Friday, 10 May 2013

Arnside residents opens gardens to public, AONB exhibition pormotes the area

Photo: Judith Slater
Eleven gardens in the beautiful estuary village of Arnside will be opened to the public this weekend, with entry proceeds going to the NSPCC.

The gardens will be open on from 12 noon to 5.30pm on Saturday 11th and Sunday 12th May and one of the organisers, Judith Slater, tells us she'll be having owls in her garden on both days and chameleons and lizards on Sunday.

Photo: Judith Slater
"We are keeping them well away from each other!" she notes.

The Open Gardens event coincides with a major exhibition on the natural history and ecology of the Arnside and Silverdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty at the Arnside Eductional Institute.

Some stunning wildlife prints from leading photographers, educational panels will be on display, illustrating the themes of various lectures on Saturday, which start from 9.00am) plus a lot of additional material.

The lectures will be on varied topics, including ecology principles, woodland, soils, climate and geology. There will also be specialist lectures on shade tolerant flora, deer (and ticks!), the estuary, food chains, birds and butterflies.

Several local conservation organisations such as the RSPB, the National Trust, and Arnside and Silverdale Natural History Society will have stalls in the Institute during the day. There are details here (PDF download).

The AONB team are also offering fun, free activities for young naturalists on Sunday from 10.30am - 1pm: live bat and moth trap demonstrations.

•  Programmes for the Open Garden Event are available from Bulloughs Londis, The Promenade, Arnside and Arnside Post Office. Admission will be £3.00 per adult, children free. Proceeds to the NSPCC. Refreshments, toilets and plants sales at selected gardens

• The AONB Exhibition is open Saturday from 2 - 6.0pm and Sunday from 10.00am - 5.00pm. Free. All welcome. More info at:

• The AONB Lectures cost £5 per person. Details and booking form are available here. From 2-5.00pm there is also a choice of four Field trips (only available to morning lecture attendees, sorry). This also costs £5

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Lancaster residents invited to meet local officers

People in Lancaster are being invited to meet their local police officers at a new contact centre.

The current police museum at Lancaster bus station at the Wood Street entrance will open as a contact centre every Monday between 2.30-3.30pm starting this Monday (13th May.)

It is an opportunity for residents to get to know their neighbourhood policing teams and people can also discuss any issues, concerns or ideas they have.

This Monday they will also be carrying out bike coding in a bid to reduce the number of bike thefts in the area.

People can also have a look around the police museum which contains old police memorabilia and equipment.

PCSO Nicolle Croft said: “Opening up this contact centre is a great way for Officers to engage with local people. We really want to build up relationships with residents and want them to feel as though their concerns and ideas are being listened to and taken on board.”

Follow Lancaster area police on Facebook to keep up to date with everything that’s happening in Lancaster and the surrounding areas

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Appeal after sneak-in burglary at Morecambe home

Police are appealing for information after a sneak-in burglary at a home on Winthorpe Avenue in Morecambe last week.

In the early hours of Monday 29th April, it is thought between 1am and 6.45am, someone removed the door chain from the back door, walked through to the living room where the victim was sleeping on the sofa and have taken her handbag before leaving the property, through the back door.

The handbag stolen contained the lady’s purse along with around £200 cash but also contained sentimental messages from her mother who recently passed away.

DC Paul Donnelly said, “Inside the purse were several, small plastic cards with various messages on from mother to daughter. These are of huge sentimental value and are precious to the victim and we are doing all we can to try and retrieve them.

“I would urge anybody that was in the area and noticed any suspicious activity or if anyone has any other information that they think may help to get in touch with police by calling 101 and quoting log number LC-20130429-0303.”

Collecting Memories of Morecambe Winter Gardens

Lancaster University's Live at LICA are looking for local people with tales to tell about the Morecambe Winter Gardens. Do you have any special memories of the place? Did you, or someone in your family, work there? Do you remember the night that it closed?

Artists Jonathan Raisin and Elizabeth Willow are working with Live at LICA to create a show called ‘Sea Breeze’ about the life of the Winter Gardens. It will be shown there as part of the Seaside Festival (Saturday 31st August and Sun 1st September), and are keen to gather stories from people who know the building.

On Wednesday 22nd May, the team will be in Morecambe Library from 1-4pm collecting stories. They’d love you to come along for a cup of tea, meet the artists and perhaps old friends, and share your stories.

• If you can’t come along but have a memory you would like to share then please contact Alice Booth via an email ( or post (Alice Booth, LICA, Lancaster University LA1 4YW).

Crime Commissioner welcomes new crime and policing bill

Lancashire's Police and Crime Commissioner Clive Grunshaw has welcomed proposals for the new crime and policing bill, announced during today's Queen's Speech.

Tackling anti-social behaviour and ensuring Lancashire Constabulary is victim-focused are two of the Commissioner's key priorities – and today's announcement covers both of those areas.

Under the proposals, 19 existing powers to deal with anti-social behaviour would be replaced with six faster, more effective, ones. The bill would also make the rights of victims the focus, with quick action taken to deal with persistent anti-social behaviour.

Clive Grunshaw said: "I know anti-social behavior is a key concern for residents in Lancashire and it can have a serious detrimental impact on victims, raising their fear of crime and affecting their quality of life.

"I want to put the needs of victims of crime such as this at the heart of the work we do, and it is pleasing to see that focus in the new bill.

"Lancashire Constabulary has a good record on tackling anti-social behavior but we are not complacent, and I hope the proposed bill will help to continue the excellent work being done by our officers and staff."

Another element of the bill would see Police and Crime Commissioners given responsibility for commissioning victims' services.

The Commissioner said: "I welcome the proposals to transfer responsibility for commissioning victims' services to Police and Crime Commissioners.

"We are already working hard in Lancashire to establish how best to help the county's victims, and I have given my Assistant Police and Crime Commissioner, Saima Afzal MBE, special responsibility for this work.

"Discussions have already begun with partners to establish how we can work together to ensure residents in Lancashire get the best possible help and support."

The bill also includes policies to tackle forced marriage, dangerous dogs and illegal firearms used by gangs and in organised crime.

Motorbike stolen in Warton

Police are appealing for information following the theft of a motorbike from a house in Warton.

Between 4.45pm and 5.45pm on Saturday 4th May 2013, somebody stole a blue Yamaha off-road 88cc PW80 motorbike from the driveway of a house on Main Street.

PC Shaun Canning, of the Road Policing Unit at Morecambe, said: "It is likely that whoever took the bike would have walked off, pushing bike, but may have loaded it into a waiting vehicle."

After police attended they also found a purple 18 gear ladies Spectrum mountain bike close to the scene and are keen to trace the owners.

PC Canning added: "I would ask anyone who saw anything suspicious in the area at the time of the theft of the motorbike, or perhaps knows who the owner of the purple mountain bike is, to make contact with police."

CCTV released after women subjected to homophobic abuse on Blackpool train

A man British Transport Police would like to in relation to an incident on a train between Blackpool North and Preston on 29th March 2013.

British Transport Police has released CCTV of a group of men officers would like to speak to after three women were subjected to homophobic abuse on a train between Blackpool North and Preston.

The incident happened at around 11.15pm on Friday, 29 March, as the women were travelling home from Blackpool.

During the journey the women were approached by a group of men who, after finding out the women were gay, became abusive and violent.

PC Tony Greenwood said: “The men became extremely offensive and hurled homophobic abuse at the women before spraying them with a bottle of shaken-up lemonade.

A man British Transport Police would like to in relation to an incident on a train between Blackpool North and Preston on 29th March 2013.

“As the offensive behaviour got more extreme one of the men became violent and knocked a 21-year-old woman to the floor before further assaulting her.

“As a result the woman suffered bruising and swelling to her face, head and arms and has suffered from partial memory loss since the incident.”

PC Greenwood added: “This was a particularly nasty and vicious assault which all began with unwarranted and totally unacceptable homophobic abuse.

“Everyone has the right to travel in a safe environment free from abuse and violence. Sadly some people seem intent on causing trouble and we will use all tools at our disposal to bring them to justice.

“Investigations carried out to date have led us to the CCTV pictures of these men who, we believe, have vital information in relation to this enquiry.

“We believe they may have travelled on to Bolton after arriving at Preston and It is imperative that we locate these men as soon as possible in a bid to trace those responsible.”

• If you recognise the men, or can help the investigation in any way, please call British Transport Police on 0800 40 50 40 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111. In all calls please quote log B8/NWA of 7/5/13


Tuesday, 7 May 2013

In Review: Two Gentlemen of Verona

If the ending of The Taming of the Shrew is problematic, and hence an interesting challenge for directors, the ending of Shakespeare's early comedy Two Gentlemen of Verona is doubly so: the attempted rape of Silvia by Proteus who is stopped in his tracks by his betrayed friend Valentine; a brief apology by Proteus, immediate forgiveness by Valentine (who tells him 'All that was mine in Silvia I give thee'), whereupon Proteus is actually reunited with his original love Julia, despite her having witnessed it all. This final scene may be one reason why Two Gentlemen is rarely performed.

The Shakespeare at the Tobacco Factory production, under the directorship of Andrew Hilton, and set in the early 20th century, is charming and funny. The leads Julia and Silvia (Dorothea Myer-Bennett and Lisa Kay), close long-term friends Proteus and Valentine (Piers Wehner and Jack Bannell) and their servants Launce and Speed (Chris Donnelly and Marc Geoffrey) and their fast repartee ensure that the production moves along apace, even when some of the verbal humour escapes a 21st century audience. Crab, Launce's dog, played by elderly labrador Lollio, at times steals the show, but this all adds to the fun. There is live music too (guitar, oboe, mandolin and viola), with songs from Eva Tausig and Piers Wehner - for this is where the song 'Who is Silvia' comes from. The Round is used well, including the balcony, and a sad irony is achieved when Julia is excitedly planning her journey to Milan with her waiting woman Lucetta  (the incomparable Nicky Goldie), while on another part of the stage Proteus is sitting very still, silently planning his betrayal of Valentine and move on Silvia.

So what about the ending? Where Shakspeare gave Silvia no words after Proteus's assualt, in this production she comments indignantly about being 'given away' three times. Julia's body language shows her as decidedly cool about her supposed reunion with Proteus, and after Valentine's final 'One feast, one house, one mutual happiness', the two women stride off, arm in arm. It is then left up to the audience what to make of the musical finale when general jollity reigns again.

This production should be seen - not only because it is a rare opportunity, but because the acting is excellent and the production hits just the right, light note. And what would you do with the ending?
Jane Sunderland

• Black Labrador Lollio, who features in the play, has won so many fans in his role as Crab in Two Gentleman of Verona that he even has his own blog at

 Still to run in Lancaster ....

Wednesday 8 May - Saturday 11 May, 7.30 p.m. plus matinees on Wednesday and Saturday (2 p.m.)

The Dukes
Moor Lane
Lancaster LA1 1QE

Box office 01524 598500


Matinees: £8.00
Evenings: Wed.-Thur. £12.50-£14.50; Fri. - Sat. £16.50-£18.50
Concessions: £2.00 off
Balcony standing: £5.00

and after....

May 14-18: Cheltenham (Everyman Theatre)

May 28-June 1: Scarborough (Stephen Joseph Theatre)

June 4-8: Exeter (Northcott Theatre)

June 11-15: Winchester (Theatre Royal)

County Council outlines Lancaster road improvements, Sustainable Transport plans

Lancashire County Council has announced a number of road improvements and Sustainable Transport initiatives, as part of its Environment Directorate 2013/14 Commissioning Plan for Lancaster.

Work has already begin on some work and although the start and completion of works may change (the plan is updated through the year), the priorities for road improvements have been announced as follows

Quarter 1: 1 April – 30 June

A683 Lancaster Road: Caton to M6, Lancaster Rural East - Surface dressing
A683 Melling Road: Melling to Greta, Lancaster Rural East - Surface dressing
C449 Quernmore Road, Caton: A683 to Posterngate Road, Lancaster Rural East - Surface inlay
A6 Slyne Road: Coastal Road to 30 gate way, Morecambe North/Lancaster Rural North - Surface dressing
C354 Stoney Lane, Lancaster Rural East - Surface dressing
Westbourne Road, Lancaster: Station Road to Willow Lane - Surface inlay
Mill Lane, Bolton Le Sands: Railway bridge to St Nicholas Lane railway bridge, Lancaster Rural North - Surface inlay
Greenacre Road: Whole length, Morecambe Nort - Surface inlay
Lancaster Road, Heaton with Oxcliffe: Santchens to Moss Road Lancaster Road, Heysham - Surface inlay
Locka Lane: B6254 to first gate, Lancaster Rural East - Surface dressing
Park House Road: Whole length, Lancaster Rural East - Surface dressing
Docker Village area: Whole area, Lancaster Rural East - Surface dressing
Newton phase 2: Langdale Road/ Coniston Road, Lancaster East - Footway resurfacing

Quarter 2: 1 July – 30 September

A5101 Coastal Road, Morecambe North - Thin surfacing
C478 Aldrens Lane: Full length, Skerton – Strengthening
A683 Main Street Hornby: Station Road to Fall Kirk, Lancaster Rural East - Surface inlay
B5273 Oxcliffe Road Morecambe: Pumping Station to Woodlands Drive - Surface inlay
Gressingham Landslip: 50m Town Bridge to Brook Side - Repairs to highway embankment on C506 at Gressingham (subject to land agreement)
Bentham Road Resurfacing: 950m from Ravensclose Road to the County Boundary with North Yorkshire - Drainage works and carriageway resurfacing on the B6480 Bentham Road at Wennington
Thornton Road III: Marine Road to Dallam Avenue, Morecambe North - Carriageway resurfacing
Albert Road: Marine Road to Chatsworth Road, Morecambe West - Footway resurfacing

Quarter 3: 1 October – 31 December

Hest Bank Road: Whole length, Morecambe North - Carriageway resurfacing
Royal Road, Morecambe: Full length, Morecambe North - Footway resurfacing

Quarter 4: 1 January – 31 March 2014

Hillsea Avenue, Morecambe: Full length, Heysham - Footway resurfacing

Dates of Completion to be confirmed

Lindow Square, Lancaster - Lantern embellishment

Lancashire County Council is also working to deal with that bane of all road users - potholes. Funding arrangements regarding patching and pothole repair have been revised to ensure that capital funds are used to fund patching schemes to extend the life of highway assets, and revenue money is used to repair potholes in the interests of public safety until more extensive works can be implemented.

This new funding arrangement does not affect the total resources available to the district, and therefore continue to support the Councils target to repair 90 per cent of potholes identified within 30 days.

A capital allocation will be available in 2013-14 to fund patching of A, B and C roads, urban unclassified roads, rural unclassified roads and footways.

Sustainable Travel projects - some planned to complement the building of the M6 Link Road - are also in the works, aiming to support economic development by helping to manage transport demand and removing unnecessary short local car journeys from the network, freeing up capacity to allow more reliable journey times for both people and goods.

"Improving sustainable access to current businesses in the area can also act as a major attraction for inward investment," says the Council, "and increasing available network capacity can also help remove barriers to bringing forward new developments. Increases in active travel within communities have been widely shown to increase retailer footfall in local areas, helping to economically maintain local centres."

Planning and implementing infrastructure improvements, promoting use of existing facilities, business travel planning, adult cycle training and healthy streets initiatives will, the Council argue, all support economic development.

Sustainable Travel will also improve access to employment, training and services for all communities by enabling low cost trips by cycling, walking, public transport and car sharing. Lack of access to opportunities is often cited as a barrier to people taking up those opportunities, so by providing more information, training and support it will provide citizens with the skills and confidence to make journeys by sustainable transport which will help to overcome this barrier.

• The Environment Directorate Commissioning Plan also outlines public transport projects, road safety projects, flood defence improvements, emergency planning and more and can be downloaded in PDF form here:

Name Lancashire Constabulary’s newest four-legged recruits

Lancashire Police’s Mounted Branch has welcomed two new police horses and to celebrate, members of the public are being given the chance to choose the name of the one of them on Facebook.

The Irish Draught breed horses, currently called Jack and Rupert until Rupert is renamed, arrived at the stables in March.

All entries are to be submitted through a poll on the force’s Mounted Branch Facebook page from a list of pre-selected names, and in line with Constabulary tradition, are to be named after a place or town in Lancashire. However, in a first for the force, famous people from the county are also on the list.

PC Adam Pearson from Lancashire Constabulary’s Mounted Branch said: “This is a great opportunity for public to get involved in naming a police horse.

“I’d invite people to visit our new Facebook page and vote for their favourite name for Rupert and he will officially be renamed later this month.

”You can follow our police horses, see photos and get regular updates from the Mounted Branch by liking our Facebook page.”

The winning name will be announced on 15 May and one of the people who submit the most popular name will be given the prize of a free trip around Mounted Branch to meet some of the horses and staff.

The two new additions join 18 other police horses, each living at dedicated police stables.

The force’s Mounted Branch joined Facebook in November last year, and given the horses popularity with the public they have now established over 1,600 ‘likes’. The page allows people to keep up-to-date with their work, including photos of the horses and information about some of the work they have been involved in.

Operationally, Mounted Branch horses and officers get involved in providing high visibility reassurance, targeting areas where crime has occurred. They also attend and police football matches and other large scale events to maintain order, as well as targeting wanted offenders and those breaking curfews.

• To follow the police horses and to find out more information please

• The force also has a Twitter account with more than 18,000 followers.

Get outside and go exploring this May half term holiday

Youngsters in the district are invited to get up, get active and join in the fun with Lancaster City Council this half term holiday.

With more than 22 exciting sports and arts events on offer for young people aged 5 to 16, there's bound to be something for everyone.

Featuring some exciting new activities exploring the nature trails at Williamson Park and Happy Mount Park as well as some regular favourites likes fencing and archery at Salt Ayre Sports Centre

New this year is an urban treasure hunt that will take you all over the historic city of Lancaster.

The more adventurous might like to treat themselves to a survival adventure day at Warton Crag or check out the amazing waterslide at Williamson Park.

Whatever you decide to try this holiday, you’re sure to have lots of fun, make new friends and have a truly memorable experience.

• To find out what activities are running, how much they cost and how to book, simply visit or telephone 01524 842493.

• Copies of the holiday programme are also available from Lancaster and Morecambe Town Hall, Salt Ayre Sports Centre and the council's community pools at Heysham, Carnforth and Hornby.

Monday, 6 May 2013

Glastonbrewery Music Festival in aid of Bay Aqua Therapy on the way

Final preparations are being made for the second annual Lancaster Glastonbrewery charity music festival at the Lancaster Brewhouse and Tap in aid of Bay Aqua Therapy on 18th May.

Local physiotherapist and festival organiser Zoe Hamilton said "preparations this year have been anything but smooth, Ben Fletcher from Cry Baby Aeroplanes has recently broken his arm and at one point we feared that they might not be able to play and both myself, my husband and my mum have all been in hospital in the last few weeks. But as they say - the show must go on".

The festival venue is provided by the Lancaster Brewhouse and Tap at Lancaster Leisure Park. In an effort to help drive ticket sales they have created a festival ale "Glaston Brew" which will be available at the venues that are selling tickets: the Brewery, the Sun Hotel and the Palatine in Morecambe. Tickets are also available from Pizza Margherita and the website

Zoe went on to say "in terms of support from local businesses the response has again been tremendous. Recycling Lives are providing one of their lorry trailers so that it can be transformed into the festival stage, Website UK have created and developed a festival website, MPress Print have provided thousands of posters, flyers and wristbands for free and local businesses sponsoring adverts have covered the cost of the thousands of programmes that have been distributed across the district for people to pick up for free."

Alongside raising funds for Bay Aqua Therapy, the festival aims to provide local unsigned talent such as Fourth Time Lucky from More Music in Morecambe, Amy-Jo Clough, Joe McCorriston and Molly Warburton and the Shady Days, with a platform to hopefully springboard on to bigger and better things.

The line up will also include more established acts such as Ben Ruth and The Convulsions, James Geary and Stop Watch Wilson, as well as impressive local bands the Cry Baby Aeroplanes and Idol Minds and several up and coming bands from Manchester; The Ordinary, Mama Roux and Velocets.

Escaped prisoner arrested in Galgate after dramatic police action

Stevie McCullen
Arrested: Stevie McCullen

Sleepy Galgate was the centre of a major police operation at tea time yesterday, when an escaped prisoner - one of the two men who escaped from a prison van in Salford last week - was captured after a dramatic chase.

virtual-lancaster readers reported events on twitter, Instagram and our own facebook page, posting pictures of the police action at around 5.00pm on various social media, as Stevie McMullen, 31, from Salford, was arrested along with two other men suspected of helping his escape.

Later, BBC News and other mainstream media reported the arrest, and that 20-year-old Ryan McDonald, the other escapee, remains at large.

McMullen escaped on Tuesday when the van taking him from prison to court was rammed by a car and ambushed by armed men. He was arrested in Galgate on suspicion of evading lawful custody. The two other men, aged 27 and 25, were arrested on suspicion of assisting an offender.

Ryan McDonald
Still at large: Ryan McDonald

Mr McMullen was being transported from HMP Altcourse in Fazakerley, Merseyside to court before his escape, to face charges of conspiracy to kidnap, conspiracy to commit robbery, conspiracy to commit arson, possession of a firearm, and other offences. Mr McDonald was was facing sentencing for conspiracy to commit robbery.

A £10,000 reward was put forward for information leading to the capture of both men last week and still stands for anyone who gives us information that leads to McDonald's arrest and will be paid when he is back behind bars.

Greater Manchester Police are urging members of the public not to approach McDonald, who was sentenced in his absence on Friday to seven years and 10 months in prison after previously pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit robbery following his role in a series of raids on pawnbrokers' shops. Instead they should contact police.

Anyone with information is asked to call police on 0161 856 5237, Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or, in an emergency, call 999.


May Day March for the NHS - in pictures

Saturday 4 May 2013.
Annual Lancaster & Morecambe Trades Union Council International Workers' Day March & Rally.
This year the march was in support of local NHS services, which are being restructured with proposals for heavy cuts.
Click this link for the report:

Lancaster & District Pensioner's Campaign Group is organising a public meeting in support of Morecambe's Altham Meadows Centre. This NHS Centre provides local specialist services for sufferers of dementia and, despite opposition from Lancaster City Council, it is faced with closure, with proposals to centralise Lancashire NHS dementia services in Blackpool or central Lancashire.

The meeting will be on Wednesday 12 June at 6.30pm at St Martin of Tours Church Centre, Braddon Close, Westgate, Morecambe, LA4 4UZ.
The LDPCG can be contacted by emailing:

Bulk Ward: Counting errors and swinging seats (updated & corrected)

Original story posted 6 May 2013
Updated 7 May 2013 with corrections and LCC comment:

Counting errors at the Lancaster City Council by-election count on Friday came close to costing the Green Party a council seat for Bulk Ward, we can reveal.

When the votes were counted in, the result was provisionally provided (ie not announced as I previously wrote)  to the candidates and their agents as being  Green 676 and Labour 895, indicating at that point a triumph for Bob Clarke, the Labour candidate, at which the Labour contingent present began to celebrate, as well they might.

Councillor Tim Hamilton-Cox of the Green Party has developed a reputation for having an eye for detail. It is thanks to his assiduous accountancy, we hear,  that we owe the holding of the council's nerve over Council Tax support levels. It's one thing to complain about injustice. It's another to plough through masses of paperwork and accounts and budgets and work out realistically sustainable ways to make things fair.

Councillor Cox had been keeping an eye on the counting tables and knew from watching the paper move that the score between Labour and Green was too close to call. When the provisional result came out as a substantial shift to Labour he realised it didn't fit with what he'd been seeing.

It could feel embarrassing, to start demanding a recount when your side looks to have lost. It's a bit sour grapes. Everyone's been working hard, and now they have to start again. In this case (I stand corrected), the words 'kitchen' and 'heat' apply. Most people have few opportunities to make their wishes count.  Protesters are regularly informed in courtrooms that that the appropriate time to express their views is at elections. So, to keep that faith,  the election count must be transparently honest and reliable. If there are doubts, they must be disproven, so everyone can go home sure it came out fair. This is Lancaster, not Florida. And so, at the point when the provisional score is provided, candidates and their agents are asked if they are satisfied and offered the opportunity to ask for a recount. Usually the potential loser does so when the scores look very close.  In this case the problem was that they didn't, so further recounts were requested.

The votes for each candidate are counted into bundles of 50. These are labelled with the candidate's name and stacked in boxes. The recount found that 3 bundles had been miscounted. We understand that two Green bundles and one Conservative bundle had been mistakenly labelled for Labour. And within one Green bundle were found 8 Labour votes. Almost 10% of the by-election ballot had gone astray.

After the recounts the final result was agreed and declared,  Green Party candidate Caroline Jackson had polled 769 votes. Labour's Bob Clarke 753 and Conservative Kevan Stuart Walton 142. Meaning that the Greens held this Bulk Ward seat by just 16 votes.

Correction: I previously wrote that some of the local results for the County Council elections might be re-examined in the light of the errors in the by-election. However, I am informed by the City Council that the final opportunity to challenge the result is at the point when the provisional result is provided. Once the final result is declared, as these were on the day, then the election process is closed and the Councillors elected are mandated to get on with their jobs. (See their comment below)

Had the error been smaller, say just one bundle astray, it might have been missed and Labour might still be celebrating.

As indeed might Centros, the company managing the planning application for the proposed Canal Corridor development, the site of which lies in Bulk Ward. Originally a safe Labour ward, its three seats landslid into the hands of the Green Party back in 2007 after a series of increasingly large and frustrated public meetings about the development proposals which its Labour councillors did not find time to attend.

Prior to the election the Labour campaign became increasingly concerned about the reception they were receiving on previously friendly doorsteps. But they could still count on one resourceful and well-funded ally. The final week of the campaign was marked by a £16,000 telephone 'survey' of local shopping habits commissioned by Centros and timed for the Labour Party to use on their final election leaflets.  However a phone call to ICM, the company commissioned by Centros to carry out the poll found that the interpretation of their findings had been surprisingly creative (see report). Even when expensively spoonfed by Centros, however, the Labour leafleteers made the mistake of spinning together their favourite bits from two different sets of ICM stats - which then added up to a facepalming 107% on their election leaflets.

The current election campaign also coincided with Centros and British Land, the new owners of the redevelopment site, delivering their new promotional leaflets to every local household in the last fortnight. Their consultation stand will be in Lancaster's Market Square on Tuesday 14 May from 10am - 7pm. They also welcome your comments at

7/5/13: Lancaster City Council have asked us to add the following clarifications:

"At every count it is standard practice to share a provisional result with candidates and agents for them to consider and provide the opportunity for them to request a recount.  It is misleading to describe this part of the process as announcing the result.  

"This procedure is in place so that potential inconsistencies can be examined and rectified. This was precisely the case at Friday’s count. Following the provisional result for the Bulk ward by-election a counting agent of the Green Party requested a recount and the returning officer agreed to the request. 

"It is far from embarassing to request a recount; it is a routine event.  One of the reasons candidates and agents watch the votes being counted is to identify potential inconsistencies and therefore request a recount.
It is not unsual, particularly in district council elections where the number of votes being counted is relatively small, for recounts to be requested. 

"Candidates and agents in the county council election counts were also provided with the opportunity to request a recount after they were informed of the provisional results. Once a result is formally declared, it is final and cannot be amended. "