Saturday, 24 December 2011

The Best of the Season to all our readers!

No snow this year, we suspect! Photo: John Freeman

Have a Merry Mithras, Jovial Christmas, Happy Hanukah, Good Excuse To Drink And Eat Too Much While Watching Wallace And Gromit On Telly Day - from all of us at virtual-lancaster!

Fairfield Association Gives Christmas Present to Lancaster

On Thursday 22nd December the Fairfield Association opened its new nature reserve,  FAUNA,  which is within 10 minutes walk of the railway station and Lancaster City Centre. People are now able to walk  along FAUNA’s new permissive footpath from the northern entrance to Fairfield Orchard (near the bottom of Sunnyside Lane) to the bottom of Cromwell Road (off Aldcliffe Road).

The path runs along one side of the new 15-acre FAUNA nature reserve, which the association has been working on since last Spring.

“We hope that the people of Lancaster will enjoy our Christmas present and use the new path, which is wheelchair-accessible, to watch FAUNA develop," said Oliver Fulton, organiser of the FAUNA project. "There are new ponds and scrapes, which have already started to attract wading birds and waterfowl, and last summer we seeded a field which we are turning back into a wildflower meadow – using seeds and green hay from existing local wildflower meadows. So it will be fascinating to watch the birds move in, and see what comes up in the meadow next spring and summer.”

The FAUNA nature reserve is on land leased at a peppercorn rent to the Fairfield Association for the next 30 years by Lancaster City Council, which is very supportive of the project. The Fairfield Association has raised £140,000 to create Lancaster’s latest nature reserve, which is funded by the City Council, Lancashire County Council, the Lancashire Environmental Fund, Community Spaces (The Big Lottery Fund) and Natural England, with help and advice from the RSPB and Lancashire Wildlife Trust.

Local contractors M D Hanafin and Sons of Milnthorpe have done an excellent job on the heavier work in very difficult weather conditions. There will be a more formal opening ceremony in the Spring, when the seats and notice boards are in place.

“Doing all the necessary hedge laying, establishing the ponds and putting in the footpath and fencing in very wet weather has made the area near the path rather muddy in places but the grass will soon grow back," enthuses Andrew Brennand, chair of the association. "We have put in a set of gateposts next to the path at the Fairfield Orchard end of the path, and they will be carved next Spring to match those in the Orchard.

"By then we should also have new information boards in place, a carved gatepost at the Cromwell Road end and some benches for people to sit on and look across the nature reserve.”

FAUNA will be maintained by the Fairfield Association volunteers who already maintain Fairfield Community Orchard and have spent the summer digging ragwort from the FAUNA fields, among other things. Ian Procter, the Volunteers Organiser said:

“We definitely need more volunteers to help us with our work. If you are interested, please phone me on 01524 65670 or email We’re a friendly lot and try hard to make newcomers very welcome.”

Plans for expansion
The Fairfield Association is also trying to buy fields next to FAUNA in order to extend the nature reserve. Mick Short, the Fields Project organiser, said:
“We put in a bid for the fields in September, using money which has been donated or pledged by more than 200 local people. Unfortunately, all the bids, including ours, were turned down by the owners. We are still hoping to buy the fields, as extending FAUNA would be wonderful for Lancaster. They will probably come up for sale again in the Spring. So if new donors or pledgers want to support what we are trying to do and add to the fund we have already created, they can ring me on 01524 63890 or email me at .”

The Fairfield Association will be running its regular wassailing event in Fairfield Orchard on Saturday 14 January, 3-5 pm. There will be a noisy procession starting at 3pm prompt, so bring drums or pans to join in. A bonfire, wassail cup and songs should warm you up after the trees are blessed. The John O'Gaunt Morris troupe will also be dancing.

Friday, 23 December 2011

Battery Eggs illegal from 1 January 2012

Chris Davies, Liberal Democrat MEP, has welcomed the Coalition Government's announcement that tough action will be taken to stop eggs from battery caged hens being sold in the UK.

As of 1st January 2012, eggs that are produced in battery cages will be illegal. It is estimated that up to 51 million eggs, or a nearly a quarter of all EU production, will not be compliant by that date.

UK producers have spent £400 million on meeting the new standards and Davies is keen to ensure that these farmers are not undercut by producers who have not upgraded their systems.

Davies said, "I welcome the commitment of the UK government to take tough action against those who try to sell eggs that do not meet the new EU standards.

"Farmers across the UK have spent millions to comply with the legislation and it is vital that we protect that investment.

"But tough action by the UK must be backed up by tough action from the European Commission.”

Davies has previously called for the UK to impose a ban on eggs being imported into the country that do not meet the standards.

He commented, “It is time to fight fire with fire.  The EU would never punish Britain for imposing a ban on importing these eggs.

“The only people who would be upset are those continuing to mistreat egg laying hens.”

Lancashire Police urge domestic abuse victims to come forward this Christmas

Lancashire Police are urging victims of domestic abuse not to suffer in silence this Christmas.
The force has launched a Christmas campaign aimed at tackling domestic abuse over the festive season, reinforcing the message that it is a crime and urging victims to come forward and contact police.

Police are keen to point out that domestic abuse isn’t just violence. It can be physical, emotional, psychological, financial and sexual. Anyone who is forced to alter their behaviour because they are frightened of their partner’s reaction is being abused.

Between 01/04/2010 to 31/03/211 there were over 28,000 incidents of domestic abuse reported to the police and in nearly three out of four cases the offender is charged and brought to justice.

This Christmas officers will be conducting visits to victims subjected to domestic violence last Christmas alongside independent domestic abuse representatives. Offenders who carried out domestic abuse during the last festive period will also be visited and warned.

Head of Lancashire Constabulary’s Public Protection Unit Detective Superintendent Ian Critchley said: “There is nothing more inexcusable than abuse carried out behind closed doors by so called 'loved ones'.

“Sadly every year over the Christmas period the number of domestic abuse incidents reported to us increases.

“On average a woman is assaulted 35 times before she makes her first call for help and we are working hard to bring this figure down. Victims of domestic abuse and their children have the right to live safety in their own home. They should be reassured that the abuse is not their fault and you they are not alone.

“I would also like to send out a message to perpetrators that we will do all we can to arrest them and bring them before the courts.

“Domestic abuse can devastate families and relationships and the police can offer protection and help to find safe accommodation.

“If you are ever in danger, call 999 and the police will investigate and protect you from harm.”

Burglary at Lancaster pawnbrokers

Police are appealing for information following a burglary at a pawnbrokers shop in Lancaster.

Officers were called to John Ramsden Pawnbrokers in Sir Simons Arcade just after 10.30pm on Tuesday 20th December.

It is believed the offenders somehow made a hole in the roof and climbed through it into the loft space, before accessing the shop itself. Once inside, they smashed a number of display cabinets and made off with a number of designer watches.

“I would appeal to anyone who was in the area on Tuesday evening who saw anybody acting suspiciously to contact police," asks Detective Sergeant Steve Craig. “I would also like to speak with anybody who thinks they have information which could assist this investigation.”

• Anybody with any information can contact police on 101 or 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.

Attempted robbery in Lancaster

Police are appealing for information following an attempted robbery of a man in Lancaster.

Around 8.40pm on Monday 19h December, an 18-year -old man from the city was walking along the canal footpath between Shaw Road and Moor Lane when he was approached by two men.

They forced him to the ground and while one held him down the other emptied his pockets.

The muggers searched his wallet but threw it back on the floor when they realised it was empty, before running off towards the Ridge Estate.

One of the men is described as being around six feet tall, the other one slightly shorter; both were wearing dark clothing, hooded tops and scarves around their faces.

Detective Constable Mark Greaves said: “Thankfully the man wasn’t seriously injured, but it could have been worse. We are keen to find the people responsible and would urge anyone with any information about this incident to contact police.”

Anybody with any information can contact police on 101 or 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.

Monday, 19 December 2011

Appeal following Morecambe street robbery

Morecambe Police are appealing for witnesses to come forward after a 53-year-old man was robbed in the street last Tuesday, 6th December.

The offence took place at 8.40pm on Ullswater Avenue, Morecambe when the victim was attacked as he returned to his car, after collecting money as part of his business.

The offender has rushed up behind him and grabbed hold of his bum bag, pulling it with force and shouting "Give me your money".

The man then escaped with the blue and grey bag containing over £1,000 in cash.

The offender is described as white, around 20 years old, 6ft tall and slim. He was wearing a hooded jacket.

“I would appeal to anybody that was in the area at the time that witnessed this robbery or with any information that could assist the police with the investigation to contact Lancashire Police on 101," asks DC Tim Dodgson of Lancastr CID.

A 22 year old man from Morecambe has been arrested on suspicion of robbery and possession of cannabis and is currently on police bail.

• People with information can also 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.