Saturday, 4 August 2012

Play Day brings a day of fun for local children

A day of fun activities brought hundreds of children to Williamson Park on Wednesday, as Lancaster City Council celebrated National Playday.
The action packed day started at 10am and went on until 4pm and all activities were free.
Children took part in den and fire building, face painting, treasure hunts and balloon modelling. There were also other popular attractions such as inflatable castles and slides, a huge twister, zorbing game and a rather muddy water slide that stretched down the hill under the Ashton Memorial.

National Playday is the annual celebration of a children’s right to play, a national campaign supported by Lancaster City Council.

To accompany the festival-like atmosphere, music and entertainment was provided by local DJ’s, More Music and a magic show for younger children was held inside the memorial itself.

The day was organised by Lancaster City Council’s Sport and Play Officers who provide hundreds of free play activities for children each year. They also provide activities that support the holiday activity programmes that take place each school holiday.

Coun Ron Sands, Cabinet member with responsibility for children and young people, said: “Play Day is always a great event and this year’s was no exception. It was great to see so many children having a good time and taking pride in one of our local parks.”

• To find out more about the work of the Sport and Play officers and find out about future events visit

Views sought on hackney taxi rank proposals

Lancaster City Council is asking for views on proposals to make changes to hackney taxi ranks in Lancaster, Morecambe and Carnforth.

Following proposals from the hackney taxi trade, a range of proposals have been put forward.

They include removing some unused taxi ranks, to extend and create others and change times that some are in operation.

Alternatively they are available for inspection at Lancaster Town Hall and Morecambe Town Hall.

Councillor Tony Johnson, chairman of the city council’s Licensing Regulatory Committee, said: “These proposals have been put forward by the hackney carriage trade and it is important that local people now have the opportunity to have their say.”

• Details of the proposals are available on the city council’s website at

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Dangerous dogs seized in Lancaster police raids

Three suspected dangerous dogs have been seized by police in Lancaster.

Officers raided addresses on Harcourt Road, Rutland Avenue and Edenvale Crescent this morning (Thursday) and seized three pit bull type dogs.

Two men, aged 26 and 56, were arrested on suspicion of possessing a fighting dog and are being questioned by police. The 56-year-old man was also arrested on suspicion of possessing cannabis.

Any dog can be a danger to the public, but there are four types of dogs are illegal in the UK, the most common being a pit-bull type dog. A banned dog can be seized by police even if it isn’t acting in a dangerous manner.

The dogs have been taken to a kennels where they will be examined by a trained dog legislation officer to determine what type they are. If they are not a banned breed of dog then they will be returned to their owners.

If they are banned dogs, officers will investigate the circumstances around the dog and owner. A decision will be made regarding what offences have been committed and whether to prosecute the owner in either criminal or civil courts.

The magistrates will determine whether they deem the dog to be a danger to the public and may decide to issue a destruction order. Alternatively, if they are satisfied that the dog is not a danger to the public they can return the dog, on the provision the owner agrees to comply with stringent conditions and the dog is placed on the government's Index of Exempted Dogs. Conditions include keeping it muzzled and on a lead when in public and having it neutered.

PCSO Amy Knott, Lancaster neighbourhood police team, said: “There has been an issue of people using their dogs almost as a weapon; threatening and intimidating others, or even encouraging the animal to act in an aggressive manner. This is dangerous and we will do what we can to prevent this from happening.

“However, we know that many dog owners also love their pets and train their animals responsibly so that they pose a minimal risk. In these cases there is the opportunity that a banned breed can be returned to their owner if they are prepared to abide by certain conditions that will ensure the safety of the public.”

Lancaster City Council seeks views on revised gambling policy

Lancaster City Council is asking the public to help it review its gambling policy.

By law the council has to review its Statement of Gambling Licensing Policy every three years.

As the current version was published in January 2010 a revised version must be in place by January 2013.

A draft version of the revised policy has been produced and is now available for public comment. It can be viewed on the council's website at

Alternatively, copies are also available in reception areas at Lancaster Town Hall in Dalton Square, Lancaster, and also at Morecambe Town Hall, Marine Road, Morecambe.

A separate document is also available showing a summary of the proposed amendments to the existing policy and these are reflected in the revised draft.

Any comments should be submitted in writing to Mrs W Peck, Licensing Manager, Lancaster City Council, Town Hall, Dalton Square, Lancaster, or by emailing

The deadline for comments is 24th October 2012.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Councillor warns on "Rat Run" Cycle Path dangers

Green councillor Jon Barry has warned that somebody is going to get killed or seriously injured unless prompt action is taken to stop cars using the Glasson Dock cycle path.

“For some time now there has been occasional use by motor vehicles of the cycle track between St George's Quay and Aldcliffe," he says. "However, the  use has escalated of late because of the closure of St George's Quay.

"I have had reports of cyclists and walkers being forced into the ditch by up to five vehicles."

"In April 2011 I had firm assurances from Lancaster City Council officers that a series of warning notices were to be  placed at either end of this rat-run and new bollards placed at the Quay end," he added. "However, despite me giving officers a number of reminders,  nothing has been done.

"In desperation, I contacted the County Council several months ago and they said that they would sort something out.  However, once again, no action.

"If this problem is not sorted out soon, especially with the number of children using the cycle track  during the summer holidays, somebody will be killed or seriously injured."

"The police have been very helpful and have stopped several cars. However, they need support from our local authorities".

Teen given two-year ASBO banning him from Heysham estate

A teenager who has spurred others youngsters into acting in an unruly manner has been banned from a Heysham estate.

16-year-old Jaydon Garthwaite, of Rothesay Road, Heysham, was given a two year anti-social behaviour order after Lancaster Magistrates Court heard how he had caused a catalogue of problems for local residents and shop staff.

Under the terms of the ASBO, Garthwaite is now banned from Heysham’s Combermere estate. The ASBO also prevents him from associating with William Morrison, Anne Jane Morrison, Tyler Ley or Scott Bowden in any public place or associating with Daniel Bell, Ryan Bowden, Aiden Westby or Daniel Westby in any public place other than Heysham Community Centre on Middleton Road, Heysham or DW Sports fitness, on Central Drive, Morecambe. He is also banned from causing harassment, alarm or distress to others.

PC John Davis, Morecambe Police, said: “Garthwaite’s behaviour over the last year has often been aggressive and threatening, and at times has been fuelled by alcohol. As a result, a large number of families in the local area have suffered, and those with young children often do not want them to play out for fear of their little ones coming across Garthwaite and his associates.

“He has been abusive to residents, shop staff and police officers and he encourages others to act in a similar manner, which only exacerbates the problem.”

He added: “ASBOs are designed to put restrictions on a person so that they can assess the way they behave and hopefully make a few changes for the better. However, if they refuse to comply, they face arrest and will be put before the courts. We hope that the community feel reassured that the ASBO on Garthwaite is now in place and that it shows we will not allow people to behave in this way.”

Police appeal following assault outside Lancaster night club

Police are appealing for witnesses following an assault in Lancaster City Centre on Saturday 30th June.

The incident happened outside the Toast Nightclub on North Road at around 2.00am when the victim, a 18 year old man, was stood outside the club on the street.

He was approached by a group of women, who had just been refused entry into the nightclub, when one of the shouted something at him and another punched him in the mouth. He suffered a chip and crack to a tooth.

The woman is described as being approximately 30 years old, having a large build with dark brown hair and was wearing a black dress.

PC Simon Harrison from Lancaster police said, “I would appeal to anyone who was in the area at the time and who may have information to come forward and contact the police.”

Anyone with information is asked to call Lancaster police on 101.

Link Road Reasoning Ripped to Shreds in new hearings

Hearings into the Heysham M6 Link Road have revealed that the justification for the scheme has been shot to pieces.

The Examination, which has been running for some weeks now, is being conducted by Mr Robottom, the Examiner for the new planning body, the National Infrastructure Directorate or NID, previously IPC.

“Open Floor” Hearings in Lancaster Town Hall and Torrisholme have given everyone the chance to speak their mind on the scheme. 31 people did so, and 30 of them told the Examiner how strongly they opposed this damaging and polluting scheme.

Campaigners Transport Solutions for Lancaster and Morecambe argue the new process, with the Examiner asking questions, rather than expensive barristers fighting it out, has revealed the holes in Lancashire County Council’s case.

“The Link Road is not intended to solve Lancaster’s problems” was just one surprising admission from the manager for the Link Road, Steven McCreesh.

The Council has also had to admit that the traffic figures they used in 2007 were wrong by 20 to 30%. They forecast that traffic would increase by 1.5% per year, but the actual increase has been only 0.5% per year.

The scheme was given the go ahead on those wrong figures, but things look very different now.

“We questioned those figures back in 2007, and time has proved us right”, said David Gate, Chair of TSLM. “Now they’re using figures from 2008, and there’s no guarantee they’re correct either.

"It’s preposterous to justify a £123 million scheme on such flimsy grounds”.

The forecast time savings on journeys on the new road have gone down to five minutes, at peak times only, which would hardly be noticeable for the long-distance drivers who will be using it.

The Council has also been taken to task for failing to investigate the alternatives, which include a package of transport measures proposed by TSLM that would really reduce congestion.

"These alternatives look even more attractive now, and cheaper in these days of cost-cutting," says David.

The Examination is expected to end in mid September, with a decision announced in early 2013.

Criminals warned over drug smuggling after cannabis seized at port

Criminals looking to smuggle drugs and other items via Lancashire’s ports are being warned they are being watched following recent seizures, including one at Heysham last week.

In the last few months, officers from Lancashire Constabulary’s ports unit, working with police colleagues in the Isle of Man and port staff, have seized drugs worth over £315,000.

In the most recent incident in the early hours of Friday morning, officers stopped a vehicle at Heysham port and a search was carried out using a drugs dog. They discovered 76 bars of a brown resinous substance, believed to be 9oz bars of cannabis worth an estimated £50,000 inside the car’s boot.

A search of a vehicle in February revealed an attempt to take £125,000 worth of drugs across to the Isle of Man. During the TT races £140,000 worth of drugs were also seized.

Detective Superintendent Martin Kay, Lancashire Constabulary, said: “Criminals may try to take drugs in or out of the county via our ports but they should know that they are being watched very closely.

“We take the policing of our ports very seriously and will work with port teams, other agencies and police colleagues on both sides of the water to provide a visible and effective deterrent to cross border crime and to make sure that our busy ports are secure.”

He added: “We would ask residents to help us in this aim by reporting suspicious activity involving boats or aircraft, or around coastal areas.”

The warning comes after press reports raised fears that cuts in the numbers of Customs Officers were damaging Britain's ability to prevent smuggling into the UK.

In May, the Daily Telegraph reported that senior immigration officers had claimed operations to combat the influx of drugs, guns and other contraband into Britain have been placed effectively on hold at Heathrow, while other media reported similar concerns from officers in Liverpool.

• Information can be given to police on 101. In an emergency always dial 999.

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Top folk act J’ache Accused returns to Lancaster

There's a change of line up to previously announced dates at Lancaster's Robert Gillow folk nights this month.

Sadly, Pete Morton is unable to perform at The Robert Gillow on Thursday 9th August as arranged. He sends his apologies to everyone.

Happily, the excellent J’ache Accused is stepping up to fill the date - only his third Lancaster gig in four years.

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.

Sounds to us like one heck of a replacement and well worth checking out.

Monday, 30 July 2012

Sustainability on the agenda at Ambleside

Renowned writer and broadcaster Jonathon Porritt delivered a sustainability masterclass at the University of Cumbria at Ambleside on Friday 20 July.

The university joined with the Lake District National Park Authority to organise the event and provide an opportunity for invited guests to discuss with Jonathon how the Lake District can contribute to, and benefit from, the transition to sustainability.

Jonathon initially spoke about the international backdrop of sustainability and the current position from a global leader’s perspective. This was followed by a lively discussion on global and local sustainability issues and also the potential development opportunities at the university’s Ambleside campus.

“It has been a real privilege to spend the morning at Ambleside at such an important time for the university as a whole”, Jonathon said. “Brilliant people, lots of good ideas and sustainability are very much part of the mix so I believe the future prospects are extremely encouraging for the area.”

“We were keen to work on this joint venture with the university and to engage with local groups in pursuing the sustainability agenda," commented Richard Leafe, Chief Executive of the Lake District National Park Authority.“We are already committed to this work through our Low Carbon Lake District initiative and welcome the opportunity to support the education of residents, visitors and businesses through activities such as this.”

“We were delighted to host this masterclass with Jonathon Porritt with invited attendees from the community, local business, the university and the Lake District National Park Authority," added Liz Beaty, Pro-vice Chancellor at the University of Cumbria.

“The university has a new corporate strategy with four themes, one of which is sustainability, so we are currently focusing on how sustainability can be embedded into not only our curriculum, but also our estates strategy.”

Spotlight Club moves to the Park Hotel

Lancaster's Spotlight Club - the monthly writers, musicians and poets performance event - is moving venues from The Storey to the Park Hotel for its next event in September, due to the uncertainties regarding the future of the Meeting House Lane-based arts centre.

The Next Spotlight will be on Friday 21st September. Compered by Simon Baker the event will feature poetry from Kim Moore, Miss P, Peter Donaldson and Joe Haslam, plus music from Amy-Jo Clough and Leroy Lopton.

• More info on events and Spotlight writer workshops:

 • The Park Hotel is on St Oswald Street off Bowerham Road, Lancaster and online at Doors Open 8.00pm with Open Mic 8.30 - 9pm. Admission is £4 / £2 students/unwaged/concessions