Saturday, 3 March 2012

Guys and Dolls at the Grand in May

Just why has gambler Sky Masterson taken the Salvation Army doll to Havana? Why is Miss Adelaide furious with fiancĂ© Nathan and what has she done with the 5 children? How many pies can Mr Johnson eat without exploding? Who is ‘Society’ Max and what’s his sideline?

After last year’s outrageous outing to meet The Pirates of Penzance, Lancaster Amateur Dramatic and Operatic Society has decided to visit New York for its show at the Lancaster Grand in May and offer its own unique version of the hit Broadway and West End musical, Guys and Dolls.

Full of sharp characters, hot dance routines and songs including "Luck be a Lady Tonight" and Sit Down You’re Rockin’ the Boat this event promises to raise laughs and set toes tapping!

Lancaster Amateur Dramatic Society (as it was first known) was formed in January 1891, performing at the Atheneum (now the Grand Theatre). Now the oldest society in the area still in existence, recent productions have included Fiddler on the Roof, Carousel and last year's Pirates of Penzance - a show they first performed in 1893!

L.A.D.O.S. are always looking to recruit new members and welcome singers, actors,dancers, backstage and technical staff – it's the combined efforts of everyone in the society that make their shows possible.

• Lancaster Amateur Dramatic and Operatic Society (LADOS) presents ‘Guys and Dolls’: 8th-12th May 2012 at 7.30pm (Saturday Matinee at 2.30pm). Tickets £10/£9 from the Grand Box Office Tel. 01524 64695 or online at

Lancaster Amateur Dramatic and Operatic Society web site

Police hunt Cycle Path Robbers

Lancaster police are appealing for witnesses to come forward after a young woman was robbed and physicaly assaulted as she walked along a cycle path on Thursday.

The robbery took place around 9.30pm when three men approached the 20-year-old woman near to Asda and knocked her to the ground where she was punched and kicked to her head and body.

The men tried to rifle through her pockets and made an unsuccessful attempt to steal her phone before making off towards Lancaster.

The woman was taken to Royal Lancaster Infirmary to be checked over.

“Thankfully, the victim only suffered minor injuries as a result of this incident but has understandably been left shocked and upset," said Detective Sergeant Colin Forsyth.

“This was a cowardly attack by three men on a lone woman who was walking home and I would urge anyone who knows the identity of these men to contact police”.

The first man is described as white, approximately 5ft 6” tall, slim build and was wearing a grey and brown hooded top, with a chequered scarf around his face and black tracksuit bottoms with stripes on.

The second man is also described as white, 6ft tall, slim build wearing a white hooded top, black scarf around his face, grey tracksuit bottoms and Nike training shoes

The third man was slightly shorter than the second man and was also wearing a hoody and had a scarf covering his face.

An investigation is underway and anyone with any information should call Lancashire Police on 101.

• 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.

Friday, 2 March 2012

Furniture Matters offer free skills courses

Local recycling business Furniture Matters have announced they are offering free courses where you can learn a new skill such as fixing a washer, building a computer, warehousing, customer service and horticulture.

The courses will be delivered over eight weeks and people will just have to attend a three hour session each week - meaning it can be fit around people with childcare commitments too.

"We are trying to make a difference locally and whilst we know there are not many jobs out there and money is tight for everyone these courses will give people a skill they can use in their own homes," explained Furniture Matters Chief Executive Alison Page, "perhaps fixing their own washers or looking after their own plants and repairing their own computer.

"Additionally, with warehousing and customer service these are skills you can take into a future job best of all you will meet new people and its totally free.”

Pedal Power, the Furniture Matters cycle project, are also running free cycle maintenance and repair training courses. People will have to commit to just two five hour sessions over alternate Saturdays to complete the course.

With warmer weather on its way it couldn’t be a better time to get the skills to keep your and your families cycles on the road.

All the courses are aimed at people living in the Lancaster district aged 18 to 65 who are currently not working. Courses will run inside Furniture Matters premises in Lancaster and Morecambe and start in April 2012 and places are limited so booking is essential.

• If you want to gain new skills, meet new people and just get out of the house and do something different please contact Furniture Matters on 01524 427300 or preferably email with your name, contact details and they will send you more detailed information about their courses.

Appeal for missing Fleetwood teenager

UPDATE 1606 2/3/12 - 16 year old Sophie Cullingworth who was missing from her home in Fleetwood has been found safe and well in Blackpool this afternoon. This story is retained for archive purposes only.

Police in Fleetwood are appealing for information about a 16 year old girl who is missing from home.

Sophie Cullingworth, who has gine missing before, was last seen by her mother at their home address on Garfield Street on Tuesday 28th February when she returned home from college around 4.00pm.

She went to see a friend and but has since failed to return home and police are growing concerned for her welfare.

Inspector Guy Hamlett from Wyre Police said: “Sophie is vulnerable due to her age and I would appeal to anybody that knows of Sophie’s whereabouts or with any information that could help us find her to come forward.”

Sophie is described as being around 5ft 4inches tall, slim build with shoulder length red hair and freckles. She was last seen wearing blue jeans and a grey checked three-quarter length coat with black ugg boots.

Anyone with any information should call Lancashire Police on 101.

- 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.

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Council Tax frozen, budget cut by 6%

Lancaster City Council agreed to reduce its overall spending by 6% when it set its 2012/13 budget yesterday.

At the same time, its share of Council Tax will be frozen as the council sets its budget at £20.190M – a £1.291M reduction on the 2011/12 budget.

"This is the first budget I have presented in 25 years on the City Council," said Council leader Eileen Blamire in her speech on the budget. "I have to confess that I expected it to be a very difficult task and I approached it with some trepidation. 

"However I have been amazed at how relatively easily it came together.

The Council has had to reduce its overall spending by 6% and at the same time we have accepted “Uncle Eric’s” kind offer and chosen to freeze Council Tax.  This leaves £20.190 million – a reduction of  £1.291 million on last year. "

The reduction in spending has been managed through careful budgeting and efficiency savings. At the same time the Council say vital services for the public and facilities have been protected and additional investment has also been found for areas such as community safety and regeneration.

“Finances are tight and all councils have to look where they can save money, but unlike some local authorities we have been able to do so without making any major cuts to our services," said Coun Blamire.

“I’m pleased to say that we’ve also been able to freeze Council Tax to reduce the burden faced by hardworking families in these difficult times, while also identifying some room for additional investment such as funding for Police Community Support Officers.

“Overall the budget strikes a good balance between helping people and communities in the short term, as well as promoting improvements to assist with economic growth in the future.

“However, we’ve been able to make many of the savings through being more efficient and these are the sorts of savings which can only be made once.”

As part of the budget councillors will be asked to consider including the following growth and other items in its 2012/13 spending plans:

- £99k to fund up to nine PCSOs in the district.
- £5k to fund new brown tourism signs at junction 35 in Carnforth.
- £45k for a new apprenticeship scheme to get young people back into work.
- £300k for the Lancaster Square Routes project, further revitalising the city centre.
- £200K to improve New Town Square and Euston Road in Morecambe as part of the Morecambe Area Action Plan
- Reinstatement of £40K to help develop proposals for a Morecambe Business Improvement District (BID).
- £40k to develop funding bids for major regeneration projects in Lancaster and Heysham.
- Inflationary rises to Arts and Voluntary, Community and Faith Sector (VCFS) bodies, totalling £11K per year.

The council’s priorities are currently in the process of being finalised. The draft priorities on which the council will be focusing its resources are:

- Economic Growth
- Health and Wellbeing
- Clean, Green and Safe Places
- Community Leadership

Common themes which will underpin these priorities are working together in partnership, managing the council’s resources and environmental sustainability.

"We are not freezing the grants to the Arts Organisations and Voluntary Bodies, but we are giving them a much needed inflationary rise and we are hoping that the County’s Second Homes Funding may give further support," Coun Blamire also noted in her speech.

"One of our priorities was to fund more allotments, and we have included  £40,000 to bring in more outside grants.

"I thank all the officers who have guided us through this process and all the Cabinet members who have made it possible to present a Budget that we can be proud of in difficult times."

Children book in for World Book Day literary fun

A Lancaster Primary School is preparing to be taken over by munchkins, mad hatters, princes, princesses and sea creatures as part of World Book Day. (Thursday 1st March)

Pupils at St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School are preparing to swap their usual uniform for the dress of their favourite fictional characters, before taking part in a fashion show to highlight their love of books. The school’s Parents, Teachers and Friends Association will award prizes for the best costume in each year group.

The fancy dress day is only one of the many activities being held at St Joseph’s tomorrow. Children will also be pairing up with those in other year groups to share their favourite books before showing off their reading skills to parents, who are invited into the school’s story sessions at the end of the day.

Head teacher Juliet Walling said: “There’s a real buzz around school at the moment with children planning their costumes and more importantly, talking about their favourite books and the characters in them.

“At St Joseph’s we believe in instilling children with a passion for reading and a love of books and this is a great way to tap into this and show children’s enthusiasm and skills.”

Each year group has chosen a theme for their World Book Day dress, linking it to their topic work. Years 5 and 6 will be characters from The Wizard of Oz, Years 3 and 4 will be transformed into character from Alice in Wonderland, Years 1 and 2 will be characters from stories set Under the Sea, Reception children will receive the royal seal of approval as they are transformed into Princes and Princesses while children in both the morning and afternoon nursery classes will be dressed as their favourite character from any story as part of their work on All About Me.

“From the moment children start at St Joseph’s we seek not only to teach them the skills to enable them to read and understand stories and texts of different genres,"added Mrs Walling, "but also to foster the idea of reading for pleasure and a love of books.”

• Children will also have the opportunity to watch and listen to a range of authors and illustrators as part of World Book Day broadcasts for schools, nurseries and organisations via

Freedom from Torture Book Fair planned

Kirkby Lonsdale will host a Book Fair on Saturday 17th March in aid of the Freedom from Torture charity.

The event will offer a wide range of second hand books, most of them in good or very good condition. Tea and coffee will also be available.

The event has been organised by the Lancaster and South Lakes group of Freedom from Torture, a charity which provides therapy and assistance to people from many parts of the world who have suffered torture or rape before escaping to the UK.

• The local group's website is at
• Freedom from Torture Book Fair, Saturday 17th March 2012, Reading Room, Kirkby Lonsdale Institute, New Road, Kirkby Lonsdale, LA6 2BG. Phone enquiries: 015242 73607

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Kids in Cumbria magazine launched

A new free magazine for kids is to be launched later this year which will be distributed via schools, libraries, Doctors surgeries and various other outlets across Cumbria, as well as electronically via a growing mailing list.

Founded by Kerry Newham, owner of KGN Admin and Event Services and Teresa McCall, founder of, Kids in Cumbria magazine is aimed at parents and carers of children from 0 to 17 years, and contains a range of age-specific articles and information which children, their parents and carers will find fun, useful and informative.

The first issue, due for distribution from 1st May 2012, includes articles from a wide range of contributors including Cumbria Constabulary, County Council, Anti-bullying UK, Carlisle United FC, Cumbria Partnership NHS Trust, Author and founder of "My Daddy's going away" Chris MacGregor, local celebrity chefs and local broadcast television presenter David Powell-Thompson.

Providing the potential to reach thousands of households across the County, we are pleased to offer lorganisations and businesses advertising opportunities in this new and exciting publication and via our accompanying web site

The magazine joins the growing number of small but enthusiastic independent publications that are using print and web to promote our area. In Lancaster, as well as virtual-lancaster, which has now been running for over 12 years, Family Noticeboard magazine has been providing a regular directory of local services for some years. As well as a print edition, FNM is also available as a PDF download.

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Oscar winners at The Dukes

The Artist - on its way to The Dukes. Image © The Weinstein Company
Films which swept the board at The Oscars will be screened at The Dukes this spring.

The silent film that everyone is talking about  - The Artist – will be shown at the Lancaster cinema from 16th-20th March and will return on 7th and 10th April. It won five Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Actor for Jean Dujardin.

But if you can’t wait until then to bask in the glory of some Oscar-winning films, Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris can be seen tomorrow night, Wednesday 29th February. It won an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay.

The Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay went to The Descendants which is screened at The Dukes on  2nd - 4th March, 11th-13th and 15th March. Its star, George Clooney was Oscar nominated for his role in this Alexander Payne comedy.

Also to be confirmed for April are one-off screenings of The Help on 8th April for which Octavia Spencer won Best Supporting Actress and The Muppets on 11th April which won an Oscar for the best song.

• Tickets for any of these films are each priced £5.50(£4.50 concessions). To book, call The Dukes box office on 01524 598500 or visit

Thesps promise Prizes for Dukes fund raisers

Dukes patron Cherylee Houston
is offering a tour of the Street

A Coronation Street tour by one of its stars, luxury mini-breaks, a private cinema screening and a day as a racehorse owner could be yours, courtesy of The Dukes.

The Lancaster theatre, which is a registered charity, is putting the fun into fundraising this spring with its first Auction of Promises on 30th March.

Among the treats to bid for are a fun sail in Morecambe Bay,  a candlelit tour of Leighton Hall, a recording session and even a year’s supply of sweets.

If you fancy a little quality rest and relaxation, some of the region’s most stylish hotels are offering short breaks and there’s also some foodie treats to tantalise the taste buds.

The more unusual offers include a specially composed personal theme tune, a full-day consultation with an architect, a chance to record your own radio news bulletin, one-to-one scriptwriting support from an awardwinning playwright and a tailormade poem.

And as this is a Dukes fundraiser, there’s plenty of theatrical treats to bid for.

Dukes patron and former youth theatre member, Cherylee Houston, who now plays Izzy Armstrong in Coronation Street, and scriptwriter Debbie Oates will provide a tour of the famous cobbles for up to four people plus a signed script.

Former Dukes actor David Acton, last seen as Captain Hook in The Dukes 2010 outdoor production of Peter Pan, will welcome you backstage at the West End’s Fortune Theatre where he is appearing in Woman in Black. This experience also includes first class Virgin rail travel.

West End theatre tickets and first class Virgin rail travel are also on offer for either Dreamboats & Petticoats or Blood Brothers.

Bids will be taken for Arabian Nights at The Lowry next Christmas, any family show at the Liverpool Empire, Morecambe’s first Vaudeville Festival, and Lancaster’s Halloween Burlesque Ball.

And if you’re a film fan and fancy a private screening of a film of your choice for up to 300 people, The Dukes can make your day.

These are just some of the wide range of promises available. A catalogue will be out soon.

Tickets for this most promising night of the year cost £5 including a drink on arrival, all entertainment and live music in the bar following the auction.

• For a full list of the prizes, visit

• To book, ring 01524 598500. Absentee bids can be made for any of the promises by contacting George Harris on 01524 598511 or

Halton celebrates Diamond Jubilee with a "Happening"

To celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, there will be a major event on the weekend of 2nd - 3rd June - the Halton Happening - at The Centre @ Halton. There will be a varied programme of events and activities suitable for all ages and everyone is welcome on both days, taking full advantage of the Centre’s top quality skate park and MUGA.

The main focus of the weekend will be Saturday 2nd June from 10.30am. There will be demonstrations on the skate park, a fun run, field games, stalls, refreshment tents, bouncy castles, a playgroup for very young children and much more. All this will be on offer for an entry fee of only £1 for adults and 50p for children.

The skate park will be a major focus for the weekend - for BMX fans, skateboarders, mini-scooter riders and in-liners. All users will need to purchase a wristband. There is also likely to be a Band Festival from 7pm to 10pm.

Sunday 3rd June
will be Competition Day with the focus continuing on the skate park with a range of competition events from 10.30am. There will also be a fun junior football tournament and an orienteering event suitable for the whole family.

• Full information and a detailed programme will be added to www.haltoncentre.or/ in late April.

Monday, 27 February 2012

Morecambe MP explains why he voted against NHS risk register publication

Morecambe MP David Morris has explained why he voted against the publication of the NHS risk register, a document the Opposition said could show the real national impact of the government's health reform plans in its controversial Health and Social Care Bill.

Information Commissioner Christopher Graham has already ordered the government to publish the document under freedom of information laws. But ministers are resisting the register's publication and have challenged the ruling, with a tribunal set to take place in March.

David Morris voted with the government to deny publication after an Opposition Day debate. (Opposition days are days allocated in the House of Commons in each session for the discussion of subjects chosen by the Opposition. The Opposition generally use them to raise questions of policy and administration).

The motion in the name of Labour's shadow health secretary Andy Burnham, called on the Government to "respect the ruling by the Information Commissioner and to publish the risk register associated with the Health and Social Care Bill in order to ensure that it informs public and parliamentary debate."

In a letter to a constituent, David Morris explained that while he understood why there would be interest in this information, "it is important to be clear what risk registers include and what they do not.

"Risks and benefits related to the Health and Social Care Bill are already in the public domain in the Department of Health’s impact assessments," he explained, "and are available on the Department’s website. In contrast, the Departmental risk registers – which have not published – set out the full range of risks for all activity over which the Department of Health is responsible.

"Risk registers are used across Government. They set out financial and policy risks, as well as sensitive commercial and contractual risks. They are a tool through which information about risks, however improbable of becoming a reality, can be recorded to enable the risks to be managed and mitigated. They therefore play a critical role in the delivery of effective government.

"The Information Commissioner’s decision to order the release of the Department of Health’s risk registers therefore creates a precedent that would have implications across the whole of Government," he says.

"There is a real danger that if risk registers are routinely released into the public domain, then risks would no longer be recorded accurately on them," he argues. "It could also lead to the publication of deeply misleading information. Establishing this precedent would threaten the successful implementation of Government policy.

"After careful consideration, across Government, the Department of Health has decided to appeal the decision by the Information Commissioner.

"While the Department remains of the view that there is information contained within the risk register that should not be disclosed for the reasons already set out, it is aware of the public and parliamentary interest in this issue. The Department has acknowledged that arriving at an early solution would be beneficial to all concerned.

"I am pleased that, for this reason, the Department has encouraged the Tribunal to schedule the hearing for as early a date as possible, while allowing of course for both sides to make the appropriate preparations. Following this the Tribunal has brought the hearing forward from its initial date in April, to a date in early March.

"I do not think it appropriate to comment further on this issue until the outcome of the Tribunal is known. The Department will respond when the Tribunal has made is its decision.  That is why I voted against the motion brought forward to the House on Wednesday 22nd February. It is important to note that votes taken in opposition day debates are not binding on Government."

After the vote, Public Service News reported Andy Burnham asked the government "what on earth" they were "trying to hide" in the national assessment of risks associated with implementing the Health and Social Care Bill.

"The simple truth is this: they can't publish because if people knew the full facts it would demolish any residual support that this reorganisation might have," he told the Commons.

Burnham quoted warnings from local NHS risk registers that cancer services were likely to be affected with "extreme" and "major consequences". And he cited other local NHS fears that the pace and scale of reform combined with required savings could "adversely impact on safety and quality".

But he was challenged by ministers for his own actions when he was in government. Prime Minister David Cameron said Burnham "blocked" the publication of a Department of Health risk register in 2009, when he was the Health Secretary.

The Health and Social Care Bill is currently progressing through the House of Lords and the report stage will resume on 27 February 2012. 

Police appeal after Heysham fight

Lancaster detectives are appealing for information following a disturbance in Heysham earlier this month.

At around 6.00pm on Friday 10th February, a fight broke out between around 20 people outside a house on Sycamore Gardens.

During the fight a 23-year-old man was taken to Royal Lancaster Infirmary after receiving a serious head injury during the fight but has now been released from hospital.

Police are appealing for witnesses to come forward and contact them.

"I am grateful to members of the public who have already come forward to help us with enquiries," said DC Brian Shepherd from Lancaster CID, "but we believe that there were a lot of people in the area at the time and so I am appealing to anyone who may have been there who has not yet spoken to police to get in touch.”

One 29-year-old man from Heysham has been arrested on suspicion of wounding with intent and a 23-year-old man, also from Heysham, has been arrested on suspicion of violent disorder. Both have been bailed pending further enquiries.

• Anyone with any information is asked to contact Lancaster CID on 01524 596641 or the non emergency number quoting log number LC-20120210-1159. Alternatively, information can be passed to Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.