Friday, 6 September 2013

Operation Novice seeks to reduce shoplifting

Lancaster Police are running a new operation aimed at reducing the number of shoplifting offences in the city centre given the success of a similar operation in the run-up to Christmas last year.

Operation Novice will be robustly investigating all reports of shoplifting, with Lancaster Police hoping to increase the number of convictions they get to send the message this crime will not be tolerated in Lancaster.

Lancaster’s police officers have a number of tools to help in the detection and conviction of shoplifters. CCTV cameras around the city centre and in stores can help them to identify offenders and can also be used in court to convict them.

Many retail outlets in the city centre also use the Town Link radio system which connects stores directly to the police and means store staff can immediately contact the police to help speed up the process of catching offenders.

Inspector Nigel Parkinson of Lancaster Police said “Shoplifting offences have risen in the city centre recently, and it hurts both our retailers and consumers.

“Due to this, we’ve started Operation Novice to crack down on shoplifting before it becomes a real problem.”

Local Tory MPs back "Gagging Bill", Third Reading next week, protest tomorrow in Lancaster

Eric Ollerenshaw
(Updated 1350): Both Lancaster MP Eric Ollerenshaw and Morecambe and Lunesdale MP David Morris have given their backing to a new bill that many charities and pressure groups have warned could effectively curtail some of their work in the 12 month run up to a general election.

There will be a protest against Mr Ollerenshaw's support for the plan, and to draw attention to the Bill in Lancaster's Market Square at 12 noon tomorrow.

This week, the Transparency of Lobbying, Non-Party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Bill (PDF Link), labelled the "Gagging Bill" by those horrified by its proposals, got a second reading in the House of Commons, and will get a third reading next week.

Published the day before MPs went on holiday in the summer, then reintroduced today two days after their return, its timing looks suspiciously like the Government want to avoid MPs giving it proper scrutiny, which is certainly how both pressure groups, lawyers and charities see it.

"It's a complex piece of legislation but its repercussions for us are quite simple," notes Gary Shrubsole from Friends of the Earth. " if it had been passed 10 years ago, it would very likely have curtailed much of Friends of the Earth's work on our most important campaigns."

If passed it could effectively stifle campaigning on subjects such as zero hour contracts, fracking, government corruption, the NHS and much more – all maters for which politicians wanting our vote should be held to account in the run up to a General Election.

Opponents argue the Bill poses a huge threat to pressure groups and to the whole voluntary sector because it vastly extends the definition of what activities are considered to be 'for electoral purposes' in the whole year before an election, and slashes the cap for what charities can legally spend on these activities - both nationally and in every MP's constituency across the country.

A restraint on freedom of expression

Helen Mountfield QC, of law firm Matrix Chambers, gave her legal opinion this week that the Bill's "restrictions and restraints are so wide and so burdensome as arguably to amount to a disproportionate restraint on freedom of expression."

 "We are concerned that the bill could severely restrict civil society campaigning activity and may even be in breach of Article 10 of the Human Rights Act," stated Charity lawyers Bates Wells Braithwaites. "The threat is not only to large charities, but also to coalition and grassroots local activity, as each entity, no matter how small, has to report the entire spend on campaigning in the run-up to a general election if it is considered to be for 'election purposes' in law."

Writing on the Civil Society web site, Lawyer Rosamund McCarthy warns that, on the basis of its current wording, if it had been law during the last election it might have affected, for example, the Royal British Legion military covenant.

“This will have a chilling effect on civil society and its freedom of expression,” she argued. “It’s also a possible breach of Article 10 of the Human Rights Act.”

The Trades Union Congress has also said it contains clauses which will make organising its 2014 annual conference a criminal offence.

A huge number of civil society organisations have voiced their steadfast opposition to the Bill's fresh restraints, including - the Countryside Alliance and campaign group 38 Degrees.

The National Council for Voluntary Organisations sent a letter to Chloe Smith, the Minister for Political and Constitutional Reform (PDF Link), signed by charities and other groups including Battersea Dogs' Home, the British Heart Foundation, Christian Aid, Guide Dogs and the National Union of Students.

As the bill stands, the ambiguity of the proposed new rules and the threat of criminal liability for breaching them may deter many organisations from engaging in policy debates at all, even where vital to their mission. Smaller organisations, dependent on volunteer support and without access to expert advice, are likely to be hardest hit.

In addition, it is not just charities that could be caught by the bill – trade associations and business bodies such as the federation of small businesses could also be caught if their campaigning and policy work coincide with, or contradict, the policies of a particular political party or candidate.

The Lobbying Bill has united opinion that would otherwise be utterly divided: from Conservative MP Douglas Carswell (who, along with Tory MPs Philip Davies, David Davis, Zac Goldsmith and David Nuttall voted against the bill while others also expressed concerns during the Second Reading debate) to left-wing columnist Owen Jones – with most opponents arguing the bill is being rammed through Parliament at breakneck speed.

"Imagine if Friends of the Earth hadn't been able to run our Bee Cause campaign," says Gary Shrubsole. "We wouldn't now have the Government committing to a Bee Action Plan to save Britain's wonderful bees.

Greenpeace says the propsoals will prove a "hugely increased bureaucratic burden, particularly onerous for small, local campaign groups, and the bewildering lack of clarity on which aspects of which activities count as electoral," and not they have led the Electoral Commission to describe the changes as unworkable.

"The restrictions are not just applied to explicit party endorsements," note Greenpeace. "When Help for Heroes lobby for better prosthetic limbs for military veterans, that could be an implicit criticism of the current government, and were they to publicise a big improvement in this area, that could be an implicit endorsement. Whether something is electoral is judged by whether it could potentially affect the election, not whether it is intended to."

During the House of Commons debate the Labour party's shadow Commons leader Angela Eagle called the bill "one of the worst pieces of legislation I've seen any government produce in a very long time" and has criticised proposed rules on lobbying, including a limit on the amount of money charities and trades unions can spend on funding election candidates, as "sinister and partisan".

There's still time to voice your opposition to the Government's proposals. Next week - on 9th, 10th and 11th Sept - the bill will be debated again by all MPs. If you're concerened (and if you work in the voluntary sector or for a charity, you should be), then contact your MP before then to voice your concerns - ideally, by meeting them face to face. 

A Matter of Transparency

David Morris
MP David Morris disputes the claims made by opponents about the bill. "This Bill is about bringing transparency to the way third parties interact with the political system," he argues. "Campaign groups play an important role in our political process, helping inform policy making and allowing different views to be heard from across society. The Government is clear that it wants this to continue.

"It is very important to note that these new proposals are only for third party organisations which campaign for the electoral success of a particular political party or candidate," he claims. "An organisation campaigning only on policy issues would not be included in these changes.

"The Government wants to take the big money out of politics," he says. "Limiting campaign spending during an election will help the UK avoid the situation we see in other countries, where unregulated spending by vested interests means that it might not always be the best candidate who wins an election, but the one with the richest supporters.

"The amount an organisation can spend campaigning for electoral success during an election period will be limited to £390,000 across the UK. The Government believes this is still a very substantial sum and is a proportionate figure. Expenditure on these campaigns will be fully recorded and disclosed.

"At present, charities can undertake non-party political activity where the trustees can show that it supports their purposes and would be an effective use of their resources.

"The law prohibits charities from engaging in party politics, party political campaigning, supporting political candidates or undertaking political activity unrelated to the charity’s purpose.

"The Bill does not change this. Charities will still be able to support specific policies advocated by political parties if it would help achieve their charitable purposes.

"The Minister for Political and Constitutional Reform, Chloe Smith, has written to 38 Degrees, outlining the Government’s position and you can read it online here (PDF).

"Ministers have been working closely with charities and third party groups to address their concerns, " he says. "This Bill will not prevent or prohibit campaigning but will make the system more transparent by bringing these third parties into the spending reporting regime."

• You can read a Friends of the Earth briefing and FAQs on the Lobbying Bill here (PDF Link)

Read the full Second Reading debate via TheyWorkforYou

• Challenge your MP on the Bill: 

BWB warns new laws on non-party campaigners pose a serious threat 

Rosamund McCarthy warns new bill poses ‘existential threat to charity campaigning’

Greenpeace: How the lobbying bill became the charity gagging bill

Police appeal following criminal damage in Morecambe

Police are appealing for witnesses following a spate of criminal damages at Morecambe's Happy Mount Park. culmiinating in £1000 of damage to canvas trampolines earlier this week.

The incidents have happened over the summer, prompting a storm of protest from local residents.

The first incident took place overnight between 11th-12th July, when damage was caused to the door of the café, which may well have been because people were trying to gain entry.

Overnight between July 31st and August 1st, a number of fence panels were damaged and this week, again overnight, between Wednesday 4th and Thursday 5th September, five sets of canvas on trampolines were vandalised - causing £1,000 worth of damage.

PC Jo Clement from Morecambe police said, “There have been three mindless acts of vandalism over the summer months and we are appealing for people to come forward with information.

“Incidents like this do strike at the heart of the community as the facilities in the park are enjoyed by many people. We need to find the people responsible and bring them to justice and if anyone does know who is behind these incidents then I would urge them to call us on 101.”

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Fylde fracking site hit by new earthquakes

Cuadrilla drilling rig at Banks in Lancashire

The two earthquakes that occurred on Sunday morning 25 August 2013 have been confirmed as the largest in the area since 1843, according to the British Geological Survey. Their epicentres were in the same area of the Irish Sea that suffered tremors directly linked to shale gas fracking in 2011.

The BGS recorded a magnitude 3.2 ML earthquake at 10.58am, preceded by a magnitude 2.4 ML foreshock at 6.37am in the same location off the Fylde Coast, 25 kilometres west of Fleetwood, Lancashire.

The tremors were felt up to 80 kilometres from the epicentre, with reports from worried members of the public received from the Lancashire coastal towns of Fleetwood and Blackpool and the surrounding communities, up to Barrow-in-Furness.

Suggestions that the shocks were caused by seismic testing in the area have been dismissed. Last week Energy firm Halite, wrapped up its exploratory work, which involved a series of controlled explosions to test the nature of the bed rock in Over Wyre.

Halite is seeking planning consent to build a 19-cavern Underground Natural Gas Storage Facility at Preesall in Lancashire, where Cuadrilla are also seeking drilling licenses. Keith Budinger, chief executive of Halite Energy, said: “The tremors were nothing to do with our work, it’s just too shallow.”

In November 2011, the UK Government threatened to call a halt to controversial gas drilling in the area after independent geology reports confirmed a series of earthquakes the previous summer were linked to the shale gas extraction.  Geologists reported the epicentre of one 1.5 magnitude quake on May 27 2011 was within 500 yards of the well of the fracking operation and the second 2.3 tremor on April 1 originated less than two miles away.

Cuadrilla counting on extracting cash from Lancashire assets

Drilling company Cuadrilla are hoping that the setbacks they have experienced from massive public opposition in Sussex will not be repeated in Lancashire, where (according to the Guardian) they plan to reopen their operations shortly.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Cuadrilla's parent company AJ Lucas Group has had to scale back its operations to focus on the most profitable business lines, as details of the company's dire financial position were disclosed on Friday night in preliminary accounts (yet to be signed off by the auditor) showing a widened loss of $127 million.

The company took into account the continuing support of substantial shareholder and lender Kerogen in assuming it was a going concern for accounting purposes, as well as recent contract wins and the prospect of further cash from its British Bowland prospect asset. (The Lancashire fracking site is known as 'British Bowland' in the trade).  Shareholders are being asked to vote on extending AJ Lucas' debt liabilities to Kerogen for three years until early 2017 - an agreement that AJ Lucas said would leave it without material borrowings falling due for 3½ years.

Preston Protests

The news that Cuadrilla is counting on an early reopening of its Lancashire operations sparked a demonstration by Greenpeace outside Lancashire County Council's offices in Preston yesterday. Protesters opposed to fracking set up a mock drilling rig outside the LCCs headquarters.

Greenpeace said Lancashire is widely seen as the test case for whether fracking goes ahead nationally. A spokesman for Lancashire County Council said no decision on fracking applications will be made by councillors until November at the earliest.

Preesall: Radioactive Contamination in Water

In June 2013 Preston Council's Environmental Scrutiny Committee were finally informed (see Lancashire Life report) by government scientist John Arnott of the Department of Energy and Climate Change that flow back water from the Cuadrilla site in Preesall had become mildly contaminated with radioactivity due to their operations. The site was abandoned following the earthquakes in 2011 but Cuadrilla's first applications to restart operations will be in Preesall and Singleton.

Lancaster Fights Fracking - New Group

Lancastrians who travelled to Balcombe to support the protests there have returned to revitalise the campaign group in Lancaster, one of the many local community groups opposed to fracking that have sprung up all around the Bowland shale gas extraction area.

• You can find out more about their planned activities by visiting their facebook page at:

Lancaster Unlocked once more for Heritage Open Days

The Lancaster district will be throwing open its doors again this year when local buildings of every age, style and function take part in the biggest free celebration of England's history, heritage and culture.

This year’s Heritage Open Days take place from Thursday 12 to Sunday 15 September with more than 30 different openings, guided tours and events taking place which will allow people to explore some of district's hidden gems and bring local history and culture to life.

As well as having free access to many buildings which normally levy a charge or are closed to the public including Lancaster Town Hall, the Quaker Meeting House in Lancaster and the Lady Freemasons Lodge in Morecambe, there will also be canal boat tours and history walks along Lancaster Canal and around Lancaster Castle to the quayside beyond.

As part of the Heritage Open Days weekend, Morecambe will be celebrating its own heritage day on the Sunday with a number of exciting events.  These will include the famous Bradford to Morecambe Historic Vehicle Rally on Morecambe Promenade which this year celebrates its 25th anniversary.  You can step back in time at the Platform with a special vintage village hall and tearoom or take a free trip along the promenade to Heysham on an open top double decking bus to take in the best views over Morecambe Bay. There will also be a chance to reflect on Morecambe’s 1930s heyday with an art deco guided walk and to pop into the Winter Gardens to see a display of classic motor cycles in the auditorium of this famous old Morecambe theatre.

 The Bradford to Morecambe Historic Vehicle Rally is kindly sponsored by JCT600.

Coun Ron Sands, cabinet member for culture and tourism, said:  "Our district is blessed with buildings of every age, style and function and the open days will give both local people and visitors a once-a-year chance to discover hidden architectural treasures.

"This year's programme of tours, events and activities promises to be bigger and better than ever before and includes some absolute gems that are making their first appearance in the programme."

The majority of the openings and events in the Lancaster area are free of charge but you may have to book in advance for some activities as places are limited.  Disabled access is available to at least some parts of the many participating venues, so it’s advisable to check in advance.

• You can pick up a programme containing full details of property openings and special events during this year’s Heritage Open Days from visitor Information centres and town halls at Lancaster and Morecambe. The programme is also available online at

More information about nationwide events can be found at 

Lancashire County Council calls for new shisha legislation

Lancashire County Council is joining forces with local authorities across England and calling on central government to help councils to clamp down on shisha bars that flout smokefree laws.

Smoking shisha tobacco is growing in popularity across the country and there has been a 210 per cent increase in the number of bars across the UK in the last five years. This is in part because shisha bars are not breaking the smoking ban if 50 per cent of their exterior wall space is open.

It is estimated that the amount of nicotine inhaled from a half-hour shisha session is equivalent to five cigarettes.

Many people who visit shisha bars are young people who are often under the age of 15 and are unaware of the risks that smoking tobacco causes.

These concerns have led Lancashire County Council to join local authorities across the country in writing to Anna Soubry MP, undersecretary of state for public health, asking for the government to consider introducing measures including:

• Increasing the penalties that would help councils to deal with owners and providers of shisha bars who flout the smokefree legislation.

• Changes in the law to make it compulsory to license premises selling tobacco to help reduce the number of young people aged 16 and under buying tobacco from shisha bars and other businesses.

County Councillor Azhar Ali, cabinet member for health and wellbeing, said: "The smokefree legislation was introduced in 2007 and has been a real success, resulting in fewer people being admitted to hospital with smoking-related illnesses.

"However, shisha bars present a new challenge. The smoke from shisha is very concentrated and can be much more powerful than cigarette smoke. However, because it is cooled many people think it is less harmful ! than cigarette smoke.

"Shisha is also very popular with young people and we're concerned it could encourage more people under the age of 16 to take up smoking.

"Many shisha bars seem undeterred by the current legislation and we think that by introducing compulsory licensing for places selling tobacco, giving more controls to issue higher fines, and making it easier to tackle under-aged tobacco sales, the government could make it easier for councils to clamp down on shisha bar owners who deliberately ignore the smokefree law.

"We've written to the Government along with our district councils and other local authorities to ask them to consider these changes in the law."

There have been some issues with shisha bars ignoring smokefree legislation in Lancashire and the county council wants to help stop this from becoming a bigger problem in the future. In May, an illegal shisha bar was shut down in Blackburn and Two girls, aged 13 and 15, had to be taken to a ‘designated place of safety’ after an early morning raid.

Lancashire County Council has been responsible for leading on public health issues across the county from April 2013.

Volunteers invited for for Park legacy 'Greenfingers' project

Bluebells begin to emerge where Rhododendron once stood.
Fenham Carr in Williamson Park

Greenfingers is a volunteer group  in Williamson Park that is creating a lasting legacy for all park users by removing invasive plant species, re-introducing native species and creating new wildlife habitats. The Group's projects in the past have included planting trees and shrubs, looking after the tree nursery, removing brambles from the formal areas and managing woodland.

Residents and students are invited to join in as it's a way to benefit the wider community and its local environment and also to enjoy the physical, social and psychological gains that people experience in engagement with conservation work. Even if you can only come to a few sessions, you can make a difference.

If you'd like to come and join in, this season Greenfingers runs on Thursday mornings until December 19th 2013. New volunteers can just turn up and register  at the Park cafe at 10am (pop inside and ask for Mark Christie or Elliot Grimshaw). Sessions run from 10am - 12 noon with free tea and coffee.

For further details contact Mark Christie, tel: 01524 384578 / email:  or Elliot  Grimshaw tel: 01524 33318 / email:
You can also keep up to speed on park developments at

Celebrating the Aughton Pudding Festival

Aughton World Record Pudding from Chris Abram on Vimeo

Councillor Ron Sands, a huge advocate of our area as a place to visit, was one of over one thousand people at this year's Aughton Pudding Festival in the Lune Valley - and although it takes place only every 21 years, he says he's determined to get to the next one!

"Way back in 1992 I attended the last Aughton Pudding Festival, which was so memorable that I determined not to miss the next one," says the Council's Cabinet Member for Culture, "scheduled as they always are at 21 year intervals.  (The first one was held in 1782).  This time the event took place on a glorious sunny August Bank Holiday Monday.

"The 156 good folk of Aughton who are listed as supporters of this event in the souvenir programme all deserve medals. What an incredibly good show they once again masterminded and what an enormous amount of time, energy, and planning must have been involved."

Aughton is a scattered and sparsely populated rural parish of outstanding scenic beauty, and Ron says that to mount a show of such superb quality and organisation is no mean feat.

" The residents would not be human if they did not quail at the thought of so many thousands of visitors descending upon their peaceful patch of Lune Valley countryside," he notes. "But all the 'front of house' helpers could not have been more welcoming.

"From the operation of the extensive car parking and one way traffic management on country lanes, to the cheerful serving to long lines of customers at the food, drink and ice cream stalls, all went like clockwork," he enthuses. "The fruit pudding itself was suitably enormous and richly deserves its honoured place in the Guiness Book of Records.

"The cooks themselves certainly did not stint on the quantity or quality of the ingredients.

"The Festival’s historic anthem  - reproduced in the programme - calls for a hogshead of rum.  The dictionary tells me that this means a full cask of spirits!

"The banter among other visitors in the queues was all about memories of the last Festival, and hopes of surviving to witness the next one in 2034.  Our thoughts were neatly summed up in the anthem’s conclusion:-

“May thy glory, O Aughton, ne’er fade,
But to finish my song I must haste –
The next time the pudding is made
I hope I may be there to taste”

If you missedthis year's event, the good news is that although the next Pudding Festival isn't for another 21 years, they also hold an annual village show – and Augton is open for visitiors 365 days a year!

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Heysham-M6 Link judgement delay - as school break frees the traffic

Otters at Halton on the proposed Link Road route. Photo by Stan Parrott. More pictures:

The Judicial Review of Lancashire County Council's plans for  the Heysham M6 Link road was heard in the High Court in Manchester on 22-23 July. The case was brought by Transport Solutions for Lancaster & Morecambe (TSLM), funded by public subscription.

The judge did not give his decision on the day, but "reserved judgement" (he went away to consider it). Both TSLM and Lancashire County Council, who defended the case, had expected judgement within a fortnight but, as there is plenty to think about, the decision is still under reservation. And we, and all the wildlife, are very happy to leave it there.

One thing the wait has demonstrated yet again is how, during the school holidays, the traffic flows more freely - despite major roadworks. Yet again we renew our plea for a sustainable school transport system to address local congestion problems. As parents are being pressed to work more hours and transport costs rise, the financial and practical arguments for a door-to-door school shuttle transport system, at least for primary age schoolchildren, become more compelling.

It is local schoolchildren and taxpayers who will have to live with the consequences of any decision and foot the council's bills. Whether their interests can compete with those of the powerful corporate road lobby remains to be seen.

See also:

Port in tax avoidance row as Link Road challenge goes to court

Gregson's Highfield Regeneration project opens next week

Photo: Highfield Regeneration Project

After six years hard work, raising £190,000 to restore the site, reinstate tennis courts and create a multi-use games area "The Gregson@Highfield", aka the Highfield Regeneration project, will formally open on Saturday 14th September.

The opening event, orgaised by the Gregson, starts at 11.00am, and there will be stalls, food, a bar, bouncy castle, taster sessions on tennis courts, bowling greens and games area – and a chance to try out croquet!

The Highfield Regeneration Project was started a few years ago by a group of local people whose vision is to bring back into community use a once council owned and mainly derelict leisure facility with the aim of providing an outdoor community social hub that is accessible to all.

Much work has gone into putting a structure for sustainability in place and the Gregson has a 30 year lease with Lancaster City Council. Local residents have worked to raise funds to redevelop the site and ensure disabled access while the council maintains the greens and hedges and is responsible for the pavilion structure.

Highfield is in probably the most densely populated area of Lancaster, with further housing developments planned. There's little or no access to ‘on the doorstep’ recreation facilities. Over 13,000 people currently live within a 15­-20minute walk of the site, including localized pockets of deprivation, often linked with poor health outcomes. The area is also served by five schools (three primary and two secondary) that have little or no such facilities and have expressed support of the project.

The team behind the project hope it will have health benefits, poiting to research by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence in 2008 which identified that two in three men and three quarters of all women do not achieve recommended levels of activity for health living, therefore the need for such a facility is clear.

Life expectancy of males and females in Lancaster is, respectively, 10.4 and 7.4 years less than the national average; 16.8 of year 6 children and 21% of over 16 year olds are classed as obese.

Both the Gregson team and its backers at Lancaster City Council agree there is a real need for informal, free or “pay and play” facilities in Lancaster and that the project will greatly benefit the community and the many schools in the area.

"The Gregson Communtiy Association is grateful to all the funders of this project," a spokesperson told virtual-lancaster, "and to Lancashire County Council for its generous funding and even more generous provison of officer time over the last 6 years."

Entry to the launch event is free – so get along and support this project.

• Highfield is located at the corner of Derwent Road and Quernmore Road and there is fully accessible level access.

Followed the Highfield Regeneration Project their facebook page

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Lancaster gardner shot with air rifle

Police are appealing for information after a 45 year old man was shot by an air weapon in Lancaster.

He was hit on the stomach as he was gardening at a house on Dallas Road at around 2.00pm on Thursday 22nd August.

Fortunately the man only suffered a minor injury, but police are keen to speak to anyone with any information after several shots were fired.

PC Adam Jussub said: "If anybody was in the area around the time of the incident and has any information as to who fired these shots then I would urge them to contact police."

Anybody with any information can contact police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or on-line at

No personal details are taken, information is not traced or recorded and you will not go to court.

Teenager assaulted in Lancaster

Police are appealing for information after a 14 year old boy was assaulted on a skate park in Lancaster last month.

At around 3pm on Sunday 4th August the teenager was approached by two other boys on the skate park on Parliament Street.

The two boys told the 14 year old to leave before one of them punched and kicked the teenager causing him to fall to the floor where he was kicked again.

One of the boys is described as white, 16/17 years old, approximately 5’4” tall, of skinny build, with short, light brown hair and was wearing a black vest, and dark tracksuit bottoms.

The other boy is described as white, 14/15 years old, approximately 5’0” tall, with blonde hair and was wearing a cap and blue jeans.

PC Adam Jussub said: “If anybody was in the area at the time of the assault and can help us identify the two boys who carried out the attack then I would urge them to contact police.

“I am also keen to speak to anybody who thinks they may be able to identify the offenders from the descriptions provided.”

• Anybody with any information can contact police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or on-line at No personal details are taken, information is not traced or recorded and you will not go to court.

Monday, 2 September 2013

Call for Artists: Lancaster's One Planet Festival Art Exhibition 2013

Lancaster's One Planet Festival returns next month with a series of events across the city from the 14th October to the 3rd November 2013, celebrating sustainable living and to raise awareness and inspire action on climate change. This year's festival will include an art exhibition in The Dukes Theatre's gallery from 14 October to 3 November and local artists are invited to get involved.

The theme of the exhibition is sustainability and the idea is to get visitors to the gallery thinking about how our planet is being impacted by human activity both locally and globally. Local artists are invited to submit works that explore many sustainability themes that could include: climate change, energy sources and use, water consumption, pollution, waste, population growth, food and biodiversity.

Artists can submit up to 2 works for consideration and the deadline for applications is 1pm on Friday 20 September 2013. Entry forms and more information are available on the One Planet Festival website: or email

Other festival events include lighting up the canal with installations themed on stories and heritage of our waterways and their often overlooked ecology, .taking over The Dukes' gallery during October half term with daily eco-activities for all the family including a Halloween Garlic & Potions workshop, Lancaster's first ever 5k Good Gym run and a sustainability themed Gardeners' Question Time.

For more information about the festival, events and how to get involved visit

Brand makeover for Lancaster (& Lune) and Morecambe Bay

Lancaster and Morecambe are to be rebranded as visitor destinations, because research indicates that with a bit of tweaking they could, hopefully, sound a lot more attractive to visitors than they do at present. Apparently, research has identified Lancaster as being relatively unknown outside the 'unloved and desolate' Northwest, and Morecambe as being associated with the decline experienced by many seaside towns.

Destination marketing experts Cairn Consultancy have led a project funded by Lancashire County Council, Marketing Lancashire and Lancaster City Council, involving local councils, organisations and businesses. Aimed at finding the best way to market the area as a place to visit and invest, two different but complementary destination brands have been identified by the consultants:

Firstly, please open your hearts and wallets to 'Morecambe Bay' - a brand which is set around the outstanding landscape of Morecambe Bay. The brand will celebrate the Bay’s natural, cultural, heritage, recreational and outdoor assets, its coastal towns and villages, and Morecambe as its established capital. (For the purpose of this branding there is no such thing as a geriatric nuclear power station, and we hope you will all remember that. 'Remember what?' we hear you ask. Excellent.)

The second new brand is 'Lancaster' - a destination brand which is set around the history, heritage and culture of the City of Lancaster. The brand will also celebrate the Lune Valley, accessed from the River Lune Millennium Park in the city centre, as a key recreational asset. Think of it as 'Lancaster & Lune'.

Tim Dixon of English Lakes Hotels said:
"Because of its diverse and unique make-up ranging from Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty right through to an unrivalled culture and arts scene, the area should be proud enough to stand as tall, if not above many of the more widely recognised destination brands in the UK.  Couple this with excellent communication links and a passionate local community, and you have the ideal welcoming framework for future investment and potential, as well as already being a well-established tourism product."

Susannah Bleakley of the Morecambe Bay Partnership  is way ahead of the pack, and said:
With Morecambe Bay as a brand we have one of the country’s most exceptional natural and cultural landscapes and strong brand awareness. Morecambe is the capital of the Bay and the coastline has proud cultural histories and is rich with places of exceptional charm and visitor appeal. 

"We all know that Morecambe Bay is unique and magical. This research confirms this – the visitor experience of the Bay area is unlike anywhere else.  A day or a week around Morecambe Bay is special and unique. Through the Partnership work we're really excited to be working together to make more of the rich cultural offer and celebrate and the outstanding landscapes."

Suzi Bunting of the Lancaster BID said:
"The challenge is now going to begin, to relay the proposed long term branding strategy with individual businesses and for visitors to gain greater awareness of the identified destinations for Morecambe Bay and Lancaster.  Hopefully the Lancaster Business Improvement District, working closely with the businesses within the City of Lancaster will be able to assist with this. Wishing to bring together Lancaster’s unique artistic heritage, retail sector, natural and historical assets to create a city centre that’s alive with culture, expression and vibrancy."
Partner organisations are now looking forward to making plans for the next steps of the work, for both Morecambe Bay and Lancaster.