Friday, 8 June 2012

Building society robbers get six years

Dominick Garside
Two brothers who carried out an armed raid on a Lancaster building society have both been jailed for six years.

22-year-old Dominick Garside walked in to Cumbrian Property Services/Marsden building society on Church Street, Lancaster, on 29th March and threatened cashiers with an imitation hand gun before forcing them to hand over a substantial amount of cash.

His brother, 25-year-old Christopher Garside, kept watch outside before the pair fled and attempted to hide from police in Rhyl.

Staff at a Morecambe building society were able to help police identify Christopher Garside following a press appeal using CCTV images from the raid. It was quickly discovered that he had left his address in Morecambe and had moved to Wales the day after the robbery. Police also worked with colleagues from Greater Manchester Police, who were investigating Dominick as a missing from home case. Inquiries led police to Rhyl, where the pair were arrested.

They appeared at Preston Crown Court last month and pleaded guilty to robbery and a firearms offence.

Christopher Garside
Appearing at court yesterday (Thursday) Dominick Garside, of Buxton Road, Stockport, was jailed for six years and Christopher Garside, of River Street, Rhyl, was also jailed for six years.

Speaking after the sentencing, Detective Constable Brian Shepherd, Lancaster CID, said: “This was a terrifying raid for the cashiers involved, as they believed Dominick was carrying a real gun. They have understandably been left deeply traumatised and one of them is receiving counselling.

“When we arrested the brothers, we recovered a sizeable amount of the stolen money from a safe in the property but it was clear that a significant sum had also been spent on expensive gadgets, household equipment and decorative items, which had been squashed into a bedroom - making it resemble an Aladdin’s cave of ill gotten goods.”

He added: “These criminal brothers are now behind bars and I hope that this demonstrates the lengths that we will go to catch those responsible for such serious crimes.”

Cool Britannia show cancelled at the Platform

The Cool Britannia show scheduled for the Platform in Morecambe on Saturday 16 June has been cancelled.

There are no plans to reschedule the show. Customers who have already purchased tickets will be directly informed and will receive a full refund.

• For more information about events taking place at the Platform, please visit or call 01524 582803. Stay up to date by following the Platform on Facebook at

Lancaster Game Designers win top award

Lancaster-based game designers Peter Cakebread and Ken Walton have won the award for Best Role-Playing Game at this year’s UK Games Expo in Birmingham, for their table-top steampunk role-playing game, Abney Park’s Airship Pirates.

Based on the songs of Seattle-based steampunk band Abney Park, the game book – lavishly illustrated by some of the top steampunk artists in the business – plunges the players into an alternate steam-powered future of strange cultures and weird gadgets. Players take on the roles of the crew of a time-travelling pirate airship in a game of storytelling and imagination.

“When we first contacted Robert Brown, lead singer of Abney Park, about the possibility of creating an RPG based on his songs, we didn’t realise how popular it was going to be,” said Ken Walton. “Steampunk is a much bigger phenomenon in the Unoted States than it is in Britain, so all the interest came as a bit of a surprise! It’s a great honour to win this award and we couldn’t have done it without all the contributions made by Robert, the artists, our publishers, and all the people who voted for us on the day.”

The game has already won the Diehard GameFANS Award for Best RPG Rule Book of 2011 and the Steampunk Chronicle Readers’ Award for Best Steampunk Game, and was shortlisted for an Origins Award too, which is given at the Origins Game Fair in Columbus, Ohio.

Cakebread & Walton: Purveyors of Fine Imaginings, was set up in Lancaster in 2010. Airship Pirates RPG isn’t the only role-playing game they’ve written; the team have also produced the critically-acclaimed Clockwork & Chivalry, game set in an a fantasy version of the English Civil War, fought with magick and clockwork war machines. Both game lines are supported by an increasing number of supplements, and new games are in the pipeline.

Their games are distributed worldwide by Cubicle 7 Entertainment, who also market the Starblazer game based on DC Thomsons 1980s SF comic.

• For more information visit

Morecambe Winter Gardens to host British Fashion Week

Morecambe's word famous Winter Gardens will host British Fashion Week next year,
to help support the restoration of the historical venue.

The British Fashion Week committee are collaborating with The Boutique, Brands and Buyers Association (BBABA) in finding the highest standard of unique and upcoming designers and British textile manufacturers, as well as established brands to showcase within the trade exhibition creating what is, British Fashion Week. 

The official event launch wil take place at Winter Gardens, where the 120 exhibitors will be surrounded by simplistic period features that capsulate a timeless British essence, appreciated by the likes of Red or Dead co-founder Wayne Hemmingway. 
"Think raw British talent, think innovation in design, think everything fashion," say the organisers.
Among the labels showing at the exhibition are several handpicked labels chosen by the director for their unique and individual style, some established and others emerging, some include Anouska London, Helen Rochford, Arthur and Betty, Bugsy Pants,
Velvet Johnson and Yaelle.
Both buyers and the general public will be offered the chance to enjoy a display of designs and collections via several inspirational high-class catwalk shows tailored differently each day. On Sunday, for example,  The Vintage summer catwalk, sponsored by celebrity favourite Trinitia Tan, will be fully enjoyed after indulging in The Great British Afternoon Tea. 

Guest designer interviews and active workshop sessions - expected to be announced soon -  also make a gateway for inside behind the scenes professional knowledge and even some fashion world exclusives. 

Celebrations during the debut of the event will also include the launch of the Young Inspirational Brit fund, where one outstanding British designer or brand will be given access to top professional industry mentoring support and funding. 

Their talent and innovative collections will go on to being stocked in select boutiques and identified stores not only nationwide, yet potentially at an international level formatting a global brand. 

Additionally the BBABA is looking for ‘Glambassadors’ -  so there is no excuse to not get involved!   

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Lancashire police cuts causing more crime, says acting chief constable

Lancashire Police's acting chief constable Chris Weigh told a meeting of the Lancashire Police Authority that the loss of police officers following funding cuts has contributed to a rise in crime in the county.

Despite Tory government claims that police cuts should only affect "back room staff", it's claimed savings of £42m needed over the next four years from Lancashire Constabulary's current £287m annual budget mean some 513 police officers have been taken off the streets.

Chris Weigh told the meeting that this had led to an "inevitable" increase in the number of offences and said Government-imposed public sector cuts were a factor in a rise in particular offences, although crime as a whole remained "historically low" in the county.
"Operation Julius was designed to tackle burglary spikes last year," he said. "How much longer can you continue to deploy Julius-type operations when resources are falling?"

BBC News reports that figures released in April showed serious acquisitive crime rose 8 per cent, house burglaries were up 8.4 per cent, vehicle crime was up 6.4 per cent and assault without injury was up 15 per cent.

"There is a genuine real increase in offending. There is no doubt the courts are behaving differently," Mr Weigh told the meeting. "There is evidence that people are struggling to get people remanded in custody, and there are some new crime types emerging."

His view mirrors that of the chief constable of Lancashire Steve Finnigan, who is currently on sick leave, who had previously said budget cuts were hitting policing in the county.

Commenting on the claims, former Lancaster MP Ben Wallace, now MP for Wyre & Preston North, told TV News last night that the police should look to adopting the recommendations controversial Winsor Report on police pensions and renumeration, which he said would save forces more money, rather than cutting front line staff.

Lawyer Tom Winsor's review of police pay and conditions has already sparked a mass protest from rank and file officers.

Supposedly an indepedent review, few people realize that Tom Winsor - now the Government's choice for the next Chief Inspector of Constabulary on a salary of £200,000, to the dismay of Police Fedration - is a senior partner with global law firm White & Case who advised G4S in relation to its £200 million privatisation project with Lincolnshire Police Authority. The contract is the first of its kind to be awarded in the UK police sector. (More on this on the Police Inspector  blog)

Many police officers fear the creeping privatisation of he police, despite denial by the Government.

Lancashire Constabulary has lost 600 police and office staff from its 6,000-strong workforce since April 2009 and must lose 200 more posts.

See Also

BBC News - Lancashire Police job cuts 'causing more crime'

•  Lancaster Guardian - Crime up after Cuts

Police Inspector Blog: Winsor, Vested Intrests and Privatisation

White & Case Advises G4S on £200 Million Police Authority Contract

Tom Winsor Profile on White & Case

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Ryelands drugs gang sentenced

Anthony Diprose
gang leader
Members of an organised crime gang who ruled a Lancaster's Ryelands Estate through fear and intimidation have today been given jail sentences totalling over 67 years.

The gang members were arrested and put before the courts following Operation Bespoke, a lengthy investigation into organised crime, drug dealing and money laundering in Lancaster and the surrounding areas.

Officers involved in the investigation initially carried out a series of raids in 2009 and 2010, acting on intelligence that the gang were involved in the supply and distribution of cocaine and other drugs. The raids also revealed that the gang had access to a variety of weapons, including firearms.

During the subsequent trial at Preston Crown Court, the jury heard how the illegal operation was headed by 27-year-old Anthony Diprose; with his younger brother Jason Diprose, 26, also organising the group’s activities.

Jason Diprose
Others helped to mix cocaine with adulterants, compressing the diluted powder using hydraulic presses and redistributing it to street dealers, while also storing drugs and firearms in their homes.

Anthony Diprose lived a lavish lifestyle from the profits of the drug dealing activity, buying designer clothes, expensive jewellery and a high-value car. Anthony Diprose laundered money with the assistance of various friends and relatives, who also stood trial for the offences.

The activities of the gang left many Lancaster residents – particularly those on the Ryelands estate where many of the group lived –appalled at the criminal behaviour occurring in their communities, but fearful to speak out about it.

Following a 13–week trial, gang leader Anthony Diprose, 27, of Roeburn Drive, Morecambe, was found guilty of conspiracy to supply cocaine and money laundering. He pleaded guilty to fraud by false representation after clocking a Range Rover. He was jailed for 16 years.

His brother, Jason Diprose, 26, Austwick Road, Lancaster, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply cannabis; conspiracy to supply cocaine and fraud by false representation. He was jailed for 16 years.

Both brothers were made subject to a serious crime prevention order which will last for five years from the date of their release from release from custody.

Aidan Higgins, 21, of Dee Road, Lancaster, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply cocaine and possessing heroin. He was jailed for four years.
Liam Wiper

Liam Wiper, 24, of Euston Grove, Morecambe, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply cocaine. He was jailed for six years and nine months.

Andrew Gunningham, 30, of Ryelands Road, Lancaster, found guilty to conspiracy to supply class B drugs and was pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply cocaine. He was jailed for seven years.

Brian Coulton, 31, of Tarnsyke Road, Lancaster, was found guilty at trial of conspiracy to supply cocaine. He was jailed for five years.

David Threllfall

David Threlfall, 28, of Artle Place, Lancaster, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply class B drugs. He was jailed for 18 months.

Kenneth Smith, 23, of Acre Court, Mainway, Lancaster, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply cocaine and was found guilty at trial of possession with intent to supply cocaine. He was jailed for four years.

Liam Parkinson, 25, of Norfolk Street, Lancaster, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply cocaine; possession with intent to supply heroin and possessing a taser. He was jailed for seven years.

All were told they would serve half these sentences in prison and the other half out on licence.

Katie Noon, 25, and Paul Noon, 30, both of Austwick Road, Lancaster were both found guilty of a money laundering at trial and were given a six months sentence which was suspended for two years and 50 hours of unpaid work.

Rachel Lynch, 42, and Paul Lynch, 45, both of Tarnbrook Road, Lancaster were found guilty of a money laundering at trial and were given a two year community order, a two year supervision order and 40 hours of unpaid work.

Speaking after the sentencing, Supt Andrew Webster, Lancaster police, said: “A group of criminals who had instilled fear in our communities through their illegal activities are now behind bars, meaning the streets of Lancaster and Morecambe are a safer place.

“While out on their daily patrols our neighbourhood officers would hear from residents about how they felt that their lives were being been blighted by the two Diprose brothers and their associates. Many felt threatened and intimidated by the actions and activities of these individuals.”

He added: “Operation Bespoke was put in place to disrupt this organised gang and smash the drugs supply chain that they had built up – a supply chain which in turn brought additional crime with it, as burglaries and other offences are often carried out to fund a habit. We hope that the sentences these criminals have now received show residents that Lancashire Constabulary is committed to listening to their concerns, tackling crime and disrupting organised crime groups.

“At the same time Lancashire Constabulary is sending a strong message to those involved in organised crime – you will be caught, put before the courts and face going to prison.”

Reassurance work is now being carried out in the local community by their neighbourhood police teams.

Supt Webster said: “It is incredibly important that people continue to provide the police with information so that we can keep them safe and look for ways to prevent organised crime groups from operating in the future. Lancashire Constabulary will investigate and act on any credible intelligence that is passed to us.

“We want to continue working closely with our communities to tackle the issues that affect their lives the most and, together, find a long-term solution to these problems.”

Information can be given to police on 101, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111. In an emergency always dial 999.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Vehicles stopped in Lancashire as part of operation

Hundreds of vehicles have been stopped over the last several weeks in Lancashire as part of a road safety campaign by the constabulary.

BikeWatch was launched in April by police in Lancashire in conjunction with the Lancashire Partnership for Road Safety and RideSafe BackSafe.

The initiative has seen officers and volunteers stepping up their interaction with both motorcyclists and car drivers in order to drive home key messages around safe riding and safe driving around motorcycles.

In total 2561 vehicles have been stopped, including 1153 motorcyclists throughout Lancashire by officers since the start of April.

Reasons for engaging with riders and drivers include minor indiscretions requiring general safety advice, speed related offences, roadworthiness issues and more serious offences such as careless and dangerous driving or riding.

Sergeant Nigel Ralphson from the Roads Policing Department, commented on the operation: "Many riders and drivers have been stopped in order that together with our partners we can give advice around certain aspects of their driving, and it is encouraging to note that the vast majority are keen to chat to us and support the general aim towards less riders being killed or seriously injured.”

Chief Inspector Damian Kitchen, from Lancashire Constabulary’s Operations Division, said "Last year nine motorcyclists were killed and 526 injured in Lancashire and we are determined to work together with riders, drivers and partner agencies so that we reduce this figure year on year.

"For this reason, anyone seen committing offences that are particularly careless, inconsiderate or dangerous have been and will continue to be dealt with robustly.

"Motorcyclists can be particularly vulnerable and therefore the message for bikers is clear - ride safe by wearing the appropriate gear, ensuring that both your vehicle and riding meet the legally required standard and always be aware of your environment and surroundings when travelling." 

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Book Review: The Architecture of Sharpe, Paley and Austin by Geoff Brandwood

Academic and expert on Victorian architecture Geoff Brandwood has followed his 1997 book on the work of Temple Moore with this history of the Sharpe, Paley and Austin firm, which practiced from its offices in Lancaster from 1835 to the early 20th century. Six years in the making, Brandwood’s enthusiasm for his subject is reflected in the depth and detail of the work which contains lengthy appendices, including a definitive catalogue of all the firm’s work and projects.

Many Lancastrians will have noticed the blue plaque commemorating the offices of Sharpe, Paley and Austin on the Georgian facade facing Lancaster Castle. The multi-talented Edmund Sharpe founded the practice in 1835, following a 3 year “grand tour”, studying architecture on the continent. Joined in 1838 by Edward Paley then Hubert Austin in 1867, the practice grew and flourished toward the later part of the 19th century as the wealth generated by the industrial revolution allowed the late Victorians to express their values and aspirations.

The practice was extremely prolific and undertook commissions for many public buildings as well as fine churches. Their work was concentrated in Lancashire and what is now South Lakeland and for many the real interest of the book will lie in its local relevance. Mark Watson’s photographs lavishly illustrate the quantity and diversity of designs realised by the firm which, as a provincial practice, supported grand ecclesiastical projects like St Peter’s cathedral in Lancaster and Holker Hall with “bread and butter” work including shops, pubs and schools. They designed modern (for the time), functional buildings for the Furness Railway Company and referenced the architecture of the past, notably the Gothic style but also Elizabethan and Jacobean, and were influenced by the Arts and Crafts movement.

It is astonishing and really quite fascinating to realise the amount of buildings that we see and use every day that were built by Sharpe, Paley and Austin. I never before connected the turrets and domes of the Royal Lancaster Infirmary and the Storey Institute with the domed house on the corner of Sibsey Street and Westbourne Road but having read Brandwood’s book the link seems obvious. I’ve often looked at this intriguing home and imagined what it might be like to live there. It was originally a Co-op store, as was the magnificent building on the corner of Church and New Street. And who knew that Lancaster’s “bottom Weatherspoon’s” (as opposed to “top Weatherspoon’s”) was once the workshop and showroom of cycle and car manufacturer William Atkinson? Shame there’s no picture of the John O’Gaunt vehicle produced by the company.

The firm’s success in the North West, achieved without the prestige of having practised in London, meant that they never felt the need to move elsewhere and Brandwood makes much of their being “of The North”. Sharpe, Paley and Austin won national recognition, in particular for their churches. The convention at the time was for leading firms of architects to gravitate towards the capital, echoing the London-centric culture of the present.

The men behind this body of work are glimpsed in the book. Tim Austin, great-grandson of Hubert Austin, made a significant contribution to the book and his archives and family photographs give human faces to the story’s characters. Edmund Sharpe’s many interests and enterprises are described in great detail and portray a man motivated by philanthropy who used his talent and status to instigate reform. He was at the forefront of the improvement of “Lancaster’s woeful sanitation” which had led to an outbreak of cholera, and purchased the the Theatre Royal, now 'The Grand', refurbishing it to house a museum and music hall, for the education and entertainment of the people.

His strong Low Church sympathies are reflected in one of his last designs, St Paul’s in Scotforth. Built to serve his own community, the nave is filled with pews, preventing procession and discouraging “popish pomp and ceremony”.

Published by English Heritage, the book costs a rather pricey £50, so you may prefer to order it at the Library. Its thoroughness and detail make it a remarkable account of how one firm and its principals influenced the architectural landscape of the North West, and it gives an interesting insight into Victorian history and its legacy.

A review by Sian Peters for Virtual Lancaster
June 2012

• You can order The Architecture of Sharpe, Paley and Austin by Geoff Brandwood at Amazon either new or second hand.

It is also available at

Discovering witches: Litfest book launch this month

Blake Morrison
Multi-talented poet, prose-writer and literary critic Blake Morrison launches a collection of poems new and old published by Lancaster's Litfest this month.

A Discoverie of Witches contains poems that give voice to the participants and victims of the Lancashire Witch Trials of 1612 alongside works influenced by the dark Pennine landscape of Blake's childhood.

A Special limited edition format of A Discoverie of Witches, exclusive to Litfest, numbered and signed by Blake Morrison and including a DVD interview with the author, will be available, priced £39.99. The standard edition co-published with Smith / Doorstop Books will be available from October.

For more information about the event visit

Blake Morrison A Discoverie of Witches: Thursday 14th June 2012 7.30pm. Tickets for this free event are available from the Litfest online kiosk