‘unplugged’ show starring former Marillion frontman, ‘Fish’. His career, spanning almost 30 years of the entertainment industry, is notable for his charismatic stage performances and uncompromising lyrics. His last album ‘13th Star' has been regarded by many as the best in his career to date and is testament to his enduring talent, resilience and determination. (Fish has also been voted in Scotland on Sunday (see pic) as one of Scotland's 25 most eligible men.)

“…watching the news yesterday about the Wall Street occupation. They were pulling kids out of the street and it’s like the bells gone and the coppers going in with sly punches like they do, pop, pop, pop…camera’s catch him. There’s a kid lying there on the floor and the copper’s going, with his boot, flick, kicks him in the side of the head.
These are kids
"They’re kids and they are protesting because what they see is that one per cent of the population controls the wealth of America and it’s the truth, and it’s the truth in this country.
And this Christmas, in Wall Street, here’s the bell, and here they come, here is famous person DING! Manicured? Ring the bell DING! and they applaud it. And outside people were shouting 'shame', 'shame', 'shame'.

"And you see the New York Police Department are pulling people out who are peacefully protesting. They weren’t fighting, they weren’t spray painting nothing; they were just lining the street saying, 'We object to the fact that one per cent of the population of America owns the money. And in one month’s time, when it comes to Christmas, they’ll be sitting in boardrooms and all be getting cheques from the investors, trustees da de dah. Millions of pounds, hundreds of thousands of pounds. It’s our money! "

I feel like a wasp in a jar
"I am fifty three years old. I should be thinking about taking up fly fishing, I should be thinking about just chilling out, going down by the river and just mind being there.
Do you know what? I’m angrier. I’m getting angrier.
And I feel like a wasp in a jar.

"I went to Cuba for six weeks at the beginning of this year. It is a communist country. I was used to it, fair enough; we’re all socialists up there. (Scotland) I went to Cuba, it’s a communist country. I saw kids with really big uniforms. Lean kids, and they all went to school. People talk about, 'Oh yeah well you can find doctors driving cabs in Cuba.' Do you know why you can find doctors driving cabs in Cuba? It’s because the education is free. It’s not nine thousand a term that’ll be hitting your kids next year. It’s free.

"They have hospitals in every town. They don’t have the medicines because the Americans who control the corporate chemical companies won’t let anybody sell medicines to them. But they manage, they have doctors, they have nurses. Anybody can get a job. You want to become a lawyer? Become a lawyer - it’s free.

People used to talk
"It’s not all great, but the difference being that in Cuba there were people talking in the streets. People talked like we used to do in the days gone by like when we were kids, like when moms and dads - when we were running about we could tell they were gonna be ages and we’d be waiting. People used to talk in communities. And I want it.

"In 1963 when Che Gavara went to the United Nations with his first ever speech to the United Nations he was asked by an American journalist ‘how can you talk to us about freedom when you’re run by a dictator? Its not freedom.’ He turned to them and said ‘How can you ask me that? You live in invisible boxes.’ And that is what we do.

"You can’t have a revolution… how do you start a revolution in a country where we’re electronically monitored. We are wasps in invisible boxes.

"And if you look at what’s happening in New York; what’s happening in Wall Street, it’s got to go. It’s burning, it’s already burning in Italy, Spain and Greece. We’re burning.
What we gonna do?
We live in interesting times and we will die on our faces or face our consequences.”

Derek W Dick, aka Fish. 18 November 2011

Dear Larry

ok, that works, it's posted

love satori

To find out more about the Platform and to see the outstanding range of events, concerts and shows taking place and to view the latest brochure visit

The Platform has been nominated for both ‘most improved performer’ as well as ‘best performer’ in the 'Civic, Cultural and Community Venue' category by the Association for Public Service Excellence (APSE)

Man given indeterminate sentence for sex attacks

A sexual predator who followed a vulnerable disabled woman home to rape her has been given an indeterminate jail sentence.

Andrew Richardson, 31, of Thornton Road, Morecambe, targeted his victim – who is in her 50s and who has learning difficulties - on Morecambe promenade on June 18 this year. After trying to engage the woman in conversation, he followed her to her home where he sexually assaulted her. He then returned the following day and raped his victim before stealing £9 and fleeing the property.

Richardson was arrested following an extensive investigation by officers from CID and the local neighbourhood police teams. He appeared at Preston Crown Court in October and pleaded guilty to rape, sexual assault and theft.

Appearing at Preston Crown Court today, he was given an indeterminate prison sentence with a minimum of four years before a review will be carried out.

Detective Constable Ciara Campbell, Lancaster CID, said: “Richardson preyed on his victim, knowing that she was vulnerable. After carrying out one attack, he returned to carry out an even more horrific offence.

“The sentence given by the courts means that a dangerous individual has been removed for our streets and the local community is a safer place for it."

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Saturday: Buy Nothing Day - Shop £€$$ Live More

Saturday 26 November is the UK's 'Buy Nothing Day'. No, it's not about saving money, or giving to charity, though most people who participate will do one one or the other. It's about not wasting your life and planet by filling it with things you don't need.

Our economy apparently requires 'growth'. For the last 15 years its 'growth' has been maintained on credit. That is, money we didn't have. We all went crazy together. Now the bailiffs are at the door and we don't have any more credit. And to be honest, all that growth is a pain anyway.

Q. Why do my electrical appliances keep breaking?
A. Because someone has to dig the elements to make it out of the ground, and others have to refine them and others have to buy and sell the materials and others have to make new designs and others have to put them together and others to advertise and others to sell them. And all these people have to eat and make a living, which is why you have to pay £35 for £3's worth of metal and plastic, and in 18 months you'll have to do it again. Because otherwise, although there is enough food and shelter for everyone, all these people won't be allowed to have any. And if we can't do the same soon, neither will we.

So we have appliances that are made to break, and waste human time and planetary resources. We have clothes that actually impede us in our activities and quickly fall apart (it's called 'fashion' and it wastes the lives of practically half the planet). And we don't just own our junk - we are defined by it. Some of us will build our entire lives around shopping, comparing, consumption and upgrading. We'll even start treating our relationships the same way. The most gullible and addicted of us all will fight to be top executives or their pet government ministers. If humanity put all that time and energy into solving real problems we could all be living in a paradise now.

Apparently top executives just won't work without vast perks and bonuses because they compare themselves against their peer group - and their package has to look bigger, right?
Now to me, the guy who is winning is the guy, or woman, who would go in to work whether s/he was paid or not, because s/he so wanted to be there, doing that job. After all, money is only money, but a day of your life - that is the real estate. But now, we are firmly told, our national economy - which is our national security, depends on executives who will sell out our country in a heartbeat if they can't have infinite junk and have the means to buy infinitely more. So some of us, the weakest ones, who are sick, or old or disabled, and their children, the ones who can't shop enough, they will have to go without enough food or shelter any more. Uh-oh.

The rest of us are continuously hustled to keep on making and chasing junk, like rats in a wheel. Every newspaper and TV channel finds ways to convince us that we don't have enough of it, just so we'll keep knocking ourselves out to find ways to buy more of it. And so that those that have the most and 'best' junk can be reassured that it matters. That it makes us safe.

In fact it is blood-sappingly boring. So boring that half of us are eating ourselves to death to numb our guts from the unspeakable, futile pointlessness of it all. So boring that thousands find the most repetitive computer games more engaging than actual life. So futile that millions of us get completely off our heads every weekend just to forget about it. So dull that millions more have to take medication to help re-engage with the mass 'aspiration'. So empty that thousands of us develop 'spiritual' lives dedicated to the re-arranging of their junk.

We don't need to dedicate our existences to junk. We don't need to destroy the planet in the process. We don't need to waste billions of precious life-hours feeding the obsession. There is more to human existence than this. Our planet can feed everyone. It can clothe us all. There is plenty for us all to do. Remember art? Remember love? Remember fun? Buy nothing for one day. Make a song instead. (Or a decent kettle that can last ten years and be recycled.) It's a start.

To find out more about Buy Nothing Day UK visit

Lancaster Reclaim the Night March to mark International Stop Violence Against Women Day

This coming Friday (25th November) is International Stop Violence against Women Day and Lancaster women will be having a Reclaim the Night march through the town centre to mark the occasion.

The plan is for a women-only march through town, through the busy night-life areas and to stop for some speeches. Women are being encouraged to bring banners, placards, candles and lights. And, perhaps, even prepare a speech.

Organisers say the route is all 'on the flat' (with steps at just one point but an alternative is at hand for wheelchair users) and will take about 20 minutes.

Reclaim the Night marches have been going since the 1970s, as a feminist (and usually women-only) march to assert women's right to walk out and about at night without the fear and reality of sexual harrassment and sexual violence from men.

Reclaim the Night means for women to march through spaces at night that may feel intimidating or where there may have been an incident of sexual violence, as an empowering process of women coming together to literally reclaim space from male violence.

Why Women Only?
Reclaim the Night has a long tradition in the feminist movement of being a women-only march. It is considered an important and empowering experience for women to come together to reclaim space. One of the organisers explained, "Of course male violence affects not just women - there is homophobic violence, transphobic violence, racist violence, gang violence, violence against men who don't conform to the stereotype and just plain old men on men violence. Male violence attempts to dominate night time space. It is all connected and all unacceptable.

"The Reclaim the Night march, however, is a challenge to male violence directed at women - it is a form of resistance that is by women and for women.

"Fear is a powerful force against women's freedom of movement. It is common for women
to be dissuaded from walking alone at night, but Reclaim the Night say women should be allowed to walk anywhere alone without the fear of violence. Reclaim the Night also makes the connection between all forms of violence against women."

• Reclaim the Night March - Friday 25th November. 11pm assemble in Dalton Square Women-only (all self-identifying women welcome)
• Reclaim the Night:

• End Violence Against Women:

Monday, 21 November 2011

Police appeal after indecent assaults on Lancaster bus

Police are appealing for information and have released CCTV images after two indecent assaults on buses in Lancaster, both on young women believed to be students at Lancaster University.

The first assault occurred on Thursday 3rd November on the 5.10pm number three bus between Common Garden Street and Lancaster University.    

The second incident took place a week later on Thursday 10th November 2011 again around 5.10pm this time on the 2A service, also running towards the University.  

On both occasions, a man came and sat next to the women whilst on the bus and then began touching them inappropriately. Both women were able to move away from the man and get off at the next available bus stop.  

Police have been reviewing CCTV and have released two images of a man they wish to speak to in connection with the incidents.  

DC Brian Shepherd of Lancaster CID said, “We would appeal to anyone who may have been on either of these bus services that might have any information to come forward.  

“Similarly, we are appealing to anyone who may have been in the area of the University around the relevant times to think back and to contact us if they think they can help with our enquiries.”  

The man is described as being of Eastern Mediterranean appearance, aged between 35 to 45 years of age, of medium to heavy build with short dark hair. He is also described as having pock marked skin.  

On both occasions the man was wearing dark clothing and had a laptop style bag slung over his shoulder.  

Anyone who recognises this man or who has any other information that could help police are asked to contact Lancaster CID office on 01524 596748 or via 08451 25 35 45.  

Alternatively, people can call 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