Friday, 7 December 2012

Lancaster gets leading tax avoider on Action Aid blacklist

The laboured story of the Lancaster Canal Corridor development site took yet another twist around the block as members of the local Green party noted this week that Lancaster is again being wooed by offshore tax avoiders, in this case British Land.

Reacting to the news that cabinet members on Lancaster City Council have welcomed the acquisition of the Mitchell's site on the canal corridor by British Land, Green councillor Chris Coates said:

"A recent Action Aid report showed that British Land is the organisation with the most subsidiary companies based in Jersey - with 0% Corporation Tax. The Government is urging action to stop tax avoiders such as Starbucks, but the City Council is actively supporting a massive tax avoider in British Land. I think this sends out an appalling message to tax payers in the district."

In response to a recent question regarding tax avoidance measures, Cllr Janice Hanson, Lancaster City Council's Cabinet Member for Economic Regeneration and Planning, said that 'offshore companies regularly featured in many major developments and projects across the country and were therefore not an issue of general concern.' Read the full Q&A here

However council ratepayers receiving final demands should maybe not read this as a message that the more widespread tax avoidance is, the more acceptable it becomes. The current grave problems in the Greek economy have been directly attributed to widespread tax avoidance practices and 'creative' accountancy, to which, in hindsight, government institutions were assessed to have been overly sympathetic.

The Action Aid report can be found at

Lancaster adds ITV's Panto! to growing list of local film and TV shoots

 John Bishop and Williamson Park Operations Manager Will Griffith, snapped during a break in recording for Panto! Photo courtesy Lancaster City Council
Another prime time TV production has been filmed in Lancaster over the past weeks – one of several shoots supported by Lancaster City Council, which it hopes will boost interest in the area.

Comedy drama Panto!, co-written and starring Liverpool comedian John Bishop at the city’s Grand Theatre will hit the screens at 9.00pm on ITV1 on Thursday 27th December.

Other locations getting a share of the limelight in this festive production include Market Square, St. George's Quay and Williamson Park.

Bringing with it an all star cast including co-star Sheridan Smith, Mark Benton, Samantha Spiro and 1990s pop star Chesney Hawkes, Panto! is the latest in a long list of productions for the Lancaster district, following hot on the heels of the BBC1’s award winning Turn Back Time: The Family earlier this year, shot largely in Morecambe's West End.

Both productions, along with many more, have benefited from the help of Lancaster City Council to turn an artistic vision into a reality watched by millions.

To assist Baby Cow Productions in the filming of the festive comedy drama, city council officers were called upon to both find and provide film locations which ticked all the right boxes as well as temporary office, storage and parking facilities.

Councillor Ron Sands, Cabinet member with responsibility for culture and tourism, said: "The filming of Panto! is another fantastic coup for the district and it is hoped that this star studded production will put the district under the national TV spotlight again and promote what it has to offer to millions of potential new visitors.

“At the same time, when it appears on TV, it should give everyone who lives in our district a tremendous sense of pride that our beautiful area is in such great demand.”

As with all media assistance provided by Lancaster City Council, for the benefit of both local people and the local economy, they do not levy a charge for supporting such shoots. However, if the council's support requires for example, the letting of council buildings, normal fees and charges would apply.

Ron Sands told virtual-lancster:  "Economic growth is a key priority for Lancaster City Council.   With its natural assets attracting the film industry on a regular basis, it is important that every golden opportunity to showcase what the district has to offer to a national audience through filming is encouraged and embraced, with a view to putting it firmly on the map as being a great place to live, work and visit."

"Lancaster provided us with absolutely perfect locations for the filming of Panto!" Anna Lee, Location Manager on the shoot reveals.   

"The charm of the Grand Theatre and all the other locations alongside the help and friendliness of everyone in Lancaster was exceptional.

“The support and help that we received from the location owners, council departments, local businesses and people made filming Panto! an extremely successful and enjoyable production to be involved in.  I strongly recommend Lancaster as a filming location for other productions."

Both working and living in the district during filming alongside the cast and other members of the production team, Line Producer, Richard Moat, said:  "We found Lancaster to meet all our needs during our shoot for Panto! based at the fabulous Grand Theatre with a range of other locations close by to suit our requirements.

“Costs of accommodation for all our crew were competitive with great support from local services including local council departments. I can certainly recommend Lancaster as a suitable base for any future productions."

Recent assistance given to film and TV production companies by the city council being the first port of call for filming in the district include Wall to Wall TV's BBC1’s five part series of Turn Back Time: The Family, Flog it (BBC), 16 kids and counting (Lion TV), Supersize vs Superskinny (Endemol UK), Escape to the Country (Talkback Thames TV), Marrying Mum and Dad (CBBC), Embarrassing Bodies (Maverick TV) and Celebrity Wedding Planner (Renegade Pictures).

Get yourself ready for winter, county council urges

Lancashire County Council is urging everyone to be ready for the arrival of freezing weather this winter.

Despite the milder weather last winter, in recent years Lancashire has been hit by some of the most severe winter weather conditions for decades affecting services, residents and businesses.

The council's website has a wealth of advice and information on everything from equipping your car, to safely clearing snow from paths, and how to check on school closures.

Leaflets containing all the top tips will also be available at hundreds of locations including garages, doctors' surgeries, high-street shops and council receptions across the county.

Lancashire County Council has more salt in stock than ever before, with the depots full to the brim as gritting got underway with over 33,000 tonnes of salt to treat the roads.

It is also working more closely than ever with parish and district councils, the police, the fire and rescue service and the NHS to deliver a consistent message to the public about what to expect this winter and what the public can do to prepare for bad weather.

County Councillor Tim Ashton, Cabinet member for highways and transport, said: "We are confident we have done all we can to prepare to keep the county moving this winter but we are asking everybody to do their bit too.

"As ever we have to focus our resources on treating the main routes, and we're as ready as we can be to keep gritting for longer in the event of prolonged severe weather.

"But with the arrival of winter we can all take steps to make sure that when severe weather strikes we are prepared and able to manage. Whether it's checking on elderly and vulnerable neighbours, helping to clear snow from pathways or planning ahead for your journey, together we can keep our county moving.

"Simple things like making sure your car is serviced and equipped for winter conditions, and checking local travel news before your journey can make a big difference."

Lancashire County Council's winter website at contains links to social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook. People can check on which roads are gritted in their area and sign up to receive instant updates whenever the gritters go out.

The website also features information on planning journeys, advice for businesses and details of what the county council can and can't do when the worst weather hits.

County Councillor Ashton added: "The government has issued clear advice about how people can clear snow from pavements outside their properties, which you can find on our website and winter leaflets.

"As always, we'll be keeping the county's 1,800 grit bins grit bins stocked with salt and sand which can be used to improve traction on side roads and pavements.

"I'd also encourage people to consider looking in on elderly neighbours, and if they want to buy salt from supermarkets or garages to use on their own paths and driveways, to stock up now.

"Our gritting crews are ready as ever to treat the main routes, but I'd ask everyone to remember that just because a road has been gritted it may not be clear of ice and that we all need to take extra care and prepare ahead for our journeys in freezing weather."

• For all the latest gritting updates, winter weather advice, school closures and more, visit:

• At share your winter tweets using the #lancswinter hashtag or visit

• Share winter photos on the Winter in Lancashire Flickr group:

• Find out more about the work of the Council's gritting teams:

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Government promises more jobs for nuclear industry, Heysham 1's "life" to be extended

The Government has just published its Nuclear Supply Chain and Skills Action Plan which has been developed by Government in partnership with developers, professional bodies, trade associations and industry.

The Plan's unveiling came as the Government also announced 500 new jobs are to be created at Sellafield (possibly to clear up the widely-reported and growing nuclear mess that threatens the health of many locals there) and promises that the revival of the UK's nuclear industry will result in thousands of new jobs.

The document outlines that, subject to the necessary regulatory reviews and approvals in due course, EDF Energy is now targeting an average of seven years life extension across all of the AGR stations – including Heysham 1.

Heysham is one of three sites that has also been assessed as potentially suitable for new nuclear power stations in the UK, but at this time no project plans have been announced.

Under the plan the government will establish a new Nuclear Industry Council, instigate new working groups for each sub-sector of the industry to identify challenges to the UK's new build programme, undertake new initiatives to tackle skills shortages, and develop a coordinated nuclear export strategy.

Despite the huge costs of nuclear power - emphasized once again by massive cost overrun problems for the Flamanville 3 in Normandy, developed by EDF and Italian utility Enel, which has pulled out of the project - the government argues there are significant opportunities in the UK nuclear sector from which the UK supply chain can benefit, provided it builds up its capabilities and competitiveness.

"The Government wants to ensure that the new nuclear build programme delivers not only much needed low carbon electricity at competitive prices but also economic benefits to the UK including ensuring the nuclear supply chain is well positioned to access UK and long term export opportunities."

The Action Plan sets out the following key objectives:

• To maximise UK economic activity and growth from the nuclear sector at national and local level, including employment and business opportunities for the UK supply chain.

• To boost job creation in the nuclear industry, and to ensure that potential skills shortages do not act as a barrier to the future development of the industry in the UK.

• To use the domestic nuclear market to provide a platform for enhancing a sustainable and successful UK civil nuclear industry, and to use this basis as a lever to access export opportunities.

• To maintain and develop a vibrant supply chain covering key capabilities to deliver safe, innovative and cost effective clean up of the legacy facilities and to exploit synergies with new build.

• To raise awareness across the supply chain of nuclear sector opportunities, to identify barriers preventing access to those opportunities and to develop actions for Government and Industry that will help place the supply chain in a stronger position to compete for those opportunities.

In total 30 actions have been proposed in the action plan to tackle the issues identified, and the Government says these actions will be implemented by them and the nuclear industry in the coming years "for the benefit of the UK supply chain".

Announcing the Plan today, Energy Minister John Hayes also launched a campaign to fill around 500 skilled jobs at the Sellafield nuclear site in West Cumbria with a mixture of apprentices, graduates, trainees and ex-military personnel.

"Just as atoms collide in a nuclear reactor, the economic benefits of our nuclear renaissance will reverberate far and wide across the country," he said in a statement. "The announcement of 500 jobs at Sellafield today shows the immense contribution of the nuclear sector to the UK economy, in particular that of West Cumbria."

Business Green notes that the launch of the plan was overshadowed by news that proposals for a new fleet of French nuclear reactors were dealt a major blow yesterday, after Italian utility Enel announced that the latest round of cost overruns meant it was exiting its partnership with energy giant EDF to deliver the flagship Flamanville 3 European Pressurized Reactor (EPR) in Normandy.

EDF, which runs Heysham, confirmed earlier in the week that cost estimates for the troubled project had risen by a further €2m to €8.5bn - but is insisting the cost estimates for the construction of Hinkley Point currently being considered by the UK government already include the lessons learned from the Flamanville project.

• The Nuclear Supply Chain and Skills Action Plan can be found in full on the DECC website at:

Action to prevent the spread of measles in Lancashire as cases rise

Parents throughout Lancashire and Cumbria are being urged to ensure that their children are fully protected by MMR vaccine as measles cases continue to be reported in the two counties.

91 cases have been confirmed so far this year, compared to just six in 2011.

“There’s a lot of measles around at present," says Dr. Ken Lamden, a Consultant with the Health Protection Agency's Cumbria and Lancashire Health Protection Unit. "It’s a highly infectious disease that can have serious consequences for some people and anyone who isn’t fully vaccinated is liable to be vulnerable to it.”

Two doses of MMR vaccine give full protection against measles, mumps and rubella (German measles). The first dose is given to toddlers at the age of 13 months and the second at approximately 40 months, before the child goes to school.

However, it’s not too late for older children, teenagers and young adults to be vaccinated if they missed out as toddlers. People who aren’t sure if they were vaccinated as children should check with their family doctors, who will give advice and arrange vaccination if appropriate.

“There’s an on-going outbreak of measles just across our border on Merseyside where more than 500 cases have been confirmed by laboratory testing," Dr. Lamden added. "One-third of these patients were ill enough to require inpatient treatment in hospital and a number were seriously ill, a reminder that measles should not be taken lightly.”

The HPA advises people with symptoms of measles to:

• Stay away from school, nursery or work until five days have elapsed after the onset of a rash.
• Telephone your GP or NHS walk-in centre before attending so that arrangements can be made for you to be treated in isolation from other patients.
• Avoid contact with people generally, but particularly babies, pregnant women and anyone who is known to have poor immunity to infection.

Christmas Market at Lancaster Castle

The Witches Tower
Lancaster Castle
Lancaster's traditional Charter Market is hosting a festive Christmas Market in the courtyard of the magnificent Lancaster Castle on Thursday, December 20.  From 12pm until 9pm, everyone is invited to step back in time through the historic John O'Gaunt Gate and discover what lies beyond the castle walls whilst enjoying some last minute shopping in a fantastic setting.

There will be performances of traditional Christmas carols sung by local choirs throughout the day including the CitySingers and the choirs of Dallas Road and Moorside Primary Schools as well as a brass ensemble. Seasonal refreshments will be available throughout the day.

Featuring food, gift and craft stalls, this will make a fascinating opportunity to buy your gifts for those hard-to-buy-for friends and relatives and feel all Christmassy in this heritage setting before making your way down into the city centre where late night shopping takes place every Thursday until 9pm.  Free parking is available in city council car parks as well as the Market Gate Car Park from 6pm.

Use of the castle for a Christmas Market is by kind consent of the Duchy of Lancaster, whose plans for the Castle courtyard include many more public events.

Coun Jon Barry, Cabinet member with responsibility for markets, said:  "Having been granted permission for the city's popular charter market to host its very first Christmas market at Lancaster Castle, I am sure the event will prove to be a memorable experience for both traders and shoppers alike.  It will also give local people the opportunity to support their local markets as well as discover and take pride in their local heritage."

Paul Clarke, CEO of the Duchy of Lancaster, added: “We’re pleased to be working with the council to offer this opportunity for the community to come into the castle courtyard and enjoy it. This is exactly the sort of event that we would like to see more of at the castle in the future, and I’m sure residents and visitors alike will not want to pass up the chance to walk through the John O’Gaunt Gate and see the courtyard in all its glory.”

Admission into the castle courtyard is free. There will be no access to any other parts of the castle.

Last entry will be 8.00pm.

The Charter Market will also open on Christmas Eve from 9am-4pm for last minute Christmas shopping at the usual location in Lancaster Town Centre.

• For more information visit 

Safer sleep for baby

A new campaign to help keep babies safe while they sleep has been launched.

Promoted by the Lancashire Safeguarding Children Board, it's called 'Safer Sleep for Baby' and offers six simple steps that parents can use to reduce the risks of their child dying in its sleep.

"Nearly 300 babies a year never reach their first birthday because they die in their sleep, and the heartbreak involved is unimaginable," explains Nigel Burke, chairman of the Board.

"Our new campaign offers six straightforward steps to help babies sleep more safely. We're asking parents to think carefully about their baby's sleeping arrangements and making simple adjustments if necessary.

"It's mostly common sense, which parents usually have in good supply! But if a quick reminder helps save just one baby, the campaign will have been worth it."

Those behind the drive are hoping that the messages will reach parents during the party season, which can bring extra risks if parents fall asleep with their baby after they've had a few festive drinks, been smoking or taken prescription medication.

Those important six messages are:

  • Keep baby away from smoke, before and after birth
  • Put baby in a cot, crib or moses basket to sleep - never fall asleep with them on a sofa or chair
  • Never fall asleep with baby after drinking or taking drugs/medication
  • Put baby to sleep on their back with their feet to the foot of the cot
  • Keep baby’s head and face uncovered and make sure they don’t get too hot
  • Breastfeed your baby - support is available if you need it

Safer Sleep for Baby follows on from the safeguarding board's previous award-winning campaign, Give Me Room To Breathe.

• Find out more at and search ‘safer sleep for baby’ or if parents need to chat to someone during the Christmas period, call the FSID helpline on 0808 802 6868

Festive cheer from the Long Lost Band

Ace local muscians the Long Lost Band have just released "Twelfth Night", a wonderful Christmas single, and are promoting it with a video that was shot entirely in Lancaster.

Locations include Moor Lane's Golden Lion pub and Castle Hill.

Fighting for time outside their uncreative day jobs like desperate, steroid laden apes, that have escaped from an underground laboratory, The Long Lost Band tell us they attempt to make music with scraps of time stolen from the edge of a black hole.

"The attempt is then made to claim territory, planting a tattered, bullet ridden flag on a recession blasted wasteland, and find some remnants of humanity who are looking for a band with smoke in their eyes," they say, "beer stains on their trousers and mighty memorable tunes made in the oxygen free dungeon of dreams.

"Oh, there's some guitars, drums, keyboards and vocals and some gig stuff too."

The Long Lost Band have played support to the likes of Ian McNabb and I Am Kloot.  They have one album under their belts. When they're not riding this particular ragged time wave, they can be found in The Golden Lion, Lancaster, worryingly drunk in charge of guitars and stuff.

• The Christmas Single 'Twelfth Knight (King of December)' is out now

•  Click Here to buy on Itunes or here on Amazon

•  Read an interview with the Long Lost Band on Louder Than War

• Official web site:

Animal ban for teenage ASBO cousins

Jordan Price
Two young cousins who mistreated pets have been banned from being in possession of animals under the terms the anti-social behaviour orders they have been given.

Under the terms of the ASBOs, Jordan Price and Jay Price, both 15, have also been banned from sections of Lancaster’s Ryelands estate after making life a misery for residents there.

Lancaster magistrates gave the pair the two-year ASBOs after hearing a catalogue of evidence highlighting the abusive and anti-social behaviour carried out by the two boys.

Under the conditions of the ASBO, Jordan Price, of Crossgill Place, Lancaster, and Jay price, of Marshaw Road, Lancaster, must not –
  • Act in an anti-social manner that is likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress to others in Lancaster, in particular using foul or abusive language or threatening and intimidating behaviour
  • Entering the Ryelands estate other than taking a direct and specified route to their own family home (Jay Price can also take a direct route to and from his grandfather’s home when making a visit)
  • Being in possession or control of an animal in a public place, except when exercising a muzzled dog on a lead
  • Associate with each other and Declan Clarkson, George Price-Gracie, Billy Price-Gracie, Andrew Stocker, Callum Clarkson or Connor Lynch
Jay Price
PCSO Katie McKelvie, of Ryeland’s neighbourhood police team, said: “Both Jordan and Jay Price have caused mayhem in and around the estate for some time and we have had a number of reports of them mistreating residents’ pets, particularly cats and rabbits.

"They are part of a larger group of teenagers responsible for vandalism, graffiti and anti-social behaviour on the estate.

“Hopefully the conditions of their ASBOs will now restrict this unruly behaviour and make them reconsider their actions. It should also show residents that we are committed to taking action against those who are causing a problem in a particular area and that we will work with them to resolve the issues.”

• If residents see Jordan or Jay Price breaking the conditions of their ASBOs they should report it to police on 101.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Hangman's tale and outlaw deeds part of Dukes 2013 spring season

Albert Pierrepoint - the focus of a
new drama at The Dukes
Famous names past and present play their part in The Dukes forthcoming season – and outlaw Robin Hood and England’s most famous hangman, Albert Pierrepoint, are central characters in two 2013 Dukes productions.

For its return to walkabout theatre in Lancaster’s Williamson Park, The Dukes has chosen Robin Hood, an all-new actionpacked production, running from 5th July 10th August 2013.

Robin Hood ends a season which begins with The Dukes co-production of Pierrepoint – The Hangman’s Tale from 31st January until 23rd February.

This play about England’s last hangman tells how Pierrepoint combined his job as a Lancashire pub landlord with being the country’s official executioner.

The Dukes second production of the season is Savage Children which features two plays. Mirad, Boy From Bosnia (21st - 22nd May) and Wild Girl (23rd - 25th May) are about children from very different worlds, based on real historical events and question the notions of family, freedom and children’s rights.

Making their Dukes debuts in 2013 are the nationally renowned company, Shakespeare at the Tobacco Factory with their full cast production of Two Gentlemen of Verona from 7th - 11th May; and Northern Ballet, one of the UK’s premier ballet companies with their bite-sized, child friendly show Ugly Duckling on 5th April.

The Waving Cat of Japan featuring sign language arts, puppets and traditional Japanese imagery is another treat for young children on 25th May.

Northern Broadsides return on 19th - 23rd February with Rutherford & Son directed by Jonathan Miller. This unflinching portrayal of an industrial Edwardian family stars Wendi Peters, who played Cilla Battersby Brown in Coronation Street.

Comedy continues its popular run at The Dukes with Jason Manford’s show in May already sold out. Other laughtermakers lined up are Hardeep Singh Kohli (1st March); Zoe Lyons (20th March) and John Shuttleworth (22nd March).

Agony aunt Virginia Ironside is Growing Old Disgracefully on 2nd May in one of two Listen Up at The Dukes events this season which also features recordbreaking British mountaineer, Kenton Cool on 27th February.

And the best of the Edinburgh Fringe is brought to Lancaster on 23rd - 24th April with The Trench, an awardwinning new play set in World War One.

Performances by and for young people are also an important strand of The Dukes new season.

University of Cumbria students return with Lady Windermere’s Fan from 16th - 19th January and Equus from 23rd - 26th January.

And Wasted, a play by Kate Tempest, the UK’s most exciting performance poet, on 12th March is followed on 25th March by Whole, a play about a group of Liverpool teenagers.

Also in March, The Dukes Senior Youth Theatre present We Lost Elijah as part of the 2013 National Theatre Connections Festival and the two Lancaster grammar schools Return to the Forbidden Planet.

The Dukes Young Actors & Young Company, who stormed the theatre with The Unsociables last spring, perform their version of Hamlet from 16th - 20th April.

Lancashire Youth Dance Festival is staged in May and The Dukes Shattering Images Theatre Company for young adults with learning disabilities present Diamonds Aren’t Forever in July.

At the other end of the age range, The Dukes collaboration with Age UK continues this spring with Mind Walking (27th-28th March), which combines aerial performance with an emotionally charged story about the enduring love of a mature couple.

The Dukes musical offering this spring continues to be varied. Wired In has proved so popular that it’s moved to The Round on 11th March and 22nd April.

Also striking a musical note this season are N’DOdO, Iain Hunter’s reincarnation of Afro/Jazz/Rock group NO DODO from the Nineties (16th March); Hope & Social, described by The Independent as one of the UK’s top five bands (30th April); and the Jaipur Kawa Brass Band, whose rousing repertoire features a performance by a genuine Fakir on 4th May.

To book tickets for any of the new season events, ring The Dukes box office on 01524 598500 or visit

Moorgate hold up men sought by police

Police are appealing for witnesses following an attempted robbery of a Lancaster newsagent by two men late last month, one brandishing a meat cleaver.

The incident happened at Moorgate Shop, Lancaster on Tuesday 27th November at around 9.00pm. Two men, wearing gloves and balaclavas entered the store. One remained at the entrance brandishing a meat clever shouting "Give me your money", while the other man approached the till area looking for the money.

The shop assistant managed to press the emergency alarm button and the offenders left the scene.

Detective Constable Hana Alayli-Moore said, “I would appeal to anyone who was in the area at the time and witnessed what happened or who perhaps saw the two offenders making off from the scene to come forward and contact the police.”

Quartet screening beams into The Dukes

Lancaster’s Dukes cinema is to present a preview screening of Quartet, Dustin Hoffman’s directorial debut, on Tuesday 11th December.

This special screening at 6.45pm will be followed by a live satellite question and answer session with members of the film’s cast and crew including Billy Connolly, Sheridan Smith and Tom Courtenay plus screenwriter Ronald Harwood.

This is a great chance to see a film which is generating a real buzz weeks before its national release on 1st January and before it returns to The Dukes from 25th January.

Quartet (12A) is a tale of in-fighting and camaraderie among the residents of a retirement home for classical musicians and features a host of British acting talent including Maggie Smith and Michael Gambon.

• Tickets are priced £5.50(£4.50 concessions). To book, call The Dukes box office on 01524 598500 or visit

Last chance to have your say on draft Local Development Plan

Lancaster City Council’s consultation on a new draft Local Development Plan for the district is due to end on Friday 14th December.

The Local Plan will allocate land for the district’s future housing and commercial needs, protect land for its environmental, social and economic value and set out a series of planning policies which will manage future proposals for all types of development across the district.

The Local Plan also includes proposals for the regeneration of Central Morecambe via the Morecambe Area Action Plan.

 As part of the consultation the council organised a series of events across the district, where anyone interested was able to speak to council officers about any affects the Local Plan could have on their area.

Although these have now ended, the draft documents which comprise the Lancaster District Local Plan are still available to view at Lancaster and Morecambe Town Halls and local libraries.

“It is vital that local people are given the opportunity to offer their views on our draft Local Development Plan to help the council manage future proposals for all types of development across the district, urges Councillor Janice Hanson, who is Cabinet member with responsibility for economic regeneration and planning.

"Your views on the emerging Local Plan and future land allocations are important to us and I would welcome more people coming forward with their feedback on the documents.”

• Any comments you wish to submit can be sent to the Council electronically, either via the Council's online consultation package or via email at 

Alternatively comments can be made in writing to the Council at the following address: Planning Policy and Housing Team, Regeneration and Planning Service, Lancaster Town Hall, Dalton Square, Lancaster, LA1 1QR.

Gathering aims to demystify social media for local businesses

As part of a national initiative, Lancaster now has a free monthly Social Media Surgery for community groups, NFPs and startup businesses. If your organisation is struggling with its social media and you would like a hand, come along and meet Jane Binnion (from Jane's Social Media) and Tom Cumpsty (from Sensible Internet) who will sit with you and help you with any social media queries and problems that you have.

This very informal, monthly event is hosted by The Business Hub, Penny Street (part of and December's surgery is on Thursday 6th December from 12.30 to 2.00pm. Bring your lap top and your questions.

• Book on at or Contact Jane on 07521314926. Volunteer helpers also welcome.

Appeal after pedestrian hit by van in Lancaster

Police are appealing for information after a man was hit by a van in Lancaster yesterday.

At around 4.50pm, the 68-year-old man was crossing Barton Road near to the junction with Wakefield Drive when he was hit by a white Mercedes Vito Van.

He was taken to Royal Preston Hospital where he is in a critical but stable condition receiving treatment for head, spine and leg injuries. His family are being supported by specially trained officers.

The driver of the van was uninjured.

Officers from the Road Policing Unit are appealing for any witnesses who had not yet contacted police to come forward.

Anyone with any information is asked to contact police by calling 101 quoting log number LC-20121204-0922.

Local businesses back BID to improve city

Businesses in Lancaster have voted yes to making the city centre a 'business improvement district' (BID).

Support for the BID has been hard won by its supporters, after concerted opposition from some quarters, and its backers are delighted by the news.

A BID is a defined geographical area within which companies pay an extra levy on their business rates which then goes towards improvements and public services.

The ballot means an extra £650,000 will be invested in Lancaster city centre courtesy of these business ratepayers which have a property with a rateable value of over £10,000, contributing a 1.5 per cent levy.

A steering group will now appoint a BID manager to work with the city's business community to provide services over and above those already provided by the local authorities.

Initial ideas include additional marketing, promotional initiatives and projects to utilise empty shops and attract more visitors.

Paul Cusimano, chair of the Lancaster Unlimited Steering Group set up to deliver the BID, said: "The fact businesses in Lancaster have voted in favour of a BID during the current economic climate is a real testament to them and their belief in the model.

"Winning the vote will mean the business community can now move forward to deliver a wide range of initiatives that will improve the attraction and appeal of the city centre by making it a more prosperous, exciting and vibrant place."

Appeal after Lancaster man absconds from prison

Police are appealing for information about the whereabouts of 22-year-old Lancaster man Tyrone Richards, who has absconded from an open prison in Cheshire.

Richards (pictured above in 2009) is serving an indeterminate sentence for a wounding offence in Lancaster in October 2008.

On 20 November 2012, Richards absconded from HM Prison Thorn Cross, a Young Offenders Institution, in Appleton Thorn, near Warrington.

He is described as white, approximately 5’9” tall, of slight build with brown hair and scars to the back of his head and a tattoo on his chest.

It is believed Richards could be staying in the Lancaster area.

Detective Sergeant Paul Greenhalgh said: “We believe Richards is in the Lancaster area and I would ask the public to be vigilant and report any sightings of him to the police - any details the public may have could be crucial.”

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, 3 December 2012

In Review: LUTG's 'Rope' by Patrick Hamilton

Performed by Lancaster University Theatre Group
Director:  Josh Coates
Producer:  Floss Edwards
Costumes Designer: Beth Jones

DT3 at The Dukes, Moor Lane, Lancaster
Friday 30 November 2012 at 7.30pm, and Saturday 1 December at 2.30pm and 7.30pm
Tickets - £6/£7
Reviewed by Michael Nunn

Novelist, poet and playwright, much neglected these days, Patrick Hamilton led a chaotic life, making Dylan Thomas look like Noddy.  His dramatic masterpiece, Rope, was published when he was only 25, and highly regarded by Graham Green and JB Priestley.  Its intense and detailed scrutiny of upper-class life in London bears comparison to the later, darker works of Charles Dickens, and it is no surprise that another Londoner, Sir Alfred Hitchcock, made a film of the play, his first in colour, in 1949, after the BBC had made an early television version.

Set between the two World Wars, it deals with a couple of student friends, Brandon (Ollie Cumins) and Granillo (Tom Morris) who kill their younger colleague Ronald and place his body in a chest which later serves as a table for a buffet supper.  The various evening supper guests, noting Kentley’s absence, suspect nothing – or not immediately.  Tension mounts as do the irony, acid humour and intensity of the soirée.  War veteran and former teacher of Brandon and Granillo, Rupert Cadell (played splendidly by Ross McCaffrey) finally confronts the guilty pair.

Lancaster University Theatre Group channelled all their resources – costume, set, lighting, movement and some wonderful understated pauses - into what was one of the most thrilling, gripping and powerful shows that many student groups could only dream of.  No detail was missed, and Director Josh Coates and his team (Producer Floss Edwards, Costume Designer Beth Jones) and the very able cast of nine delivered a spellbinding 100-minute rendition - without an interval, which rightly served to heighten the tension and enhance the dramatic flow of this finely-wrought piece.

I was so impressed by the utter integrity and exemplary standards of this first-rate production, which would not be out of place in any professional theatre.

Copyright © Michael Nunn
1 December 2012