Saturday, 27 October 2012

Lancashire police part of urgent national manhunt

Lancashire police are hunting for a man described as a dangerous and predatory who is believed to have committed a serious sex offence while on the run.

Ivan Leach, also known as Lee Cyrus, 47, went missing from North Sea Camp open prison, Boston, Lincolnshire on Tuesday 9th October after going on day release.

Officers have warned Leach should not under any circumstances be approached as he poses a significant risk. He is believed to have carried out a very serious sexual attack in Tayside, Scotland, since he absconded, although further details cannot be released for legal reasons.

Despite a large scale police search and numerous reported sightings he remains at large.

Police are urging the public to be vigilant and to come forward with information about his possible whereabouts.

He has links to Preston, and has known to be in the city on a number of occasions since he absconded, but he could be anywhere in the country.

Enquiries are also ongoing in Nottinghamshire, Lincolnshire and Tayside.

Lancashire Police are investigating reports that two schoolgirls were approached as they sat at a bus stop around 6.30pm on Lancaster Road in Preston city centre on Wednesday 17th October. The girls were approached by a man matching Leach’s description who made sexual remarks towards them and encouraged them to participate in sexual activities with him. Fortunately the girls boarded their bus and reported the incident to the police.

Leach was jailed in 2005 for robbing a 90 year old woman in Ribbleton. He was given a life sentence with a minimum tariff of five years. He also has convictions for burglary and robbery and assault.

Ivan was born in Preston and has connections across the city as well as in South Ribble.

Detective Chief Inspector Ian Dawson, of Preston Police said: “Leach is an extremely dangerous and predatory individual who poses a serious threat to members of the public. He has previous convictions for burglary, sex offences against a young girl, assault and robberies in which he has targeted elderly people in their own homes.

“We believe he could be sleeping rough and travelling extensively throughout the country. He has a number of links to Preston and prior to his sentence lived and offended in the Preston area. We are liaising with a number of other forces in a bid to track him down and apprehend him but we need the public’s help.

“I’d reassure people that we follow up every potential sighting of him so I’d urge people to call police on 101 if you think you see him or know of his current whereabouts. I would remind people that he is violent and should not be approached. We have extra patrols in the city and continue to have officers out looking for him round the clock and we are doing everything we can to find him.

“The best possible outcome for himself, his family and all concerned is that he gives himself up.”

“We believe he may have stubble or may now have grown a beard. He could also be carrying a rucksack.

Cyrus is described as white, around five feet 11 inches tall, of stocky build with cropped hair and hazel eyes.

Information can be passed to local police either in person or on 101 or information can be passed anonymously via Crimestoppers 0800 555 111.

Candidates declared for Lancashire Police and Crime Commissioner Election

The candidates for Lancashire's first Police and Crime Commissioner elections which will take place on 15th November have now been formally declared.

The PCC will replace the current Lancashire Police Authority. Lancashire has four candidates in the running for the new position. The successful candidate will be declared on 16th November.

The candidates for Lancashire are:

  • Afzal Anwar
    Afzal Anwar – Liberal Democrats
    "Lancashire led the way in bringing back local community policing," he says in his election statement. "I will make sure this success story is not undermined by spending cuts.
    "My top priority is Frontline community policing so that everyone feels safe and secure in their home and neighbourhood.
    "Young people are too often alienated from the police. We must build trust between all young people and the police. I will also create apprenticeships for young people within the police service.
    "Domestic violence is on the increase inLancashire. This is a top problem for action.I will make drug dealing and violent crime a high priority."
  • Tim Ashton
    Tim Ashton – Conservative
    "As a local resident, I know how important it is that we have the best Police Force to serve Lancashire," says Tim. "As a victim of crime myself, I know what a good job the police do already. However it is vital that residents in communities right across Lancashire have a say in policing priorities. I will make sure that this happens.
    "I will give the police in Lancashire just one target: To cut crime. Far too often they are stuck behind a desk, filling forms, ticking boxes and working their way through red-tape. I will make sure that they are out on the streets, in our towns and villages, visible and doing the job they joined up for; protecting us.
    "I will get rid of the softly, softly approach that we sometimes see. All crime must be taken seriously, from the most serious organised crime, right down to so called low-level nuisance like graffiti and anti-social behaviour. Offenders should be brought to justice, and victims supported."
  • Rob Drobny
    Robert Drobny – UK Independence Party
    "Gangs on street corners, robberies and burglaries up, police officers attacked in the line of duty," says Drobny in his election statement. "This is the reality of crime on our city streets, a reality that the people of Lancashire should not have to put up with. I believe that enough is enough and that we have to challenge those who commit crime head on, with tough policing and even tougher sentencing.
    "Far too often the victims of crime are ignored by crime policies that suit a politically correct elite, with a revenue raising agenda. As Your Police and Crime Commissioner I will use my powers and large budget to influence the policing agenda, to make sure that the victims voice is heard not the criminals."
  • Clive Grunshaw
    Clive Grunshaw – Labour
    "My aim in standing for Lancashire Police and Crime Commissioner is to ensure that Lancashire Police are accessible and deliver the protection, security and service that the people of Lancashire want and deserve.
    "I aim to be a champion for equality and diversity. I shall represent all the communities across Lancashire irrespective of race or religion. This will make all our lives safer and more secure.
    "Lancashire has a reputation for excellent standards in policing. We need to build on this reputation and not let the Coalition Government’s cuts to police jobs reverse the reduction in crime that was achieved by the last Labour government."
Lancashire Police Authority Chief Executive Miranda Carruthers-Watt, said: "We are just a few weeks from the election but there is still time to register to vote and ensure you have a say on who becomes Lancashire's very first PCC.

"There's lots of information available about this election and about the candidates. Voters can visit the dedicated websites or can call to receive information in the post.

"As well as the LPA's campaign, there's lots of work going on behind the scenes to ensure all staff are prepared for this change and we're working closely with Lancashire Constabulary and our criminal justice and community safety partners to ensure the transition is a smooth one."

• For more information about the role of the new Commissioner, go to For more information about the candidates go to

. Alternatively, a dedicated phone line has been set up where voters can request printed information for free: 0800 107 0708

Heysham teen speaks out after nitro drink incident

Gaby Scanlon - still in hospital after
'nitrogen drink' incident

Image posted publicly on facebook
Heysham teenager Gaby Scanlon, who had to have her stomach removed and spent three weeks in hospital after drinking a cocktail containing liquid nitrogen, has spoken about her ordeal.

The Daily Mail reports Gaby, an A-level pupil at Ripley St Thomas Academy, was celebrating her 18th birthday with friends at Oscar's wine bar and bistro in Lancaster on 4th October. She drank two shots of the liqueur Jagermeister, which were laced with liquid nitrogen.

Some of her friends also has similar drinks, the paper reports.

In an interview with the Mail, Gaby revealed that everything was fine after the first drink, but the moment she drank the second she felt "excruciating pain".

"I'd been warned by the barman the drink might make me a bit gassy, so I didn't think too much of it, but then my stomach started to expand and I felt sick."

She was taken to Lancaster Royal Infirmary by friends, where
doctors discovered a large perforation to her stomach had no choice but to remove her stomach and connect her oesophagus directly to her small bowel, an emergency operation which saved her life.

Gaby now faces a life on vitamin supplements and liquid replacement meals and the newspaper reports her family are considering making a civil claim against the bar for compensation.

"I feel angry that these theatrical cocktails seem to be aimed at younger people," said Gaby, "especially 18-year-olds who are just legally able to drink and want to go out and try these things, but it's not worth it."

"I try to stay strong," she added. 'I'm an optimistic person. It could have been very much worse and I'm very grateful to be alive, but it should never have happened in the first place."

Lancaster City Council is currently investigating the incident.

Oscars has stopped selling all liquid nitrogen drinks - as have, reportedly, all other bars in Lancaster.

In a statement made after the incident, Oscar's wine bar said it was "tremendously concerned" about Gaby and had sent its best wishes to her family.

When exposed to air, liquid nitrogen creates a dense fog and is used by bars to add an element of visual drama to dishes or to freeze things quickly, such as ice cream.

It is also used for removing warts and has industrial uses. Contact with flesh can cause cryogenic burn or "frostbite".

Liquid nitrogen should not be consumed while still liquid, as it turns into a gas inside the body and causes the stomach to swell and burst.

"Medical opinion is that this would have proved fatal had the operation not been carried out urgently," a Lancashire Police spokeswoman said shortly after the incident occurred.

"The premises involved have fully co-operated with all agencies."


Friday, 26 October 2012

Join award winning artist for a workshop at Williamson Park

An award-winning artist is inviting people to take part in a workshop this November at the Ashton Memorial in Williamson Park.

The workshop takes place on Saturday 10th November from 10am - 4.00pm and aims to provide inspiration for a future exhibition ‘Memory/Loss’ which will take place in the Ashton Memorial in Spring 2013.

Sabine Little from Sheffield is the talented glass artist behind the Arts Council funded project ‘Follies for Follies’.

Sabine said: "I am particularly excited about coming to Lancaster not only because the Ashton Memorial is the only folly I am aware of with a dedicated gallery space, but also because I hope to create several pieces of work with the help of and inspiration from the general public.

"I am hoping that members of the public will come and share their memories and bring pictures and letters, etc.  These will be copied and some of them used to inspire the exhibition pieces for spring 2013."

One exhibition, the “Sea of Memories” is already in progress and consists of a fleet of tiny glass boats with sails in a multitude of colours.

This will be the centrepiece of the Spring Exhibition and all those attending the workshop will be given the opportunity to pay £2.50 and have a name engraved on one of the ships, for it to 'set sail' as part of the installation.  A number of ships have already been sponsored, and it is hoped that many more will be added to the fleet.

“The Sea of Memories is not only about friends and family who have passed away, but it is a chance to dedicate a ship to a loved one, as a way to share happy memories" explains Sabine.  "I truly hope that the Sea of Memories, as well as the rest of the exhibition, will be adopted by the people of Lancaster and beyond as an exhibition of memories from the whole community."

Sabine is also working with pupils from Lancaster Christ Church School to inspire some of the work.

• For those unable to attend, ships may be sponsored online at

Cycle track muggers sought by police

Police are appealing for witnesses to come forward after a 40-year-old man was attacked and robbed on a cycle track in Lancaster at the weekend.

The offence took place around 9.00pm on Sunday 21st October when the victim was approached by three men with a terrier dog as he went for a walk on the cycle track near to the Dolly Blue Tavern pub.

The men followed the victim a short distance, continuously insulting him. As he walked underneath the railway bridge on Longmarsh Lane the victim turned to confront the men and was then punched in the face.

When he retaliated and attempted to run away, but fell over due to an existing ankle injury, the offenders pinned the victim to the floor, shouted abuse at him and searched his pockets, stealing a quantity of cash. They then ran off, two across the football fields towards the Dolly Blue pub and the third man along to the cycle track.

"This was an unprovoked assault and robbery on a man that was simply out for a walk," DC Tris Hardwick from Lancaster CID commented. "I would appeal to anybody that recognises the descriptions of these three men or saw anybody acting suspiciously in the area around the time of the offence to come forward.”

All the offenders are white, the first described as being a stocky build, aged in his 20s and wearing a waterproof jacket with the peaked hood up and dark trousers.

The second offender was aged between 30 and 40, skinny build and was wearing a dark grey Nike tracksuit with a red tick across the front.

The third man was aged in his 20s, large muscular build and was wearing dark clothing.

Anyone with any information should call Lancashire Police on 101.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Spotlight offers free Performance Writing Workshop

Spotlight is running a free Performance Writing Workshop on Saturday 3rd November, offering would-be and active authors to explores what stimulates us to write
and how creative play can enable our imaginative juices to flow more.

Run by Ruth Quinn, the all-day at Lancaster's Gregson workshop will also encourage participants to explore their own performance style and support them with voice work exercises and performance preparation.

The workshop will involve gentle movement, creative play, relaxation, writing and the sharing of writing, voice work and performance.

• To book email:

National Dickens Readers Day comes to Lancaster

National Dickens Readers Day, a national event celebrating the 200th anniversary of the author's birth, organised jointly by Lancashire County Council Cultural Services team and The Reading Agency, comes to Lancaster on Sunday 4th November.

The event at Lancaster Library will feature a host of highly regarded authors and speakers including Claire Tomalin, Dickens' Biographer. Its aim is to help us discover why we might still consider reading Dickens in the 21st Century.

The landscape of Lancashire inspired three of Dickens' stories and he visited the county several times as part of his popular reading tours.

Dickens visited Lancaster in 1857 together with fellow novelist Wilkie Collins. He was a great public speaker and was renowned for giving dramatic readings of his work and he did one of these at the Grand Theatre in Lancaster, the third oldest theatre in the UK. He also stayed at the Kings Arms Hotel in the city and the hotel is thought to feature in the story 'The Lazy Tour of Two Idle Apprentices' which he co-authored with Wilkie Collins and which was published in 'Household Words' in 1857.

'Mr. Goodchild concedes Lancaster to be a pleasant place.  A place dropped in the midst of a charming landscape, a place with a fine ancient fragment of castle, a place of lovely walks, a place possessing staid old houses richly fitted with old Honduras mahogany, which has grown so dark with time that it seems to have got something of a retrospective mirror-quality into itself, and to show the visitor, in the depth of its grain, through all its polish, the hue of the wretched slaves who groaned long ago under old Lancaster merchants.  And Mr. Goodchild adds that the stones of Lancaster do sometimes whisper, even yet, of rich men passed away—upon whose great prosperity some of these old doorways frowned sullen in the brightest weather—that their slave-gain turned to curses, as the Arabian Wizard’s money turned to leaves, and that no good ever came of it, even unto the third and fourth generations, until it was wasted and gone.' (Chapter 3, 'The Lazy Tour of Two Idle Apprentices')

For students and those in reading groups the event is FREE. Please book your group in by phoning 01995 607661.

• National Dickens Readers Day - Sunday 4th November, Lancaster Library. Tickets cost £7.50 (including lunch) and can be obtained from the Dukes Theatre: 01524 598500. Info online:

Two arrested during Lancaster drugs raid

Two people were arrested and suspected drugs were seized during a raid on a Lancaster property yesterday.

Officers executed a drugs warrant at an address on Whitbarrow Square at around 9.00am on Wednesday morning. Inside the address they found a quantity of white powder, believed to be heroin.

A 33-year-old woman and a 41-year-old man were arrested on suspicion of drugs offences and have been released on bail pending further inquiries.

Detective Sergeant Colin Forsyth, Lancaster CID, said: “We have recovered a quantity of powder which we believe to be controlled drugs.

“The use and supply of drugs has a significant impact on the quality of life of our local communities. We would ask that anyone who has any information about people supplying drugs should contact their local police or Crimestoppers.”

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Lancaster Tennis Club seeks out the next Andrew Murray

One of Lancaster's local tennis coaches is offering tennis coaching for juniors at Lancaster Tennis Club over the autumn school half term.

Andy Moss will manage two days of coaching at Lancaster Tennis Club on Lune Road on Thursday 1st and Friday 2nd November, offering a great opportunity for juniors to improve their skills.

Bookings are now being taken for four groups - for the under 7s (4.00pm to 4.45pm); 7 – 11 year olds (4.45pm to 5.30pm); 11 – 14 year olds (5.30pm to 6.30pm) and 14 - 25 year olds (from 6.30pm to 7.30pm).

The session charge for the under 11s is £3.00 and for the over 11s is £4.00, with lower rates for junior Club members. There is also Sport England Sportivate support for the over 14s.

There are also some spare places left on the November – December indoor junior coaching programme where the sessions are being held at Lancaster & Morecambe College.

Lancaster Tennis Club is a friendly and welcoming club with three astro turf courts based on Lune Road about half a mile from Lancaster railway station. In 2011 they were voted Community Club of the Year for Lancaster, and have been supported by funding from Sport England, Lancaster City Council, the Galbraith Trust, the Alice and Frank Bridges and the Lancaster and District Tennis League.

They're part of Lancaster Sports and Social Club, so have access to the main Clubhouse facilities and bar as well as their own small clubhouse.

• For more details, visit the Lancaster Tennis Club website and for more information and to book a place, please contact Pat Clelland by email: or by phone on 01524 311737 or 07870 642267.

Appeal after ‘silly string’ attack ends in assault on boy in Morecambe

Police are appealing for information after an 11-year-old boy was sprayed with ‘silly string’ and assaulted in Morecambe on Saturday (20th October).

The bizarre incident, picked up by at least one national newspaper, took place between 3 and 4.00pm outside Pound Fever on Euston Road when the boy, who was with a friend, were walking through Morecambe town centre carrying an owl.

The boys were approached by a large group of teenaged boys, aged in their mid-teens who began to spray them both with silly string. The victims ran away but the teenagers then gave chase, punching one of the boys in the face.

“This is an unusual incident which has occurred in broad daylight in the middle of the afternoon," said PC Ben Hanley, " so I would appeal to anybody that witnessed it or with any information about those responsible to come forward.

“The motive for the offence is unclear at this time but it is possible they were trying to steal the owl.

"The use of the string has clearly caused the owl some distress but fortunately they managed to keep it safe and the boy was not seriously hurt."

• Anyone with any information should call Lancashire Police on 101 quoting crime reference BB1203964.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Appeal after Leonards Gate street robbery

Police are appealing for information after a student was robbed of £15 as he walked home in Lancaster city centre just after midnight on Saturday (20th October).

The 19-year-old was walking home from the city centre along St Leonards Gate. As he has approached the junction of Alfred Street, he heard someone behind him. He looked around and saw a man but thought no more of it and carried on walking.

After a few steps he was grabbed from behind and the man demanded he hand over his wallet. He gave him £15 in cash and was then warned against turning round or reporting the incident before leaving the scene.

The offender is described as being white, around 5ft 10inches tall, slim build and fair haired. He was wearing dark clothes and is described as reasonably smart in appearance as though he had been out.

DC Sue Palmer from Lancaster CID said: “An investigation is underway but I would appeal to anybody that witnessed this robbery or with any information about the man responsible to come forward and contact Lancaster Police on 101 quoting crime reference BA1203489.”

Cannabis factory found in Morecambe flat

Police discovered a cannabis factory after going into a flat following concerns for a resident’s safety.

Officers went to the address on Deanpoint, Morecambe, on Saturday October 20 after concerns were raised that the person living there had not been seen for some time.

Inside the property officers discovered 20 cannabis plants being grown using hydroponic equipment.

A 27-year-old man was later arrested on suspicion of producing cannabis and has been released on bail pending further inquiries.

“The officers had not expected to find a cannabis factory inside the flat but in doing so they have prevented illegal drugs from making their way on to Morecambe’s streets," notes Sergeant Dave Forshaw from Morecambe police.

“We would ask residents to let us know if they suspect someone in their neighbourhood is growing cannabis – tell tale signs include strong smells and taped up doors and windows at the address.”

Anyone with information should contact police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111. In an emergency always dial 999.

Monday, 22 October 2012

Bypass decision by March 2013?

An announcement of the decision on the highly controversial Heysham–M6 Link Road road will probably be made in March 2013.

The Public Examination into the proposed road closed on the 20th September and Examiner Mr Peter Robottom now has three months to prepare his report to the Secretary of State for Transport, Patrick McLoughlin.

The new Transport Secretary then has three months in which to make his decision.

Appointed only recently, Patrick McLoughlin has already had to preside over the debacle of the West Coast Main Line franchise. Opponents of the road hope that his experience of the faulty finances behind that franchise process will set the alarm bells ringing regarding Lancashire County Council’s flawed financial justification of this proposed scheme.

The road’s principal objector has been Transport Solutions for Lancaster and Morecambe and it, together with important regional and national allies has presented a strong case against the road. However, it was a statement from the road’s developer, Lancashire County Council, which first caught the headlines, when hte manager for the Link Road project, Steven McCreesh, admitted very early on: “The Link Road is not intended to solve Lancaster’s problems”,

TSLM argues the statement which will come as a surprise and a disappointment to most local people and has again challenged the Council to explain how can the £123 million scheme be justified on what it regards as flimsy and inaccurate grounds.
TSLM points out that traffic figures used the County Council in 2007 have proved to be inaccurate by 20% – 30%, yet these are the figures on which the go-ahead for the scheme was given. The figures for this examination date from 2008 and are almost certainly wrong, too.

The forecast times savings on journeys made on the new road have also dwindled to just five minutes - at peak times only.

"What a vast amount of money to spend for so little obvious improvement," said TSLM spokesperson David Gate. "This is a route for long distance lorry drivers, but they will hardly notice the negligible improvement!

"The County Council has paid scant attention to alternative traffic measures that could provide a viable but much cheaper option," he adds.

And remember those rare Newts that allegedly put paid to the Western Bypass, their presence often cited as being the reason the County Council abandoned that scheme? (And nothing, of course, to do with well-organised opposition to the proposal from those who would have been affected by it). Well, there's some bad news for the Council on that front on the proposed route, which cuts through Torrisholme and Halton.

"There is mounting evidence that Otters, a Protected Species under European Law, are present and active in parts of the environment where engineering work will have to take place." David Gate reveals. "This does not appear to have registered with the County Council, whose surveys have been grossly inadequate and misleading."

"Otters off Bypass plans" -- we can see the Lancaster Guardian headline now... Nothing, of course, to do with well-organised opposition to the proposal from those who would have been affected by it...