Friday, 23 November 2012

United Utilities generator stolen in Lancaster

Police are appealing for information after a generator was stolen from a United Utilities storage unit in Lancaster.

It is believed the storage unit on Moorside Road was broken into sometime between the 7th and the 12th of November and the three phase Honda generator worth £1,000 was taken.

PC Peter Bennett investigating the theft said, “Not only is this a very expensive piece of equipment to replace, it is an industrial standard generator and could be dangerous if it was to be plugged into a residential premises or caravan, it would be far too powerful and would damage the electrics.

“It is likely that the offenders would have needed a vehicle to remove this generator, so we would appeal to anyone who may have noticed any suspicious activity in the area around those dates to come forward and contact police.”

Anyone with any information about the theft is asked to contact police by calling 101. Alternatively, information can also contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or on-line at No personal details are taken, information is not traced or recorded and you will not go to court.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

First Friday brings young to the fore in December

Ludus Dance get set for the next First Friday
Young people will be to the fore at the next First Friday arts event in Lancaster on 7th December – and for the first time since First Fridays were launched in October, events will run throughout the district as well as in Lancaster city centre.

There’ll be a musical start to events with Rock The Square from 4.30-6.30pm when young singers and bands from DT3 in Lancaster and More Music in Morecambe will perform for free in Market Square.

From 6.30-7.30pm, celebrate the 10th anniversary of Ludus Youth Dance Company with a Youth Dance Triple Bill at Ludus Dance Studio in King Street. This free event will be a showcase of work by an inspiring group of dancers aged 14-19 who are auditioned annually.

If drama and adventure are what you’re after, there’s a performance of Treasure Island at The Dukes at 7.00pm.The show is ticketed but there will be free music in the bar before the good ship Hispaniola sets sail.

There’ll also be two First Friday events to enjoy outside of Lancaster on 7th December.

There’s a free return bus from Lancaster to The Hothouse in Morecambe to see the Stages Live gig which runs from 7-10.30pm. Rae Morris, the teenage singer-songwriter who has just been signed to Atlantic Records, will be headlining the only UK gig on her European tour, and she will be supported by the district’s very own Katy Pickles. For more information about the free bus and to book tickets for this gig, ring 01524 831997.

And if you fancy a trip out in to the Lune Valley to celebrate the achievements of young and aspiring artists from the district and beyond, Green Close Studios in Melling is hosting the 1625 launch which is a free event from 7.30pm.

First Fridays have been taking place since October and are organised to promote Lancaster Arts City. Every First Friday of the month, Lancaster Arts Partners aim to offer a range of mainly free events encouraging residents and visitors alike to see the area afresh and try out something new on the arts scene.

There’s also a new Lancaster Arts City free app which can be downloaded by registering at The app is simple to use and includes helpful search features and a map featuring all the participating venues such as Lancaster’s Grand Theatre and The Platform in Morecambe.

• For more information on Lancaster Arts City, First Fridays and the free app, visit

Local Businesses warned after websites hacked

Businesses across Lancashire are being urged to ensure their online security is up to date after hackers tried to steal thousands of pounds of goods.

The two businesses discovered hackers had changed the online value of their goods to 1p before trying to buy the items – which included £2000 of furniture - with a stolen credit card.

On both occasions, the companies spotted the scam and prevented any losses.

Police launched an investigation after receiving a call from Action Fraud and officers are urging businesses to ensure their online security is up to date.

Detective Constable Tony McClements, of Lancashire Constabulary’s economic crime unit, said: “I urge all businesses to make sure their IT security systems are updated and meet their requirements.

“Hacking in this format is a comparatively old method of defrauding businesses, but has begun to rear its ugly head again. I would suggest businesses put additional checks into place before goods are despatched.”

• For further advice and information please visit or call their free telephone service on 0300 123 2040.

Morecambe Town Council community group grant offer

Morecambe Town Council has announced the availability of funds from its Miscellaneous Grants budget for Community Organisations and individuals whose activities are of direct benefit to the residents of Morecambe and who wish to be considered for a grant.

Applicants can apply for up to £500 to help towards the cost of their project.

Application forms and details of the expected outcomes and criteria are available on the Morecambe Town Council website ats

The Closing Date for Applications is: Friday 8th February, 2013. Application Forms may be submitted by post or email. If you would like to discuss your application prior to submission, contact the Town Clerk’s Assistant, Abigail Fawcett at or telephone 01524 422929.

Rare Ashton Hall painting on display for Museum event

The Friends of Lancaster City Museum are holding an event at Ashton Hall Golf Club at 7.30 next Monday evening (26th November), at which a rare painting of Ashton Hall will be on display.

As well as being able to view the painting, people who attend the event will be able to listen to an illustrated talk by local historian Mike Derbyshire about the history of Ashton Hall.

Lancashire County Council's manager at Lancaster Museum, Heather Dowler, said: "The Friends have arranged this event to mark the purchasing of this magnificent painting by the museum.

"The museum recently acquired the rare painting of Ashton Hall thanks to the generous assistance of the Friends of the Museum. The painting dates to around 1810-20 and is believed to have been painted by George Cuitt Junior (1779-1854).

"The painting provides a rare example of what will have been the ‘must see’ view of the hall, showing a small lake which did not exist for long.

"The history of the Hall is also fascinating," she adds. "It has had a number of owners including the Duke of Hamilton and Lord Ashton. The original house probably dated to the early 17th century and was centred around the medieval tower that still remains. Much of the house was rebuilt in 1856 in the Gothic style, which was very popular at the time."

Ashton Hall, the ancient seat of the Lawrences, is located about three miles to the south of the town of Lancaster, in northern Lancashire. It is picturesquely situated, commanding fine views of the estuary of the River Lune, and of Morecambe Bay, an extensive inlet of the Irish Sea. Ashton Hall is noted for the sylvan beauty of its spacious park, which is well diversified with hill and vale. The mansion is a large edifice, with many of the characteristics of an ancient baronial castle, having a square tower at one end, and numerous battlements, turrets, and machiocolations. Successive alterations and additions have been made at different epochs, in harmony with the medieval type of architecture. The oldest portion is probably from the fourteenth century. The interior contains a fine baronial hall.

Mentioned in the Domesday Book, in 1066 Ashton was one of three manors of Cliber, Machern and Gillemicheld and appears to have been accessed of two plough-lands. (The other two manors, Ellel and Scotforth, retained their connection to Ashton being held by the Lancaster family.) Afterwards, it was granted to Count Rogers of Poitori and a little later formed part of the lordship held by the Lancaster family, being held by knight's service. In the time of Henry II (1154-1189) William de Lancaster I granted half a plough-land to Gilbert de Ashton to hold by service of half a mark yearly. The second moiety was shared or inherited by the families of Stableton and Metham, Thweng and Pedwarding, and appears to have been acquired by the Lawrence family of Lancaster.

In 1226, the Millfield at Ashton rendered 5 shillings a year to the king. In 1323, it was held by many free tenants, who in all paid 5 shillings. to the earl! Sounds like mark ups are nothing new, then...

• The History of Ashton Hall: 7.30pm Monday 26th November 2012, Lancaster Golf Club, Ashton Hall, Ashton-with-Stodday, Lancaster, LA2 0AJ 

• More about Ashton Hall on the Lawrences of Ashton Hall web page

Ashton Hall in the Domesday Book 

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Rent rises ahead for White Cross tennants?

Businesses and voluntary organisations based at Lancaster's huge White Cross Industrial Estate could see hikes in their rent after the site's landlord, Lancashire County Council, ordered a review of its premises charging policy.

Conservative County Councillor Geoff Driver, leader of the county council, has ordered a review to ensure a fair approach to deciding how much organisations should pay to use its premises.

Earlier this year, the county council announced it would introduce a consistent approach to charging organisations to use its buildings when they are not being used for council services.

A review has now been ordered to identify exactly what activities are being carried out by voluntary sector and other organisations in county council premises and to determine how they support the council's priorities.

Until this work is completed, with the exception of profit-making organisations, existing users will be charged at their pre-September 2012 rates whilst the review is being undertaken.

"The council has a huge number of buildings across the county and many of them are used by other organisations when our services aren't using them," says Councillor Driver.

"Unfortunately the current arrangements have evolved over many years without a clear policy and they don't offer good value for money to the taxpayers who ultimately pay for the buildings to be maintained.

"We recognise that many organisations do things that support our aims and the policy was never intended to harm those organisations financially. Through this review, we will work with voluntary organisations to determine exactly what activities are taking place in our premises and how they contribute to our priorities. We'll make sure that groups have plenty of time to prepare for any changes that might affect them.

"Meanwhile organisations making a profit out of what they do will be expected to pay a charge at the market rate, which is only fair.

"We will also look at instances where community associations are charging groups to use the county council's premises."

Author Gillian Slovo reading in Lancaster

Litfest is presenting an event with South African-born novelist, playwright, memoirist and current President of English PEN, Gillian Slovo on Thursday, who will be reading from her work.

Gillian Slovo is the author of twelve novels including Red Dust (2000) which was made into a film starring Hilary Swank and Chiwetel Ejiofor and Ice Road (2004) which was shortlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction.

Working in partnership with The Centre for Transcultural Writing and Research: Writing for Liberty, this free event is part of the Centre for Transcultural Writing and Research’s Writing for Liberty series and has been made possible by the generous support of the Lancaster University Friends Fund.

The Centre for Transcultural Writing and Research links Lancaster University’s postgraduate student community to extensive research activity in creative writing and its impact on society. Their aim is to create a transnational and interdisciplinary environment and they are committed to promoting creative writing across cultures and to studying the work of writers from a wide range of social and cultural contexts.

The Centre encompasses research-as-practice, action-research projects, study of historical and contemporary creative practice, the innovative application of information technology through e-science and the interrelationship between writing and social change.

There will be a bookstall and refreshments will be provided.

• Gillian Slovo reading in Lancaster: LICA Event Studio A27, Lancaster University Thursday 22 Nov at 5.30pm. Free. For further information on this event, visit the Centre for Transcultural Writing website

Police seek witnesses after Morecambe gang attack

Police are appealing for information after a 27-year-old man was assaulted by a large gang of youths during a night out in Morecambe last month.

Around 11.20pm on Saturday 20th October 2012, the man was attacked by the group outside the Carleton nightclub just off Marine Road West. He was punched and kicked a number of times and was taken to the Royal Lancaster Infirmary where he was treated for cuts and bruises.

There was a large group of around 20-30 youths causing a nuisance in the area that night and it is believed some of them may have been involved.

PC James Hodgson said: “I am keen to speak to anyone who may have witnessed this assault. If you were in the area at the time of this incident and have any information you think could help then please get in touch.

Anybody with any information can contact police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or on-line at No personal details are taken, information is not traced or recorded and you will not go to court.

Cyclist injured in Morecambe

Morecambe Police are appealing for information after a cyclist was injured after coming off his bike on Heysham Road, Morecambe.

Around 7.50pm on Monday 12th November, a 53-year-old man was cycling along Heysham Road in the direction of Marine Road West, near to the Battery Hotel, when he came off his bike.

The man lost consciousness and was later taken to the Royal Lancaster Infirmary where he was treated for a head injury and bruising. He was allowed home the following morning.

Unfortunately, the man has no recollection of the incident so it is unclear exactly how he came off his bike; however, police believe he may have been involved in a road traffic collision.

PC Shaun Canning said, “I would appeal to anybody who has any information about this incident to contact police.

“The cyclist was riding a racing type cycle and was wearing a safety helmet and waterproof clothing. If you think you may have seen him in the area of the Battery Hotel then please come forward.

“We can’t be certain at this stage as to exactly what has happened, so if you think you may have information which could help us please get in touch.”

Anybody with any information can contact police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or on-line at No personal details are taken, information is not traced or recorded and you will not go to court.

Monday, 19 November 2012

Find your voice with 'We Are Improv'

Katy Bateson
Lancaster's very own We Are Improv are going to be kicking the new year off with some great new courses to help you start the new year as you mean to go on.  The courses they are running in early 2013 are all focused on using improvisation to help you to achieve goals.

We Are Improv is run by Katy Bateson who has been improvising for many years and is very passionate about it, attending courses, workshops and festivals all over the UK. She tells VL that she wants to share the happiness, joy and exhilaration that she has experienced through improvisation.

For those of you that haven't heard about improvisation Katy explains:
"Improvisation is acting spontaneously without a script. You react to your surroundings and your fellow course mates. The courses offer a safe environment to have fun and to play, with no criticism or negativity. You don't need to be a comic, you don't need to have any acting experience, all you need is you!

"Improvisation is a team activity where you are encouraged and supported by the other members of your group. The courses are person centred and you will play different games and act out scenarios to create unique scenes that will leave you smiling for days. If you are the type of person who enjoys having fun, laughing and meeting new exciting, interesting people then improvisation is for you!"

If you'd like some of that, the following 4 week courses will be running in early 2013:

Improvisation to embrace your inner child - January 2013
Improvisation for self-belief and self-confidence - February 2013
Improvisation for Stress relief - March 2013
Improvisation for public speaking - April 2013

All courses have limited places to ensure small group sizes.
The courses cost £80 for the 4 weeks and take place on Thursday evenings from 7-9pm.
For more information or to reserve a place visit or email Katy at

New dementia rehab service for Lancaster and Morecambe

A new dementia care service is now open and is offering support to people in the Lancaster and Morecambe area. The new dementia rehabilitation service is a joint venture led by Lancashire County Council and North Lancashire Primary Care Trust.

In addition to helping people live more independently, the service, based at Dolphinlee House Home on Patterdale Road, will avoid unnecessary placements in hospitals or care homes and avoid or delay the need for long-term care at home. It is designed to help people with dementia to prepare to return home following a stay in hospital or a short-term course of treatment.

Support offered includes:
* 10 beds in the rehabilitation centre
* Trained staff who specialise in preparing people for a return to day-to-day life
* Regular reviews and support plans so that people receive tailor-made care programmes that suit them while in the centre and at home
* The service provides people with support for up to six weeks starting from when they leave hospital.

County Councillor Mike Calvert, cabinet member for adult and community services, said:
"It's difficult for people suffering from dementia to come to terms with falls, illnesses and other incidents.
"Incidents like these can make the symptoms of dementia worse and previously, the only solution available to many people was long-term residential care.

"With this dementia care service, we can now help people get back on their feet and become able to cope with the demands of day-to-day living again. People will also need continued support in their homes and we can arrange care packages to cater for this.

"This approach has proved successful in other areas of the county and if the Dolphinlee pilot is successful, we'll look to make this a permanent scheme."

Bill Gormley, Locality Lead Non-Executive Director for North Lancashire Primary Care Trust, said:
The opening of the North Lancashire Intermediate Residential Dementia Care Unit is an excellent example of NHS and local government collaborative partnership working.

People are referred to the new service by social workers or health care staff.
People who want to find out more should contact the county council on 0845 0530009.
Read the latest Care Quality Commission Inspector's Report on Dolphinlee, published 24 October 2012.

photo: Back row, left to right: Bill Gormley, chair North Lancs PCT; Bernard Noblett; CC Mike Calvert; Richard Jones, executive director of adult and community services.
Front row, left to right: Cllr Sam Riches; Nancy Bond; Sarah Coulson; Liz Wild

Morecambe Comedy Club opens its doors for a laugh

Mike Wilkinson

Tickets for this month's Morecambe Comedy Club at the Platform are still available.

November's comedy night will see two great comedians line up to perform on Thursday, 29th November with the fantastic Mike Wilkinson headlining the show.

Mike Wilkinson - a warm and friendly northern comedian who in recent years has supported Peter Kay, Jason Manford, Johnny Vegas and Ross Noble to name but a few is a superb comedian.  But don’t take our word for it, come and see for yourself.

Opening the show is St Helens funny man Dave Twentyman who’s a very familiar face on the UK comedy circuit and a fantastic act too.

The evening will be presided over by a comedian being hailed as Liverpool’s next big talent, Ste Porter.

This show starts at 8.00pm and is for those aged 18 and over only.

Tickets cost £8 and are available online now at or through the Box Office on 01524 582803. Call in to the Visitor Information Centre, The Platform, Marine Road Central, Morecambe, LA4 4DB or visit for more information or if your a Facebook user,

• For more acts coming to the Platform this year visit 

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Review: 'A Taste of Dickens' at the Black Box

Review: A Taste of Dickens
An Evening of Readings
devised, written and directed by Michael Nunn
Performed by Lancaster Theatre Productions

At The Black Box Studio Theatre, University of Cumbria
Bowerham Road, Lancaster
Wednesday 14 November 2012 at 7.30p
Pay What You Can Night
Reviewed by Léonie and David Sugarman

Although no more than coffee and biscuits actually passed our lips, we enjoyed a feast last Wednesday at the repeat performance by Lancaster Theatre Productions of A Taste of Dickens.  Performers ranging from young students to seasoned actors and academics indulged the audience with a hamper of rehearsed readings (along with a little evocative acting) harvested from Dickens’ ruminations on food and drink.

Michael Nunn did an outstanding job of assembling an entertaining variety of readings drawn from Dickens’ journalism, letters, short stories and novels.

Most will have known Oliver Twist’s plaintive, “Please, I want some more”, although hearing it in the context of Dickens’ writing delivers a punch absent from its utterance as part of a glossy musical.  Other items were less familiar.  Dickens’ fleeting visits to Lancaster were nicely conjured in Lancaster Food.  The extraordinarily prescient Temperate Temperance, an article only recently attributed to Dickens, attacked the middle classes for patronising the "working man".  Emergency Refreshments was a movingly understated account of a train crash from which Dickens escaped, but in which ten people died and forty-nine were injured.

The setting of the University of Cumbria’s Black Box Theatre provided a suitably blank canvas on which the audience could project the images conjured up by Dickens’ words, although we were sad to miss out on the Victorian Buffet – with recipes taken from Mrs Catherine Dickens’ cook book – that was served in the interval of the earlier performance in September at Lancaster’s Grand Theatre.

The cast was good, David Findlay and Stephen Longstaffe especially so.  This home-made, local contribution to the Bicentenary of Dickens birth merits inclusion in a literary equivalent of the Good Food Guide.

Copyright © Léonie and David Sugarman
17 November 2012

Dr Léonie Sugarman is Emeritus Reader in Applied Psychology at the University of Cumbria
Professor David Sugarman is Professor of Law at the University of Lancaster

Visit Lancaster Theatre Productions on Facebook

Gregson announces Christmas Craft Fair

A Craft Fair featuring a host of amazing local creators will be held in the Gregson Centre, Lancaster on Saturday 1st December.

As well as Santa in his Grotto, there will be 30+ stalls selling a variety of wares. These include fruit cheeses (not dairy), relish and vinegars, handmade jewellery, felt art, mosaics, Fairtrade items, hand-carved wooden gifts, glassware and glass crafts, and paintings.

Some of the offerings look amazing - well worth checking out for the folk in you life who like something slightly different for Christmas (or birthday).

Photo restoration by Andrew Willis
Additionally, a photo restoration service by Andrew Willis, and pet portrait artist Gill Aitken will be taking commissions.

Santa's Grotto will be open 11.30 – 12.45 and 1.30 to 2.45. Charge £1

The fair is being organised by the Gregson Festival Group which organises the annual Guy Fawkes Night bonfire and fireworks display on Miss Whalley's Field between Ridge and Freehold.

• There's more info here online, showing a sample of items which may be for sale at the craft fair.