Friday, 20 April 2012

Sponsor a flower bed and watch your business grow

Lancaster City Council has launched a new flower bed sponsorship scheme which will appeal to local businesses who want to get noticed and take pride in the district at the same time.

The council plants and maintains a large number of public flower beds across the district, most of which are in prominent locations.

The beds are landscaped with colourful floral displays and interesting shrubs and help to enhance the natural beauty of our local area.

22 flower beds in Morecambe have been identified as ideal sites for sponsorship by local businesses including Happy Mount Park, West End Gardens and various beds along the promenade including those at the Eric Morecambe statue.

Companies will be able to raise their profile by having a sign displayed in a flower bed which will promote their business, whilst helping towards the annual maintenance of the bed.

• Anyone who is interested should contact the council’s Public Realm Officer, Helen Ryan for more information on 01524 582822 or by emailing

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Freeman's Wood: Tree Appeal Hearing on Monday

Old landfill waste unearthed on the Freeman's Wood site.
Photo: 11 March 2012
The City Council Appeals Committee will hear the appeal against the Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs) at Freeman's Wood at 2pm on Monday 23 April at Lancaster Town Hall. The appeal is being brought by the Property Trust Group, who own the land and have a potential proposal before the Council for a residential development there.
Their Appeal letter can be read with the other reports to this committee on the
Lancaster City Council website here.

Virtual Lancaster asked the City Council to confirm if the land was free from asbestos contamination where  recent landfill excavations and tree uprootings have taken place. We also asked who was responsible for clearing up the enormous mess these have made on the land and paths adjacent to the site.  (The City Council has been known to issue on-the-spot fines for littering.) A Lancaster City Council officer told Virtual-Lancaster:

"The council's Environmental Health Service has assessed the situation of wastes unearthed on the land in question.  On inspection the material appears old and in places weathered with no visible evidence of hazardous materials.  The conditions inspected did not appear to present a risk to public health.  No further action is proposed by Environmental Health Officers."

However one local photographer took the above picture of waste on the site on 11 March 2012 as he was walking along the adjacent path. Prior to 1970 corrugated roof-cladding material of this type was typically made using asbestos. Asbestos was also used in construction cement, a great deal of which appears in rubble visible on the site.

Workman chopping down tree on
Property Trust Group site. March 2012
A whole side industry grew up through the 70s and 80s onwards around safely removing materials containing asbestos from  buildings or sealing them with special coverings.  The recommended disposal is undisturbed burial underground. Trees help; they do not have lungs and do not seem to mind a bit of asbestos. They shelter the land from wind and their roots serve to bind and stabilise the site.

In their appeal submission the Property Trust appear to be claiming that the site at Freeman's Woods does not actually contain 'woodland' but merely 'scrub'.  As our many photos of the site taken in March show, a number of mature trees have recently been uprooted and chopped down, and many more remain.

See more images of the appalling mess made at Freeman's Woods and the debris-covered surrounding area, despite Tree Preservation Orders at: "Catastrophic damage to 'protected' Freeman's Wood - photos".

Appeal after quad bike theft in Galgate

Quad bike stolen from Chapel Lane, Galgate
Police are appealing for information after a quad bike was stolen from a house in Galgate, Lancaster.

It is believed the bike was taken sometime between 2.00pm on 4th April and 11.00am on 11th April from a property on Chapel Lane.

The bike had been stored in a large, locked shed in the rear garden of the property which the offenders have managed to break into, before sawing through a lock and chain securing the bike to the ground and pushing it through the garden and out on to the road.

PCSO for Ellel ward, Andy Garner said, “I would appeal to anyone with any information or to anyone who may have seen any suspicious activity in the area at all to come forward and contact police.”

Anyone with any information can contact police by calling 101 and quoting log number LC-20120411-0641 or alternatively, information can be passed to 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?


Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Police continue search for night club attacker

Police are appealing for witnesses to come forward after a student was hit in the face by a bottle in a Lancaster nightclub.

The incident took place on the dance floor at Elements Nightclub around 1.45am on Saturday 28th January when the 18 year old victim was standing with friends within the top floor bar area of the nightclub.

The victim, who is a student at the University of Cumbria, suffered a deep laceration on her left cheek requiring several stitches and a black eye.

DC Ian Wright from Lancaster CID said: “I would appeal to anybody that was in Elements Nightclub on Friday 27th January, into the early hours of Saturday that may have witnessed a bottle being thrown across the dance floor to come forward.

“The dance floor was very busy and the irresponsible actions of this individual have caused serious injuries to a young girl who has been left deeply upset by this incident.”

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.

Appeal after jogger is assaulted in Lancaster

Police are appealing for witnesses after a teenager was attacked in an unprovoked assault as he jogged to a friend’s house in Lancaster last month.

The 19 year old victim was jogging along Wingate Saul Road at 9.30pm on Saturday 31st March when he has approached by three teenage boys from the opposite direction.

Without warning, one of the boys tripped him up causing him to fall to the floor where he was kicked and punched to his head and body.

DC Ian Wright from Lancaster CID said: “Fortunately the victim managed to escape with relatively minor injuries but this was a nasty and unprovoked attack on a man simply out jogging.

"I’d appeal to members of the public with any information about this incident or the people responsible to contact 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.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Spotlight shines again at The Storey

The Literary and Musical Line-Up at this week's Spotlight Club at the Storey is as diverse as ever - so why not put £4 aside for entry and head up there on Friday night?

Poet Jo Blog had, she says, a tragically ordinary childhood.Escaping into writing to allay the boredom she discovered a talent for poetry.Jo is a performance poet who entertains with her sometimes funny, sometimes sad,but always wry observations on life the universe and everything.She aspires to one day earn enough from her poetry to buy a Dyson.

Roger Allen is 66 and still writing poetry, a habit he began in his undergraduate days at Lancaster Universityduring the 60's. "I was lazy during my teaching days and only produced stuff in fits and starts," he says. "However the last decade or so has seen me working consistently. Catching up you would say.As for theme, 'people' I suppose is as good a title as any."

Originally from Kendal, Lauren Dowell is a student of English and Creative Writing at Cumbria Univerisity. She recently made her debut at the Spotlight Open Mic and is making her first appearance on the main Spotlight bill.

19-year-old Joe Cooper started writing when he found out that making up poems and going to bars ismuch more fulfilling that say, studying or being productive or anything. "Crucially going to bars I feel, that really makes up the majority of my literary experience in life. My poems are about anything I find at least vaguely interesting in life, which is mainly how people think and behave."

The night also includes music from Cartoon Food, who have been together three months and comprise Ian Wright, Singer/guitar Shaun Elliott, bass, Pete Wright, mandolin and Jez Jackson on cajon (wooden box).

Vocalese are the totally brilliant Sue Parish, Di Okey and Eliza Ramseyably assisted by Jon Moore (guitar) Paul Guppy (bass) and Andy Whitfield (vibes). "We love the close harmonies of the be bop era and will besinging some Monk tunes, some Horace Silver andother neglected gems."

Compere is the redoubtable Simon Baker. 

• Spotlight ( Friday 20th April Doors Open 8.00pm Open Mic 8.30 - 9pm (£4 / £2 students/unwaged/concessions ) @The Storey, Lancaster

Monday, 16 April 2012

In review: The Hound of the Baskervilles

The question that must most often come to the mind of any Sherlock Holmes fan about to see this as a stage production is surely 'But how will they do the hound?' Oldham Coliseum's production, with Director Kevin Shaw in conjunction with 'Imitating the Dog', a company which takes video projection way beyond an atmospheric backdrop, does far more than that. Along with Holmes (Gwynfor Jones) and his loyal, kind but unimaginative friend Dr. Watson (Leigh Symonds), we can read for ourselves the mysterious letter made up of words cut out of the Times, and are taken seamlessly from to Baker Street then by train to the exterior and corridors of Baskerville Hall and then onto Dartmoor.

This is all done in a thoroughly theatrical way, and the butterflies collected by the botanist Stapleton (Steven O'Neill) loom large, making their symbolic potential evident - yes, Holmes does track down the murderer of Charles Baskerville, and the mystery of the huge hound with fiery jaws. The scenes between Laura Lyons (Amy Ewbank) with her typing business, Watson and Holmes, with a large typewriter on the table as the single prop, are accompanied by a projection of the relevant part of the novel onto the screens, reminding us that this production is in fact an adaptation. Clive Francis's script also makes some interesting additions to the novel, including a commentary by all the characters' on Holmes' cocaine addiction which much concerns Watson.

The production is a mildly parodic one, hence Holmes in his deerstalker which Conan-Doyle never attributed to him. The acting is consistently very good, with effective doubling - although Amy Ewbank was stretched to the limit being Holmes' housekeeper Mrs Hudson, Sir Henry's housekeeper Mrs Barrymore, Beryl Stapleton, Laura Lyons, and indeed a small boy who reports on his delivery of a telegram. One more female actor might have helped here. Robin Simpson gives Sir Henry Baskerville a very credible American accent.

Conan-Doyle's novel is narrated by Dr Watson, who also keeps a diary and writes letters to Holmes. Some productions would circumvent all these, and sometimes for good reason. In this production, Dr Watson does narrate part of the story to the audience, and it is to Leigh Symonds' credit that this feels entirely appropriate. We also see (hear) Watson writing his letters, and Holmes receiving them. This will please those who like adaptations to stick closely to the original but not at the expense of good theatre.

This is a beautiful production to watch, full of surprises and delights

Jane Sunderland

Still to run:
Wednesday April 17 - Saturday April 21, 7.30 p.m. (£12.50 - £18.50)
Matinees on Thursday 19 and Saturday 21, 2 p.m. (£11.00 - £12.00)
Concessions: £2.00 off
The Dukes, Moor Lane, Lancaster LA1 1QE
Box office: 01524 598500

Local celebrations for St George’s Day

Saint George Killing the Dragon,
1434/35, by Bernat Martorell
One of England’s most renowned heroes will be celebrated at Lancaster City Council’s Visitor Information Centres on Monday 23rd April.

The date marks St George’s Day, the Patron Saint of England and the centres at Lancaster and Morecambe will be dressed for this special occasion with traditional flags and banners.

St George’s Day fact sheets, ‘Things you never knew about St George’ and ‘The Legend of St George and the Dragon’ will be available, as well as lots of information on special events happening both locally and throughout the country.

The displays will be in the centres from Saturday 21st April for one week, so why not pop along and find out more about the ‘real’ St George.

While you're there, you may also like to take the opportunity to get ready to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. Both centres now stock a new range of giftware to celebrate this special year including china mugs, tea towels, note books, pin badges, magnets and confectionary all with a royal theme.

There will also be a chance to win a selection of 'Best of British' gifts in a free prize draw.

Saint George, one of the most prominent military saints, was born somehwere between 275/281 – 23 April 303) and was, according to tradition, a Roman soldier from Syria Palaestina and a soldier in the Guard of Diocletian, who is venerated as a Christian martyr. He's one of the most venerated saints in the Catholic (Western and Eastern Rites), Anglican, Eastern Orthodox, and the Oriental Orthodox churches. He is immortalized in the tale of Saint George and the Dragon and is one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers, a group of saints venerated together in Roman Catholicism because their intercession is believed to be particularly effective, especially against various diseases.

Saint George is also patron saint of countries such as Georgia, Egypt, Bulgaria, Aragon, Catalonia, Romania, Ethiopia, Greece as well as England, and patron saint of cities such Genoa, Beirut, Rio de Janeiro Barcelona, Moscow and Tamworth and the Maltese island of Gozo – as well as a wide range of professions, organizations and disease sufferers.

Local visitor information centres are open as follows:

• Morecambe VIC, Old Station Buildings, Marine Road Central - Monday - Saturday - 9.30am - 5pm.

• Lancaster VIC, Storey Creative Industries Centre, Meeting House Lane - Monday - Saturday, 9.30am - 5pm

Saint George: Wikipedia Entry

St George's Day recipe: venison mulligatawny

Suspected crime cash forfeited to the courts

Cash seized during a raid on a Ryelands house has been forfeited to the courts following a Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) hearing.

Officers raided an address on the Ryelands estate in March and April 2011 and seized over £2,800 in cash from residents at the property.

At a hearing at Lancaster Magistrates Court, officers from Lancaster’s proceeds of crime unit put forward that the cash was believed to have originated from class A drug dealing.

Magistrates ordered that the money should be forfeited and it will ultimately be ploughed back into crime fighting activities.

“Forfeiture orders can be used to retain cash even when a criminal conviction is not in place but where, on the balance of probabilities, the money has either come from criminal activity or could be used to fund future criminal activity," explained DC Stephen Dixon, from the Proceeds of Crime Unit.

“POCA legislation is extremely useful in removing funds that are likely to have been accumulated through illegal activity - particularly drug dealing -  that has caused damage to a local community, especially as by removing this money we can help to prevent further crime and improve the quality of life for local residents.”