Friday, 11 October 2013

Open House for sheltered accommodation Kingsway Court next week

Lancaster City Council is inviting residents to get an insight into the benefits of living in sheltered accommodation in the district with an open day at one of its schemes.

On Friday 18th October, at Kingsway Court in Heysham visitors can have a look around the accommodation, talk to staff and see the facilities on offer.

Council staff will be on hand from 10.00am until 2.00pm to welcome visitors, show them around, answer questions and help complete application forms.  Family members and friends are also welcome to come along.

If you are interested in sheltered and retirement accommodation but unable to come along to the open day, contact Lancaster City Council’s Housing Options Team on 01524 582005

County Council announced £1m of Road Safety improvements

Lancashire County Council has announced a £1m investment to improve road safety across Lancashire. 

The exact package will be based on the results of newly commissioned research to establish a robust evidence base on the most effective way to further cut deaths and serious injuries. 

The research will consider all current schemes within Lancashire and be carried out in the context of the county council's new Public Health service to take into account the importance of changing attitudes to road safety and the wider health benefits of road safety initiatives to establish the best way forward. 

The research methodology will be scrutinised by a local university to establish that robust interventions are! developed based upon the evidence. 

County Councillor John Fillis, cabinet member for highways and transport, said: "Casualties on Lancashire's roads are continuing to fall, bucking the national trend, but I'm well aware that many communities remain concerned about safety on their local roads and want us to work with them, because one accident is one too many. 

"We will be providing £1m to establish schemes to reduce accidents based on solid evidence. We'll use the latest information available and will consider not only the 20mph areas but all the work which has been carried out by local communities, the police, and through engineering work. 

"The police collect detailed data on the cause of every accident in which someone is killed or seriously injured, providing an excellent source of evidence to work from. 

"The funding for the schemes will be made available once the evidence has been established and will not a! ffect existing services. In the meantime, we'll continue with the exis ting programme to establish 20mph as the normal speed limit in residential areas and outside schools. 

"We believe by working with all are partners utilising our abilities and determination we can make our roads safer for the people of Lancashire." 

The Lancashire Partnership for Road Safety has seen councils work closely with the police and other organisations to achieve a significant reduction in deaths and serious injuries over many years through a combination of road improvements, enforcement and education working closely with communities across Lancashire. 

Examples of schemes the £1m budget could be used for include: 

• Engineering measures such as lower speed limits, warning signs, speed humps, chicanes and junction improvements. 

• 'Community engagement' schemes such as Community Road Watch and School Road Watch, which see local people and schoolchildren work with the police to monitor vehicle speeds ! and convey their concerns to local drivers. 

• Education initiatives aimed at reducing accidents among targeted groups if the evidence shows that better communication or information could reduce their risk.

Alternative Presents: Sponsor a Tree in your local park

Have you ever thought about commemorating a special event in an exceptional way, or dedicating a unique memorial to a loved one?

Perhaps you would like to leave a living legacy at a place you love.
Autumn is the perfect time to sponsor a tree with Lancaster City Council and help your district to be greener too.
Trees can be sponsored by individuals, families, groups of friends, community groups, schools, businesses, and can be sponsored as a green gift, a memorial to a loved one, to celebrate a special occasion, or just for the joy of watching it grow!

Through the scheme, anybody can sponsor the planting of a new tree of their choice in either Ryelands Park, Greaves Park or Happy Mount Park.  Some parish councils are also taking part in the scheme so that trees can be planted elsewhere in the district.

New trees can be sponsored for £150 each, which covers the cost of purchasing the tree, planting and the maintenance required whilst the tree becomes established.  If the tree fails within the first five years a replacement will be planted free of charge.

Trees are planted between the end of November and the beginning of March each year.

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Cuadrilla leave Lytham site 'for the birds'

Fracking company Cuadrilla have pulled out of the site they established at Anna's Road in Lytham citing 'overwintering birds' as the reason. They say they will now be working to restore the site to its former condition. (see statement). The company has now suspended all drilling in Lancashire until 2014.

Fylde anti-fracking campaign group Refracktion ( have compiled a short video (above) to commemorate Cuadrilla's vist to Annas Road and to thank anti-fracking campaigners for their successful work. (There will be a Global Frackdown 2 Party at Silantro, Lytham St Annes on 19 October).

Environmental campaigns are sceptical about the excuse for departure as there have been pink-footed geese and whooper swans in the Ribble Estuary for as many years as people can remember. This did not originally deter Cuadrilla from initiating development on the site alongside the Ribble Estuary wetlands,  as is their site at Banks, neighbouring the Martin Mere bird sanctuary.

Operations had been suspended at the Anna's Road site for several months already due to technical difficulties. It has been suggested that the technical difficulty in question may be one of legal compliance.

Cuadrilla had been lobbying intensively to have the EU Mining Waste directive not apply to contaminated fracking fluids that remain underground.  Under this Directive shale gas operators have to make absolutely sure that the underground fluid, which contains a powerful mix of very highly toxic chemicals, is under proper control, adequately sealed and monitored.

The rules - which the Environment Agency have maintained in the face of aggressive challenges from Cuadrilla - mean Cuadrilla has to apply for a waste permit before it can carry out drilling activities. The permit could force the company to monitor all drilling wastes - potentially for decades after operations have ended.

However it emerged earlier in the year that radioactive contamination had already occurred at the Cuadrilla site at Preesall, and had gone unreported. MP Eric Ollerenshaw has confirmed to Virtual Lancaster that no compensation has been obtained for this breach.

There is some discussion of 'a framework of community benefit and compensation' in regard to potential drilling rights overall, but there does not appear to be any way to quantify the inevitable levels of contamination, which are built into the process and have the potential to have severe and extensive impacts on the local environment and water table. Further earthquakes this year also suggest a high probability of accidents in containment, as well as general damage, as happened during the earthquakes of 2011.

The negotiations will boil down to four issues. The first is political. The coalition government has no realistic energy strategy. Following Fukushima support has collapsed for the nuclear option, aside from a vociferous but rapidly degrading nuclear lobby.

Stepping into the power vaccum left by  nuclear, the shale gas and oil lobby is embedded in the current government. However since the 2011 earthquakes and Balcombe, the fracking industry is increasingly in the spotlight. Opposition has grown and continues to grow across all levels of society and and is well-organised and funded to monitor infractions and regulatory breaches that were previously treated permissively by licensing authorities.

The second is regulation - whether environmental directives and licensing conditions can be adhered to and enforced, and how compliant Cuadrilla are likely to be, given their aggressive anti-regulatory lobbying stance and their track record of accidents and bending licensing conditions.

The third is community benefit and compensation and whether the community can derive any benefit from having its land and living environment permanently degraded and contaminated over an extensive area, or if any 'benefits' would accrue only to key players in the local and national government and enterprise infrastructure.

The fourth issue is profit. Whether profit can even be made from shale gas extraction where a company must actually abide by regulations; taking thorough measures to prevent contamination and cleaning up wherever it happens by accident is something that no fracking company has, as yet, been willing to discover.

RSPB Leighton Moss to host BBC's 'Autumnwatch'

BBC Autumnwatch presenters Michaela Strachan, Chris Packham and Martin Hughes-Games. Photo © BBC

The new location for the BBC’s Autumnwatch is the stunning RSPB Leighton Moss when it returns to BBC Two at the end of October. 

Running across four days, from Tuesday 29th October to Friday 1st November, Chris Packham, Michaela Strachan and Martin Hughes-Games will follow the stories of the UK's wildlife in autumn, broadcasting live from Leighton Moss.

Set within the Arnside and Silverdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the popular reserve will be right at the heart of this season’s action.

Just south of the Lake District and on the edge of Morecambe Bay, this area is where thousands of migrant waders gather in the autumn months; otters and kingfishers hunt for fish in the reserve’s reed beds, and rare species such as bitterns and bearded tits prepare for winter.

Other highlights will include:

• Starlings – Viewers will see a flock of up to 100,000 starlings roost on the reserve, gathering in huge numbers and making incredible patterns and shapes as they pick their spot to spend the night as the sun sets

• Red deer – Are the largest residents of the reserve, and cameras will follow them as they rut among the reed beds. The males will go head to head for the right to mate with the females, bellowing across the reserve at one another and locking antlers in battle

• Scenes showcasing the huge flocks of oystercatchers, knot and turnstones as they gather to feed in the rich Lancastrian mud out on Morecambe Bay

• The fascinating transformation of the leaves on the rugged hills around the reserve as they change colour

Autumn is a key time of change. The series will examine how the unpredictable nature of the UK's weather can dramatically affect our wildlife. Collaborating with the BBC Weather Centre, Autumnwatch will feature weather updates throughout the series giving audiences a weather report for wildlife, which will cover topics such as how winds in the North Sea affect migrating birds crossing from Scandinavia, and how falling temperatures influence the changing of colours for leaves.

Autumnwatch will also showcase the beauty and drama of this diverse season, exploring nature’s key events and wild spectacles as well as explaining why this season is such a critical time for all of the UK’s wildlife.

Autumnwatch will react to stories as they happen, and report on the latest wildlife news from across the country.

"The series will be truly multiplatform, round the clock, streaming wildlife action live on the web and on BBC Red Button," said a spokesperson. "This year Autumnwatch aims to be more interactive than ever, inspiring everyone to share their stories, photos and videos, and get outdoors to enjoy the season for themselves."

As ever there’s plenty of opportunity for audiences to get involved:

• On the BBC –
• On Facebook -
• Contact us on Twitter @BBCAutumnwatch or share your autumn experiences with #autumnwatch
• Share photos via the official Autumnwatch Flickr group -

Autumnwatch will also join forces with BBC Learning who will host a “Things To Do” event finder linked to the Autumnwatch website. To find nature Autumnwatch theme related events near you visit

Former Health Secretary to speak at Lancaster University

Former Government Minister Alan Milburn returns to his stamping ground at Lancaster University next month to deliver a Public Lecture.

Entitled ‘What would make Britain more socially mobile?’ the talk, on 23rd October at 2.15pm, is open to all members of the public, schools, University staff, students, alumni, and civic representatives.

The former Labour MP and Health Secretary, an alumnus of Lancaster University, has earned a reputation as a social mobility guru and chairs the newly formed Commission on Social Mobility and Child Poverty.

The Commission, which draws its seven members from across business, academia and the voluntary sector, monitors the progress of government and others in improving social mobility and reducing child poverty in the UK.

Part of the Commission’s role is to act as advocates for social mobility beyond government by challenging employers, the professions and universities to play their part in improving life chances.

 “This is particularly welcome," commented Vice Chancellor Professor Mark Smith, "as Lancaster University believes that everyone with the potential to benefit from higher education should have the opportunity to do so, whatever their background.

“Taking on the challenge of widening access, participation, progression and achievement is a crucial part of our mission and we welcome students with a range of different qualifications recognising the multiple routes students can take into higher education.”

Professor Smith said the Public Lecture enabled the University to open its doors once again to the local community and to share knowledge.

Prior to the lecture Mr Milburn will observe University staff delivering master classes, chat with current students who have benefited from the University’s mentoring programme and meet the University’s outreach team who run Widening Participation programmes, before delivering the lecture in the afternoon.

In a recent interview with Lancaster University’s alumni magazine Mr Milburn said: "Lancaster University was my foundation for the whole of my working life and career. The skills I learned there - of being rigorous, analytical and understanding how to make a judgement call - were important in my political life and still are in the work I do today in child poverty and social mobility."

• To book free places at the Public Lecture please go to The venue location will be confirmed via email two days prior

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

No More Juliets at The Dukes

Sue McCormick(Beth Morrison) and Richard Hand (Percy Bysshe Shelley)
in a scene from No Fat Juliets. Photo by Ian Tilton
There’s just a few days left to catch the world premiere of a fab new romantic comedy at The Dukes before it transfers to Oldham Coliseum.

No Fat Juliets, a new play penned by and starring Lancaster actress Sue McCormick, finishes its Dukes run this Saturday 12th October.

A scene from No Fat Juliets. Photo by Ian Tilton
This plus-sized play with music is set in a failing Lake District hotel where Sue’s character, a part-time actress, is working as a barmaid.

When an old flame arrives in town with another size zero starlet, Beth starts to question her ambitions and finds comfort in the arms of a charming poet.

No Fat Juliets is a co-production with Oldham Coliseum Theatre, where it will be performed from 15th - 26th October, by Sue’s own company, Ladybrain Productions.

• To book tickets, ring The Dukes box office on 01524 598500 or visit

Spooky surprises in store this Halloween at Morecambe Festival Market

Lancaster City Council has some spooky surprises in store for children this Halloween at Morecambe’s Festival Market.
From the 26th - 31st October, the Festival Market's doors will creak open at 9.00am offering children the chance to take part in a number of activities including a visit to a haunted house, pumpkin carving, a pumpkin parade and free competitions with prizes.  Everyone is invited to go along… if they dare!

Throughout the week, children can go on a ghost hunt around the stalls and shops of the Festival Market and nearby Arndale Centre. Find all the spooks and ghouls lurking within and you could be in with a chance of winning shopping vouchers to spend at both locations.

Pumpkin carving will take place on Sunday 27th October from 2.00 until 4.00pm.  This activity will be followed by a pumpkin parade giving everyone the opportunity to showcase their creepy creations.

There will also be a colouring competition throughout the week.
• Registration forms for the colouring competition and ghost hunt are available from the Festival Market office or to download at Ghost hunt forms will also be available from the activity hut in the Arndale Centre.

Police release CCTV in Sugarhouse rape investigation

Detectives investigating the rape of an 18-year-old woman on a student night out in Lancaster have released CCTV images of a man they want to trace.

Around 12.30am on Tuesday 1st October, the student was confronted by a man as she left a toilet cubicle in The Sugarhouse and was pushed back inside where she was raped.

The woman managed to fend off her attacker before running from the toilets to raise the alarm.

Police have now released CCTV images of a man they would like to speak to in connection with the incident.

Detective Superintendent Paul Withers said: "I have a dedicated team of detectives working on this case as we continue to try and find the person responsible.

"We are keen to speak with a man captured on CCTV inside The Sugarhouse. I appreciate it isn't the best quality CCTV, but if anybody thinks they know who this person is then I would urge them to contact police. If you recall seeing this person on the night in question, perhaps you saw him on the dance floor, or more importantly making his way towards and enter the ladies' toilets, then please come forward.

"We are also keen to speak with a second year female student who is believed to be studying law at Lancaster University and possibly spoke with the victim in the ladies' toilets around the time of the incident. If this was you please come forward.

"There were around 1400 people in the club that night and once again I would like to reiterate our appeal to speak to any women who remember a man walking into the ladies' toilets, or who saw a man in there, or who heard any shouting. If any men were in the ladies' toilets for any reason we would also like them to come forward so we can speak to them and eliminate them from our enquiries.

"We are continuing to support the young woman who has suffered a particularly distressing ordeal and once again I would like to reassure people that sexual assaults of this nature are rare."

• Anybody with any information can contact police on 101 quoting log number 0028 of 1 October or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or on-line at

Library Exhibition Celebrates Transgender Lives

Wednesday 20 November is the Transgender Day of Remembrance, commemorating those who have died as a result of transphobia, either through violence or by being driven to suicide. The month of November is a focus for Transgender Remembrance, for raising awareness of the continued hostility and violence endured by transgender people within our communities and for seeking the better understandings that bring tolerance.

The 'Living My Life' Exhibition has been curated by Lancashire LGBT in association with Lancashire Libraries, and it is a series of inspiring images that capture and celebrate the individual lives of transgender people. It will be on tour around Lancashire libraries in November marking the month of Transgender Remembrance. The exhibition aims to present positive images of trans people and also to improve understanding of the issues and challenges that trans people face.
Read more info about the exhibition here.

It will be launched at Lancaster Library on 31 October 2013 from 6pm to 8pm with an event at which people can meet Beth, Lee and Jasmine from the exhibition. Refreshments will be provided and everyone is welcome. Lancashire LBT hope that as many people as possible will come to the launch event or to see the exhibition during November.

The exhibition tour dates are as follows:

Lancaster Library 31 Oct – 9 Nov 2013
Blackpool Central Library 11 – 16 Nov 2013
Skelmersdale Library 18 – 23 Nov 2013
Burnley Central Library 25 – 30 Nov 2013

Visit the Lancashire LGBT website:

Monday, 7 October 2013

Your Views sought on Council's new Development Plan

Lancaster City Council has now published two important Development Plan Documents which will form part of the new Local Plan for Lancaster district and is inviting interested parties to submit any final comments.

The Development Management DPD contains planning policies which will be used by the council to determine planning applications. Also being published is the Morecambe Area Action Plan DPD, which is the culmination of three years close working with the community to come up with a plan for central Morecambe that can be delivered and will make a difference.

There will now be one final opportunity for people to examine the development plan documents and make representations if they wish before they are examined by a Government Planning Inspector. The council aims to formally adopt the plans next year.

The period for representations on both the Development Management DPD and Morecambe Area Action Plan DPD begins on Thursday 10th October and will last for six weeks concluding on 21st November at 5.00pm.

The documents along with accompanying and supporting documentation will be available to view at Lancaster and Morecambe Town Halls and public libraries in Lancaster and Morecambe during normal working hours.  Formal representation forms and guidance on how to complete the forms will also be available.

You will also be able to view the documents and guidance on-line and download representation forms at

 Completed representation forms should be returned to:
Planning and Housing Policy Team,
Lancaster City Council ,
PO Box 4,
Town Hall,
Dalton Square,
Lancaster.  LA1 1QR
Electronic versions of the form should be emailed to 
Drop-in sessions
Council officers will also be available to answer any questions on the development plan documents at a series of drop-in events taking place across the district.

Thursday October 17 – Hornby Institute (2pm – 7pm)
Tuesday October 22 – Lancaster Library (2pm – 7pm)
Monday October 28 – Carnforth Library (2pm – 7pm)
Thursday October 31 – Morecambe Library (2pm – 7pm)

Councillor Janice Hanson, Cabinet member with responsibility for planning and regeneration, said:  “These documents will form important parts of the new Local Plan for the Lancaster district and this is the last chance interested parties will have to comment on the soundness of the documents before they are submitted to the Government for public inspection.

"We would urge interested parties to take the opportunity of viewing the documents and make their representations before the deadline."

For more information or assistance, you can contact the Planning and Housing Policy Team, tel. 01524 582383.

Man wanted in connection with Morecambe rape

Police are appealing for information about the whereabouts of a 26 year old man who they need to speak with in connection with the rape of a 16 year old girl in Morecambe in October 2011.

Hama-Amin Karim, an Iraqi national was arrested by police following a complaint of rape by a Lancaster teenager at an address on Coltsfoot Walk in Morecambe on 22nd October 2011.

He was released on police bail pending further enquires but failed to answer his bail and has been wanted by police since December 2011.

Hama-Amin Karim was found to have entered the UK illegally. He does not have any permission to be in the UK at present and therefore is also wanted by the Home Office.

Detective Sergeant Mark Stephens from Lancaster and Morecambe CID said: “Karim could be anywhere in the country, although it is possible he may also have travelled abroad. If he is in the UK he is likely to be working in a barbers shop.

“I would appeal to anybody with any information about his whereabouts to contact Lancashire Police 101.”

People with information can also contact the independent charity 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.