Friday, 22 March 2013

Review: Tine Thing Helseth with Kathryn Stott at Live at LICA

Tine Thing Helseth

Tine Thing Helseth
with Kathryn Stott
at Live at LICA
Thursday, 21 March 2013
in the Great Hall,
Lancaster University
Reviewed by Sally Ryde

The billing of this event was misleading. The word ‘with’ suggests that the inclusion of Kathryn Stott was in some sense less significant. The word that should have been used in the billing was  ‘and’,  implying the equal statuses of Stott and Helseth, because this final concert in the Live at LICA season was characterised by the shared brilliance of these two talented performers. Possibly the wording was driven by a desire to promote the budding career of Helseth, who has only just begun to market recordings. In contrast, Stott has been performing and recording at the highest level for over 30 years.

Kathryn Stott
Photo by 
Jonathan Wilkinson
It is curious to note that these two artists’ levels of experience are separated by a whole lifetime (or half a lifetime, depending on which lifetime provides the unit of measure). Stott was winning a prize at Leeds in the 1978 piano competition when Helseth was minus 10 years old. It is not clear when they first met but it seems that they formed a performing partnership very quickly. This has developed to the extent that Stott has participated in the commissioning “on behalf of ... Helseth” of one of the works in Thursday night’s programme, which itself is part of the duo’s current recital  tour.

The commissioned work was Graham Fitkin’s ‘Helical Strake’. Stott introduced the piece by saying that her first experience of playing a piece by Fitkin made her resolve never to go near his work again because it was so demanding to play! Happily, she changed her mind and we the listeners were the fortunate beneficiaries. The piece was the best of the evening’s programme. The work thrived on the percussive nature of the piano and rhythmically challenged both the performers and their audience.

Stott termed it  “controlled turbulence”.  Without a doubt, she could not have completed her part without the help of her page turner. There was no break in the demands made on her hands by the notes on the page. Meanwhile Helseth’s part required the insertion of rhythmic punches into the wild texture being laid down by the piano. One felt at times that the two parts must surely contain instructions to the players like, “Meet up at the end of bar 64”  and  “When you think it is all coming apart, have faith that it will right itself at the end of bar 128.”  The two performers celebrated the successful conclusion of the piece with a warm hug and a well-earned, much-needed but brief off-stage rest. This reviewer would have loved dearly to have heard the piece played again. (By the way, a helical strake helps to prevent the adverse effects of resonance caused by vortex shedding, if you didn't know already.)

Helseth returned to the stage with a different trumpet for the Hindemith sonata: a B-flat instrument. She then seemed to want to explain why she had swapped from the trumpet in C but stopped short of educating the audience on the fundamental pitch of a length of tubing and the principles determining the choice of instrument for the performance of a piece in any particular key. Perhaps she was influenced by the recollection that modern trumpets are so well made that the selection of instrument pitch no longer has the same significance that it once had. That Helseth appeared to prefer the trumpet in C for all the other pieces in the programme raised the question as to why she had bothered to swap instruments for the Hindemith.

A trumpet can sometimes sound flat even when it is played exactly on pitch. Could this be the reason that Helseth had a propensity for commencing long notes above their tonal centres and then allowing the pitch to settle downwards? The only times that this caused any conflict was when the piano (the tuning of which is fixed) had to join an already-sounding note of the trumpet. In those instances, Helseth would resolve the conflicting pitches by matching hers to the piano’s note.

The second half of the concert was given over to instrumental transcriptions of songs, commencing with an antiphonal performance of a setting by Ravel of a text from the Jewish prayer book. We at first thought Kathryn Stott would be performing ‘Kaddisch’ alone. Then we heard Tine Helseth’s trumpet from somewhere at the back of the hall. This raised a question of concert etiquette. Was an audience permitted to turn and face the off-stage performer? No one seemed prepared to test his or her conviction. Mercifully, Tine moved forward during the piece, which finished just as she reached the piano, leaving the question open for another time.

In all the transcriptions, including five Sibelius, seven de Falla and three Weill songs, the trumpet was used lyrically rather than in the more tradition fanfare style. This was a welcome surprise and Helseth was entirely comfortable with using the melodic properties of her instrument. The pair did, however, play an exciting encore that allowed Helseth at last to demonstrate that she too could set off fireworks with the best of them. As usual Stott’s accompaniment was faultlessly solid.

Yes, the billing of the concert as ‘Helseth with Stott’ was certainly misleading. ‘Helseth and Stott’ would have been better. This reviewer would in fact have preferred ‘Stott and Helseth’ and confesses that, although she thoroughly enjoyed Tine Helseth’s performance, she would seize any opportunity to hear Kathy Stott play, particularly if she were at the keyboard of this venue’s extraordinary Steinway concert grand.

PS - Will someone please tune that Yamaha upright in the foyer!

S. Ryde

Lancaster schoolchildren tackle speeding

Caption, left to right: PC Ian Nickson the Local Community Beat Manager pictured with Pupils of St Luke's C of E Primary School in Slyne with Hest after the speed education session.
Children from Slyne with Hest have been helping to slow down speeding traffic near their school.

Pupils from St Luke's CE Primary School joined forces with the police to speak to drivers breaking the 20mph speed limit on Hest Bank Lane.

The children monitored 208 vehicles which drove through the site with seven stopped for breaking the speed limit. The highest recorded speed was 35mph.

PC Ian Nickson, local community beat manager, said: "This is another way of reinforcing the message that people should stick to 20mph.

"Speaking to the drivers makes them stop and think about how driving too fast could result in a child being killed or seriously injured.

"There have been positive comments with motorists telling us this type of scheme is likely to help them change the way they drive. The pupils also really enjoyed taking part."

Records show that almost seven out of 10 accidents where people are either killed or seriously injured occur in 30mph areas. Of these, 79 per cent are either cyclists or on foot.

Schools Road Watch supports Lancashire County Council's ongoing work to introduce 20mph speed limits in all main residential areas and outside schools. This follows studies which show that rates of death and injury are lower for pedestrians hit by a vehicle at 20mph rather than 30mph.

County Councillor Tim Ashton, Cabinet member for highways and transport, said: "We want driving at 20mph in residential areas to become the norm, which will help to reduce casualties and make our streets safer, particularly for children who want to be able to play out or walk or cycle to school.

"No driver ever means to hit a child, but accidents do happen and you're far less likely to kill or seriously injure someone at 20mph than 30mph."

Thursday, 21 March 2013

New book celebrates local family's incredible music archive

The Winder family came from Wyresdale, near Lancaster, and formed the mainstay of a village band from the late 1700s up until the First World War – and a new book, edited and annotated by leading local musician Andy Hornby, celebrates their important part in keeping an almost forgotten aspect of English music alive.

The tradition of music for village dances is largely unbroken in Scotland and Ireland, but in England it virtually died out with the Industrial Revolution and the Great War.

Fortunately, tune-books that were hand-copied by members of the Winder family have come down to the 21st century and show the repertoire of country dance and song tunes from the early 1800s.

 The Winder collection represents the typical repertoire of a Northern village band between the late 1700s and the early 20th century. They mostly comprise tunes to popular dances  such as jigs, slip jigs and reels, but there are also hornpipes in 3/2 and 4/4 time, minuets, cotillons, quadrilles and waltzes. Many of the tunes are versions of  tunes well  known in Scotland and the Borders.

Andy Hornby's new collection includes complete contents of four related manuscript books, offering over 600 tunes that will delight musicians and music lovers alike - and shed a fascinating light on this little-known and almost forgotten aspect of English music.

The 280-page book also features background information on the tune-books, the music, dancing masters and Georgian entertainment, and extensive notes on the history of the tunes.

• Priced at £20 + £3 P&P For more details or to place orders, contact (include your address and a phone contact): or order online from Andy's web site at

Gritters ready for more snow and ice, says County Council

Lancashire's gritters are gearing-up to keep the county moving with current forecasts predicting a risk of snow through Thursday night into Friday and the possibility of more winter weather for the weekend.

Crews will be gritting throughout the county on Thursday evening and will plough and grit as necessary through the night in east Lancashire where the worst conditions are expected.

Inspections will be carried out in all areas in the early hours with crews ready to respond quickly to changing conditions, and a new shift of drivers will be ready to keep ploughing and gritting on Friday morning if needed.

Forecasts for east Lancashire predict that up to 2cm of snow could fall quite widely, with up to 15cm in higher areas and strong winds causing blizzard-like condition and drifting over high ground.

County Councillor Tim Ashton, Cabinet member for highways and transport, said: "We're as well prepared as we've ever been thanks to experience gained from recent severe winters and our gritting crews will be working around the clock if needed to keep Lancashire moving.

"As always our top priority in the event of significant snow will be to focus at first on ploughing and salting the network of A and B roads which link towns, villages, and vital infrastructure such as train stations and hospitals.

"During a snowstorm this can be a challenge in itself, and depending on the conditions it could be some time before the main routes are clear and we have the resources available to treat the secondary network of more minor roads.

"I would ask people to be prepared and check their vehicles are equipped for winter, and also to carefully! consider whether they need to make a journey at all if they know travel is disrupted."

Lancashire County Council has a fleet of 49 frontline gritters which can treat the 1,500 miles of the county council's priority road network within around four hours, but may take longer in severe conditions.

When it snows, it can cost up to £100,000 a day to keep the operation going.

County Councillor Ashton added: "I'd ask everyone to be careful with the cold conditions predicted to be with us into next week. Even when a road has been gritted, it can remain icy until the movement of traffic has worked the salt in and made it take effect."

People can find information and advice on winter weather, including real-time gritting updates on Lancashire County Council's website which has links to forecasts and the council's Twitter and Facebook feeds which are updated every time the gritters go out.

• For more information about travelling this winter visit, follow us on Twitter for news and updates at or Facebook (click on the winter tab).

Ready for an Eerie Evening at the Winter Gardens?

Morecambe's Winter Gardens

It is thought lucky for a theatre to have a resident ghost and Morecambe's Winter Gardens has, if the stories are to be believed, more than just the one. There's a chance to find out if the stories are true in April, when Eerie Evenings host a Ghost Hunt at the venue.

The event on Saturday 20th April will include Platform Readings from Spiritualist Mediums as well as walk arounds; a history talk and the telling of ghostly tales; and a Late-Night Ghost Hunt and Paranormal Investigation.

There will also be an opportunity to use Ghost-Hunting Equipment, and take part in a Séance and Controlled 'Contact Experiments'.

The Winter Gardens in its heyday. Photo:
It has famously been said that the theatre has an invisible line running down the middle of it; on one side there is nothing but good, on the other side nothing but evil.

Much of the activity seems to be focussed on the circle bar and the ladies toilets, with dark shadows seen and whispered mutterings heard by many visitors. Magnel and Littlewood, the two architects who designed the building, would have had their office in this very area, making some people think that it is they who are responsible for the strange goings on. Could it be that they were so fond of their creation that they refused to leave it, even after death?

On the top level, in what would once have been a dressing room, the apparition of a lady has been seen who, it has been widely reported (presumably by mediums or 'sensitives'), was a wardrobe lady or seamstress who harboured ambitions to be a dancer that were never realised. Her resentment over this means she still roams the upper floor.

In the same area, a dark mass resembling a number of shadowy figures moves to envelop terrified visitors. Additionally, a lady dressed in RAF uniform has been witnessed on this floor by several different people, who all remark on their alarm as she simply faded away in front of their eyes!

An Edwardian lady is said to haunt the very staircase that she died on after a tragic fall. But was it an accident as assumed at the time? It is thought that she was arguing with her partner shortly beforehand and rumours that it was actually murder have refused to go away. People apparently hear raised voices followed by a  bloodcurdling scream emanating from the area but upon investigation find that there is no-one in the vicinity.

Some people have also reported seeing the unfortunate woman's apparition; she is said to glare at the witness and then fall to the ground, as if recreating the moment of her untimely demise.

• The event will run from approx. 8.00pm - 2.30am. Ticket Price: £55 per person, refreshments available. For more information or to book phone 0845 201 3994 or email Eerie Evenings also haunt the internet at

Local teenager gets set to star in Dukes' 'Hamlet'

Lancaster teenager Lucas Button is following in the footsteps of Olivier, Branagh, Tennant and Law when he takes on one of Shakespeare’s most famous roles – Hamlet – at The Dukes this April.

17–year-old Lucas Button is taking all the attention in his stride, however, along with the A-Levels and BTecs he’s studying for at Queen Elizabeth School, Kirkby Lonsdale.

Since he was chosen to play Hamlet in September, Lucas has been preparing for a role which will see him performing in the round for the first time from April 16-20.

And though still a teenager, Lucas has a wealth of theatrical experience behind him which started when he played Tiny Tim in a Dukes production of A Christmas Carol when he was 10.

“That was the spark that set off my love for performing,” said Lucas who turns 18 shortly after he plays Hamlet.

Lucas secured a National Youth Theatre placement in London last summer and will be attending East 15 drama school in Essex from the autumn.

He  has appeared in The Dukes outdoor play of Peter Pan in 2010 and in many youth productions, and in last year’s acclaimed show The Unsociables.

It’s the same team - The Dukes Young Actors & Young Company - who are behind this new production.

This will be Hamlet like you’ve never seen before. Set in 2013, it promises to be a vibrant, contemporary and captivating show with a bloodthirsty and heady mix of drama and a stunning soundtrack performed live by The Dukes Young Musicians.

And Lucas will be at the centre of this modern revenge thriller. “It’s a pretty daunting role to take on. I’d never studied Hamlet so I’ve watched the RSC’s production starring David Tennant and other films of the play.”

Lucas has worked closely with director Louie Ingham and the rest of the company to develop his own interpretation of this iconic role and though The Dukes version will be abridged at 90 minutes long, none of the famous lines will be missing.

During the play, Lucas will be joined on stage by a company of up to 30 young people as well as a live band playing on the balcony.

Hamlet, which is recommended for anyone aged 11 plus,  runs from 16-20th April and there will be a post show talk-back after the performance on 16th April. To book tickets priced £8/£6 concessions, ring The Dukes box office on 01524 598500 or visit

Time running out to make the energy switch and save £s

Lancaster City Council leader Eileen Blamire: "Rising
energy prices are an increasing concern"
Time is running out for people to sign up to a new scheme which could help them cut their energy bills.

The ‘People Power’ energy switching scheme closes at midnight on 8th April – so if you miss the deadline, you could lose the chance to take advantage of cheaper energy tariffs.

The scheme works by thousands of people registering their interest in switching energy providers, who then bid for their business by offering the best available prices.

With the average household fuel bill now standing at more than £1,300 – and set to rise even higher – it’s more important than ever that people get the best deal possible.

Low income households are particularly affected and recent figures show that 24% of homes (approximately 14,300 households) in the Lancaster district are in fuel poverty.

Councillor Eileen Blamire, leader of Lancaster City Council, said: "Rising energy prices are an increasing concern and by switching providers many people could get a better deal on their energy.

"But that’s often easier said than done and many people do not, or are unable to, switch energy suppliers. The idea of this scheme is to make it easier for people to find a better deal.

"Registering is free, open to anyone and the more people that register, the more likely it is that there will be savings for everyone.  There’s no obligation to switch providers so people have nothing to lose by registering their interest in taking part."

You can register your interest in taking part by visiting Make sure you have your current gas and electricity bills to hand as they need information about how much you spend and your consumption. Up to five households can be registered on the same e-mail address, so why not help out a neighbour or friend who does not have access to the internet or emails.

On 9th April, an auction will take place in which energy companies will compete for the business of all those that have registered. 

All the applications are grouped anonymously and the price offered by the suppliers is independent of the number of participants who make the switch.

The more people sign up the more likely suppliers are to give an additional discount.

Residents are not obliged to sign up to the scheme once a provider has been chosen, but those that do, could benefit from reduced bills.

If you don’t have access to a computer you can also register in person at either Lancaster or Morecambe town halls.

Less people killed and injured on Lancashire’s roads

The number of people killed and seriously injured on Lancashire’s roads in road traffic accidents has reduced again, according to latest figures.

In 2012, 704 people were killed or seriously injured on the county’s roads. This compares to 795 in 2011 – 91 less or an 11.4 per cent reduction.

In the Northern Division policing area, which encompasses Lancaster, Morecambe and the Wyre, the number of people killed or seriously injured in 2012 was 123, compared with 144 in 2011.

The drop follows measures such a six month education campaign to educate young drivers on road safety, supported by the Lancashire-wide introduction of 20 mile per hour speed limits on residential roads in 2011.

Chief Inspector Debbie Howard from Lancashire Constabulary, who is in charge of road policing, said: “Whilst these figures suggest that our roads are now even safer, we are not complacent and we are committed to reducing this figure even further.

“Most collisions in the county are linked to driver errors and behaviour and what we term the ‘Fatal 4’ which is speeding, not wearing a seatbelt, using a mobile phone whilst driving or driving under the influence of alcohol.

“We have activity throughout the year that is dedicated to tackling these issues and we will continue to work with other agencies to educate road users about staying safe on the roads and enforce legislation.”

County Councillor Tim Ashton, Cabinet member for highways and transport, said: "I'm very encouraged to see this significant fall in casualties on our roads, which shows that all our hard work is having a real impact.

"Every death or serious injury on the roads is a tragedy and has a terrible effect on the lives of those affected," he continued. "Comparing the 581 people killed or injured in the Lancashire County Council area last year with the 1,024 casualties only eight years ago in 2005 shows just how much progress is being made.

"This has only been achieved by constantly bringing in new ideas and focusing on how we can make the biggest improvements in safety with the resources available.

"The programme to introduce 20mph speed limits in residential areas and outside schools has been one of the more high-profile changes in recent years," he feels. "Most accidents in which people are killed or badly injured happen within 30 mph areas and slowing traffic will help to protect pedestrians and cyclists who are at greatest risk.

"We're also continuing to do the basics such as training new drivers to be more aware of potential risks, and educating thousands of children in cycling and pedestrian safety through schools, which is just as vital to continue to reduce deaths and injuries."

Lancashire Constaulary regularly runs Operation Pathway, which sees high profile action days to support the daily road policing activity, and is aimed at saving lives and protecting people on the county’s roads.

• Advice for staying safe on the county’s roads can be found at

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

War Drama at The Dukes Digs Deep

As the centenary of World War One looms, the true story of a miner trapped  in a tunnel during the conflict will be told at The Dukes this April.

The Trench is an award-winning play which achieved a sell-out five star run at the Edinburgh Festival and will be on a nationwide tour when it calls into the Lancaster theatre on 23rd - 24th April.

Les Enfants Terribles, who have been critically acclaimed as a ‘razor sharp theatre company’ will blend live music, puppetry and physical performance to capture the drama of being entombed in a tunnel during the Great War.

The company has performed productions to thousands of people all over the world and has toured extensively throughout the UK.

Inspired by the story of a miner, The Trench shows that everything in the darkness is not always what it seems as he starts to discover a new, strange world beneath the mud and death.  Setting off on an epic journey of salvation, the boundaries between reality and fantasy blur as he questions what’s real, what’s not and whether it even matters.

The Trench is written by Oliver Lansley (BBC2’s Whites, ITV2’s FM and Sky’s Little Crackers) with music by acclaimed artist Alexander Wolfe, who has performed with many artists including Jamie Cullen and Paul Weller before embarking on a solo career.

The Trench is recommended for anyone aged 11 plus. Following the 23rd April performance there will be a post show talk-back. To book tickets priced £13/£11 concessions, ring The Dukes box office on 01524 598500 or visit

Moped theft in Heysham

Police are appealing for information after a moped was stolen from outside an address in Heysham.

The theft took place around 5.30pm on Tuesday 19th March when the moped was stolen from the front of a house on Banks Crescent.

The moped is described as being a Generic Trigger MB in black with silver and white stickers all over the body work. The mud guards on the front and back also have a number 69 on them.

Police received reports of a moped described as similar riding around the Westgate area of Morecambe an hour after the offence occurred and it is a possibility that it could be linked.

"I’d appeal to anybody with any information about this theft or the whereabouts of the stolen moped to come forward and contact Lancashire Police on 101," said PC Matt Entwistle from Morecambe Police. "The house it was stolen from faces onto the main road running through the town so it’s likely someone may have seen something."

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Chamber of Commerce celebrates go ahead for M6 Link

Jonathan Barker, President of the Lancaster District Chamber of Commerce. Photo courtesy Chamber of Commerce
Jonathan Barker, President of the
Lancaster District Chamber of Commerce.
Photo courtesy Chamber of Commerce
(Updated with Chamber of Commerce response to comment added by Chris Satori, 21/3/13)

Lancaster District Chamber of Commerce is celebrating the announced decision by government to invest in one of the largest public sector road building projects currently in England.

"This is excellent news for the whole district, but particularly for Morecambe where the majority of benefit will be seen," said a spokesperson for the Chamber, an independent membership organisation representing over 500 local businesses.

"The new link road will provide a vital infrastructure asset, assisting in bringing about much needed improvements to the industrial and commercial viability of the area.

"The Chamber has campaigned extensively for this new investment in infrastructure, which will ease access to Heysham Port, allowing it to fulfil its potential as a competitor to Liverpool.

"The road will also help tourism visitors explore beautiful Morecambe Bay, boosting revenue for local tourism businesses, and will reduce congestion for locals commuting to and from the peninsula, allowing people to access employment sites more easily."

Jonathan Barker, Chamber President commented: “It's great to see that the economic case that Lancaster District Chamber fought so hard to promote has been listened to, and that central government's new system for infrastructure planning has been seen to work."

Chris Satori of Virtual Lancaster has added to this story:

"One faction of the CoC has indeed campaigned hard. In fact back in 2007 when the Public Inquiry was held they took out a full page advertisement in the Citizen newspaper in support of the road, publishing a list of local businesses and organisations which they claimed had 'bought and paid for' the advert. The ad was timed for use at the Public Inquiry into the Link Road in a submission by CoC's David Taylor, claiming to speak for the Lancaster Chamber of Commerce in support of the Link.

"However a few minutes of checking by Virtual Lancaster discovered that a substantial number of the names listed had in reality declined to contribute and were in fact unaware that they had been listed as supporters. Folly, one of the publicly funded organisations on the list, pointed out that they had "explicitly declined to contribute towards the cost of the ad when we were asked and we have no position as an organisation on this or other political campaigns." See our previous story published on 25/7/07:
Chamber of Commerce admits Link Road 'misunderstanding'.

"A complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority was upheld in October 2007 - after the Inquiry had closed. See previous story published on 8/10/07:
ASA upholds complaint against Lancaster Chamber of Commerce untrue link road advert."

Responding, Ann Morris, Chief Executive of the Chamber of Commerce says:

"In 2007 as part of our campaign, all those listed in the advertisement gave written confirmation of their support. I made sure that I had that in writing before including names on the list. Some provided direct funding for the campaign and others funded it through virtue of their membership of the Chamber.

"The issue arose as a result of the denial by Taylor Nuttall, CEO of the Folly and at the time a member of the Chamber Board, that the Folly did not commit its support for the campaign.  However, I had an e mail from Taylor which indicated their support. The Chamber did not contest the issue to save embarrassment for Taylor Nuttall who as CEO of a Charitable organization, claimed that the Folly should not/could not express an opinion on this political issue.

"The contention over this did add wider publicity to the Chamber’s support for the northern route of the M6 Link.

"The Chamber still holds copies of evidence to support the above."

Abortion Education: still failing young people?

According to the Office for National Statistics, rates of teen pregnancies are at their lowest since 1969, with the local figure standing at 30 per 1000 young women in the under 18 age group for 2011. However a report published by Education For Choice (EFC), part of the Brook sexual health charity, finds that education about contraception and abortion in the UK is still failing young people. Some schools are addressing the topic as part of comprehensive sex and relationships education (SRE), but there is evidence of widespread bad practice including medical misinformation being provided by teachers and visitors to schools.

Bad practice falls into three broad categories:
Misinformation – making claims about contraception and abortion that are untrue - for example, claiming that taking the pill or having a contraceptive implant can cause an abortion, or linking abortion to breast cancer and infertility. A study co-ordinated by Cancer Research UK and published in the Lancet has shown that abortion does not increase the risk of breast cancer.

Stigma – saying abortion is murder, that it is shameful and a sin. This is upsetting for those who have had an abortion, and may cause unnecessary distress for those who go on to experience abortion (one in three women in England and Wales).

Equalities – some anti-abortion groups invited into schools express views about sexuality (ie homosexuality) and the family which are likely to be at odds with schools’ equality and diversity policies and may negatively impact on students’ wellbeing.

SPUC (Society for the Protection of Unborn Children) has given  school presentations which falsely link abortion to cancer, infertility and a fictional medical condition called ‘Post-Abortion Trauma’. Earlier this year a SPUC speaker told pupils at a Cambridge school that,  “Rape is the ultimate unplanned pregnancy,,,". To have an abortion at this stage can be a "second trauma," the 14 and 15 year olds were warned, with the advice that; "For some people who've been raped and had the baby, even if they don’t keep it, something positive comes out of that whole rape experience”.  However organisations supporting victims of sexual violence consistently emphasise that re-establishing the power to take control over one's own personal and life decisions is central to recovery. In other words, the choice to bear a child or not must be made freely by the woman on whom the pregnancy has been forced, and not by the rapist, or by those who collude in a violation by using it as an opportunity to manipulate vulnerable victims.

A 2012 YouGov poll found that the percentage of the population wanting a ban on abortion had fallen from 12% in 2005 to 7%.  Support for keeping the current limit on terminations had risen by about one third to a  majority (57%) among those who expressed a view.  The survey for the Westminster Faith Debates, a series of events designed to bring academic research into public debate, found there was no marked difference between the views of people with religious affiliations and everybody else, despite the vocal campaigns of religious leaders and lobbyists claiming to represent them.

Even amongst those who believe that human life begins at conception, most of the people surveyed believed that abortion should be legal. Over three quarters believe that abortion is acceptable in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, and a half believe that abortion should be allowed at least up to 20 weeks. Amongst the religious people surveyed, Catholics, Muslims and Baptists were the most hostile to abortion, but only about half of these would like to see the law changed. Only 14% of Catholics surveyed support a ban and 33% would like to see the current 24 week limit lowered. Two out of three Muslims surveyed did not support a ban and just 16% would like to see the 24 week limit lowered.

Alice Hoyle, PSHE Advisory Teacher and Vice-Chair of the Sex Education Forum, said:
"Teaching about abortion is often seen as sensitive or tricky and this report shows some of the best and the worst examples of how it is done. It doesn't have to be that way. Young people need to know the law and their rights, they need to understand health issues related to pregnancy decisions and they need to understand there are a range of views about abortion.

"All teachers must have training and support to ensure this area moves from the too difficult box to a discussion they feel confident having as part of sex and relationships education. EFC’s Abortion Education Toolkit will help them do that. EFC provides a free toolkit on education about abortion which gives advice and examples of best practice in this area. EFC can also provide training, resources and advice for schools, teachers and professionals working with young people on all aspects of education about abortion."

EFC’s Abortion Education Toolkit as well as the report and executive summary can be downloaded from or contact for further information on training.

Police hunt Apple Mac thief

Police are appealing for information after a burglary at a house in Lancaster last week.

Between 10am and 3.00pm on Friday 15th March, someone broke into a house on Swan Yard by smashing the rear patio door window. Once inside they took an Apple Mac laptop and charger as well as some loose change.

Police are appealing for anyone with any information about the burglary to come forward.

“If anybody was in the area around the times stated and saw or heard anything suspicious then I would ask them to contact police," asks PC Matt Betts said: "I would also like to speak to anybody who may have been offered an Apple Mac by someone in the area over the past few days.”

• 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.

Greens' anger as Heysham M6 Link Road gets go ahead

The local Green Party has condemned the government's decision to press ahead with the Heysham M6 Link Road, arguing it will not solve Lancaster's traffic problems, will add extra traffic - not less - and is a waste of money at a time of major public spending cuts.

The Secretary of State, Patrick McLoughlin announced that the Heysham M6 Link Road  will be built at a cost of over £120 million of public money for under three miles of road.  The Green Party has argued for many years that the HM6L is a huge waste of money and will not improve traffic conditions in Lancaster or reduce congestion on Morecambe Road.

"The decision to go ahead is very bad news indeed," said a spokesperson for the party, agreeing on concerns raised by Transport Solutions for Lancaster and Morecambe that it will not solve Lancaster’s traffic problems. "This was acknowledged in a County Council statement at the recent public inquiry."

"At a time of financial stringency and hugely damaging budgets cuts it is a mis-use of scarce public money," they continued. "It adds extra traffic to Morecambe Road (up 15%), A6 at Slyne (up 46%) and Church Brow in Halton (up 44%). It destroys the green belt and adds to air pollution and greenhouse gases, both of which we are supposed to be reducing.

"Despite claims that it will create jobs there is little evidence that any road project has led to new employment once the construction phase is finished. The government’s own research says that there is no “convincing” evidence of job creation claims."

"Spending this much money on something that the County Council admits will not solve our congestion problems is a damning indictment of this coalition government," argues County Councillor Sam Riches, "who are bringing forward savage cuts in budgets that will damage so many people, especially the ill, the poor, children and the elderly."

“The Green Party wants a 21st century solution to Lancaster’s traffic problems and not a re-hash of poor quality 20th century thinking," added Gina Dowding, a former city councillor and candidate in the forthcoming county council election. "We support TSLM's detailed package of measures costing £40 million (PDF link) that will solve our traffic problems and benefit everyone with much improved transport options. 

"The county council and the coalition government have rejected common sense and gone for the most expensive and least effective solution they could think of.”

Link Road Decision Bad News for Area, says TSLM

The decision to go ahead with the Heysham M6 Link Road is bad news for the area, says Transport Solutions for Lancaster and Morecambe, the local campaign group.

The Secretary of State for Transport Patrick McLoughlin today announced that the £123 million scheme had been given the go-ahead, news that has been warmly welcomed by Lancashire County Council (see news story).

But David Gate of Transport Solutions said: “This is the wrong decision. The benefits claimed for the scheme are false.

“It does not solve congestion," he argues, "as the Council admitted at the recent Examination. They said then that the Link Road is not intended to solve Lancaster ’s problems”.

According to their statistics, when the Link Road is built "Traffic goes down on some roads but up on others. On Morecambe Road it does both: down in the East but up in the West.

“It won’t bring jobs," David continued, "except in the construction phase. New roads don’t create jobs, they just move them about.

"Plus, this new road will reduces journey times by only five minutes, at peak times only.”
“It won’t bring prosperity for local businesses, and businessmen know it.” Mr Gate added “When they were asked to contribute to the cost (in 2010), none did.”

"And yet there are alternatives that would work better and are cheaper, but the Council haven’t investigated them."

TSLM say they will now look at the decision and are taking legal advice, asking if all the issues - including environmental issues - were considered properly. They tell Virtual Lancaster that they are receiving encouraging advice from their lawyers who would be willing to pursue the case on a “no win no fee” basis.

Pledge Support

David Gate says: "A legal challenge would have to be made in a tight timescale (6 weeks), and of course it would require money. We have some funds, and believe we would need a further £3,000. So once again we are coming to you, who have fought against this scheme for so long, to ask for your help.

"This time, because of the uncertainties involved, we are asking now for a pledge, which we would ask you to honour only if the following condition is met:
IF our legal advisers tell us that we have a good case to mount a legal challenge,
THEN would you pledge a certain amount towards the legal costs of that challenge?

"Be assured that we would always use your money cautiously and wisely."

• Those wishing to pledge financial support should copy, complete and email the form below to:


Pledge to TSLM

IF TSLM’s legal advisers believe that there is a good case to mount a legal challenge, THEN I pledge towards the legal costs of mounting that legal challenge:

Amount (figures) £
Amount (words)


Green light for M6 Link Road to dismay of campaigners for alternatives

One of Lancashire's top priority transport projects has received the go-ahead, which Lancaster City Council claims will herald a new era for economic growth and better transport on the Morecambe and Heysham peninsula -- but will dismay campaigners who have fought long and hard against it on cost and environmental grounds.

Construction of the £123 milion Heysham to M6 Link road is set to begin this summer after the Secretary of State for Transport granted approval for the project following a lengthy planning and public inquiry process.

The news has delighted the County Council. "Lancashire has been anticipating today's news for decades," says County Councillor Tim Ashton, Cabinet member for highways and transport, "and I could not be happier that the Heysham to M6 link road is going to become a reality.

"The M6 link is more than just a road-building scheme," he claimed. "It will be an engine for economic growth for the whole region.

"The new road will reduce congestion and greatly increase the potential for investment in the surrounding area."

The council's claims about the easing of traffic congestion have of course been hotly disputed by organisations such as Transport Solutions for Lancaster and Morecambe, who may yet mount a final legal challenge to the project.

"To reach this point has taken many years of work by a number of organisations and individuals who have helped to make the case for the link road," says  Councillor Ashton, "and I'd like to thank them for their support and dedication. I'm now looking forward to seeing it built."

The road will connect the peninsula directly to the M6, providing better access to Morecambe and industrial areas which include the Port of Heysham and the Heysham power stations. The Council say it will also reduce congestion in the Lancaster area especially on Caton Road, Morecambe Road and the Greyhound and Skerton bridges.

Heysham port, the third largest in the North West, is developing as a hub for services to Ireland. It is the supply base for major offshore gas field and wind farms. The road would also improve access to a proposed third nuclear power! station.

Road access to the port, which specialises in roll-on roll-off freight, is currently severely congested and unreliable, with increasing costs and falling efficiency acting as a barrier to further growth.

The link road project features a number of associated improvements including a Park and Ride scheme (which was dependent on the Road getting the green light instead of ever being considered separately) with buses running into Lancaster city centre, and bus priority, cycle and walking measures.

The Council says the scheme will bring ongoing regeneration benefits, with 3,000 people due to be employed during construction alone. A minimum of 100 local unemployed people will receive training and jobs during construction.

A study by the County Council has predicted that every £1 invested in the link road will earn £6 for the local community. Again, these figures have been contested.

An additional benefit of reduced congestion will be improved air quality, and the scheme includes a number of measures to protect the environment by improving wildlife habitats, tree cover and watercourses.

The approval granted by the government includes compulsory purchase powers as well as the planning permission and the county council will now write to the affected land owners and start the formal process of acquiring the remaining land required for the road.

Archaeological investigation works have already begun. This involves using excavators to dig trial trenches to establish if there are any finds that require further investigation before the main construction works begin later in the summer.

The estimated cost of the project is £123m. The Department for Transport have said they will contribute £111m and Lancashire County Council will fund the remaining £12m.

Transport Solution for Lancaster and Morecambe has long argued the project is a white elephant.

"Many years ago, the County Council decided to build a road, and has spent decades trying to justify it," they say. "TSLM believes that there is no one solution to our transport problems, but instead a comprehensive package of measures is needed."

TSLM worked with other like-minded local transport groups to develop a package of measures, which could include a high quality spinal bus route between Heysham and Lancaster University, with enhanced feeder spur routes; dedicated bus lanes and junction priority measures, where possible; a public transport bridge at Luneside; rail system upgrades; upgrading the environment at railway stations, with more stations serving residential areas; and improving facilities to allow some transfer of port freight from road to rail.

• For more information go to

Transport Solutions for Lancaster and Morecambe

Fairfield Association Flora Project wins lottery grant

FLORA: Pony Copse from the public footpath.
Today, the Fairfield Association, a community-based Lancaster environmental charity, which created the popular, award-winning 16-acre FAUNA nature reserve in 2012, has heard it has been awarded a grant of £96,700 from the Heritage Lottery fund (HLF) for its FLORA nature reserve project, near Lancaster City Centre (between Aldcliffe Road and Lucy Brook / FAUNA). You can visit their website at

Part of the grant will be added to the considerable funds already raised locally through individual donations in order to purchase 26 acres of FLORA land and add it to FAUNA and the 2 acres of FLORA the charity already owns. The rest will help to fund an ambitious multi-generational learning volunteering programme, helping both young and old to learn about the history and biodiversity of the FLORA reserve and to train local volunteers in the skills needed to create habitats to support local flora and attract wildlife.

Andrew Brennand, the Fairfield Association Chairman, said:

“Lancastrians have walked the footpath through what we now call FAUNA and FLORA for hundreds of years and it is wonderful that the Heritage Lottery Fund is supporting so generously the effort on the part of local people to help conserve the fields they love. We all want to improve our local environment for plant life and wild life, as well as for people.”

Learning about FLORA
Mick Short, The FLORA project coordinator, said:

“Our Heritage Lottery Fund grant includes substantial funding for a wide range of learning activities about FLORA, its heritage, its history and biodiversity, and the ways in which we plan to conserve and manage the land.”

The learning programme, which will begin in autumn 2013 and run until winter 2014, will involve:

1. Learning activities for children in local primary and secondary schools and in FLORA;
2. A series of  public lectures and visits to FLORA which will be open to all;
3. Training for volunteers to help them to maintain the reserve;
4. An end-of-project two-day public exhibition in Lancaster City Centre about FLORA, its heritage and the Fairfield Association’s longer-term plans for conserving and managing the FLORA reserve.

Onwards to the past
In addition to opening up a footpath to a viewing position allowing people to look across FLORA and FAUNA to Lancaster Castle and beyond, the Fairfield Association wants to increase FLORA’s biodiversity by changing the way the land is farmed to a style more like the way it was farmed a hundred years ago:

Introduce hedges and wide wildflower margins (which will support insect life) around the fields within FLORA;
Plough some fields and sow them with Spring crops (this will support the brown hares on site and encourage lapwing and other birds to return to nesting within FLORA);
Extend and improve the copse known locally as Pony Wood to encourage owls and other wildlife;
Introduce ponds and scrapes in the wetter areas, to encourage wetland and wading birds.

Donations still needed
The charity wants Lancastrians to continue to donate money to the charity as (a) it hopes to buy more land to further expand the nature reserve and (b) it needs to raise funds to make the land it has just bought more attractive to both people and the natural world.

Oliver Fulton, who coordinated the FAUNA project said:

“An important next step will be to raise funds to produce detailed plans which can form the basis for a public consultation, to take place in later in 2013. Then, after that, we will need to raise the money to make the changes that are agreed. We had to raise £140,000 to create the FAUNA part of the nature reserve and FLORA is much larger, of course.”

 Anyone who wants to donate to the cause, raise money through sponsorship or other activities or has ideas for raising money or gaining publicity to support the campaign should contact Mick Short by telephone on 01524 63890, by email to or in writing to Whitegates, Sunnyside Close, Lancaster LA1 5NH.

Tiffany Hunt, Chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund’s North West Committee, said:
“This is an engaging project which will actively involve local people with looking after their natural heritage. Volunteers will have great fun while learning about the area and its role in our biodiversity and help to make sure it thrives for future generations. HLF is delighted to be able to help people connect with the natural world.”

Monday, 18 March 2013

Cumbria Uni unites local business with graduate interns

Up-to-the-minute skills in online marketing and social media are increasingly necessary in today’s business environment. Local businesses have been taking advantage of a University of Cumbria scheme to help fill that knowledge gap.

‘Unite with Business’ offers small companies across the North West the opportunity to take on a graduate for 20 days at no cost to themselves until 30 June 2013. With funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and six regional universities, the scheme has already proved a success with both businesses and graduates (who are paid £6.19 per hour gross). The programme is open to graduates, post graduates and final year undergraduate students residing in the North West area.

Badger Press of Windermere is a traditional print business set up 29 years ago and now run by partners David Hunt and Dennis Bland, who recognise the importance of staying abreast of changing technologies.
Through the university-run scheme, they were matched with graduate Andrew Tomkinson (26) of Backbarrow, to help the business explore what David calls ‘twenty-first century ways of working’.

“We were very impressed with Andrew”, David says, “and recognised that he brought the skills we needed to move the company forward.  On completion of the four-week placement, we were delighted to offer him a full-time permanent position with responsibility for our re-branding and the online aspects of our business.”

Andrew comments:
“The placement at Badger Press gave me the opportunity to work on a strategic planning project for the business. After formally presenting my recommendations to the directors and staff, it resulted in me being offered a full-time position – my ideal job!”

A business based in Staveley has also benefited from the scheme. Creative Branch is a design and ideas company who work with businesses to maintain branding, marketing and awareness. Local graduate Philip Gerrish explains:

“Creative Branch was the fourth placement I undertook through Unite with Business and it proved to be a good fit for myself and the business. I was delighted when they offered me a position as their online marketing officer; I’m now in a rewarding job in the industry I've always wanted to be in.”

Creative Branch studio manager Jeremy Smyth is equally enthusiastic:
“The risk of employing a new person in a new role is reduced when working with Unite with Business, as it allows everyone in the relationship to relax a little and find their feet."

Pippa Greenwood from Unite with Business at the University of Cumbria said:
“The scheme helps both business growth and keeps graduate level skills in Cumbria. It provides small-to-medium businesses with free access to specialist skills, but brings none of the risk and cost associated with employment or short-term recruitment. “

If you would like to take part in Unite with Business contact the University of Cumbria’s Business Placement Service on 01228 616315, via email  or visit

Other partners in the scheme include the Universities of Lancaster, Central Lancashire, Bolton, Salford and Chester.

Award-winning inclusive Triathlon comes to Lancaster

Andrew Richardson from COLT Triathlon Club.
Sportsunday event photography

Lancaster’s first large triathlon event is coming to Salt Ayre Sports Centre on Sunday 7 July 2013 and local people are being offered the chance to grab their place on the start line with free training sessions on Sunday 14 April.

Tri Together, run by the charity Leonard Cheshire Disability, is an accessible, short distance triathlon for people of all ages and abilities to swim, bike and run together. This exciting new event has been designed so everyone, from beginners to seasoned triathletes, can take part on their own or share the challenge together in a relay team. A junior race has also been introduced for children aged 8-16 so the whole family can get involved.

Tri Together is also fully inclusive so disabled people are being encouraged to sign up. Lancaster City Council, one of the event partners, will provide adaptive cycles such as tandems or hand cycles and sports wheelchairs for participants to use on the day.

The Adult distances are: 300m indoor pool swim, 12km cycle and 2.9km run.
The junior distances for those aged 13-16 are: 250m indoor pool swim, 6.9km cycle and 1.9km run.
The junior distances for those aged 8-12 vary - please see the website for more details:

Andrew Richardson (pictured)  lives in Lancaster City centre. He is a member of COLT Triathlon Club ( which was established to bring together beginners through to experts old and young who want to participate in the sport. The 50 year-old is coordinating a team from COLT  in Tri Together.

He said: “We are delighted that Tri Together is coming to Lancaster.  It doesn’t matter if you haven’t taken part in a triathlon before, why not set yourself a challenge and sign up for Tri Together? It’s a really good opportunity for friends and family to get active and try something different.”

Free Training Session in April
To help beginners feel equipped and prepared for the event, the award-winning Leonard Cheshire Disability team are hosting free a training session at Salt Ayre Sports Centre on Sunday April 14 from 9.30-12.30.

Experts from local triathlon clubs COLT and Manchester Tri Club will be on-hand to share advice and answer questions.

Andrew continues: “We encourage disabled and non-disabled people across our region and beyond to come along to the taster session and find out more about how they can participate in our triathlon community.”

There are a limited number of places available at each taster session so to register email or visit The taster is free but there is a deposit of £5. Payments will only be taken if you register and do not attend.

To sign up for Tri Together on 7 July, or to find out more about race categories and distances please visit or text TRI to 80878*.
Race entry is from £22 for adults and £10 for children. Minimum sponsorship applies for adults only.

Witness appeal after Lancaster cyclist injured in weekend accident, closing road

Police are appealing for witnesses to come forward after a cyclist was injured in a road traffic collision in Lancaster on Sunday (17th March).

The collision took place around 8.20am on Langthwaite Road in Quernmore when a Vauxhall Combo 200 collided with the pedal cyclist travelling in the opposite direction.

The 35-year-old Lancaster man was thrown from his bike and into an adjacent field and suffered several broken ribs, a collapsed right lung, bruising and grazing.

He is being treated at Royal Lancaster Infirmary.

Sergeant Tracey Ward said: “I’d appeal to anybody that witnessed this collision or with any information that could assist with our investigation to come forward and contact Lancashire Police on 101.”

The driver has been arrested on suspicion of dangerous driving and is currently on police bail until 10th April.

The road was closed for three hours to allow for an investigation to take place.