Friday, 17 August 2012

Lancaster University in Top Ten for employable graduates

Lancaster University is in the top ten universities for employment after graduation according to figures from the Higher Education Statistical Agency.

In total, over 94 per cent of graduates from 2010/11 were in a job or further study six months after graduation, above the benchmark figure from Hesa of 91 per cent.

This places Lancaster University sixth out of all universities in the UK for the proportion of graduates who have found work in this period.

The overall list is led by vocational institutions like the Institute of Education and the School of Pharmacy.

Tara McLaughlin, Acting Director of the Careers, Employabiity and Enterprise Centre (CEEC) at Lancaster University said she was pleased.

She said: “I think this good result is partly due to The Lancaster Award, which prepares students for the job market by ensuring they develop the skills employers want, whether through work experience, volunteering or community activities.

“It is one of the many ways in which we prepare our students as much as possible for the world of work.”

Lancaster graduate David Hough has secured a job with IBM after completing the Lancaster Award.
He said: “It prepared me to start my career, and the daunting task of applying for jobs. The Lancaster Award played a vital part in my successful employment with IBM.”

Caroline Parkinson, HR Manager for BSKYB helped interview students for the Lancaster Award.
She said: “Without exception all the students we interviewed were of a very high calibre and they are certainly potential candidates for our graduate programmes.”

One graduate to have completed the Lancaster Award is Rosy Washbrook who has completed a Masters in Management.

She has been accepted onto the Tesco graduate training scheme alongside graduate Sam Dorrington.

Both Rosy and Sam worked in the Lancaster University Students’ Union shop to gain valuable experience, one of many job opportunities available on campus.

Sam said: “I enjoyed having the autonomy to make my own decisions, and having influence over policy. For instance I was trusted to write the staff handbook alongside my manager. I’m now looking forward to a new challenge, meeting new people and progressing my career.”

One former LUSU student member of staff was even offered a place on two graduate training schemes - Asda and British Aerospace - while others have gone on to work in a media agency, recruitment agency and another has started her own business.

In total this year, ten students who have worked in the LUSU campus shops alongside their studies have found jobs on competitive graduate training schemes, including the Civil Service, British Aerospace, KPMG and Barclays.

LUSU Retail Manager Alison Cooke said “This year, in particular, has been a great year for students who have worked in LUSU Retail and we are immensely proud of their achievements. Not only have staff moved on to some amazing graduate schemes but also secured some outstanding career opportunities in their chosen fields.”

Police issue Morecambe shoplifter enquiry photographs

Two women with a dog pictured at Next on Central Drive
Morecambe on 27th July, who police would like to
eliminate from their shoplifting enquiries.
A pair of shoes was taken from the store.
Detection rates for Morecambe show that four out every five shoplifters have been caught by police following a recent crime crack down.

Officers have been running a targeted operation over the last few months in order to reduce incidents of shoplifting at stores in the resort. The rate of detections for shoplifting offences – where an offender is charged with an offence – is currently 83 per cent.

PC Iain Arnott, Morecambe police, said: “Shoplifting can have a really detrimental effect on local businesses and if a store is repeatedly targeted there can be serious financial implications. Shoppers are also affected as the price of goods then rise.

“We have been carrying out high visibility patrols in the town centre to act as a deterrent to thieves and have also been working closely with local retailers to prevent offences happening in the first place. Both shoppers and shop workers should be reassured that we are dedicated to catching shoplifters and bringing them to justice.”

Officers are now asking for the public’s help in identifying a number of people caught on CCTV in Morecambe stores so that they can eliminate them from their inquiries.

The CCTV images include -

- Two men pictured at the Co-Op, Heysham Road, Heysham, on 16th July. Medication and condoms were taken from the store.

- Two women and a man pictured at Booths in Carnforth on 10th July. Around £400 worth of groceries were taken from the store.

- A man and a woman pictured at Sports Direct on Sunnycliffe retail park on 13th July. Clothing was taken from the store.

- A man pictured at Carnforth service station on 21st June. A breakfast wrap was taken from the store.

- Two men pictured at Asda, Ovangle Road, Lancaster, on 7th June. Televisions were taken from the store.

- A man pictured at the Co-Op on Regent Road, Morecambe, on 3rd June. Packets of bacon and steaks were stolen from the store.

• Anyone with information is asked to contact PC Arnott via 01524 63333 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Storey Centre tenants soldier on

Tenants in the troubled Storey Creative Industries Centre have joined forces to try and keep it going, after the company responsible for managing the creative industries hub were placed into the hands of liquidators earlier this week.

virtual-lancaster understands that some tenants have clubbed together to re-employ the cleaner and caretaker; extended insurance cover to include the public areas; and are undertaking fire safety training - all with the aim of keeping the building open until the liquidator is formally appointed by a creditors' meeting next month.

The liquidator is Jonanthan Timmis of Leonard Curtis on Church Street.

With the demise of the company, the City Council is now, we understand, prepared to speak with tenants to work toward a solution, after it decided not to further support SCIC Limited at a recent Council meeting, prompting the tourist office to be moved to Lancaster Library and bringing unwanted uncertainty to tenants.

Michael Gibson, director of Fat Media, which is currently based at The Storey told the Lancaster Guardian on behalf of tenants that the wind up of SCIC was wasn’t the best way to proceed,  but was something that tenants had called for.

“SCIC Ltd was insolvent, couldn’t resolve its own financial and management problems and so couldn’t provide a long-term future for the building," he said. "... The obstacles are now out of the way for the council as owners to join with tenants and other interested third parties to and find a successful, sustainable and viable way for the Storey to operate long into the future, which we firmly believe is there.”

Earlier this month, Mr Gibson told virtual-lancaster he still held the City Council responsible for at least part of the problems facing tenants.

"None of this would have happened if they’d managed their leaseholder better and the responsibility to the city to do it," he said.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Salt Ayre part of "Join In*' Local Sport weekend

Not had your fill of the Olympics? Never fear, quite apart from the Paralympics coming soon, people across Lancashire are also being invited to open days at their local sports clubs this weekend to harness the enthusiasm generated by the Olympic Games.

More than 5,000 sports events are taking place across the country as part of ‘Join In Local Sport’ – an independent charity funded by the government.

The charity has been operating for the last few months with the specific aim of getting as many people as possible to turn up, take part and join in at their local sports facilities this weekend (18 and 19th August).

In Lancaster, Salt Ayre Sports Centre , their 'Cog Set' is hosting fun cycling skills sessions on Saturday to welcome new participants to their club setting. Some fun competitions will be thrown in for good measure. All shapes and sizes of bikes welcome.

All shapes and sizes of bikes welcome - please bring a helmet. Not owning a bike is not be a barrier as club bikes will be available for new participants to try. Refreshments will be provided. Contact them at to register a place or turn up at 09.30 for event registration for a 10:00 start. Finish at 12.00. Club bikes/helmets and drinks/refreshments available.

Among the events taking place elsewhere in Lancashire are special events at Blackburn Harriers Athletics Track from midday on both days, Badminton at Leyland Leisure Centre from 2.30pm on Saturday and 9am on Sunday, and Taekwondo trial lessons at the LivingWell Taekwondo Academy in Blackpool from 1.00pm on both days.

Thousands of sports clubs have signed up to the ‘Join In’ campaign and will hold open days at locations all over the country this weekend. People will be able to try out more than three dozen sports, from athletics to swimming, canoeing, cycling, gymnastics, hockey and karate.

The initiative is being backed by Team GB medal winners past and present, HRH the Duke of Cambridge as well as Prime Minister David Cameron and London 2012 Chairman Lord Coe.

• People in Lancashire can find out what’s happened near them at

Cool Trader casualty of Lancaster Market closure

Budget food store Cool Trader, which has been operating from Lancaster Market for several years, will close its doors next week.

The company, has which was originally reported to be moving into Ethel Austins on Penny Street, which closes next week, has changed its plans and will no longer have a store in Lancaster.

"We have been forced to close our unit in Lancaster market by Lancaster City Council and we expect to close our doors on Saturday 25th August although this date is not yet confirmed, Managing Director Andrew Errington told virtual-lancaster.

"We have scoured the town for an appropriate replacement unit and we have several options but despite our best endeavours we haven't been able to secure a new shop yet."

The Market will close its doors for the last time on Tuesday 11th September. We have previously reported on where most market traders plan to move, but here is an updated list:

African Caribbean Foods - set to share unit in King's Arcade with Rose and Sharon hair salon
Barbers - Sir Simon's Arcade (taking up the former Guys and Dolls unit and joining the Market's former picture framers on the arcade, who moved there some time ago)
Bay Pets & Jesters Fancy Dress - Common Garden Street 
Burgess Cheese - moving to Ffrances Passage 
Gillisons Fine Leather Goods and Bag Stall - Bamboo Gardens, New Street 
Hester's Haberdashery - Gage Street
Hartley Electrical Services - King Street/Sir Simon's Arcade 
The Terrace Cafe - New Street (taking over Lewis' Cafe)

NHS Stop Smoking Shop - returning to St. Nicholas' Arcades
The Market Cobbler - Marketgate (into the former mobile phone accessory shop)

Polish Delicatessen - Brock Street

Sadly, not all market traders will be moving to new premises, unable to afford Lancaster's oft-criticised business rates in comparison to Market stall rents. Carpet stall M Green and  Son, which has been trading in Lancaster for 50 years, is one casualty, as is the Balcony Bistro and KBS Trading. Chaepasmokes is still looking for a retail unit.

Several former traders have already established themselves elsewhere in Lancaster, some a while back, such as Burts Butchers (who have been successfully trading on Market Street for a few years now); some more recently, such as Gregory's Butchers and the last of the Market's fishmongers, R & P Shaw, who are now both located in Marketgate.

The Chinese food shop has also successfully relocated to Common Garden Street in recent months.

Although Lancaster Market is set to close at close of business on Tuesday 11th September, the town's Charter Market will continue to trade in Market Square in Market Square and Penny Street every Wednesday and Saturday, and the Council continues to run the Assembly Rooms on King Street, originally home to some market traders who moved there after Lancaster's original market burnt down in the 1990s.

Morecambe also has its own Festival Market, run by the Council.

There is now word as yet on which, if any, business, is likely to take over the Market building once vacated, although rumours that clothes chain Primark have expressed an interest have been circulating for some months.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Cumbria University opens clearing hotline to support students

The University of Cumbria opens its clearing hotline tomorrow (Thursday 16 August) to support students receiving their A Level results.

The call centre opens at 7.00am and will be manned by university staff who can advise students on their options.

Guidance will be offered around availability, timescales, necessary interviews, course details and signposting to other support services.

The university has recruited exceptionally well for the 2012/13 year but there are still some spaces left on a range of courses for students who meet the entry requirements.

These places are on courses in subject areas including Sustainable Energy Technology, Forestry, Outdoors, Applied Science, Applied Psychology, Learning Disability Nursing, Conservation Biology and Business amongst others.

Helen Fleming, Director of Marketing and Recruitment has this advice: “Results day will be a stressful time for students and parents so it is important to remain calm and contact our call centre for any guidance or support.

“We have a large team of staff to deal with enquiries and put you through to the right people to help you.

“Prepare yourself by researching any courses which might interest you and have all of your information to hand. Also, be willing to attend our visit day on Saturday 18th August when you will be able to look around your chosen campus.”

Course vacancies will be kept up to date on the university website ( and you can follow the university on Twitter (@Uocrecruitment) or Facebook (University of Cumbria) throughout the day.

A number of cash scholarships are also still available. To find out about eligibility visit

• The clearing call centre number is 08080 024 024 and you can visit to see top tips for surviving clearing as well as a video to help you through the process.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Police hunt Galgate shop robbers, owner assaulted

Police are appealing for information after both a burglary and an attempted break-in and assault in Galgate.

The first incident took place at The Village Store Spar on Main Road sometime between 10 and 11.30pm on Wednesday 8th August. It would appear that the offenders approached the rear of the shop and forced open the rear door, then forced open an internal security door before gaining entry to the counter and stealing over £6,000 of cigarettes and tobacco.

The shop was then targeted again last night (Monday 13th August) between 10 and 11.00pm. The offenders again attempted to enter the premises via the rear door but on this occasion, they were disturbed by the owner of the shop.

As the owner of the shop came out and challenged the offenders, he was assaulted and received a head injury. He was taken to hospital for treatment but has since been released.

Officers are investigating the possibility that the two incidents could be linked and are appealing for anyone with any information to come forward.

“I would appeal to anyone who may have seen or heard anything around the time of either of the offences or to anyone who may have noticed any suspicious activity in the area leading up to them to contact us," urged Detective Sergeant Fiona Jackson.

“We believe, following the second incident that the offenders left the scene at high speed in a silver vehicle, possibly a Skoda Octavia, in the direction of the M6 and Garstang so I would appeal to anyone who thinks they may have seen this vehicle to come forward.

“I would also be keen to speak to anyone who may have been offered cigarettes or tobacco for sale to come forward if they have any information that they think might help.”

• Information can be passed to police by calling 101or alternatively, information can be passed to the independent charity Crimestoppers by calling 0800 555 111.

Sean Hughes, Blame Sally and Acker Bilk part of diverse Platform line-up

US band Blame Sally are heading for Morecambe as part of their first UK tour

The autumn/winter programme for The Platform in Morecambe is now available and is crammed full of top class musicians and comedy talent with a line up that includes acclaimed songwriter and guitarist Ralph McTell, musical legend Georgie Fame and Acker Bilk and his Paramount Jazz Band.

For those with more diverse musical tastes, the James Taylor Quartet is bringing its rare groove-style-funk to the Platform and founding member of Dr. Feelgood, Wilko Johnson will be returning with some special guests later this year.

Other top class acts include The Blues Band and US groups The Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band (latest video above) and Blame Sally, the latter on their first UK tour and described as a potent mix of Joan Jett, Annie Lennox, Fleetwood Mac, early Beatles and Lucinda Williams.
Dizzy Hack and the Rhino Horns (Facebook link) will be returning to provide an amazing concert covering everything from Sinatra to Stevie Wonder and, following the runaway success of the first event, Later with Jools Netherland (Facebook link) is back with six of the area’s prodigious bands across three separate stages.

Top class tributes are lined up to perform spectacular shows that promise to be as good as the real thing and include tributes to Kylie Minogue, Michael Jackson, Pink Floyd and Phil Collins. 

Brass band fans will enjoy a Last Night of the Proms event featuring the Pilling Jubilee Silver Band and there will be several concerts from Morecambe Brass Band Association later in the year.

For lighter orchestral events, the Promenade Concert Orchestra will be presenting ‘Music while you work’ paying homage to the BBC Home Service from 1940 to 1984 not forgetting the popular lunchtime concerts which are free and will be taking place throughout September.

Comedian Sean Hughes
If comedy is your thing, three internationally successful comedians will be raising the roof with laughter at the Platform this year and include star of television and radio, Stephen K Amos, award winning stand up comedian Sean Hughes and Australia's Steve Hughes. And there’s plenty on offer for sports fans too with Beating Berlusconi, a comedy show based on a true story of a Liverpool fan who ended up sitting next to the Italian Prime Minister Berlusconi at the Champions’ League Final in 2005.  

Cricket commentator Henry Blofeld will also be visiting the Platform later this year on his ‘Shaken not stirred’ tour.

Making sure you’re in stitches for the rest of the year, this month will see the launch of the Platform’s brand new Morecambe Comedy Club which takes place on the last Thursday of every month and promises at least two top named comedians each time.   So far, you can look forward to great gags from Archie Kelly (from Phoenix Nights), Greg Kelly and Carl Hutchinson. All events are hosted by Liverpool’s rising star Ste Porter.

Meet Tiny the Dinosaur at the Platform during the Seaside Festival
If you are looking for family friendly entertainment, come to the Platform during the Seaside Festival (1st and 2nd September) and meet Bjorn the polar bear and Tiny the dinosaur. 

During October half term you can treat the children to an adaptation of I’m Telling You They’re Aliens based on the book by Jeremy Strong. This is a great family show and promises a fast paced adventure crammed with thrills galore.

Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without the boo hiss of a pantomime. Performances of Jack and the Beanstalk starting on Boxing Day and run until Sunday 30 December.

"With such a diverse array of entertainment on offer at the Platform this year, there is bound to be something for everyone," enthuses Councillor Ron Sands, Cabinet member with responsibility for tourism and culture, "and much of which I am sure will attract audiences from far and wide to the town."

• Tickets can be purchased ahead of events at 

• More details about these acts and more are available in the Autumn/Winter edition of The Platform brochure.  The brochure is available to view or download online at or to collect from the Platform, Central Promenade, Morecambe and from Morecambe and Lancaster Visitor Information Centres.

Alternatively, you can request a copy by sending your details to or by signing up to receive a copy and regular newsletters by email at

Monday, 13 August 2012

Duke of Lancaster pub assault: CCTV released

Police are appealing for information and have issued a CCTV image after a man was head-butted whilst inside the Duke of Lancaster pub last month.
The 52-year-old victim was inside the pub on Church Street at around 12.30am on 15th July when he approached the bar to get a drink.  At this point, a brief altercation has taken place after and he has been head-butted by another man.
PC Nikki Kay, who is investigating the assault said, “This was a nasty, unnecessary assault and I am keen to speak to anyone who was in the pub that night and may have seen something.
“If anyone did witness what happened or has any other information that they think might assist with the investigation, then I would urge them to get in touch.”
• Anyone with any information is asked to contact police by calling 101or alternatively, information can be passed to the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. When calling Crimestoppers, no personal information is taken, details are not recorded and you will not have to go to court.