Saturday, 7 July 2012

Shape up in summer

If you've had trouble getting into your summer gear this year in readiness for your holiday and think it's time to lose a few pounds, then help is at hand from Lancaster City Council.

Salt Ayre Sport Centre is offering a special rate to get you fit and healthy by the end of summer.   Join ‘Shape up in summer’ and you can enjoy 30 days of fitness for only £25.

This great promotion offers access to the state of the art gym, the swimming pool, the sauna and relaxation areas as well as the outdoor running track.

This offer comes with the usual benefits of free parking, a delicious selection of healthy goodies at the café and friendly and helpful fitness advice from the gym staff.

The offer is only available until August 31 so call Salt Ayre Sports Centre now to make your first appointment on 01524 847540 and make a start on shaping up by the end of summer.

• For more information contact Salt Ayre Sports Centre, Doris Henderson Way, Salt Ayre Lane, Lancaster, telephone 01524 847540.  Alternatively you can send an email to or visit

Deadline nears for comment on Central Promenade plans

One of the original designs proposed for the Central Promenade by Urban Splash
Objectors argue the new buildings are too high.
(Updated 8/7/12, added Councillor Hansons's comments)

Morecambe Town Council will be considering the revised planning application submitted by Urban Splash for the Central Promenade to Lancaster City Council at its meeting on Thursday 19th July - and welcomes the public's views on the proposals.

The Town Council is a statutory consultee and as this is such an important planning application in terms of the future of Morecambe, the Town Council is interested to hear the public’s views on the application prior to the meeting. This would allow Town Councillors to make an informed decision when considering the comments they may wish to make to the Local Planning Authority on behalf of the residents of the town.

Manchester based developer Urban Splash, which renovated the town's landmark Midland Hotel, has spent several years working on plans for the 7.5 hectare site, and its 2010 proposal included proposals for seven new buildings containing a visitor attraction, more than 600 apartments, 20 beach houses and 120,000 square feet of retail and commercial space, as well as new public spaces. But the plans horrified many locals, and the Town Council clearly stated its objection to the application.

The firm previously submitted plans for the area in 2007 and 2010 but both were rejected following local opposition.

Despite changes to the initial plans for the Central Promenade's development, Morecambe Council felt them "insignificant" and objected to the proposals on the grounds that they were in substantial contravention of Planning Guidance, Planning Policy and Regional Development strategies.

"The applicant has not satisfied the conditions of DP1 2 Regional Planning Guidance," the Council argued. "In addition, the application is not in keeping with the principles of development in a conservation area.

"The proposed development would severely reduce the footprint for leisure activity and the number of dwellings provided would bring no measurable improvement to the local economy.

"Morecambe Town Council deplore the lack of consultation between Urban Splash, Lancaster City Council and local people.”

As this is an amended application the Town Council has again been asked for its views as statutory consultee. The application now submitted proposes:

“Outline application for the redevelopment of Morecambe central promenade including retail, leisure, restaurants, cafes, commercial and crèche use (A1, A2, A3, A4, A5, B1, D1, D2) at ground floor level with residential and hotel accommodation (C1, C3) above. Extensive public realm works include a new setting for the midland hotel, seaside square, a boardwalk and market square.”

Urban Splash, who have threatened to invest elsewhere if there are further objections, says the plans that will be considered this month have been revised to include reductions to the height of accommodation blocks and a better layout.

The company argues the scheme would "revitalise" the town and play a key part in its much-needed regeneration.

But local councillor Evelyn Archer argues the proposed buildings are still too high and will dwarf the Midland Hotel.

"That's an iconic building," she told the BBC this week, and has set up a stall in the Arndale Centre where the public can view the plans every day until 23rd July - the deadline for the submission of comments on the proposals to the council.

"This is the most important planning application which will influence the town for many years to come, I just want people to be informed," she said.

Speaking for Lancaster City Council, Coun Janice Hanson, who is Cabinet member with responsibility for regeneration and planning, commented:  "The regeneration of Morecambe is a key priority for the city council but if we are to achieve this aim we need private companies to come in and invest.

“Only by attracting and working with major companies can we secure the investment that we so badly need and secure the best possible future for the town and its residents and businesses.

“That’s not to say we are willing to accept development in any form," she added, "and these plans will be carefully scrutinised to ensure that they are acceptable and we welcome comments from local people.

“But the fact that a company such as Urban Splash is still wanting to come in and invest in Morecambe is a welcome sign and one which we should all support.  The submission of these plans is a welcome step forward and moves us closer to our goal of securing the investment we need to put Morecambe back on the map.”

The planning applications will be considered in due course by the council's Planning and Highways Regulatory Committee when feedback from key consultees and retail consultants has been received. The views of local people will also be taken into consideration before a decision is made.

• Full details of the application may be viewed on the Lancaster City Council website at:

Persons who wish to forward comments on the amended outline application by  Urban Splash to the Town Council prior to it considering the matter should either email them to David Croxall, Town Clerk at or in writing to: David Croxall,  Town Clerk, Morecambe Town Council, Town Hall, Morecambe LA4 5AF

Morecambe’s First Beer Festival seeks volunteers

The Lunesdale branch of the Campaign for Real Ale is organising the first ever Morecambe Beer Festival, aiming to present fifty real ales plus ten ciders in tip top condition, served with proper food and live entertainment at most sessions. But they need some help running the event in August.

"We’re holding the event in the recently reopened and iconic Winter Gardens in Morecambe," they tell us. What better venue to sample some of the country’s finest beverages.

The event will run from Thursday 23rd August until Saturday 25th August but in the run up to that they need help, loads of it. On Monday 20th all the beers, glasses, bar, cooling system and so on arrive at the Winter Gardens and the team need assistance putting them in place.

"It will be a long hard day and the more volunteers we can get, the easier it will be," says Festival Co-ordinator George Palmer.

At each of the sessions CAMRA will also need about 20 staff (including the committee members). Volunteers will get a beer allowance and some food.

If you can help out at any of these sessions you’ll have to be there an hour before and help with clearing up afterwards would be appreciated.

• If you'd like to help out, download this staffing PDF ( and send it to George via

Police hail Crimestoppers success

End of year statistics released by crime-fighting charity Crimestoppers have revealed that 2,910 pieces of information were passed to the police through Crimestoppers in Lancashire between April 2011 and March 2012 – an increase of four per cent on last year.

This information led to 580 people being arrested and charged with crimes in Lancashire. Drugs to the value of £2 million pounds were seized.

“We are very proud to be able to say that Crimestoppers is making a difference in Lancashire," coomented Lee Threfall, Chair of Lancashire Crimestoppers. "It is thanks to those people who pass on information to us that these arrests are made and crimes solved.

“We are receiving more calls year on year which is leading to more arrests - all this contributes to making Lancashire an even safer place to live, work and visit.

“The information we receive is a valuable resource for the police and I must pay tribute to Lancashire Constabulary for the action officers take in carrying out investigations and making arrests on the back of this information.”

Detective Chief Inspector Lee Halstead, Lancashire Police, said: “Crimestoppers provides an invaluable and confidential service and allows people an alternative method of informing the police of their concerns via an independent third party. Every piece of information that is passed is examined carefully and acted on, achieving some great successes and bringing even more criminals to justice.”

With the charity celebrating its 25th anniversary next year, these figures represent a growing awareness and trust of Crimestoppers as both a charity, and an organisation that aids the fight against crime.

Gary Murray, North West Regional Manager for Crimestoppers, said: “I am absolutely delighted by the results in Lancashire and this is a positive sign of the work our volunteers are conducting in the area.

“These results are part of Crimestoppers’ ongoing work to keep our communities safe and ensure that those committing crime are brought to justice.”

Across the UK, information passed onto the police by Crimestoppers increased almost five per cent.

Crimestoppers operates the 24/7 0800 555 111 telephone number for people to pass on information about crimes anonymously. Information can also be passed anonymously through the charity’s website at

If you are interested in becoming a volunteer for Crimestoppers, please fill out our volunteer enquiry form at

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Amnesty International's work highlighted at local talk

Amnesty International's work in standing up for human rights was highlighted by Councillor Mark Bevan in a talk to Morecambe and Lunesdale Constituency Labour Party last Thursday.

Coun Bevan, a Labour councillor for Poulton ward and a student at Lancaster University, said that the organisation had moved on from supporting prisoners of conscience when it was founded 50 years ago to covering many issues where justice, freedom and truth are denied.

They include torture, detention without trial, the death penalty, refugees and asylum seekers, women's rights, corporate responsibility, arms trade, freedom of speech and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights.

The party took up Coun Bevan's suggestion to appeal to the authorities in Belarus concerning a journalist, Andrzej Poczobut, who risks five years' prison for criticising the President.

Mark joined Amnesty International whilst in the Sixth Form at Morecambe High School. Although he does not hold any official position in Amnesty, Mark is a strong supporter of all their causes.

He was elected to Lancaster City Council in May 2011 and serves on the Overview and Scrutiny Committee and represents the council on two outside bodies – the Lancaster and Morecambe Fairtrade District Steering Group and the Rainbow Centre (formerly Age concern, Morecambe and Heysham).

Monday, 2 July 2012

ChildLine Schools Service needs volunteers in Lancaster

ChildLine has launched a service for primary age children in Lancaster, the ChildLine Schools Service, and is looking for volunteers to get involved.

All children have the right to be happy and safe, but many suffer abuse in silence, unable to speak out. The ChildLine Schools Service is aimed at primary age children, particularly focusing on seven to 11 year olds, and aims to help them understand what abuse is, including bullying, how to protect themselves and where to get help and support if needed.

The ChildLine Schools Service needs volunteers in Lancaster to deliver assemblies at local schools followed by an interactive workshop a week later.

The presentations and messages delivered at schools have been developed alongside children, parents, carers and teachers. They are sensitive, age appropriate and engaging. The Service is provided free of charge and focuses on primary school children, aged seven to 11 years old.

By 2016, the ChildLine Schools Service aims to visit every primary school in the UK at least every two years.

If you are interested, you must be able to volunteer for part of the day during usual school hours (between 9.00am and 3.00pm). Full volunteer training and support is provided by ChildLine, alongside the opportunity to make a real difference to local children as part of a committed team.

“Research undertaken by the NSPCC shows that the majority of children who contact ChildLine for advice, information and support are over 11 years old," notes Chris Dunn, ChildLine Area Co-ordinator for Lancaster. "However we know that the majority of children who are subject to a child protection plan are under the age of 11.

“These younger children are not connected so much with the outside world. In fact, their world is quite small. So if abuse is happening to them at that age, then it’s very difficult for children to speak up. That’s why we want to educate children earlier and ensure they know how to keep themselves safe or seek help if they need it.”

In keeping with ChildLine’s 25 year history of volunteering, the new schools service will be led by volunteers. We are looking for people across Lancaster who are committed to helping protect and safeguard children. There is no set ‘type’ of volunteer but we want communities to be involved and see the Service as belonging to them locally. Volunteers will ideally be people who can engage with children and are confident to deliver presentations. Volunteers will work in pairs and will be given regular support, guidance and training by ChildLine to ensure they are able to deliver specially designed assemblies and workshops.

“What’s key about our Schools Service is that we need a great team of volunteers," Chris explained. "It's very much about mobilising the community and to make child protection everyone’s responsibility.”

First piloted in 2010, there are two phases to the new service. The first is a school assembly that provides definitions of abuse, places to go for help and an introduction to ChildLine. The second phase takes place one to two weeks later and is an interactive classroom-based workshop where the messages are reinforced.

Graham Brough from Arkholme Primary School, in Lancaster said: “The content and style of the workshops was fun, varied and age appropriate. The children were all able to join in and answer questions regardless of their ability or emotional development and the materials were sensitively used without being graphic”

• If you would like to find out more information and to volunteer your time you can apply directly at or contact Chris Dunn,
ChildLine Schools Services co-ordinator in Lancaster, on 07976 065343 or email:

• View the latest recruitment video at:

• If schools would like to know more about booking a ChildLine schools service assembly please contact Chris Dunn, ChildLine Schools Services co-ordinator in Lancaster, on 07976 065343 or email:

Full Steam Ahead for the 40th Cumbria Steam Anniversary!

Following the tremendous success of last year’s event, the 40th Cumbria Steam Gathering returns in 2012 on 28th & 29th July at Cark Airfield in Flookburgh, near Grange-over-Sands.

Always a real crowd-pleaser and a great day out for all the family, the Cumbria Steam Gathering features more than 1,200 classic exhibits, a vintage fair, a multitude of caterers, trade stands and crafts  as well as many different displays and lots of great entertainment.

Now celebrating its Ruby Anniversary, the Cumbria Steam Gathering is an enormous weekend event, with splendid steam engines and vintage commercial vehicles, as well as hundreds of examples of much-loved classic transport, including cars, motorcycles, bicycles, agricultural and industrial tractors, farm equipment and stationary engines. A young tractor driver training course is available for 13 - 16 year olds, more information on the Exhibitors page.

Headlining events this year will be the returning Richard Savoury’s Sheep Show and the North West Lawn Mower Racing Association; Richard’s pleasurable and educational sheep show includes shearing demonstrations and “The Sheep Show Shuffle” – dancing sheep!  Another returning event is the thrilling lawn mower racing – with all the excitement of motor racing, this is motor sport at grass roots level with cutting edge technology!

On the Saturday, around 40 Model T Fords presented by the Model T Ford register of Great Britain are visiting the Steam Gathering, as part of their own event in South Lakeland.

The enjoyable event has lots to keep the children amused, ranging from a traditional fairground with many vintage rides and attractions, some that are over 100 years old, to miniature remote controlled car racing and magic shows.

The Pantonic Steel Orchestra, along with a variety of other bands will be playing throughout the weekend.  Traditional wrestling will be provided by the Cumberland and Westmorland Federation (Sunday only).  The ever popular arena displays will return this year, where a variety of vintage treasures can be viewed from the large grandstand areas and, for the more daring visitors, how about driving a real traction engine with donations going to local charities?!

And, to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the ever popular event, Ulverston Brewing Company are brewing a unique Ale to mark the occasion, which will be on sale throughout the weekend – a definite must for fine ale fans and bitter lovers alike!

Access to the event is available by rail to Cark railway station and service buses (Saturday only). For those with their own transport, the Cumbria Steam Gathering is clearly signposted from Junction 36 of the M6 and from West Cumbria. Parking is free with a designated car park for blue badge holders. The event provides wheelchair accessible toilets and to help reunite lost toddlers and young children, free wrist bands are provided.

Cumbria Steam Gathering will be taking place from 9am – 5pm on Saturday 28th and Sunday 29th July 2012, at Cark Airfield, Flookburgh.  Daily admission prices are: Adults £12, Concessions £10, accompanied children under 16 are free. There are discounts available for coach parties.

• You can book tickets online and SAVE - visit

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Fab Folk at the Gillow in July

Roger Wilson
The ace Roger Wilson is back at the Robert Gillow this month
There's a fab month of folk music lined up for every Thursday night at the Robert Gillow pub on Lancaster's Upper Market Treet this month. Here's the details...

Thursday 5 July: Drooling Banjos

“We are the Drooling Banjos. There are three of us: Steve on guitar and voice, Martin on banjos various and guitar, and Jack the boy wonder on harmonica.” - a foot-tapping juggish band of the old school. With their energetic renditions of songs familiar and not so familiar this trio of local virtuosi’s deep knowledge and understanding of the genre will soften the heart of the most care-worn and cynical. The rarefied talents of these musicians, the breadth of tonality and sonority of their instrumentation and their subtlety of rhythmic dynamism, serve to counterpoint the poetic and cryptic nature of the lyrical content.

Thursday 12th July: J’ache Accused

The artist formerly known as Jake Hughes plays American country folk and a typical set will include numbers by the likes of Woody Guthrie, Jimmy Rogers, Bob Dylan, Townes Van Zandt, Merle Haggard and Neil Young. Using 6-string and 12-string acoustic guitars, banjo, harmonica and possibly an electric instrument or two he plays and sings with considerable power, skill and belief. Excellence is guaranteed.

Thursday 19th July: Tony Cooke and Howard Haigh

The reputations of these two go before them - their musical pedigrees are known far and wide. Howard’s classical, flamenco, jazzy guitar (Lava, Men of The Hour) and Tony’s folk-dance finger-picking (Free Reed Band, Moorgate) and rockfolk singing (The Duo) have been entertaining the Great British Public for decades. Tonight for the first time ever they combine their talents and will present “an eclectic evening of folk songs and tunes with added bluesy overtones and jazzy bits”.

The music will come from their respective solo albums and band repertoires with pieces being especially arranged - and some especially written - for this occasion.

Thursday 26th July: Roger Wilson

We are pleased to announce the return to Lancaster of this rare musical talent. He is a unique and extraordinary guitar and fiddle player, with a wonderful voice and immense capacity for original and inspired songwriting. He has gained enviable international acclaim for his musicianship with such artists as Martin Carthy, Chris Wood, Sarah Grey, John Tams and the USA-based House Band. His has three solo albums to his credit, spent two years as the mainstay of the orchestra in the award-winning theatrical milestone “War Horse” in London’s Drury Lane and recently toured with a revitalised “Lark Rise To Candleford”.

Do not miss this one! More info on Roger at

More info about the Robert Gillow: