Saturday, 2 March 2013

93-year-old Morecambe man robbed in "distraction burglary"

Detectives are appealing for information after a 93-year-old man was robbed in a distraction burglary at his Morecambe home.

The theft happend on Tuesday 26th February between 1.55pm and 2.20pm, when a man called at the elderly gentleman’s home on Lichfield Avenue.

The 93-year-old mistook the man for someone he knew and invited him in and, once inside, when the man was distracted, the offender went into the rear bedroom, searched a wardrobe and took a wallet containing cash and a debit card before leaving the property.

The offender is described as white, of slim build, with short, light brown hair, aged approximately 20-25 years old. He had drawn features and was wearing a jumper with a lightweight jacket over the top.

Detective Inspector Gareth Willis said: “If anybody has any information about this burglary I would urge them to contact police. Did you see anyone acting suspicious in the area at the time, or know who would match description? If so please come forward.

“I would also like to take the opportunity to urge people to be vigilant and always ask people who ask to enter your home to show some ID. If you’re unsure then don’t let them in.”

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.


Thursday, 28 February 2013

Fly Tippers back in action

Sunny weather clearly spells opportunity for fly tippers: a virtual-lancaster reader sent us these pictures, snapped this morning on the bridleway/cycletrack, halfway between Freeman's Wood and Aldcliffe Lane, this morning.

Lancaster City Council and the Environment Agency have responsibility to deal with fly tipping in the Lancaster district and the Council are responsible for clearing and investigating fly tipping on public land such as roads, parks and ginnels.

The Environment Agency investigates larger scale fly tips involving hazardous waste and organised crime gangs.

If you discover a fly tip please report it to Lancaster City Council on 01524 582491 with as much information as possible including:
  • Location
  • Time and date it was dumped
  • Description of the waste
  • Description of the persons/vehicles involved including registration number
Alternatively you can report fly-tipping online:
More info on the City Council web site

Gabriela Montero concert: Exclusive VL discount ticket offer

Venezuelan super star Gabriela Montero performs at Lancaster University's Great Hall on Thursday 7th March - and we have a discount offer on tickets. Photo: Colin Bell
Having well and truly "broken in" their fabulous new Steinway concert grand piano, the final solo recital of the Live at LICA season in Lancaster University's Great Hall will be given by Venezuelan super-star pianist and improviser, Gabriela Montero on Thursday 7th March - and virtual-lancaster is able to offer our readers an exclusive discount.

Gabriela comes to Lancaster fresh from her European tour that follows dates in Munich, Luxembourg and San Moritz. Montero's talent is a rare and exceptional thing to witness live, (you can watch a video here) and her programme features a mix of romantic and Latin American music with her real-time improvisations on musical suggestions by the audience. This is a rare opportunity to hear one of the world's most original artists.

In partnership with Live at LICA, virtual-lancaster is pleased to be able to offer our readers £10 off per booking for VL readers for what promises to be an amazing concert, when you book a minimum of two adult/senior seats.

The discount offer is only available online (not via box office) and will be valid until 3.00pm on Thursday 7th March.

When you visit the site to buy tickets, enter the code VL-PIANO on the checkout summary page.

Buy tickets and use the discount code, plus more information about Live at LICA: Gabriela Montero in Concert here

• Gabriela Montero Online:

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Has Anyone Seen this Giraffe?

Police are appealing for information about the theft of a six foot wooden giraffe from a home on Slyne Road in Bolton-le-Sands - along with several other items earlier this month.

The appeal follows a burglary between Sunday 3rd and Wednesday 13th February. After breaking into the house, thieves searched the property and stole several items of small furniture, as well as several ornaments. They also stole a large number of old joinery hand tools from the garage.

Amongst the property that was stolen was a six foot tall wooden giraffe, a gold framed mirror, a chest of drawers and several paperweights.

PC Mike O’Regan said: “There were some unusual items stolen from the house, perhaps most notably a six foot tall wooden giraffe.

“We have a picture of this and some of the items which were taken; if anybody has any information about this burglary or knows where the property has ended up then I would urge them to contact us.”

Here's some pictures of other stolen items:

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.

Police hunt Morecambe bus stop attacker

Police are appealing for information after a 26 year old man was punched as he waited for a bus in Morecambe - and have released a CCTV image of a man they would like to speak to.

The victim was waiting for the last bus at a stop on Euston Road at 12.45am on Saturday 2 February when he was approached from behind by a man who punched him in the head and ran off. He wasn’t seriously injured.

The attacker is described as white, of slim build, aged in his 20s, around 5’ 7” tall with brown hair which was swept to the side. He was wearing a black coat and black pants.

“This was an unprovoked assault and we are keen to find the person responsible," said PC Byrony Fell. "If anybody recognises the man captured on CCTV then I would urge them to contact police.”

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.

Have your say on Carnforth and Cannon Hill conservation areas

Lancaster City Council is inviting members of the public to have their say on the Carnforth and Cannon Hill, Lancaster conservation area appraisals.

Both Carnforth and Cannon Hill have areas that are designated as conservation areas.  This means they have areas of special architectural or historic interest and the council, when considering development proposals, has a duty to consider the preservation or enhancement of the character and appearance of those areas.

The conservation area appraisals are being conducted to define and record the special architectural and historic interest of Carnforth and Cannon Hill.

Draft conservation area appraisals for both areas are now available for the public to view and have their say.  The appraisals are available to download from

Paper copies can also be viewed in Lancaster and Morecambe Town Halls, or in Lancaster, Morecambe and Carnforth Libraries, during normal opening hours.

Following the public consultation period, all comments received will be considered, and any appropriate amendments made accordingly, before a final version is adopted in 2013.

• Comments on the appraisals should be returned by Friday, 15th March 2013 to: The Conservation Team, Regeneration and Planning Service, PO Box 4, Lancaster Town Hall, Dalton Square, Lancaster LA1 1QR.  Or by email to: 

• Comments can also be left at either Town Hall, marked for the attention of the Conservation Team.

Shooting the Living: Silent Pride exhibition opens at The Dukes

Striking portraits - including an Olympic hopeful and a youngster preparing for a school play - are currently on exhibition at The Dukes gallery in Lancaster.

Silent Pride – 50mm is a collection by former press photographer Sam Reynolds who set up his own editorial photographic agency – Shooting the Living -  in 2011.

All the subjects in the exhibition were shot on a 50mm lens. “During each shoot, the person displayed a natural poise which, when coupled with their often serious expression or a natural un-forced smile, created an intriguing portrait, leading the viewer to want to know the story behind the shot,” says Sam.

The portraits include swimmer Samantha Murray at her last training session in Clitheroe before joining Team GB; a Kate Middleton look-alike, and two gang members from Preston where Sam lives.

Describing himself as a people-person, Sam has recently completed some photographic work for The Dukes and cites the likes of Eugene Atoet, Man Ray, Maurice Broomfield and Martin Parras as influences.

• Silent Pride – 50mm runs until 24th March. The Dukes gallery is open from 10am to 11pm, Monday to Saturday.  Please call the box office on 01524 598500 to check opening times if you’re making a special journey as occasionally the space is closed to the public.

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

'Blackout' offers futuristic behind the scenes Drama at The Dukes

Drama will take place behind the scenes of a Lancaster theatre in March -- and you could have a front row seat.

The Dukes has joined forces with The Alligator Club, a North West professional playwrights collective, to present twice-nightly performances of Blackout on 14-15th March.

This walkabout show is set in the hidden spaces of The Dukes which the public don’t usually have chance to see. The wardrobe department and Green Room are just two of the locations where the drama will take place.

Blackout is set in the future where every theatre, apart from one, has died. It is the last opportunity to join a hologram guided tour of this bygone building before it shuts its door forever. As the tour concludes, only the audience can decide if this theatrical relic should be left to crumble into the past; seen only through the sterile safety of a virtual reality, web based viewer.  What will you decide?

The audience, limited to groups of up to 20 people aged 16 plus for each show, will experience a play in motion and every performance will be different.

Blackout, which will be directed by The Dukes associate director, Louie Ingham,  is the latest stage in the development of The Alligator Club which already has two sell out shows under its belt and aims to create experimental writer-led theatre shows for the wider North West region.

It is produced and written by playwrights Amman Paul Singh Brar, Kellie Smith, Kim Wiltshire and Anne Irvine. They’ve been joined by a talented trio of Lancaster and Cumbria writers: Ann Wilson and Jack Hathaway who formed part of the writing team who created The Unsociables which premiered at The Dukes last spring, and Ulverston’s Zosia Wand who penned Quicksand for The Dukes in 2011.

• All tickets are priced £5. To book, ring The Dukes box office on 01524 598500 or visit

Monday, 25 February 2013

Arts on the Prom fair planned for May Bank Holiday

The Venus and Cupid Trust - originally set up to ensure there is a future for Shane Johnstone's much-loved sculpture, Venus and Cupid, which lies on Morecambe Promenade at Scalestones Point - has organised a brand new artists and makers Art Fair.

The event will take place on Morecambe Promenade on 27th May 2013 – Bank Holiday Monday.

The Trust are appealing for artists, makers and traders to take part who would benefit from the high volume of day and holiday visitors who come to Morecambe on a May Bank Holiday at half term.

The Fair will run along the Prom from The Midland Hotel eastwards towards the Eric Morecambe statue and will also be in the promenade gardens.

If you are interested, visit the Trust's website for the information you need, or email  if you want to know more.

Stalls cost £25.00 each, and the Trust have contingency plans in case there's  poor weather on the day.

Lancaster University's Chinese links win it a top trade award

Ana Gibson, Client Manager of Finnair and Philomena Chen, Head of Asia Pacific Development for UKTI North West presented the China Education Links Award to Professor David Brown and Huang Qihai at the UK Trade & Investment China Awards 2013  held at The Lowry, Salford Quays, Manchester last week. Photo: Martin Birchall
Lancaster University is celebrating after being named winner in the China Education Links Awards. 

The award, given by UK Trade & Investment, goes to the institutions which have been most successful in establishing educational links with Greater China.

The Greater China Awards are organised by UK Trade & Investment North West and sponsored by Finnair, and reward the organisations that have made the most significant contribution to developing network links with Greater China.

Winner Lancaster University is ranked in the top one percent of universities globally and was one of the first Higher Education pioneers in the UK to develop relationships with China in 1976.  Last year, Lancaster welcomed 710 Chinese students to its campus.

UK Trade & Investment says these students greatly enrich the distinctive international culture of the University and the local area and the highly active Alumni groups in Beijing, Guangzhou, Shanghai and Hong Kong provide employability support for Lancaster graduates.

Lancaster University now has research, management, employment and teaching links with a wide range of institutions including the Renmin University of China, Beijing Foreign Studies University, Guangdong University of Foreign Studies, China Academy of Sciences and Deloittes Hong Kong.

Lancaster is also planning to launch a new university in China with its partner of 20 years, Guangdong University of Foreign Studies. Land has been granted in the Nansha district for the proposed Guangwai-Lancaster University which will offer undergraduate and postgraduate programmes and enhance the research reputation of both universities.

Another North West university – the University of Salford – was runner up for the Award, which also has a long history in China, dating back to 1987  The university has a regional office in China, the Beijing Representative Office, responsible for the delivery of international student recruitment in China. 

“Education links with China are vitally important if we are to continue to foster close bonds with the market in a global environment," argues Philomena Chen, Head of Asia Pacific Development for UK Trade & Investment North West. "Both our winner and runner up today have made great achievements in this field, with clear and realistic programmes built on solid track records of delivery in education and research, establishing strong links with Chinese partners and providing employability support.”

“We are extremely proud of our success in China as a region," added Clive Drinkwater, Regional Director for UK Trade & Investment North West. "The North West is one of only two regions (the other being West Midlands) to have China as one of its top 5 export markets – North West exports to China were nearly £1.2 billion in the first three quarters of 2012 – over 11% up on the same period in 2011 and higher than the whole year’s exports in 2010.

“Forging strong relationships in the fields of education and research is extremely valuable in helping to grow our success within the market, and I am proud to see such great progress being made with collaborations between some of the North West’s top educational establishments and those in China.”

The winners were announced at the Greater China Awards and Chinese New Year Dinner on Friday 22nd February at the Lowry Theatre in Salford and presented by Chinese Consul General Pan Yundong and Ana Gibson from Finnair, who were supporting the awards for the sixth year.

The awards dinner also celebrated the Year of the Snake – often seen as a year beneficial for business as people born in a snake year are known for financial success, good judgement in monetary affairs and an intuition for business negotiations.

Also shortlisted was the International Research and Innovation Centre for the Environment at Lancaster University and the Advanced Nurse Education (Merseyside), One Education Ltd (Manchester) and Trustech (Manchester).

County council acts over horsemeat scandal

Lancashire County Council has suspended the supply of all frozen processed beef products to schools as a precaution after its own scientific tests carried out in light of the horsemeat scandal cast further doubt on the reliability of food labelling.

The county council is one of the few councils in the country able to conduct its own laboratory tests on the DNA composition of meat products. It has chosen to test for traces of horsemeat in all the frozen processed beef products supplied to its schools, as well as undertaking work on the national investigation led by the Food Standards Agency.

Although the large majority of affected products on school menus have tested negative for horse DNA, two have tested positive. The first was a pre-prepared cottage pie used in 10% of primary schools (announced earlier in February) and the second was a Halal beef burger, which had been available at four schools in the county. All affected schools have been contacted and informed.

Frozen processed beef products only make up a small proportion of the menu, as most school meals are prepared using fresh beef from a local supplier, so pupils will continue to have a wide range of food to choose from. The suspended products were only supplied to secondary schools and around 10% of Lancashire's primary schools.

County Councillor Geoff Driver, Leader of Lancashire County Council, said: "I hope that parents and children can be reassured by the advice that this isn’t a food safety issue, however it is frankly appalling that we have found horsemeat in two products which were supposedly 100 percent beef.

"These products came from manufacturers who not only carry all the correct certification but who also recently provided us with written assurances their products did not contain horsemeat.

"Few if any local councils across the country have been as proactive as we have in testing their school meals and unfortunately the results show we were right to act on the concerns raised by what has become an international scandal.

“Under the circumstances, with children returning from their half term break today, we feel we have no choice but to withdraw all frozen processed beef products as a precaution until the food industry and regulators do something to restore confidence in what people are being fed.”

Changes to the county council’s school meals menu will take place with immediate effect from today, Monday 25 February, when most schools are returning from holiday. All frozen products that contain processed beef will be taken off the menu.

The county council has undertaken a wide variety of tests for horse DNA in meat products at its Preston laboratory, reporting the results to the Food Standards Agency.

The first product supplied to schools that was found to contain horsemeat was a cottage pie, announced earlier in February. The second was a Halal beefburger. The affected schools have been made aware of the test results and, as a precaution, the council has also suspended a halal lamb burger, manufactured on the same premises as the beefburger, from its menu.