Thursday, 6 March 2014

Appeal for information after robbery in Morecambe

Detectives are appealing for information after a woman was the victim of a robbery in Morecambe.

At around 11.40am on Monday 24th February, the victim left the Smugglers Den pub on Poulton Road to go to the bank with the weekend's takings, when she was approached from behind by a man who snatched her bag from her shoulder and ran off.

Fortunately she was not injured but she was clearly left shaken and officers are urging anyone with any information to come forward.

The man has been described as white, around five feet five inches tall and of slim build. He was in his late 20's to early 30's and was wearing a grey baseball cap, a black Nike hooded top and blue jeans.

The bag the lady was carrying was black with a gold buckle and contained several hundred pounds as well as some personal items.

DC Trevor Walker said, "We are investigating the possibility that this may have been a targeted robbery and that the offender may have been hanging around the area shortly before so I would appeal directly to anyone that may have noticed any suspicious activity in the area around the pub that morning to come forward,

"Similarly, if anyone recognises the description of the man or if they have any other information that they think might be relevant then I would ask them to contact us."

• Anyone with information can contact police on 101 quoting log number LC-20140224-0482.

New Creative Apprenticeships for two Lancaster arts companies announced

More than 30 creative apprenticeships and internships will be created for young people across Lancashire - including two in Lancaster – thanks to a successful bid for £90,000 of National Lottery funding from Arts Council England. 

The news comes during National Apprenticeships Week, co-ordinated by the National Apprenticeship Service, designed to celebrate Apprenticeships and the positive impact they have on individuals, businesses and the wider economy.

Lancaster's Dukes Theatre will gain a Creative Learning Apprentice under the scheme, and King Street-based Ludus Dance an Administration Assistant

Lancashire County Council's creative business development initiative, Creative Lancashire, joined forces with Curious Minds and other leading cultural organisations across the county to secure the funding from the Creative Employment Programme

Young people aged between 16 and 24 will benefit from more than 30 opportunities at 18 different organisations across the whole of Lancashire, including Blackburn and Blackpool, targeted on areas of high youth unemployment. 

"The consortium of cultural leaders came together to make the programme work for Lancashire's young people," Ruth Raban from Creative Lancashire said of the success. "It's great to see arts organisations, local authorities and the LCC employment services all working together to create new jobs for Lancashire".

"The creative industries are thriving in Lancashire and it is vital that we all work together to help create opportunities in this sector for our young people," argues County Councillor Jennifer Mein, Leader of Lancashire County Council. "This programme shows just what can be achieved when arts organisations and local authorities work together in this innovative way." 

The Creative Employment Programme, funded by Arts Council England and managed by the Cultural and Creative Sector Skills Council, aims to generate skilled employees by recruiting and training apprentices and interns for the creative and cultural organisations. More than 1200 jobs have already been created across the UK. 

The apprentices will receive training, vital workplace experience and a nationally recognised vocational qualification based on their progress. 

The apprentices and interns will be given training in essential skills for working in agency or marke! ting departments, such as an appropriate manner on office telephones and different types of computer programmes and software training. 

The Creative Employment Programme will pay towards the young people’s apprenticeships and internships, so the employers will benefit from hiring an administration apprenticeship for as little as £3,503 per year. 

The organisations involved range from a company with just two employees up to Lancashire County Council with a workforce of 35,000 people. 

The Creative Employment Programme funded by Arts Council England and managed by the Cultural and Creative Sector Skills Council aims to generate skilled employees within the creative sector by recruiting and training Apprentices and Interns for the creative and cultural organisations.


Read more about the North West and the work Curious Minds is doing to to connect children and young people, schools and communities with art and culture

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Local Cinema Round-Up for 5th to 13th March 2014 by Peter Clarke

For up to date local cinema links and day-by-day listings every week visit the Virtual-Lancaster Cinema Page. Read on for the weekly round-up, and reviews.

During this period we have two new action/adventure movies. There is a follow-up to the ground-breaking film 300 with 300: Rise of an Empire (15). Also on offer is Need for Speed (12A) a movie based on the best selling video racing game. Also released is the family animation adventure Escape from Planet Earth.

Drama films still being shown include Non-Stop, The Book Thief, The Wolf on Wall Street, Gravity and the excellent 12 Years a Slave. Also The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is making a return for just one day. Movies that we will soon loose include RoboCop and Cuban Fury.

For a change of pace try The Armstrong Lie, a look at the issue of drugs in the career of Seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong.


12 Years a Slave
Director: Steve McQueen
Category: 15
Cast Includes: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Benedict Cumberbatch, Brad Pitt, Sarah Paulson, Michael Fassbender
Set in the 1800s, New York black man Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor) is drugged, kidnapped and sold as a slave to a New Orleans Plantation. Here he works for slave-master Epps (Michael Fassbender) who is a sadist, dishing out sexual abuse. The film is based on an 1853 memoir by Solomon Northup, the script being co-written by Steve McQueen and John Ridley. This is one of the finest films about American Slavery. It is very visceral, with Northup trying to maintain dignity amidst the atmosphere of violence of the movie. Very well shot and splendidly acted, this is the must see film for 2014.

Cuban Fury
Director: James Griffiths
Certificate: 15
Cast includes: Nick Frost, Ian McShane, Rashida Jones, Olivia Colman
A boy with natural talent and a potential career as a dancer has his confidence destroyed by a bully and so his life takes a turn for the worse. Many years later as an adult Bruce Garrett (Frost) must regain his skills with Salsa in order to win the love of the woman in his life. This is a British dance comedy with some very entertaining dance sequences, a mix of wacky characters and it serves up a the laughs. However in places is seems a little too silly and in all it could have been better. However a worthwhile and entertaining comedy.

Director: Chris Buck
Certificate PG
Cast Includes Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Josh Gad,Alan Tudyk, Jonathan Groff
This Disney musical animation is loosely based on the fairy tale 'The Snow Queen' for it is she who has condemned a kingdom to eternal winter. It is up to Anna (sister to the snow queen) and a loner Kristoff to undertake an epic journey to find the Snow Queen and convince her to lift the icy spell. This is a magical movie destined to become a classic. It will appeal to families and children of all ages and makes an movie for Christmas.

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. Bullock 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.

Mr Peabody & Sherman
Director: Rob Minkoff
Certificate: U
Cast Includes: Ty Burrell, Max Charles, Ariel Winter
A DreamWorks comedy animation. Mr Peabody is a dog, but this does not stop him being an inventor, scientist, sportsman and general genius. Accompanied by his boy Sherman, the duo use their WABAC time machine in order to impress Sherman's friend Penny. However during their adventures meeting famous characters of history, they accidentally rip a hole in the Universe. As a result they must repair history in order to save the future. A great yarn and appealing family movie. There is little here to offend the youngest of children, and some of the jokes will entertain an older audience.

Director: Jaume Collet-Serra
Certificate: 12A
Cast includes: Liam Neeson, Nate Parker, Julianne Moore
Bill Marks (Neeson), an alcoholic and chain smoking air marshall on a flight from New York to London, receives a series of text messages demanding he get the government to transfer a large sum of cash to an offshore account else a passenger will be killed every twenty minutes. Yet the offshore account is in Mark's own name, making him the prime suspect. This is an excellent and enjoyable suspense drama, complete with air turbulence, scared stewardesses and the inevitable deaths on the airplane.

Ride Along
Director: Tim Story
Certificate: 12A
Cast includes: Ice Cube, Bruce McGill, Kevin Hart, John Leguizamo, Tika Sumpter
Ben (Hart) is a security guard who wants to marry his sweetheart Angela (Sumpter). Yet to do so he must convince Angela's brother James (Cube), a cop in Atlanta that he is worthy. Hence Ben gets to spend a day riding along on the brothers shift whilst James is trying to catch a notorious criminal. The plot is not very convincing, but that is no great distraction from the film which is a really a buddy cop movie giving Hart the situations for his stand up humour. This is a fun movie, enjoyable and entertaining which benefits from not taking itself too seriously.

The Book Thief
Director: Brian Percival
Certificate: 12A
Cast includes: Sophie Nelisse, Geoffrey Rush, Roger Allam, Emily Watson
The film is based in World War II Germany and tells the story of Liesel (Nelisse) a young girl sent to live with a foster family after family problems. She copes by stealing books to read and this enables her to become close with her foster father and with Max, a Jewish boy hiding in their basement. The film does not make any comments on the horrors of Nazi Germany, it simply provides a backdrop for what is essentially a love story, and during the film we have Death providing the narration. The acting is acceptable but the characters are not totally believable.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Director: Peter Jackson
Certificate: 12A
Cast includes: Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman, Benedict Cumberbatch, Evangeline Lilly, Richard Armitage
In this second installment of the Hobbit. We find Bilbo Baggins and his group of comrades continuing in their journey to the Lonely Mountain in order to extract gold from the dragon Smaug whist being pursued by an army of Orcs. This film is a splendid action adventure, more so than the first of the trilogy. It is imaginative, with plenty of special effects and a block buster feel about it. However it again puts action above developing the characters of the protagonists. A great movie that will leave you anticipating the concluding film in the trilogy.

The Monuments Men
Director: George Clooney
Certificate: 12A
Cast includes: George Clooney, Matt Damon, John Goodman, Bill Murray
An action adventure based on the book 'The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History' by Robert Edsel. This tells the true story of a platoon comprising art historians and museum directors who were dispatched into World War II Germany to retrieve art works plundered by the Nazis. A very entertaining movie with a generous helping of high profile stars. Perhaps not a must-see film but still worth a visit to the cinema.

The Wolf of Wall Street
Director: Martin Scorsese
Certificate: 18
Cast includes: Leonardo DiCaprio, Margot Robbie, Jonah Hill, Kyle Chandler
The story of New York stockbroker Jordan Belfort (Di Caprio) who rose from penny stocks to a life of affluence and corruption as he founded the brokerage firm Stratton Oakmont. His life of drugs, sex and ruthless achievement led to his title of Wolf of Wall Street. Scorsese had produced a hard hitting and fast moving film and Di Caprio's acting rises to the challenge of portraying Belfort. However after building up Belfort as a monster the film seems to say little about about the morality of this sort of life and thus ultimately does not come to any satisfactory resolution. Hence the movie seemed to lacked any real depth.

Lancaster University projects aims to help local business, charities, get to grips with social media

Lancaster University's Social Media Project Team Enactus are holding social media workshops for local business and charities. Unfortunately, we missed their posting on our own social media for today's event (but if you hurry, you might just make it!), but there are more planned through the year.

Social Interactive Networking Consultancy is the newest of these five projects and its purpose is to educate small businesses, local charities and community groups on the benefits of using social media to improve their outreach. In turn, it is hoped that through greater awareness and online activity, clients will be better equipped to fulfil their own aims.

In the main, the team are helping our project partners create Twitter and Facebook accounts through which they can reach a larger potential market. However, the project has also expanded to take into account marketing strategies which can complement a social media strategy.

• More info: Social Interactive Networking Consultancy - SINC

Appeal after Lancaster cyclist seriously injured after collision with bus

Police are appealing for witnesses to come forward after a cyclist sustained serious head injuries after being involved in a collision with a bus in Lancaster.

The collision took place around 3.40pm yesterday (Tuesday 4th March) when a single decker bus, travelling south in slow moving traffic on North Road near to the junction with Chapel Street was involved in a collision with a 67-year-old female cyclist.

The cyclist, who is from Lancaster, sustained serious head injuries and is currently in a serious but stable condition at Royal Preston Hospital after undergoing surgery.

Sergeant David Hogarth from the Road Policing Unit said: “I would appeal to anybody that witnessed this collision or with any information that could assist with our investigation to contact police on 101.”

The accident happened where the cycle lane crosses North Road into Chapel Street.

Both part of North Road by the Green Ayre public house and Chapel Street closed for around four hours to enable an investigation to take place.

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Lessons of the miners' strike - weekend of events

Wales 1984: A coachload of police attempting
 to break a blockade by miners' families
This weekend – Saturday 8th Sunday 9th March –  Lancaster & Morecambe TUC is hosting a series of free public events looking at the lessons learnt (and not learnt) since the Miners' Strike of 1984/5, with contributions from trade unionists currently in dispute, a former striking miner, Lancashire Women Against Pit Closures and Lancaster Miners Support Group.

There will also be a small exhibition to mark the thirtieth anniversary of the beginning of the miners’ desperate struggle to save their jobs and communities.  Also to demonstrate the support they received from the people of Lancaster and district.

Government documents recently released by the National Archives have revealed that the then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher had secretly drawn up contingency plans to call out troops to break the strike, something she flatly denied at the time, and a number of other disparities between the Conservative government's public statements at the time and its actual secret activities and attitudes towards the strikers and the trades unions.

On Saturday 8th March there will be an informal discussion from 2.00pm until 5pm in the Main Hall, Gregson Community Centre, Moor Lane, Lancaster.

In the evening there will be a Social from 8pm in the Olive room, Gregson Community Centre.                                                                                                                         
On Sunday 9th March there will be a discussion from 2.00pm in Bowland College JCR at Lancaster University.

Review: Fidelio Trio at Live at LICA

 Fidelio Trio at Live at LICA
Thursday, 27 February 2014
in the Great Hall, Lancaster University

Reviewed by Henry Prince

Like followers of sport, music lovers know that what matters is not what you do but how you do it. Sport and music are both art forms. Both promote self-expression, either individually or in a team. An audience can participate vicariously in both experiences. The parallels go on and on.

Fidelio Trio
It would not therefore have surprised this reviewer if the responses to an exit poll, had there been one outside the Great Hall last Thursday evening, had mirrored those at any sports match. In particular, in reply to the fundamental question ‘What brought you out tonight to this event?’, lovers of both music and sport must surely declare ‘I wanted to experience for myself the skills of these talented players.’

It is a rare and precious opportunity to hear, as we did, music written for piano trio. Without the right combination of instruments, the music is just so many dots on the page. Yet the very rarity of piano trios means that music composed for that combination tends to be less-well known and therefore may be less attractive to audiences.

Having resisted any urge to avoid the artistic unknown, those who attended the Fidelio Trio concert were rewarded with a generous helping of ‘join us as we make music’. They were also invited to learn something about each piece in the programme.

‘The Chronophage’ was described, appropriately, by its composer Tom Coult in person. The work explores not so much mixed rhythms as mixed pulses. It was inspired by the Corpus Clock in Cambridge, a mechanism which gives the exactly right time only every 5 minutes. Analogous then to the harmonic device of dissonance resolving into consonance, randomly (I think) out-of-step beats are periodically brought back into synchronisation.

The truth is, however, that words cannot adequately describe sounds. Although we were told that Fitkin’s ‘Lens’ was subdued in comparison to some of his other pieces, it was the 6-note broken chord, the high strings with little or no vibrato and the driving piano chords that came later which finally caught my attention.

What one really needs is to be shown what to listen for. An ‘action pre-play camera’ where the audience is invited to sample in advance the sounds that are to come.

Sports presentation techniques may have much to offer to concert goers. How wonderful would it be, for example, to have an expert sitting nearby drawing one’s attention to all the subtleties that would otherwise escape notice! Illustrative lines being drawn between interacting players, as is done with pairs of strikers and back-four defensive lines. Action replays from different angles to allow one to have a second chance to experience not only what has happened but to discover, and to savour, how it happened. Enjoying music could be so much more involved than just listening.

I would certainly have benefited from an action pre-play of the opening Schumann trio and would have loved to have been able to hit a re-play button in sections of the marvellous Ravel with which the concert concluded!

Thursday’s audience was extremely attentive and well-versed in concert etiquette. But it did not fill the hall. Possibly this season’s rich programme of musical events has caused emotional burnout among the faithful--or a cash crisis (with three promising events yet to come).

But suppose that regulars confessed to staying away because there was no promise this time of a tune that everyone knew? Would a promise of an even more audience-interactive approach help to fill those empty seats?

H. Prince

Artists’ website:

Concert Programme:
Schumann: Piano Trio no.3 Op.110
Fitkin: Lens
Tom Coult: The Chronophage (2013)
Ravel: Piano Trio

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

Future musical events at Live at LICA: Live at LICA ‘What’s On’