Friday, 8 November 2013

County Council gets ready for winter

Lancashire County Council is urging everyone to be ready to keep themselves warm and healthy at home, and safe when making journeys this winter.

Gritters left the depot for the first time earlier this week to treat roads in some parts of the county ahead of forecast frosts, with almost 32,000 tonnes of salt in stock for the season and 1,800 grit bins filled to the brim.

The council is working more closely than ever with parish and district councils, the police, the fire and rescue service and the NHS to deliver a consistent message to the public about what to expect this winter and what they can do to prepare for bad weather.

With new responsibilities for public health, it is urging people to take simple steps to protect elderly! friends and relatives they care for against the cold, and help to reduce the number of deaths due to winter related illnesses.

The council's website also has a wealth of advice and information on everything from staying healthy during the winter to equipping your car, safely clearing snow from paths, how to check on school closures and gritting routes, and what the council can and can't do when the worst weather hits.

Leaflets containing all the top tips will also be available at hundreds of locations including garages, petrol stations, high-street shops and council receptions across the county.

County Councillor John Fillis, cabinet member for highways and transport, said: "We're well prepared for the coming winter but are asking everyone to do their bit to help.

"We always have to focus our gritting resources on treating the main routes, and we're as ready as we can be for any prolonged severe weather.

"But as the first frosts begin we can all take steps to make sure that when severe weather strikes we are able to manage. Whether it's checking on elderly and vulnerable neighbours, helping to clear snow from pathways or planning ahead for your journey, together we can keep our county safe and on the move.

"Simple things like making sure your car is serviced and equipped for winter conditions, and checking local travel news before your journey can make a big difference.

"I'd also encourage people to consider looking in on elderly neighbours, and if they want to buy salt from supermarkets or garages to use on their own paths and driveways, to stock up now.

"I'd ask everyone to remember that just because a road has been gritted it may not be clear of ice and to take extra care and prepare ahead for our journeys in freezing weather."

Lancashire County Council's website at (search for 'winter') contains links to social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook. People can check on which roads are gritted in their area and sign up to receive instant updates whenever the gritters go out.

• For all the latest gritting updates, winter weather advice, school closures and more, visit: – search for 'winter' - share your winter tweets using the #lancswinter hashtag 

• Share winter photos on the Winter in Lancashire Flickr group: 

• Find out more about the work of the County Council's gritting teams:

Appeal after £70,000 of alcohol stolen from Carnforth haulage firm

Police are appealing for information following a burglary at a haulage firm in Carnforth where £70,000 worth of alcohol was stolen.

The burglary took place sometime between 6.30pm on Friday 1st November and 9am on Sunday 3rd November at the small family run haulage company in Tewitfield.

The offenders entered a haulage yard situated on an isolated rural road and forced open a secure metal roller shutter door to the warehouse. Once inside they removed a pallet full of boxed spirits from an unhitched trailer before targeting another unhitched refrigerated trailer in the yard.

The burglars are believed to have removed the items from the yard through a neighbouring field having broken down a small fence.

DC Jill Neil from Lancaster CID said: “I would appeal to anybody with any information about this burglary or the whereabouts of this alcohol to contact police.

“The alcohol is distinctive as it is in plastic bottles and was intended to be dropped off at Manchester airport for duty free sale.

“The premises have clearly been deliberately targeted and those responsible would have to have been on site for some time to facilitate this burglary.

“We believe a vehicle will have been parked at the point where the fence was broken down so I’d be particularly keen to speak with anyone that might have seen a vehicle parked at this location.”

The stolen alcohol included 1,314 litre bottles of Gordon’s gin, 912 71ml bottles and 120 half litre bottles of Baileys, 744 litre bottles of Bell’s original whiskey and 540 litre bottles of Smirnoff blue vodka.

Anyone with any information about this incident should contact Lancashire Police on 101.

James Court murder - man charged

A man is due to appear in court this morning (Friday, November 8th) charged with the murder of a man in Lancaster.

Bernard McSorley, 52, of no fixed address, is charged with the murder of Paul McDonagh in the town between October 27th and 30th this year.

Mr McDonagh, 30, was found deceased at the rear of St James Court, Lancaster at shortly after 1.30pm on October 29th.

The death was initially treated as non-suspicious but following some further enquiries and a Home Office Post Mortem Examination which revealed Mr McDonagh had been stabbed, three people were arrested this week on suspicion of murder.

Two were later released without charge but McSorley was charged with murder and remanded to appear at Lancaster Magistrates this morning.

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Samaritans to hold volunteer information evening

Lancaster & District Samaritans are looking for volunteers for their listening and support service and also for backroom tasks and in their shop. They will be holding an information evening next Thursday at Lancaster Library for people to find out more about becoming a Samaritans volunteer.

Demand for their service has been growing rapidly and the charity is almost wholly dependent on volunteers to provide a service to people in need and distress.  Samaritans is well known for the listening service, usually a person at the end of the phone, sometimes face to face, and more recently by email.  They also need volunteers who can help in other ways - by doing useful administrative tasks at their Sun Street office, for example managing stationery stocks or publicity materials,  or by providing practical help or supporting in the Samaritans charity shop in Damside Street.

Being a volunteer can be incredibly rewarding as well as being hard work.  The comprehensive training Samaritans provides equips you with many skills and these are not only useful in your role as a volunteer but can be of great benefit to you in both personal and working situations.  You will also meet and work with like-minded people who want to make a difference to others who are less fortunate than themselves.

Their information evening will be held on Thursday 14 November from 5.45pm - 6.45pm  in Lancaster Library, upstairs in the Sanctuary (there is a lift / disabled access).
To find out more, or if you can't attend on Thursday but are still interested, visit or phone 01524 61666 or email .

Cinema screenings in Lancaster & Morecambe this week

Poster for 'Philomena'
reviewed below
Round-Up for 6th to 14th November 2013
by Peter Clarke

For up to date cinema listings every week visit the Virtual-Lancaster Cinema Page

A poor time for new releases as there are none to report this week. However we can look forward to the much awaited The Hunger Games: Catching Fire due to be released later this month and in the middle of December there is The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.

Hence this is a period to see films already in circulation. For drama there is Escape PlanGravity & Philomena. For fantasy see Thor: The Dark World and Ender's Game. Family films include Turbo, Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters and Planes.  

Reviews  (Scroll on down for a daily calendar of local screenings. )

Captain Phillips
Director: Paul Greengrass
Certificate: 12A
Cast Includes: Tom Hanks, Catherine Keener, Barkhad Abdi
A dramatisation of the 2009 hijacking of the container ship Maersk Alabama by Somali pirates who kidnapped the Captain Phillips. This is a excellent must see thriller movie featuring superb acting. Characters are well developed and the film takes a sympathetic view of both pirates and the crew of the ship. In keeping with the subject the film has a documentary feel about it which makes for compelling viewing.

Ender's Game
Director: Gavin Hood
Certificate: 12A
Cast Includes: Asa Butterfield, Harrison Ford, Ben Kingsley, Abigail Breslin
Set in the future, the film is based on Orson Scott Cards novel, an alien race (the Formics) attacked the world and were defeated. However the aliens will attack again and to prepare Colonel Hyrum Graff (Harrison Ford) is training an elite group of young children in the hope of finding someone who will again defeat the aliens. The young Ender Wiggins is selected to join the elite group at Battle School and excels in war games. Thus he is chosen to to lead an army against the foe to determine the future of the earth. However Ender has some of his own daemons to contend with. An enjoyable film with humour as well as some violent scenes.

Escape Plan
Director: Mikael Håfstrom
Certificate: 15
Cast Includes: Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Vinnie Jones
One of the world greatest authorities on prison escape Ray Breslin (Sylvester Stallone) is wrongly imprisoned in a ultra high security facility 'The Tomb'. He must enlist help from another inmate Emil Rottmayer (Arnold Schwarzenegger) to mount an escape attempt. Stallone and Schwarzenegger work well together and both give convincing performances. This entertaining film provides humour, some violence and plenty of wisecracks.

Director: Alfonso Cuarón
Certificate: 12A
Cast Includes: Sandra Bullock, George Clooney
Ryan Stone (Bullock) a medical engineer and seasoned astronaut Matt Kowalsky (Clooney) are on a shuttle mission to repair the Hubble Telescope. However during a routine space walk, disaster strikes as the shuttle is destroyed by impact from space debris and Stone tumbles free in space. The film follows Stone's plight as she battles to survive. Stone gives a superlative performance in this spectacularly shot movie. However the interest of the film is not the impressive special effects but rather the exploration of human frailty in adversity.

Director: Stephen Frears
Certificate: 12A
Cast includes: Judi Dench, Steve Coogan
A quaint and charming film based on the book 'The Lost Child of Philomena Lee' by Martin Sixsmith. Philomean (Dench) plays an Irish woman who had her baby taken from her for adoption in the USA whilst she was forced to live in a convent after becoming pregnant out of wedlock. Much later in life she enlists the help of Sixsmith to try to discover the whereabouts of her lost son. Coogan produced the film and co-wrote the screenplay. He plays Sixsmith, the journalist who has fallen out of favour. Both Dench and Coogan give superb performances in this funny and heartwarming if a little sentimental film. Well worth seeing.

Thor: The Dark World
Director: Alan Taylor
Certificate: 12A
Cast Includes: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Stellan Skarsgård, Kat Dennings Thor must combat an ancient, pervasive and powerful enemy led by Malekith to save the earth and all the realms. Much of the action is played out in Asgard and the interaction between Thor is Loki provides a major part of the film. However there is plenty of action and a strong vein of humour. In all a film that is very entertaining and does not take itself too seriously.

Director: David Soren
Certificate: U
Cast Includes: Ryan Reynolds, Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Peña
A DreamWorks animation in which Turbo is a snail obsessed with racing cars who dreams of competing in the Indianapolis 500 race. His hopes start to look more realistic when an accident with a car engine provides him with a magical turn of speed. The animation is expertly done. The snails have cute believable personalities and the whole has a real 'feelgood' factor of an underdog following his dreams. The film follows the DreamWorks hit animation 'The Croods' and whilst it is extremely enjoyable, it lacks twists and subplots that make for a really memorable movie.

What's on this week and where

Thursday 7th November 2013
Captain Phillips (ReelVue)
Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2 (Reel)
Ender's Game (Reel)
Gravity (ReelVue)
Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa (Vue)
Muse - Live at Rome Olympic Stadium, July 2013 (Vue)
One Chance (Reel)
Philomena (ReelVue)
Thor: The Dark World (ReelVue)
Turbo (ReelVue)
Friday 8th November 2013
Captain Phillips (Vue)
Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2 (Vue)
Escape Plan (Vue)
Gravity (Vue)
Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa (Vue)
Philomena (Vue)
Thor: The Dark World (Vue)
Turbo (Vue)
Saturday 9th November 2013
Captain Phillips (Vue)
Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2 (Vue)
Ender's Game (Vue)
Escape Plan (Vue)
Gravity (Vue)
Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa (Vue)
Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters (Vue)
Philomena (Vue)
Planes (Vue)
Thor: The Dark World (Vue)
Turbo (Vue)
Sunday 10th November 2013
Captain Phillips (Vue)
Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2 (Vue)
Ender's Game (Vue)
Gravity (Vue)
Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa (Vue)
NT Encore: The Habit of Art (the Dukes)
Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters (Vue)
Philomena (Vue)
Planes (Vue)
Thor: The Dark World (Vue)
Turbo (Vue)
Monday 11th November 2013
Captain Phillips (Vue)
Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2 (Vue)
Diana (Vue)
Gravity (Vue)
Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa (Vue)
Le Week-End (the Dukes)
Philomena (Vue)
Sunshine on Leith (the Dukes)
Thor: The Dark World (Vue)
Turbo (Vue)
Tuesday 12th November 2013
Captain Phillips (Vue)
Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2 (Vue)
Gravity (Vue)
Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa (Vue)
Le Week-End (the Dukes)
Philomena (Vue)
Sunshine on Leith (the Dukes)
Thor: The Dark World (Vue)
Turbo (Vue)
Wednesday 13th November 2013
Captain Phillips (Vue)
Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2 (Vue)
Escape Plan (Vue)
Gravity (Vue)
Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa (Vue)
Philomena (Vue)
Thor: The Dark World (Vue)
Turbo (Vue)
Thursday 14th November 2013
Captain Phillips (Vue)
Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2 (Vue)
Gravity (Vue)
Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa (Vue)
Le Week-End (the Dukes)
Philomena (Vue)
Sunshine on Leith (the Dukes)
Thor: The Dark World (Vue)
Turbo (Vue)

Peter Clark is the Virtual-Lancaster Cinema Editor

Free parking for Christmas shoppers

Shoppers will be able to enjoy free parking at selected times in Lancaster and Morecambe in the run up to Christmas.

From Sunday 24th November until Sunday 22nd December, all the city council's car parks in Lancaster and Morecambe will be free to use for Sunday shopping.

From Thursday 28th November until Thursday 19th December, you can also park for free at council car parks in Lancaster after 6pm (until 8am the following morning) to enjoy late night shopping. Evening parking in Morecambe is already free.

Free parking in Lancaster will also be available this year after 6.00pm on Monday 23rd December for last minute presents.

Market Gate car park in Lancaster is also providing the same free parking arrangements and will close at 9.30pm.

• For more information on city council car parks visit

Morecambe Poppy Box Thief sought

Police have issued a CCTV image of a man they need to speak with after a poppy charity box was stolen from a hotel on Morecambe promenade.

The theft took place around 6.30pm on Sunday 27th October 2013 at the Pier Hotel on Marine Road Central when the charity box, which was thought to contain around £30, was stolen from the bar.

PC John Bradshaw said: “This is a despicable offence and I would urge anyone who has any information about the identity of the man in the CCTV image to contact Lancashire Police on 101 quoting crime reference BB1304162.”

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.

Barton Road Community Centre shows its enterprise.

Linda Taylor & Denise Nardone
with the new Barton Road Monday Lunch Club
Barton Road Community Centre is set to turn itself into a Social Enterprise, introducing new courses and drop-in sessions for the local community. The centre, in south Lancaster, will also be hosting its second Community Ceilidh on Saturday 23 November and a Christmas Craft Fair is being organised for Sunday 8 December. (See

The latest developments are the Monday Lunch Club,  ‘crafternoons’ (the clue is in the title!) and short computer courses. Already the centre accommodates groups such as Art4Fun, U3A Table Tennis, Knitting and Sewing Drop Ins, Lancaster Family History Group, Babies and Toddlers and much more.  The centre has a friendly and easy atmosphere with good facilities, including a computer suite, a large hall and meeting rooms (available for hire) as well as a comfortable and spacious reception room.

Last year the Centre's Management Committee appointed a Community Co-ordinator to support its users and groups. Denise Nardone commented on her year, "I’ve met so many people who are enthusiastic and want to support the centre with new ventures.  Our events group is full of enthusiasm, I can hardly keep up with them!

"In October, we started our Monday lunch-club, offering soup and a sandwich, a brew and a natter for £2.50.  20 people came through the door, to enjoy Linda Taylor's delicious homemade soup.  (Many people will know Linda from the Cafe at the Adult College at White Cross.)"

Hon Secretary Chris Bebbington said, “Barton Road Centre is an excellent resource to the surrounding community, offering superb facilities to support all sorts of groups. As a Social Enterprise, we’ll be able to access more funding for community projects and to support our community groups.  We also hope that the centre will become a hub for other community groups in the area.”

To find out more about what’s on, to try out the Lunch Club or one of the groups and courses, or to book tickets for the  Ceilidh, or a stall at the Christmas Craft Fair, visit the Centre website at or call Denise on 01524 65622.

The Centre is also on facebook at

Heysham Link another step closer despite long-running opposition

The Lancaster Guardian reports another judge has thrown out an appeal against the Heysham M6 Link Road concluding “enough is enough”.

Court of Appeal judge Lord Justice Davis has refused Transport Solutions for Lancaster and Morecambe’s application for permission to appeal against a High Court judgement supporting the project.

The objectors now have seven days to request an oral hearing from the Court of Appeal to reconsider the application, which is the absolute final stage, but work has already begun to build a depot for the project at Halton Training Camp.

A full report is in the print edition of this week's Lancaster Guardian but Lord Justice Davis is noted as concluding  he did not think the proposed grounds of challenge were realistically arguable.

“Nor do I see any other compelling reason to grant permission," he said.

“One can understand that many people will feel strongly about this road, but, in all the circumstances, enough is enough here.

“In my view the judge’s judgement is not susceptible to sustainable challenge.”

"It is still crystal clear that this road is not value for money" argues TSLM chair David Gate.|It will not help congestion in Lancaster. "It will not help regeneration in Morecambe. Sacrificing our Green Belt is too high a price to pay for such dubious benefits."

The road is backed by the Chamber of Commerce and the County Council, despite fervent local opposition and concerns raised by both Morecambe and Lancaster City Councils over the route in the past. The County Council itself has admitted the £140 million road will cut just five minutes off journey times.

The County has also begun to promote the road building as "business opportunity". We look forward to the first application for a new Tesco along the route.

Assembly Rooms future under review but continued Collector's Market now an option

As part of the Council's in-depth look at its costs as government spending cuts hit what it can afford hard, the future of the trading area in Lancaster’s historic Assembly Rooms was discussed by the city council’s Cabinet on Tuesday 5th November, with plans on the table to turn it into a tea room and ditch its unique "Collectors' Market" identity.

The ground floor of this 18th Century Grade 2 listed building on King Street in Lancaster currently acts as a market trading hall selling what the Council describes as an "eclectic" mix of items and the Council commissioned a consultation to consider alternative uses – including a tea room, despite the uncertain future of similar Council-run operations in Williamson Park.

While Assembly Rooms traders  were dismayed by the plan – and some enraged by a further suggestion from council officer Mark Davies that they could all move to Morecambe's Festival Market in the Lancaster Guardian – locals reacted with bemusement to the tea room proposal, pointing not only to the large number of cafes in Lancaster already, but also to the failure of commercial operations such as Pau Pau in recent months.

"Lancaster doesn't need another tea room or coffee house," noted lancasterhour on Twitter. " We're the caffeine capital of the north by now, surely?"

First Age Comics owner Mark Braithwaite – one of the Assembly Room longstanding traders – gave a presentation to Cabinet at the meeting, pointing to his increased customer base presentation and arguing that with better management the existing Collector's Market could not only raise its profile but generate more revenue.

 After discussion, Cabinet voted to pursue alternative ideas for the Assembly Rooms' future but the option now includes looking at keeping the Collectors' Market as well – whereas, previously, it was not an option.

The tea rooms and food market are still on the table but they will now be considered with the Collectors Market alongside.

Cabinet will also be meeting with the business owners to discuss ideas for the Collectors' Market at a future date.

The decision still leaves the future of the Assembly Rooms - a Collectors' Market since traders moved there after the disastrous fire that destroyed the original Lancaster Market in 1984 – uncertain, but at least the Council are now considering keeping it as is – with, hopefully, better management.

"We are exercising caution at the moment and will be staying prepared whilst re-examining our back-up plans," says Mark.

• See also: Council's bright idea for Lancaster's Assembly Rooms - a tea room and Assembly Rooms: Council outlines past promotion, clarifies 'tea room' option

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Morecambe police hunt handbag thief who targeted elderly couple

Police are appealing for information after a man targeted the home of an elderly couple and stole a woman’s handbag in Morecambe.

The burglary took place around 12.15pm on Monday 4th November when a man knocked at an address on Carleton Street and asked the occupants if they require any odd jobs being completed.

Upon being allowed entry into the house, the man discussed things with the couple that may need fixing before stealing a handbag from the dining room and leaving.

The man is described as being white; 6ft tall and heavy build. He is aged between 50 and 55 with dark hair and a tanned complexion, possibly with a moustache. He spoke with a foreign accent and was wearing a ¾ length dark brown leather jacket.

Detective Sergeant Fiona Jackson from Morecambe CID said: “I would appeal to anyone who has seen a man matching this description in the area, or other people who may have also been cold called by this man, or anyone who thinks they may know the offender to contact police.

“This is a callous crime against a couple aged in their 80’s in their own home. I would reassure people that an investigation is underway but we would welcome any information from the public.

Anyone with any information about this incident should contact Lancashire Police on 101.

The stolen handbag is dark blue leather with a damaged strap. It contained the victim’s shopping money, mobile phone and bank cards.

Council's cost cutting plans announced as funding slashed by government

Council leader Eileen Blamire: "The scale of these funding
reductions is unprecedented and there are
tough decisions ahead."
Lancaster City Council’s Cabinet has approved a series of service reviews which will seek to cut costs and increase income as the council looks to fill a budget black hole.

Due to Government funding reductions the council will have to make annual estimated savings of £3.5million by 2015/16.

All areas of service provision will come under the spotlight in the coming months and on Tuesday (5th November) Cabinet members approved the first three:

Salt Ayre Sports Centre and leisure services

This review will investigate the current provision at the sports centre and how savings can be made, as well as the longer term future of the sports centre and community pools.

Options will look to reduce the amount of subsidy required to run the centre by generating ongoing savings, and developing options for efficiency savings and service reductions.

Options will also be developed for alternative delivery models.  As well as keeping the centre in-house, this could include partnering with a private operator, charitable body, social enterprise or creating a leisure trust.

Management of parks, open spaces and public realm

This review will look at how the management of parks and open spaces could be merged with the council’s Environmental Services department, creating efficiency savings by removing duplication, and economies of scale. 

Options will also be developed for considering the future of Williamson Park’s café and butterfly house.

Regeneration and Planning (including communications, marketing, tourism and events)

Specific areas to be reviewed will include the provision of events, tourism, the district’s Visitor Information Centres, communications and marketing activity. The review will focus on reducing costs in all service areas, transforming the service delivery of visitor information and increasing income from council operated venues and events.

In respect of regeneration projects and economic development, the review will look to reduce costs but priority will given to maximising external investment opportunities to ensure that capacity is retained for economic and housing regeneration.

Councillor Eileen Blamire, leader of Lancaster City Council, said: “I don’t want anyone to be in any doubt as to the scale of savings we have to make and over the coming weeks and months every area of the council will come under scrutiny as we look to tackle this huge black hole in our finances. 

"The scale of these funding reductions is unprecedented and there are tough decisions ahead."

“While we will be able to make some savings through working more efficiently and effectively, these will not balance the books by themselves.  Inevitably we will have to reduce or stop some services will be reduced or stopped and many others will be done differently. Through these reviews we will be looking at all available options and in two years time the council will look very different to the way it does today.

"Beyond that the situation is not sustainable unless the council is spared further funding cuts and handed greater financial freedom in which to operate.”

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

South Lakes Wild Animal Park opens its gate for free this winter

Picture: South Lakes Wild Animal Park
We don't often mention happenings outside our immediate area but the news that South Lakes Wild Animal Park in Dalton in Furness has announced free entry for everyone until 14th February 2014, and for children to the 9th April, is well worth mentioning.

Winter’s a great time of the year come meet all the Park's latest arrivals including their female snow leopard who arrived just last week and has settled in really well with her mate Wolfgang.

The news of free admission has spread through social media like wildfire. "In a few hours over 250,000 people have seen and commented about the zoo being opened for free for the winter to everyone," said owner David S. Gill on the Park's Facebook page.

"I decided a few years ago to thank the loyalty of our visitors and to give opportunity to those less fortunate in our communities by giving the gift of a free visit during the winter months.

"It has brought the zoo's mission of conservation closer to millions of hearts and allowed us from all the donations given on entry to make a huge difference to wild animals and remote communities throughout the world. 

"It is my personal present to you all," he told the Park's followers, "so come and enjoy our zoo and don't forget to spend in the restaurant /cafe and shop and donations to our work are gratefully accepted..."

The Park's Maki restaurant has a new winter chiller menu with warming soup, freshly griddled Panini’s, jacket potatoes just some of the hot snacks on offer from £2.50, and of course with the free entry you can just pop in for lunch – some choose to pre-book if you are short on time!

With only 27 days until Santa lands at the Park on 30th November, elves have started the busy process of building his workshop ready for some toy making action, making sure his home is kitted out with his creature comforts and donkey proofing the nativity stable.

South Lakes Wild Animal Park is open every day 10.00am until 4.30pm, with favourites like hand feed giraffes, hand feed penguins, big cat feeding taking place throughout the day. For details visit:

Feeding times:

11.30, 12.30 & 3.45 Hand feed giraffes & conservation talk
12.00 Lion conservation talk & feeding
12.30 - 1.30 Walk through vulture & condor aviary open
2.30 Watch tigers & jaguars hunt for their dinner & conservation talk.
Followed by Hand feed penguins & conservation talk

Every Day: Hand feed kangaroos & emus
Seasonal Hand feed Santa’s reindeer

Lancaster Lights Up in Spectacular Style!

Photo courtesy Lancaster City Council
The skies, streets and waterways of Lancaster were lit up in spectacular style during a four-day festival in the city that has earned plenty of praise for local arts organisations, Lancaster Castle and the Council.

From the traditional yet always impressive firework display over the castle to the innovative projections in its courtyard and an illuminated aerial artist suspended from the Lune Aqueduct, Light Up Lancaster made lasting memories.

Aerial artist Tink gives an illuminating performance while suspended from the Lune Aqueduct during Light Up The Waterways. Photo courtesy Lancaster City Council
Thousands of people poured into the city to enjoy Light Up The Waterways by The Dukes last Tuesday and Wednesday; Light Up The Streets, commissioned by Lancaster City Council and presented by Lancaster Arts Partners on Friday and the city council’s Light Up The Skies on Saturday – all for free.

Following a busy programme of daytime activities, the annual fireworks spectacular exploded from the roof of Lancaster Castle for the second year running attracting more than 12,000 people viewing the fireworks from the official viewing areas alone. Many more watched the drama unfold from other vantage points around the city and beyond and tuned into BBC Radio Lancashire's live coverage of the event from Quay Meadow.

But for the first time, this display was preceded by three more evenings of imaginative events.

The Lune Aqueduct gets lit up. Photo courtesy Lancaster City Council
Light Up The Waterways saw the Lune Aqueduct thrust into the spotlight, illuminated and animated with music, dance and charming light effects.

Light Up The Streets showed off some of Lancaster’s finest buildings as they had never been seen before.

Crowds made their way from the visually stunning performance of The Breaking Light at Lancaster Castle onto the beautifully sung Rule of Law outside the Judges Lodgings with surprises at every window.

Breaking The Light projections in Lancaster Castle's courtyard as part of Friday's Light Up The Streets. Photo courtesy Lancaster City Council
Other highlights were Ignition One and Two in Market Square combining contemporary dance with drama, light and music; Wandering Of Souls music, film and images in Sun Square; and Reading Lights where illuminated poems were displayed on the bookshelves of a darkened Lancaster Library.

A scene from Ignition 1 outside Lancaster City Museum during Light Up The Streets. Photo courtesy Lancaster City Council
Shopped Out, an unusual series of installations by local artists, brought some of the city’s empty shops to life too.

From a variety of viewpoints, the entire festival showed Lancaster in a new and fantastic light.

Lancaster's Visitor Information Centre welcomed a record 1620 visitors to the centre during the week.

Coun Ron Sands, Cabinet member with responsibility for leisure, culture and tourism, said:  “This year’s combination of events was a phenomenal success and showcased  how local art and culture can be used to illuminate the history and heritage of our small city and show off its big story.

“The number of people arriving in our city from all around the country to enjoy elements of the festival will have had a huge impact on our local economy as well as putting Lancaster well and truly on the map.”

Suzi Bunting, Lancaster BID Manager, said:  "It was excellent that thirty plus shops including independent shops within the city centre took part in the unusual and inspirational installations including some of the empty shops, which sprung into life with artists.  Visitors to the city were enthralled and captivated by music, dance and performance, magically showcasing many heritage venues.

"It was a spectacular way of engaging business with the arts and the heritage venues with the city centre shopping precincts.  Lancaster’s Business Improvement District being delivered by Lancaster Unlimited were delighted to support the whole festival of Light Up Lancaster ensuring we have a city centre that is alive with culture and vibrancy.

"The café culture that stayed open into the evenings were able to serve hot chocolates, coffees and warming food and drink providing a warm winter welcome to Lancaster.   This is what the business community wish to support throughout the winter months in the city – and what better way to have set the scene than by engaging with last week's festival which has certainly helped to and will continue to keep Lancaster on the cultural map.’’

Jerry North, Manager of St. Nicholas Arcades, said: "Feedback from city centre retailers on the Light Up Lancaster festival has been very positive.  Town was very busy all day and well into the evening on Friday as people arrived to enjoy the stunning Light Up The Streets element of the festival.  Despite the weather, there was a great festival atmosphere on the Saturday as visitors arrived early to enjoy shopping and dining in the city before the firework spectacular in the evening.  Many businesses did very well this year especially the food and drink outlets.”

• If you attended any of the Light Up Lancaster events and want to offer your feedback, you can complete the on-line survey at Everyone completing the survey will be entered into a prize draw to win £50 of high street vouchers.

Light Up Lancaster is a partnership between Lancaster City Council and Lancaster Arts Partners and has been made possible with support from the Duchy of Lancaster, Arts Council England, Lancashire County Council, BBC Radio Lancashire, The Canal & River Trust, Lancaster Unlimited, Market Gate Shopping Centre, societies from Lancaster University and AXA Insurance.

Monday, 4 November 2013

On your marks for the Lancaster Santa Dash 2013!

It’s time to dust off your jingle bells and register for this year’s Lancaster Santa Dash! in aid of local charity CancerCare. Now in its fifth year, the charity’s fundraising Santa Dash and Reindeer Run is on Sunday November 24, as part of a day of activities to celebrate the switch on of the city’s Christmas lights.

Each year, hundreds of Santas join the fun and dash around the city centre in aid of local cancer support charity CancerCare. The entrance fee (Adults £6, Children £3, under 5’s free) includes a Santa suit for the adults and reindeer antlers for the under 11s.

The dash itself starts at 1pm – with a fun warm-up led by Ludus Dance for the massed Santas in Market Square at 12.45pm. Whether you run, walk, jog, dance, prance or jingle all the way – the easy, mile-long route is suitable to for all ages, and is fully accessible to wheelchairs and pushchairs.

Participants are also asked to try to raise sponsorship for CancerCare – and the child raising the most money will get the chance to switch on the city’s Christmas lights later in the day with Father Christmas himself!

Registration is open now at

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Review: Lawrence Power & Simon Crawford-Phillips at Live at LICA

Lawrence Power
Lawrence Power & Simon Crawford-Phillips
Live at LICA
Thursday, 31 October 2013
in the Great Hall, Lancaster University,
Reviewed by Henry Prince

Everyone was expecting a viola fest. The so-called ‘Cinderella’ of the orchestra rarely gets an outing alone with the Prince without her sisters taking the centre of the dance floor, but this time it would be different. The Prince would escort Cinderella to the admiration of all us lords and ladies.

But what was that in his hands? Those in the audience who find sizes challenging and cannot discern from any distance which size lid, for example, fits which kitchen pan were unable to say with certainty that Lawrence Power was holding not a viola but a violin. The sound though was unmistakeable. Definitely not rich enough for a viola. It must be a violin.

And so it was. Indeed, the whole of the first half of the programme was given over to the violin, despite the prominent billing of ‘viola and piano’. Confusion did not, however, end there. The so-called “programme” booklet for sale at the door turned out to be just a couple of sheets of paper and two expensive staples. To its dubious credit, it did contain a statement to the effect that it contained no notes about some of the pieces being played. On the other hand, its note on the final movement of the Prokofiev sonata was less than helpful. The movement was “triumphant in character. It initially leaps about, but then it proceeds more step-wise.”

Moans to the side, let’s talk about the music - which was wonderful! An hour of Beethoven and Prokofiev violin sonatas followed by Shostakovich’s sonata for viola and piano.

Lawrence Power introduced the Beethoven sonata, reminding us that its dedicatee Salieri, with whom Beethoven was studying at the time, was the same person so maligned in Shaffer’s ‘Amadeus’ and noting that its key of E-flat major was one to which Beethoven often turned whenever he was in good spirits.

Simon Crawford-Phillips
The piece was a mastery of equal partnership between the two players. At no point did one have the feeling that one of the instruments was simply accompanying the other. The two players performed as though they were one, possessing equal technical mastery and somehow plugged into one another like assimilated units of the Borg. Power and Simon Crawford-Phillips must surely live and breathe music together every day of their lives - a supposition that turned out not to be true at all. Yes, the two performers have collaborated more than once over the years and have recordings to prove it but they appear to lead very separate musical careers. This fact makes it all the more remarkable that they play so perfectly together.

The Prokofiev violin sonata was for me an example of the Russian at his best: exciting rhythms and harmonies. Particularly the harmonies. Prokofiev takes the listener on a safari into a musical land where only the composer has ever before been. It is as though he holds the listener’s hand and leads him or her along tracks that go to remote harmonic places from which the listener could never find the way back.

It was not until after the interval that a viola appeared. A single work would form the remainder of the concert: Shostakovich’s Sonata for Viola and Piano, op. 147 - the last work that the composer ever wrote and finished only one month before his death in August 1975. We were informed that the work was full of musical quotes both from Shostakovich’s own works and from the works of other composers (including Berg, Mahler and Beethoven).

Arguably the most significant musical quotation was that which dominates the final movement. Here the revered first movement of Beethoven’s piano sonata Op. 27 No. 2 - the ‘Moonlight’ - appears repeatedly. It was therefore fitting that a viola and piano arrangement (a fragment by York Bowen, finished by Lawrence Power himself) of the famous melody (with viola obbligato) be played immediately before the Shostakovich work. It was also appropriate that the first viola sound that we heard was produced by the instrument’s delicious C string: a sort of statement that the violin had finally been put away in its case.

It was during the performance of the Prokofiev that it became apparent how remarkable the evening’s audience was. It was as though there had been a sign at the door of the Great Hall commanding those who could not remain silent throughout the performance to turn round and go home. As though those who took their seats in the hall had conspired to create the most complete silences ever. Even between movements when a little relaxation is allowed, the silence was so intense that one could hear the performers thumbing the corners of their sheet music in preparation for the next page turn.

The audience was also amazingly sophisticated. (It may be a characteristic of practising and aspiring viola players who are drawn out on rainy nights to specialist concerts like this one!) Not everyone will have read in advance that the Prokofiev sonata had four movements, nor that the second was a lively scherzo. So when the performers completed the scherzo with the kind of flourish, both musical and visual, that normally signals the end of a piece, what did the audience do? Without so much as a single mistaken clap, they calmly re-established their collective composure in preparation for the commencement of the third movement!

For this reviewer, the most viscerally thrilling experience of the entire concert occurred at the very end of the Shostakovich sonata. Here, we heard the mother of all morendos, the muted final sound of the viola slowly, slowly dying away to nothingness, nothingness, nothingness... followed by the mother of all concert hall silences... lasting 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10-maybe even more- seconds...

The most unexpected event? That was surely when Power pulled out a viola mute from his right trouser pocket. Store a mute in a trouser pocket? I had never seen that before!

H. Prince

Artists’ websites:

Concert Programme:
Beethoven Sonata for Violin and Piano No.3 in E flat, Op.12 no.3
Prokofiev Violin Sonata No.2 in D
Beethoven (arr.Bowen): Adagio from “Moonlight” Sonata in C-sharp min, op.27, no.2
Shostakovich: Sonata for Viola and Piano, Op.147

Tickets were priced (web advance):  Adults £17.50, Concessions £14.50, Young person/student £7.00

Future musical events at Live at LICA: