Friday, 27 April 2012

Police appeal after Willow Lane assault

Police are appealing for witnesses after a man was assaulted and had a mobile phone stolen during a street robbery in Lancaster earlier this month.

The incident took place around 8.00pm on 10th April 2012 when a 20-year-old victim  was walking along Willow Lane on the Marsh Estate with two female friends when they were approached by a group of young men.

Three of the boys grabbed the victim's black LG mobile phone before assaulting him, knocking him to the ground and kicking and punching him to the head and body. Fortunately a member of the public intervened and the offenders ran off.

The victim suffered swelling and bruising to his body and a laceration to the top of his head requiring hospital treatment.

DC Ian Wright from Lancaster CID said: “I would appeal to anybody that witnessed this offence of with any information that could assist with our investigation to contact Lancashire Police on 101.”

A 16 year old boy from Lancaster has been arrested in connection with the offence and is currently on police bail.

All Write Jack: creating The Unsociables

Writer Jack Hathaway
A Lancaster sixth former has helped to write a play about last summer’s riots which is now performing at The Dukes.

Jack Hathaway is just 18 but he’s already been appointed The Dukes young writer in residence and has been working with a team, including an awardwinning writer, to create one of the most energetic shows ever presented on the Lancaster theatre’s main stage. 

And he’s done all this while studying for A-Levels at Ripley St Thomas CE Academy.

The Unsociables is a fast-paced production reflecting on 48 hours of chaos, violence and criminality on a scale unseen for many years in England. (Check out our review, here)

It follows individual stories and imagines the experience of the young people, police and everyone else involved in the riots.

“The part of the play I’ve written about reflects my political experiences which started when I joined a protest against the student fees," says Jack, who lives in Caton.

“Many young people are a lot more bothered about politics than others might think.”

Jack worked with Stephen Fairclough, Anne Wilson & Laurence Wilson, winner of the Brian Way Award for Writing for Children and Young People in 2011, on the script.

Jack, who has yet to vote in an election, has been part of youth theatre activities at The Dukes for seven years, initially as an actor. A highlight was performing with The Dukes Senior Youth Theatre at The National Theatre in 2009 as part of the New Connections programme.

And though he will be appearing on stage in The Unsociables, Jack’s real passion is writing, an interest which was also sparked by a group at The Dukes.

“I get a real sense of pride to see what I’ve written being performed on stage," he says, "and it’s great to be able to say to friends and family ‘come to The Dukes and see my play’”.

Featuring free-running, stunning visuals and live music, The Unsociables is being performed by a cast of up to 35 young people, with more working behind the scenes.

It’s the first time a production by The Dukes Young Actors and The Dukes Young Company has been staged in The Rake, emphasising the Lancaster theatre’s commitment to young performers from the district.

•  Tickets for The Unsociables, which runs until Saturday and contains strong language and challenging themes, are priced £8/£6 concessions. To book, call The Dukes Box Office on 01524 598500 or

Lancaster Jobs for Climate Change Week

The Dukes will be showing the film One Million Climate Jobs Now! (plus shorts) at 7:30pm on Tuesday 22nd and Wednesday 23rd May in the Gallery. On the Wednesday Shaun Dey, the filmmaker will be in attendance.

The films each night are:
 One Million Climate Jobs Now! – a film made to start the major campaign of the same name of which the Climate Jobs Caravan is a part.

 BULGARIA Fracking Victory! – huge demos in Bulgaria force the government to ban the dangerous process of fracking.

100,000 March in Copenhagen - (from 2010) the biggest march for climate justice ever, plus an introduction to the mass movements of the Global South.

The One Million Climate Change Jobs Caravan (see is coming to Lancaster's Market Square on Thursday 24 May as part of its tour of the North. It has inspired a local festival of events to explain its plan to persuade the government to invest £18 billion a year in sustainable electricity, transport and heating jobs

In the evening of the 24th at 7:30pm there will be a public forum on the One Million Climate Jobs campaign with a national speaker, Martin Empson, introducing. This will be held in the Music Room at the Storey.

During the day there will also be a Green Jobs Fair at Lancaster and Morecambe College (12pm - 4pm).

You can see more about the week's events on facebook at Climate Change Caravan, Lancaster or read more about the national campaign at

See also our previous story: Million Jobs for Climate Change Caravan - a liveable future

In Review: The Unsociables

The Unsociables
Congratulations to Director Louise Ingham, writers Steve Fairclough, Jack Hathaway, Ann Wilson and Lawrence Wilson and the entire Dukes Young Company and Dukes Young Actors (all 30 of them) for their first night of The Unsociables.

This is a wonderful use not only of ensemble theatre, with imaginative choreography and never an awkward or slow moment, but also of verbatim theatre, using accounts of the August 2011 riots by various people involved in them: those who joined in, those who stayed inside, those who went to watch and got swept away, those who tried to stop the looting and burning.

Rehearsal photo by
Luke Johnston
Interwoven with that are four individual stories, including one narrated as rap, as we hear one boy’s experience, blended with 3 a.m. Facebook conversations and his clumsy, always-unsuccessful pursuit of Kelly.

Importantly, this is not just a play about the August 2011 riots, but what preceded and built up to them: the removal of the Education Maintenance Allowance, protest, joblessness or jobs in Poundshops, community service, all oddly punctuated by William and Kate’s wedding. Immediately prior to the riots themselves (with a focus on the Foot Locker), we see five of the actors on a countryside cycle ride, thinking of all the possibilities of life, while round them circle the hoodies.

This is an thoroughly energetic production, with loud, live and recorded music, and excellent use of electronic projection and simple, symbolic props. But best of all is the quality of the acting: there are some very fine performances, in terms of action, gesture and facial expression as well as what is said and how.

Definitely worthy of performance in The Rake.

Jane Sunderland

• Still to run:  Friday 27thApril 27, 7.30 p.m; Saturday 28th April, 7.30 p.m. Price: £8 / £6
Dukes Box Office: 01524 598500. The Dukes, Moor Lane, Lancaster LA1 1QE

• More info:

• Take a peek behind the scenes of The Unsociables in a photographic exhibition which runs until 29th April. Luke Johnston, who is among the cast, has taken pictures throughout the rehearsal process and the results can be seen in The Dukes gallery.

Luke, 17, from Lancaster is studying photography at Preston College and hopes to become a professional photographer. He has acted in several Dukes youth productions. As well as being a talented photographer, Luke shows off his BMX skills during the production

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Wray Scarecrow Festival starts this weekend

Houseproud scarecrow

The villagers of Wray will be entertaining the multitudes again this year with their legendary week-long Wray Village Scarecrow Festival from Saturday 28 to April Monday 7 May, which will see clever and quirky scarecrow tableaux on topical themes populating the village lanes and gardens all week. (Visitors who are unfamiliar with English rural customs are advised to steer well clear of the giant wicker figure in the back field... ;-).

The festival climaxes on Bank Holiday Monday, 7 May with the Wray Fair, which is a great day out packed with demonstrations of rural crafts, fairground rides, classic vehicles, children’s entertainment, rare breeds, charity and trade stalls. And, of course, Duck Herding. The Fair will also feature live performances from the cast of The Sound of Music from Morecambe Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society, tra-la!

This year is the 25th anniversary of the Wray Fair in its modern guise. It co-incides with the Queens Diamond Jubilee holiday, which the village will also be celebrating in its own eccentric style.

The Festival opens with the annual 10km road race and fell race this Saturday 28 April.

On Sunday, April 29, there will be the annual Wray Village Cricket Match and also a car boot sale on the Village Field. On the Wednesday evening the John O'Gaunt Morris dancers will perform outside the George & Dragon and on Thursday 3 May a Classic Bike Night rolls into Wray.

Friday evening will see the Giant Scarecrow Parade through the village and on Sunday 6 May a Vintage Market will be held on the Village Field.

Entry to the Village Fair on 7 May is just £3 for adults, £1.50 for pensioners and kids under 16 are free.
Car parking is £1.50 throughout the Scarecrow Festival and Fair. Delicious refreshments will be on sale all week in the Village Hall as well as in the local hostelries.

You can find out more about the Wray Scarecrow Festival and all the events planned at

Nuclear waste - tarnishing the Lake District 'brand'?

The Lake District National Park Authority (LDNPA) has issued a consultation response that indicates that its sole concern about proposals for a dump for high-level nuclear waste to be built under the Lake District is bad publicity to the Lakeland 'brand'. The proposed Geological Disposal Facility (GDF) (nuclear waste dump) within the National Park would be the first of its kind, would become known throughout the world, and must remain intact and sealed from any groundwater seepage for several hundred thousand years with potentially deadly consequences to the region if it should weaken at any point in that era.
Their response to the government's 'Managing Radioactive Waste Safely' (MRWS) public consultation can be downloaded as a PDF document here.

Practically every local parish council near the proposed site has voted vehemently against it (read more here). Keswick Council in particular is worried that a dump for high-level radioactive waste would put paid to the Lake District's hopes of becoming a World Heritage Site, a status that would attract increasing jobs and funding as natural green spaces are shrinking elsewhere. Recent earth tremors in nearby Ambleside have focussed minds on the problem.

However the LDNPA's concerns are, worryingly, not with possible radioactive pollution to the Lakeland water table or geological instability over millenia but simply about 'spin' - with polluting the ‘brand’ of the Lake District. Despite many letters from objectors locally and nationally, in their recent response to the Managing Radioactive Waste Safely Partnership (MWRS) consultation on the proposed dump they raised only one concern:

We welcome the additional research on Brand Protection and await the outcomes of the research. This will hopefully build on the perception research undertaken by GVA Consultants which highlighted concerns amongst visitors to the Lake District National Park and Cumbria in general.
It remains a concern that significant media interest highlights the potential location of the geological disposal facility in the ‘Lake District’ rather than ‘West Cumbria’. As a result of the association of a geological disposal facility and the Lake District we remain very concerned that there may be a direct impact on businesses operating within and trading off the brand of the Lake District.

In other words, they seek assurance that any piece of nuclear news in the public media should henceforth refer only to 'West Cumbria' and never to 'The Lake District'. The suggestion that ‘West Cumbria’ is a different entity to the ‘Lake District’ is misleading, however and has enraged Cumbrians who are passionately attached to their National Park - the jewel in the their own 'brand'.  The British Geological Survey report to the government on potential GDF sites ruled out much of Cumbria  - except the area that that lay within the National Park boundaries. The proposed site, near the popular visitor destination of  Gosforth,  with its many charming hotels, lies within the National Park and is a stone's throw from Ennerdale, Wastwater and Buttermere.

The fact that Labour peer and ex-Cabinet member Lord Clark of Windermere is chair of the LDNPA partnership and also a non-executive director of Sellafield Ltd also appears to illustrate the close association between the Lake District and the nuclear industry. It has not gone unnoticed by local anti-nuclear campaigners, many of whom who see a direct conflict of interest between the two roles.

Opponents believe that attempts to 'spin' a potential Lakeland nuclear waste dump as 'West Cumbrian' is an irresponsible strategy of deception that glibly condemns both Cumbria and the Lake District as a whole to inevitable environmental catastrophe. The knock on effects for the North Lancashire visitor industry are serious.  Being a gateway to Wastwater is attractive.  Being a gateway to 'Nuclear Wastewater' less so.

From the nuclear industry's point of view, which its executives are committed to support, a disposal 'solution' for long-term deadly toxic waste is the key to any future nuclear development. The current priority is simply to drive through the fresh public consultation stage with their plan intact. Their problem seems to be how to prevent the public from actually noticing that Lakeland, a precious national asset, is at stake. The LDNPA is the Lake District planning authority. Its support is vital and its chair Baron Clark is in a key position to oversee delivery of that support.  Their response is clear:  'Stop telling anyone'.

The Labour Government's previous nuclear consultation on building a new generation of reactors in the UK was declared a 'sham excercise' in a High Court ruling in 2007. For the Lake District National Park planning authority to be clearly advocating media deception of the public in the debate over the siting of the GDF under the National Park certainly suggests that yet another 'sham exercise' is under way.

Local artist Marianne Birkby, an active member of Radiation Free Lakeland, blogs:  'No matter how many taxpayer £millions are poured into a “Brand Protection Strategy” the only way to protect the ‘Lake District Brand’ is to say no to nuclear developments, everything else is rearranging the branded deck chairs on the Titanic.'

Dog seized by Lancaster Police under Dangerous Dog Act

Police have seized a dog from a Lancaster house following the execution of a dangerous dogs warrant.

Officers attended an address on the Ryelands Estate after learning that the dog could be the puppy of another animal that had already been seized and found to be a dangerous type.

The dog – which is believed to be a pit bull terrier type dog (one of four banned breeds in the UK) - will now be kept in kennels while checks are made.

Any dog can be a danger to the public, but certain types of dogs are banned in the UK. If you own a banned breed of dog you are committing a criminal offence. A banned dog can be seized by police even if it isn’t acting in a dangerous manner.

“The dog will be examined to determine what type it is," commented PC Peppi Agliolo of Lancaster police. "If it is not a banned breed of dog then it will be returned to its owner. If it is banned dog, officers will investigate the circumstances around the dog and owner and a decision will be made regarding what offences have been committed and whether to prosecute the owner in either criminal or civil courts.

“If it can be shown that the dog is not a danger to the public, then the courts can place it on the government's Index of Exempted Dogs. The owner may be able to keep their dog, dependant on the courts decision, and a list of compulsory stringent conditions will be imposed - including keeping it muzzled and on a lead when in public and having it neutered.

“It is very important that dog owners take responsibility for their pets – banned type or not," he added, "and that they train them and care for them so that they are not a threat to other animals or people. Where we can see that an owner is willing and able to meet their responsibilities, costs and conditions, we will work with them to have their animal returned.”

Amphetamine seized during Lancaster drugs raid

Police have seized suspected amphetamine, heroin and cash following a raid at a home in Lancaster.

Officers executed a drugs warrant at an address in Harcourt Road at shortly after 1.00pm on Tuesday.

A number of ounces of a substance, believed to be amphetamine, were found inside the premises and were seized by police.

A 37-year-old woman was arrested on suspicion of possessing amphetamine with intent to supply; possessing heroin and possessing cannabis. She has since been released on bail pending further inquiries.

Sergeant James Pinder, Lancaster police, said: “Amphetamine, like all illegal drugs, has a negative impact on our communities, not only because of the physical and mental health risks it brings with it, but also because a significant proportion of crime in our neighbourhoods - particularly burglary – is carried out in order to fund a drug habit.

“When we become aware that drugs and drug dealing are causing issues for other local residents we will take action, but we need members of our communities to come to us with any concerns or information that they may have so that together we can solve the problem.”

• Information can be given to police on 101 or by calling Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Everything's coming up Roses at Williamson Park

Everything will be coming up 'Roses' at Lancaster's Williamson Park this summer when the 2012 Roses Historic Vehicle Run heads to the park.

The 12th Historic Vehicle Run will leave Bradford on Sunday 1st July and make its way via Halifax, Todmordon, Burnley, Clitheroe and through the Trough of Bowland before ending its journey at the park.

The cavalcade of amazing vintage vehicles including motorcycles and commercials is due to arrive at the park from 11.30am. Everyone is welcome to come along and enjoy the occasion.

As well as an exhibition of classic vehicles, Lancaster City Brass Band will be performing in the park during the afternoon to celebrate the end of the run.

• If you are interested in taking part in the Roses Historic Vehicle Run, please see the events and news section at where you can download an entry form. Alternatively, you can pick up a copy from the park shop. The entry fee is £3 and the closing date for entries is Sunday 6th May 2012.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Improving your improv - new courses

Improvisation is fast becoming very popular in the UK with it already being in great demand in America. If  you want to get better at thinking and speaking on your feet it's a fun and friendly way to go about it.  We Are Improv is a new improvisation group based in Lancaster. The group began in October 2011 and has so far run several popular courses. Katy Bateson who teaches the sessions has been improvising for many years and is very passionate about improv, attending courses, workshops and festival all over the UK. She wants other people to be able to enjoy the happiness, joy and exhilaration that she has experienced through improv and tells us:

'Improvisation is acting spontaneously without a script. You react to your surroundings and your fellow course mates. The courses offer a safe environment to have fun and to play with no criticism or negativity. You don't need to be a comic, you don't need to have any acting experience, all you need is you!

'Improvisation is a team activity where you are encouraged and supported by the other members of your group. You will play different games and act out scenarios to create unique scenes that will leave you smiling for days. If you are the type of person who enjoys having fun, laughing and meet new exciting, interesting people then improvisation is for you!'

The next course is a 4 week introduction to improvisation starting on Tuesday 1st of May from 7pm until 9pm. The course will run for 4 Tuesdays at the Quaker Meeting House in Lancaster and costs £20.

For more information you can contact Katy at or visit

Lancaster has another Improv group too.  ImprovXpress is also running a course (£3 per session for a nine week course) at the Lancaster Deaf Centre on Monday evenings until 10 June.  For more information on this and future ImprovXpress courses for all ages contact David Ash 01524 380176 or email

'Childhood Memories' Art Competition promotes dementia awareness

Remember the person

To promote Dementia Awareness Week, 20th – 26th May 2012, Alzheimer’s Society Lancaster and Morecambe have launched an art competition for those living in the Lancaster and Morecambe area only.

They would like to invite budding artists to take part and submit pictures no later than 14th May, on an A4 sheet, with the theme 'Childhood Memories'.

Lorna Campbell, Support and Development Officer for Younger People with Dementia told us:
'Childhood memories are very important to all of us but are particularly valuable to a person with dementia.  For them, these memories are sometimes the only thing they have to make sense of what is going on around them.  These memories can help them to maintain important relationships and friendships, to feel positive and to remain a valued member of the family and community.

'We need to tackle the misunderstandings surrounding dementia if we are to ensure people living with dementia are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve.  We hope this competition can be used to raise awareness and to learn a little more about people who live with dementia and the effects it has on their lives and daily living.'

The art competition will be open to all budding artists, but not professionals, and will be judged by local artist Chas Jacobs.  There will be two categories: the under 18 years and the over 18 years.  Please can artists put their name, age, and contact information on the back of their picture and send their entries into Alzheimer’s Society Lancaster & Morecambe, Altham Meadows, Bartholomew Road, Westgate, Morecambe LA4 4RR by 14th May.   For further information please contact Alzheimer's Society on 01524 402610

Entries will be displayed locally in libraries and the Arndale and St Nicholas shopping centres.  The winner and runner up in each category will be presented with a prize.  The local radio stations and the local press will be invited to take photographs of the winners and their designs.

It is predicted that by 2021 there will be a million people living with dementia in the UK. Currently the Alzheimer's Society estimates that only 40% of people with dementia receive a diagnosis.

Steiner School: 'Nature Deficit Disorder' the modern childhood disease

Add caption

Recent research commissioned by the National Trust highlights that British children are exhibiting signs of a modern phenomenon called ‘Nature Deficit Disorder’. This is caused by a lack of engagement with the natural world and can lead to diminished use of the senses, attention difficulties, and higher rates of physical and emotional illnesses, among other symptoms. Evidence suggests the problem is worse in the UK than other parts of Europe, and may help explain poor UK rankings in childhood satisfaction surveys.

The National Trust noted that statistics reveal that things have changed dramatically in just one generation:

-Fewer than ten per cent of kids play in wild places; down from 50 per cent a generation ago.
-The roaming radius for kids has declined by 90 per cent in one generation (thirty years)
-Three times as many children are taken to hospital each year after falling out of bed, as from falling out of trees
-A 2008 study showed that half of all kids had been stopped from climbing trees, 20 per cent had been banned from playing conkers or games of tag.

One local school in particular is taking the matter seriously. Steiner education encourages active engagement with the natural world and Lancaster Steiner School would like to invite parents to an open day this Friday 27 April, from 2.30 - 4.30pm to find out more.  (website:

Lancaster Steiner School has existed at Lune Road in Lancaster since 1999. The school does not follow the national curriculum, but is part of a network of thousands of Steiner schools world-wide, and approximately 40 in the UK. It follows the educational  philosophy of Rudolf Steiner (

You can read a previous article about the school's philosophy here.

The school is a independent school, however, which means that an education there comes at a price that not everyone can afford.  The full school fees are approx £4000 a year, but there is a bursary scheme available for parents on a low income. Kindergarten children are eligible for the early years vouchers, so we are told that the fees are can be very low (depending on number of days the child goes). You can read the school's most recent Ofsted Inspection Report here.

Lancaster City Council's Junior Play Rangers offer a number of excellent free activity days through the year in local parks teaching handy woodcraft skills that many parents would envy. The Leighton Moss RSPB Nature Reserve Wildlife Explorers Club for 8-14 year olds also meets every month for some real wildlife action. But if we really want to see our kids regularly come home with mud in their ears and smiles on their faces, we need to protect the few precious natural green spaces the city still has left within their reach.

Volunteer Achievement Awards 2012 Announced

CVS Awards 2011. Image courtesy Lancaster District CVS

Do you know someone who gives their time for free and takes pride in their local community? Volunteers in the Lancaster district will have their hard work recognised at an awards ceremony in June.

And organisers of the event are asking for nominations of the people who volunteer their time to support others.

The Volunteer Achievement Awards 2012 is run by Lancaster District CVS, and celebrates the enthusiasm and dedication of local volunteers.

Last year CVS had 24 group, 50 volunteer of the year nominations and winners were Ann Shaw as Volunteer of the Year from Thumbprint, an organisation which enables people with learning disabilities to set up and run their own projects; and Bob Raby from Signposts, which supports the local community on a wide range of issues including housing and health benefits.

The Young Volunteer of the Year - a new category - was awarded to Daniel Hunter from Morecambe and District Junior Anglers, which aims to teach coarse angling and raise awareness of conservation and wildlife issues for those aged 8-16.

Nominations for 2012 are welcomed in five categories, with prizes including free entry to local museums and attractions.

All nominees and guests are invited to the ceremony, which is a unique opportunity to encourage volunteers to continue their hard work and inspire others to become involved in volunteering. 

You can nominate people under the following categories;
  • Trustee of the Year
  • Young volunteer of the Year (18 and under)
  • Community Pride Volunteer
  • Volunteer of the Year
  • Group nominations
Each nominee will receive a certificate, and winners will receive the prizes, donated by Lancaster City and Lancashire County Council, including a 12 month Xplorer Pass, unlimited free entry in museums across Lancashire; a Salt Ayre Sports Centre Family Inflatable Session two adults and two children; and free admission to the Butterfly House at Williamson Park

• The deadline for nominations is Friday 18th May 2012 and the ceremony will take place on Wednesday 6th June 2012, 4-7pm at Lancaster Town Hall.   
• Visit for nomination forms and further information.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Police appeal following indecent assault in Lancaster

Police are appealing for witnesses following an indecent assault on two young girls earlier this month.

The incident happened at around 7.15pm on Monday 16th April on the Millennium Bridge in the city centre.

A man approached two 13-year-old girls on the bridge and put his arm around them both before sexually touching them and laughing. The girls managed to push the man off and ran towards Skerton.

The offender is described as being Asian, aged around 25 years old, with an average height and a slim to skinny build.

He had dark wavy hair and dark eyes and a gap to the side in his upper row of teeth. He was wearing a cream coloured cardigan type top over a blue undershirt and blue jeans.

Detective Constable Brian Shepherd said, “I would appeal to anyone who recognises the man in this picture to come forward and contact the police.

“This is a serious offence and the person responsible needs to be caught and brought to justice. Although not physically hurt, the two girls have been left shaken following a terrifying ordeal.”

Anyone with any information is asked to call Lancaster CID 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.

Freeman's Wood - TPO upheld at Appeal Hearing

The Freeman's Wood site.
Photo: March 2012
Lancaster City Council's Appeals Committee confirmed the Tree Preservation Order (TPO) on Freeman's Wood at their hearing on Monday at Lancaster Town Hall. Their decision opens the way for a possible prosecution for alleged recent breaches of the Order.

The single objection against the TPO was lodged by the owners of the property, the Bermuda-based Property Trust Group (PTG), in association with their partners, development consultants Satnam. The meeting heard that both have been in discussions with the City Council Planning Department for some 18 months now regarding their ideas for a new residential development on the site.

Mr Mark Mackworth-Praed, of Simon Jones Arboricultural Consultants, spoke on behalf of the PTG and Satnam. He presented the following objections to the TPO, namely:
  • That the woodland on the site consisted merely of shrubbery and undergrowth with very few mature trees.
  • That the site had little or no amenity value
  • That the trees could not be seen from public land
  • That the boundaries of the TPO included land that contained no trees
  • That the TPO notices had been incorrectly served by the City Council
Speaking for the TPO was Tree Preservation Officer Maxine Knagg, who made the case that:
  • The woodland on the site contains a large number of mature trees
  • The woodland itself is a organic wildlife environment naturally and desirably consisting of diverse trees, saplings and undergrowth
  • The site has a well-known history of use as a local amenity
  • The trees could be clearly seen from all sides of the site and other public locations
  • That the boundaries could be varied by the meeting to correct any unintended inaccuracies
  • That any TPO mis-service had been rectified and the proper notices served.
She also informed the meeting that the City Council was currently investigating alleged breaches of the TPO  (ie felling / damage to protected trees) on the site.

Freemans Wood
Photo: 1999
The meeting heard that 72 letters of support for the TPO had been submitted by local residents. There had also been complaints about the damage to the environment, the loss of amenity and the inappropriateness of the fence. This could be seen to be a significant demonstration of widespread community interest and support for the TPO.

Several people spoke from the floor, commenting on the amenity value of the site. Among these were local councillors and a representative of the Fairfield Association, who noted that the land was used as a 'green corridor' by wildlife, including deer. She pointed out that the recent fencing and digging of the land had been severely traumatic for local deer and, consequently, traumatic for local residents who took an interest in their welfare. She raised the importance of preserving a balance between wildlife and humanity for the benefit of future generations.

Unearthed landfill waste on the site
Photo March 2012
The city council's strategy over recent years of developing the adjacent cycling and walking routes as a community and tourist amenity was mentioned, as was the provision in the 1990s of a BMX cycle track for local youth within the site itself, although this has recently been bulldozed by the
owners. The fact that Freeman's Woods has featured as an 'attraction' on the Virtual-Lancaster virtual tour since the website was founded in 1999 was also raised by this correspondent as evidence of the amenity value of the woodland to local residents and visitors.

The presence of asbestos in the construction rubble from the old Williamson factory recently unearthed was mentioned, with the strong recommendation that the council take steps to ensure it is covered again at the earliest opportunity and the trees retained and encouraged to maintain stability of the old landfill under the site.

Bulldozed landfill and trees
Photo: March 2012
Mr Mackworth-Praed then went on to argue that although the land may have had some amenity value in December 2011, when the TPO was set in place, it had since been fenced off, and consequently no longer had such value. In addition, he believed that the fence now obscured the view of any trees that might be there, further reducing their amenity value.  Cllr Barry noted that the fence does not entirely surround the site, and it is, in fact, all publicly accessible.

After lengthy deliberations in private the Committee voted unanimously to confirm the TPO on the site with two conditions:

1. the boundary of the TPO be amended to exclude an area of hard-standing
2. Areas within the boundary that are currently grass meadow without trees may be mown without the need for an application to carry out tree works.

A carpet of waste dumped outside
the site fence
Photo: March 2012
The committee's verdict clearly met with approval from the members of the public who had waited over an hour in the corridor to hear it. Local residents have been dismayed by the erection of high steel fencing along stretches of a local beauty spot, the recent destruction of trees and upheaval of the site and the appalling mess as historic landfill waste has been unearthed, scattered and dumped through the surrounding area.

This website has published photographs taken in March 2012 depicting clear evidence of extensive tree felling and damage to the site and the surrounding paths. A deliberate breach of a TPO can incur a fine of up to £20,000 if a Magistrates Court convicts.

Workman felling trees on the site
Photo: March 2012
Where, hypothetically speaking, trees have been felled in breach of a TPO in order to undermine that same TPO, perhaps, say, to potentially reduce the value of a site as a public amenity, one could surmise that such a brass-necked attempt to circumvent legal process could be interpreted as an aggravation of such a breach. This would, of course, be entirely a matter for a magistrate to determine.

Depending on the outcome of their current investigation the City Council may now take legal action to enforce the TPO. The matter of the mess around the site, and the safe disposal of the waste material unearthed from it has also to be resolved.  We will keep readers posted and welcome your comments.

• Visit the Save Freemans Woods group on facebook

• See previous stories:
'Catastrophic damage to 'protected' Freeman's Wood - photos'

• 'Coronation Field developer's next target?'

Monday, 23 April 2012

Comic costume call for Kendal Calling Music Festival

Image via Happy Slap Boutique
The massive music event Kendal Calling has just announced its the fancy dress theme for 2012 will be Fairy Tales and Comic Books, a magical all encompassing theme that will see the site transform on Saturday, with the entire congregation encouraged to get involved.

Tickets have been getting snapped up for this year's festival and a full to bursting line up has already been unveiled that includes Dizzee Rascal, James, Maximo Park, Dan le Sac vs Scroobius Pip, We Are Scientists, The View and many more.

For the third year, Kendal Calling reveal a fancy dress theme that has been a huge success in previous years with revellers showing incredible innovation and imagination in designing and donning costumes.

"Getting dressed up for a festival is all about becoming another version of you," a spokesperson explains. "An exaggerated, bold and colourful character. So this year we are transforming the Deer Park into another world with our theme Fairy Tales and Comic Books."

With the backdrop of the stunning Lake District, Kendal Calling expects to see everyone from the Pied Piper to Wolverine, Little Red Riding Hood to Catwoman, the Gingerbread to Tin Tin all partying together and this years theme will make the event even more of a surreal wonderland of fun and frolics than ever before.

The fun and frolics continues at Kendal Calling in the crazy world of the Happy Slap Boutique. This area will be like no other and is where anything goes, and is the home of electro swing and eclectic music. A haven to transform into creatures and characters, the Happy Slap face-painting boutique will get revelers ready to be immersed in magical worlds, dazzled by spectacular cabaret shows, wowed by our travelling circus and entertained in ways you never thought possible.

Happy Slap Boutique present a world of fairy tales and mischief full of secrets to explore and discover, keeping the entertainment going all weekend. Bump into Jack Sprat, a narcoleptic Sleeping Beauty or climb up Rapunzel's hair and witness their take on your classic fairy tales. Performers will be traveling around the festival doing walk-about performance where it’s least expected with music, song, dance and ridiculousness.

As night falls, Happy Slap Boutique will transform into a plethora of circus, fire and glow performances alongside clowning, grotesque burlesque, world famous 'Rave Aerobics' and surprise acts that keep buzzing all night.

DJs Ocelus, Tom Excell, Dan The Hat, Wolfie Rassmatazz, Magic Lantern, Vinyl Rights Experience, Mikey J and very special guests will spin a genre defying mix of electro swing, jungle, Balkan, breakbeat, house & electro.

"The only music we can guarantee are upbeat party tunes," the organisers say. "Check out Happy Slap Radio for exclusive mixes."

The music and activities in the Kendal Calling meadow span 11 diverse stages and areas, situated in a close-knit site that means you’re never far from your friends.

• Kendal Calling, Friday 27th – Sunday 29th July 2012, Lowther Deer Park, Hackthorpe, The Lake District. Adults £105, £50 11-15 year-olds, under 11's free. Tickets available at

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Rock Solid Expo set to challenge nuclear waste plans for Cumbria

Director of GeneWatch Dr Helen Wallace will be in Kendal next month to give a free  lecture at Kendal Museum, part of the Rock Solid? Expo art and events exploring the government plan to try to contain nuclear wastes in Cumbrian geology.

The exhibition and events have taken their name from  ‘Rock Solid?’ a scientific report written by Dr Wallace (PDF link), an overview of the status of research and scientific evidence regarding the underground disposal of highly radioactive wastes, which in Cumbria would in all probablity include the disposal of waste from the Heysham power stations.

Worldwide, 13 countries are actively pursuing long-term waste management programmes for high-level radioactive wastes resulting from nuclear electricity generation, but no country has yet completed an operational geological disposal facility for such wastes.

Greenpeace argues European leaders are being misled over the safety of underground disposal of highly dangerous nuclear waste, which they claim could poison groundwaters for

Cumbria is in the frame for what would be the world's first operational high level nuclear waste geological disposal facility. The Department of Energy and Climate Change have effectively set Cumbria (the only county to "express an interest") the goal of putting the first high level waste into a disposal facility by 2029.

Rock Solid? by Dr Helen Wallace (PDF on Greenpeace web site)

• THE ROCK SOLID Lecture 10th May, The Box, Kendal Musuem from 7pm to 8.30pm. There will also be the opportunity for Questions and Answers. Free: please book with Kendal Museum on 01539 815597 or email

• More info: