Saturday, 16 March 2013

Putting the Community back into Barton Road Centre

Respektin' all the people

For the last 26 years, Barton Road has had a Youth and Community Centre.  However, when the sign on the building was changed to 'Barton Road Young People’s Centre' it left the 200 people (of all ages) who use the centre every week somewhat bemused.

The ladies at the Thursday Morning Coffee Group which was established at the centre in 1986, noting that the new sign was rather misleading and exclusive,  recently took matters into their own hands. Wanting to remind people that the centre is still open to the wider community, they took to the street and  added their very own, home-made ‘community’ sign (pictured).

Community Co-ordinator for the centre, Denise Nardone, said “Barton Road Centre has a thriving community.  There are groups using the centre every day of the week”.

Denise worked for Lancashire Youth and Community Service 10 years ago and recalls a lot of intergenerational work.  "When I worked on the Ridge”, she says, “there was funding to support community groups and this type of work between generations was encouraged. Several elderly people  became voluntary youth workers - each generation seems to have so much to learn from the other.  Now, people seem to forget the value of young people working with members of their community."

Barton Road Centre accommodates groups such as Art4Fun, U3A Table Tennis, Knitting and Sewing Drop Ins, Lancaster Family History Group, Babies and Toddlers and much more.  The centre has a lovely atmosphere with good facilities, including a computer suite, a large hall, meeting rooms as well as a comfortable and spacious reception room.

As the centre use increases with new events such as short computer courses and ‘Crafternoons’, there is still room for anyone interested in setting up a group or looking to join an existing group.

With Barton Road Centre going from strength to strength. Denise, with the support of the management committee which is made up of members of the community, is regularly introducing new courses and drop-in sessions to the centre.  The latest developments are ‘crafternoons’ (the clue is in the title!) and a computer course aiming to demystify that pesky technology.  “We wanted to design some short courses which do not focus on qualifications and learning objectives, but which really help people feel more confident with their everyday computer use – whether that be on-line banking, face-timing their relatives in Australia or understanding file management.”

To find out more about what’s on or sign up for a computer course, visit the Barton Road Youth and Community Centre website at or call Denise on 01524 65622.

Lancaster students warned: guard belongings on nights out

Alfred Efosa
Alfred Efosa

A Blackpool man has been sentenced to nine months imprisonment this week, after stealing from female students in Lancaster when they were on a night out.

At an earlier hearing, Alfred Efosa, 21, had pleaded guilty to one robbery and to five charges of theft, relating to a number of incidents at Toast nightclub on North Road and on Pitt Street, in November 2012.

All six of Efosa’s victims were female students. Five of them had the contents of their handbags and purses taken along with mobile phones. The sixth victim was subjected to a robbery near to the nightclub.

Speaking after the sentencing, DC Hardwick said: “These women were enjoying a night out when this happened and may have been less aware of the risks than they may normally be which unfortunately is often when thieves strike.

"It was due to the vigilance of doorstaff and the prompt action of response officers that Efosa was caught and the majority of the property recovered and returned to the owners.

"I would urge all students, especially while on a night out, to ensure that you remain vigilant and keep your bag, phones and other belongings with you. Being a victim of theft or robbery can be extremely distressing and we want students in Lancaster to enjoy their nights out rather than ending the night with a call in to the Police.

"We are pleased with the sentence given today and female students can feel a little safer knowing that Alfred Efosa is locked up, but unfortunately there are many more people out there like him.

"I would urge everybody to take a look at our website for advice on how to protect yourself.”


Police hunt Garstang jewellery thieves

Police have issued CCTV images and are appealing for information after two rings together worth £3,000 were stolen from a town centre jewellers in Garstang on Wednesday 6th March 2013.

The offence took place around 1.40pm at S Carr and Son on the High Street, when a man and a woman, posing as a couple, entered the jewellers. While staff were busy serving other customers the man reached behind the glass counter display, stole two diamond rings and left the shop.

The man is described as being white and aged in his late 50's, clean shaven with bald light-brown hair. He was wearing a black flat cap when entering the shop, a checked shirt, black padded jacket with hood, dark cardigan, dark trousers and black shiny shoes.

The woman is also described as being white, aged in her late 30's or 40's, slim build, with shoulder-length blonde hair. She was wearing all dark clothing with a light coloured shawl, big black sunglasses and brown leather shoulder bag.

PC Andrew Halliwell from Garstang Police said: “I would appeal to anybody that recognises either the man or the woman, or thinks they have been offered these rings for sale to contact police on 101.

One of the rings is described as a single stone diamond ring, with a platinum shank and setting ‘faux tension set’ style. It is worth £ 1,350.

The other stolen ring is valued at £1,605 and is a single stone diamond ring with 8 small diamonds set in pairs in to the shoulders; central round brilliant cut diamond 4 claw set.


Friday, 15 March 2013

Bridge Work set to begin on M6 Junction

Bridge work will begin overnight on Thursday 21 March on the Junction 34 of the M6 near Lancaster between 8.00pm and 6.00am.

During these times there will be a 50mph speed restriction on both carriageways around Junction 34, as well as closures of the southbound entry slip road.

There will be a clearly signed diversion in place via Junction 35.

Work is expected to be complete by Thursday 28th March.

Almost £200,000 to support Lancashire's community groups

Lancashire County Council has announced more than £190,000 for their 2013/14 Local Initiative Fund scheme.

Now in its third year, the LIF scheme provides grants to voluntary, community and faith groups that carry out important work to help communities across Lancashire.

Groups in Lancashire can apply for grants of £1,000 to £5,000 to support their work and help to meet the county council's priorities.

The LIF scheme provides grants to fund new and innovative projects and activities which support three of the county council's priorities: improved outcomes for families; skills and employment; and activities for teenagers.

County Councillor Mark Perks, Chair of the Cabinet Working Group for the Third Sector, said: "In 2012/13, we awarded a total of £224,289 to community groups in Lancashire to deliver a wide range of activities to meet local needs.

"These included family support, digital and social media training, sports, online photo archives, careers and business advice sessions, school holiday activities and many other initiatives.

"We're keen to see more organisations bidding for LIF grants to deliver new and innovative project activity in 2013/14 for the people of Lancashire and help the county council to achieve its priorities."

• For more information about the LIF Scheme and the application process, please contact the council VCFS Grants Team on 01772 530 818 or visit and search for 'Local Initiative Fund'.

• Bids for funding in the next round need to be in by Friday 26th April 2013 at .005pm.

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Local MPs urged to buzz Environment Minister on bee vote

Local beekeepers and their customers are being urged to support an online campaign to urge Environment Minister Owen Paterson not to vote against protecting bees in an important European vote on pesticide control tomorrow (Friday).

The proposal would enact a European-wide suspension of the pesticides being blamed for killing bees. The national Guardian reports that almost three-quarters of the UK public back a ban, according to a poll released on Wednesday, but the UK is not currently expected to support the measure when the European Commission votes on it, leaving it little chance of being passed.

An online petition is fast approaching three million votes in favour of stopping their use and campaign group 38 Degrees has organised a last-minute letter writing campaign to MPs asking them to contact the Environment Minister to vote for the ban.

While chemical manufacturers claim that a suspension would reduce food production, a series of high-profile scientific studies in the last year has increasingly linked neonicotinoids to harmful effects in bees, including huge losses in the number of queens produced, and big increases in "disappeared" bees – those that fail to return from food foraging trips.

Some campaigners are reminded of similar concerns raised about DDT in the 1960s - eventually proven to be accurate and that chemical withdrawn, but not before it caused  environmental damage.

Locally, there are 140 members of the Lancaster Beekeeper Society, whose livelihood depends on healthy bees.

Owen Paterson set to scupper EU plans to ban pesticides linked to bee harm 

Avaaz Bee Petition

38 Degrees Letter Writing Campaign

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Work to start on Crook O' Lune bridge repairs

Work will start soon to repair the East cycleway Bridge at the Crook O'Lune which links Caton with the River Lune Millennium Park.

Preparation works will begin on Monday 18th March, with the main work to fully restore the listed structure taking place from Monday 8th April until late October 2013. The start date will allow the bridge to stay open during the Easter school holidays (29th March to 7th April).

The bridge was originally closed for safety reasons in March 2011 after an inspection unearthed problems, particularly with the timber beams underneath. It has since reopened with a temporary deck supported by scaffolding above the old timber deck.

A decision was taken by Lancashire County Council in January to carry out a full restoration which will see the timber decking replaced, ironwork repainted, and the masonry re-pointed.

The bridge near the Crook O'Lune picnic site and Millennium Park carries the River Lune Cycleway which is a popular route for cyclists, walkers and horse riders. The nearby toilets and cafe facilities will be open as normal while work takes place.

A diversion will redirect people over the Caton Lune Bridge on Low Road, where a temporary walkway will allow them to cross alongside the traffic.

Footpaths underneath the bridge were diverted at the end of last year as a safety precaution after a further inspection of the old wooden beams showed they had continued to deteriorate.

Monday, 11 March 2013

Police confirm investigation into Islamic School

Local detectives have launched an investigation surrounding concerns for the welfare of a group of teenage girls at the privately run Islamic School for Girls in Lancaster.

In an updated statement to that issued earlier today, police say the investigation is currently concentrated on one incident which allegedly took place last week at the Jamea al Kauthar School on Ashton Road, Lancaster, but was only reported to police on Saturday (9th March).

At this stage, police say the inquiry is centred on a small number of girls and officers are trying to ascertain whether they are former or existing pupils.

Superintendent Andy Webster said: “We are still at the very early stages of what is a complex investigation. We have a team of specialist detectives working to establish the full circumstances around exactly what has happened, as well as offering support to those involved.

“Our aim at this stage is to respond to the concerns raised proportionately and with sensitivity, and in a way that we can minimise the impact on the school and the surrounding local community.

“We are working with partner organisations to ensure the necessary safeguarding measures are in place for all students at the school.

“We understand there will be concerned families – both in the UK and abroad – and in order to make it easier for them to contact us, a dedicated phone line has been set up. The number for parents in the UK is 0800 092 0410 and for those calling from outside the UK call 0207 158 0124.”

Searches have been conducted by specialist, female officers and carried out as quickly as possible to minimise the impact on the school and the surrounding local community.

Three men, who were on the premises when police attended on Sunday evening, have been arrested in connection with the investigation.

A 40 year old man from Bolton and a 30 year old man from Blackburn have been arrested on suspicion of sexual assault and false imprisonment and a 53 year old man from Blackburn has been arrested on suspicion of false imprisonment.

New homes for birds at Williamson Park

park staff and Friends of Williamson Park prepare to install 50 new bird boxes in the Fenham Carr area of the park. Photo courtesy Lancaster City Council
Birds at Williamson Park can look forward to feathering their nests in brand new homes this year thanks to the 50 new bird boxes recently installed in trees at Fenham Carr.

Lancaster City Council initiated a project for prisoners from HMYOI Lancaster Farms to make the boxes during the winter and they are now ready to be put in place. The boxes are numbered to help record the usage of each box.
Councillor Ron Sands, cabinet member with responsibility for culture and tourism, said: “This partnership project has proved to be very successful and is set to benefit both the community and the environment.

“The hard work of the young offenders will contribute to the woodland improvements that are ongoing in Williamson Park to which many members of the local community have also contributed.

“With the recent installation of a bird hide in Fenham Carr, this area of the park is quickly becoming an ideal spot for bird watchers.”

Governor of HMYOI Lancaster Farms, Stephen Lawrence, said: “Williamson Park is a great feature of Lancaster and we are pleased to have had this partnership opportunity to help with the woodland improvements. Many of the staff at Lancaster Farms live within the local area and will therefore be part of the community who benefit from the project.”

Arrests after reports of sexual assault at local school

Police have arrested three men on suspicion of sexual assault and false imprisonment within the grounds of the Jamea al Kauthar School on Ashton Road, Lancaster.

“An investigation has been launched after a report was made to police involving concern for the welfare of a small group of teenage girls within the grounds of the Islamic School for Girls in Lancaster," the police said in a statement.

A 40-year-old man from Bolton and a 30-year-old man from Blackburn have been arrested on suspicion of sexual assault and false imprisonment and a 53-year-old man from Blackburn has been arrested on suspicion of false imprisonment.

The school is takes up the grounds of the old Royal Albert Hopsital.

“We are still at the very early stages of the investigation and our aim at the moment is to respond to the concerns raised proportionately, in a measured way and with sensitivity," say police.

“Searches at the school are being conducted by specialist, female officers with sensitivity and are being carried out as quickly as possible to ensure minimum impact.

“We are working closely with the school and the local authorities to establish the circumstances around exactly what has taken place and we have specialist officers supporting the victims.”

"The school is aware of the allegations that have been made and at the present moment the school is fully co-operating with the police with their investigations into the matter," the School has said in its own statement.

"The school will publish a statement of any details it receives, once this has been received.

"We expect the matter to be cleared up soon."

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Spotlight Club mixes it up with poetry, prose and music

The Spotlight Club team are getting set to engage another fine audience with some equally fine poetry, readings and music this coming Friday (15th March 2013) at the Storey.

On the bill is music and poetry and music from Beth Cortese, plus poetry from Miss P., Jezz Mort and Pascal Desmond. The event will round off with music from Sea Rocket.

Beth Cortese is a third year English Literature and Creative Writing student at Lancaster University who enjoys reading, writing and performing poetry and is not afraid of spiders. She says she will be fusing her harp playing with poetry on Friday.

After a lifetime of writing poetry Miss P. unleashed herself and is now performing live around the north west and beyond. Every performance has brought rave reviews, and her poems straight from the heart are read with such passion that they bring smiles, tears, laughter, and rage, covering topics from love, life, social injustice, and riots.

Jez Mort is a giant wrestler, butterscotch hurler, a former world record holder in underwater biscuit folding and a performance poet. His economy brand hyperbolic profanity dives headlong into the murky pools of modern life and emerges toothless.

Searocket play songs found on the strandline by local singer-songwriter Bron Szerszynski and brought to life by fellow band-members Adrian Mackenzie, Oscar Armer, Greg Maddox and Tekla Szerszynska. Expect off-kilter love songs featuring zombie parades, extreme weather, monistic rapture, cargo cults, somatic syntony - all set to music that morphs between chanson, folk, pop, Latin, and jazz.

Compered by Simon Baker, the ace writers' event kicks off with its usual - although often unusual - Open Mic at 8.30pm. admission £4, £2 concessions

Open Mic fund raising event planned for 'Beyond Radio'

A group raising funds for Beyond Radio, a new community radio station for Lancaster and Morecambe, are planning a fund-raising Open Mic event at the Gregson Centre, Moor Lane Lancaster on 6th April 2013.

Proper Community Radio, a not-for-profit organisation, hope to develop a radio station that not only engages with local people in a relevant way via FM radio and the internet, but in a face to face way by offering support for individuals and groups through training and community development work.

The team say Beyond Radio will be innovative in its output as well as in its engagement with local residents. It wants to find new ways to give listeners a much more rewarding radio experience and also wishes to work with other local media providers in helping residents shape their community.

• Anyone interested in performing at the Open Mic contact Paul Fisher at

• Beyond Radio web site: