Friday, 9 May 2014

M6 Closure postponed

Update 9/5/14 -  14:41. Due to a late forecast of poor weather over the weekend, this weekend's planned overnight closures of the northbound M6 between junctions 32 and 33 have been postponed. The Highways Agency doesn't yet have a new date.

Previous story
Delayed repairs to a motorway bridge along the northbound carriageway of the M6 north of Preston in Lancashire will resume this weekend (Friday 9 May) with a series of overnight carriageway closures on Friday, Saturday and Sunday night.

The £150,000 Highways Agency project on the bridge carrying the M6 over Whittingham Lane at Broughton is re-waterproofing work.  It has been disrupted by poor weather - most recently over the last weekend in April when the work was due to be completed with three overnight carriageway closures.

The northbound section of the bridge structure is leaking and requires new waterproofing treatment to protect structural elements such as the main bridge beams. The work will cost approximately £150,000.

Subject to weather conditions, the work will now be completed by 6am on Monday (12 May)  with overnight closures of the northbound carriageway between junction 32 and junction 33 between 10pm and 6am on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights (9, 10 and 11 May).

The closure will also affect anyone on the eastbound M55 seeking to join the northbound M6 at Broughton Interchange.  Those drivers will leave the M55 at junction 1 at the roundabout with the A6 instead and use the northbound A6 to join the northbound M6 at junction 33.   Motorway users already on the northbound M6 will be directed onto the westbound M55 and then to leave at junction 1 where they can also join the diversion route along the northbound A6.

Fair weather is forecast for this weekend and it is not anticipated the work will be postponed again.

Drivers are advised to check traffic and travel conditions before setting out on journeys.

The Highways Agency provides live traffic information via its website, local and national radio travel bulletins, electronic road signs and mobile platforms, such as the iPhone. Local Twitter services are also available at @HAtraffic_nwest and @HAtraffic_pen9 for transpennine routes.

Providing they can do so safely, road users can also call the Highways Agency Information Line (0300 123 5000) to keep up to date with road conditions

More information is available at

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Summer Playschemes - it's time to book

Parents who are bracing themselves for May half-term school holidays (24 - 30 May) can find lots of affordable local activities for children and young people on the Lancaster City Council's website. And there's more planned for the Summer holidays too.

 Marsh Community Centre (MCC), in partnership with Lancaster City Council will once again be running a summer play scheme for children aged 8-11. Over the past 10 years the Council has been providing play schemes for children living in local communities and are delighted again to report that they will be offering 100 places between two venues at a very affordable price for families seeking activities for their children over the summer holidays.

Included in the price (except one final trip at the end which is normally £5!) are activities such as fun sport games, baking, arts and crafts, swimming, National Play day, trips out, theatre and much much more. It is also a fantastic opportunity for children to make new friends and learn new skills. The schemes are run by qualified CRB-checked staff with full risk assessments.

 Two schemes will be operating this year for only £2 per day:

Play-scheme ONE:
Venue: 13th Lancaster Scout Hut, Giant Axe, West Road, Lancaster, LA1 5PE.
Starts: Monday 28th July 2014
Ends: Friday 22nd August 2014.
Times: 10am – 4pm
Costs: £2 per day per child.

Play-scheme TWO
Venue: Our Ladys Catholic College, Morecambe Road, Lancaster, LA1 2RX.
Starts: Monday 28th July 2014
Ends: Friday 22nd August 2014.
Times: 10am – 4pm
Costs: £2 per day per child.

Registration is simple. Visit the MCC website on and click on 'Summer Play Scheme 2014'. Read the information and, at the bottom, click for the online booking form.

All bookings are made online and the form is simple and straightforward to use. You don't need to book for the whole scheme and there are options on what days you can book for. A final cost is provided at the end. Once submitted, the family will receive an immediate automated message telling them how to pay.
Please note, all places must be paid for in advance to finalise booking.

Finally, if parents / guardians have any problems with the online form, please call 01524 843300 to complete the form over the phone.

38 Degrees to hold Public Meeting on threats to NHS Emergency Services

The Lancashire North 38 Degrees NHS Group will be holding a public meeting on the future of NHS Emergency Services on Wednesday 21 May 2014 from 7pm - 9pm upstairs in Lancaster Library in Market Square.

The main speaker will be Roger Thayne OBE, who was for many years until 2006 Chief Executive Officer of the Staffordshire Ambulance Service, and was author of a recent BBC World Tonight report highlighting the variability in lifesaving capabilities between different NHS Trust Ambulance Services. His talk will also cover Hospital Accident  & Emergency Services and GP out of hours services.

At the end of his talk Roger Thayne will conduct a Question and Answer session.

The Lancashire North 38 Degrees NHS Group monitors changes in the way health services are commissioned in the local area under the new organisational structures of the 2012 Health & Social Care Act, which opened up NHS services to commercial tendering.  38 Degrees aims to increase public awareness and knowledge of how the 2012 Health & Social Care Act is being implemented, and to contribute to the national and local debate about the future of the NHS. The group is not aligned to any political party.

Geography plays a huge part in the way healthcare is provided in the Morecambe Bay area. The great distances between the three hospitals in Barrow, Kendal and Lancaster mean that rationalisation (ie centralisation) of specialist services would make patient journeys very long and effective emergency ambulance cover harder to provide.

Currently ambulances can have to travel from Blackpool to answer calls in Lancaster and emergency beds have been blocked due to staff shortages. This means the 'patient flow' is slowed and ambulance queues form. The Morecambe Bay Hospital Trust is struggling between meeting targets and providing an adequate standard of care and elective surgery has been restricted as a result.

The local 38 Degrees group also monitors the progress of the Lancashire North Clinical Commissioning Group (LNCCG). CCGs are the new clinically led groups that include all of the GP groups in their geographical area.  Under the Health & Social Care Act 2012, the task of the CCGs is to buy healthcare services including:  Elective hospital care; Rehabilitation care; Urgent and emergency care; Most community health services and Mental health and learning disability services.

A recent report by the Health Services Journal found that 63% of Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) incurred extra costs related to commissioning services as a result of new regulations.  At its March meeting the LNCCG's Chief Finance Officer, Keith Parkinson, reported that, on paper, their funding formula for next year corresponds to a shortfall of £14M (on an annual allocation of almost £200M).

However these basic challenges are complicated by organisational and political factors. The Hospital Trust covers the three Morecambe Bay hospitals, but under the 2012 Health & Social Care Act the Lancashire North CCG has only the Royal Lancaster Infirmary (RLI)  in its area, so that the Hospital Trust has to deal with more than one CCG.

Also each of the three hospitals is in a constituency represented in Parliament by MPs of three different parties. This can lead to a ‘defend my patch’ tug-of-war.  Currently  S. Lakes MP Tim Farron (Lib Dem) is spearheading a campaign to save Westmorland General Hospital in Kendal from being ‘gifted to a social enterprise’ and having its services transferred to Lancaster. Meanwhile Lunesdale MP David Morris (Conservative) said he would welcome such investment at the RLI and Barrow and Furness MP John Woodcock (Labour) said “The truth is we need three vibrant hospitals in the area.” (See Westmorland Gazette 4.4.14)

Last week the government  accepted an amendment, originally the work of 38 Degrees lawyers, to the hospital closure clause of the Care Billl in the House of Lords.  Without this amendment the hospital closure clause would have given the government new powers to close any hospital in England, even if local doctors were against it.

38 Degrees are asking people who have any concerns about changes taking place to local health and social care services in North Lancashire or South Cumbria, or if you want to find out more about what the group and what it does to please come along to the meeting on 21 May (see top).

Fopr more about 38 Degrees and its campaigns visit

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Museum of Water - open for your donations

Choose some water that is precious to you. 
Find a bottle to put it in. 
Tell us why you chose this water. 
We will keep it for you.

Curated by Amy Sharrocks, Museum of Water is a collection of publicly donated water and accompanying stories, an encouragement to consider the many ways we access and enjoy water: Do you swim in pools? Do you splash in puddles? Do you drink from a tap?

Accumulating over two years in different sites worldwide, Museum of Water is an invitation to ponder this precious liquid and how we use it. At each site, the public are invited to make donations to the museum as well as see, touch and uncover the existing collection, which is delicately displayed in a series of lit cabinets. In celebration of our ready access to fresh water in the UK, running alongside the museum is Water Bar, a free pop-up bar serving only tap water.

Which water would you choose to keep for posterity? Amy will be accepting your bottled donations for the Lancashire edition of her Museum featuring water given to her by members of the public.

Donations of water to the Museum can be made at the Peter Scott Gallery, Lancaster University anytime* between 11am and 5pm on 8 & 9 May and anytime between midday and 4pm on Saturday 10 May.
Meet Amy Sharrocks in person on Saturday 10 May (Midday - 4pm) as part of Live at LICA's Art & Community Day
* Please note Amy herself  will only be present on Saturday 10 May.

NW Green Party election report plans a future in Renewable Energy jobs

NW Green Party Euro-candidate
Peter Cranie
The North West Green Party launched its European and local election campaign this week with the release a new report on the region’s renewable energy capacity and its potential for the region's future – “Energy in the North West - Bringing about a low-carbon, affordable energy future”.

The report sets out the region’s potential to be a leader in green energy, creating thousands of much-needed jobs. The North West already produces one of the highest amounts of renewable energy in the country. The region has quadrupled its output in the last ten years, in spite of the economic crisis, and the industry is now worth £1.2bn to the region, employing over 9400 people across 611 companies.

The North West region generates 17% of England's renewable energy, but only makes up 11% of England's area, and only consumes 11% of the UK’s total energy. The region currently generates just under 4,000 GWh of renewables and is second only to the East of England, which has a larger land area and lower population density.

A study from the North West Development Agency shows the North West could increase current onshore capacity for renewable energy to 40,000 MW by 2020. This is over 30 times current capacity, and does not include offshore development.

NW Green Party
Gina Dowding
The party’s top European election candidates are Peter Cranie from Liverpool, councillor Gina Dowding from Lancaster and Laura Bannister from Manchester.

Peter Cranie, the North West Green Party’s lead European election candidate said: “The latest polls show that we’ve pushed ahead of the Lib Dems and are on track to gain our first Green MEP in the North West. Last time we missed out by just 0.3% of the vote. We’re asking voters to back us and send a clear message to the coalition government. “

"We need action to reduce the growing inequality in our society, investment in public transport and renewable energy and a serious plan to address climate change - not austerity cuts, which hit the poorest in our society the hardest, and fracking for shale gas. On tuition fees, Trident, the selling of care data, secret US-EU trade deals and many other issues Lib Dem voters are feeling let down.”

“The European elections will shape next year’s general election debate. We hope Labour voters will vote Green to lean on their party to abandon its support for the government’s damaging austerity agenda, and for Trident, and to place urgent environmental issues higher up the agenda. Here in the North West we have the shameful record of Nick Griffin as our MEP for the last 5 years. A vote for the Greens is the best chance of kicking him and his racist party out of Brussels.”

Commenting on the North West Green Party’s new energy report, he said: “The report shows that the North West region has enormous potential to be a forerunner in renewables development, bringing jobs to the region and insulating us against oil and gas price rises. However we are being held back by the Tories and Lib Dems, determined to impose fracking on our communities. Only the Greens are opposed to fracking. A strong Green voice in the European Parliament would encourage investment in the region’s renewable energy industry, push for more green jobs and fight fracking.”

The Green Party is fielding 277 candidates in local elections across the region on 22nd May – the same day as the European election. This is over 50% of the available seats, the highest ever percentage coverage for the Greens in the North West.

The Green Party manifesto can be found at

The report: "Energy in the North West - Bringing about a low-carbon, affordable energy future” can be downloaded as a pdf.

See previous story: European Parliamentary Elections: North West candidates confirmed for more about all the parties and candidates standing.

Local Cinema Round-Up for 7th to 15th May 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.

 A poor period for new releases - we have but one, the science fiction/adventure film Godzilla (12A) being shown on the 15th May. Also we have lost the following films: Muppets Most Wanted, Noah and The Love Punch.

However there is a strong showing of family oriented entertainment with Tarzan, Rio 2, and the return of The LEGO Movie, Frozen, and Tinker Bell and the Pirate Fairy.

This period is likely to be the last chance to catch Transcendence.

High culture is represented by NT Encore: King Lear and RSC Live: Henry IV Part I. For something a little off the mainstream, we recommend The Double a film based on a short story by Dostoyevsky.


Bad Neighbours
Director: Nicholas Stoller
Certificate: 15
Cast Includes: Seth Rogen, Jake Johnson, Zac Efron, Rose Byrne
Released as 'Neighbors' outside the UK, this is a comedy about Mac Radner (Rogen), his wife Kelly (Byrne) and young baby and the disruption they face when a college fraternity led by Teddy (Efron) moves in next door. Initially relations between the neighbours are not too bad but increasingly the frat boys work to ruin their family life and the Radner's give as good as they get. The film is a bawdy comedy as the tit-for-tat acts of sabotage escalate to hilarious (and possibly offensive) effect. One of the better Frat house comedies.

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' 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.

Director: Paul W.S. Anderson
Certificate: 12A
Cast includes: Kit Harington, Carrie-Anne Moss, Jessica Lucas, Jared Harris, Kiefer Sutherland, Emily Browning
The year is 79AD and the backdrop of the movie is the epic eruption of Mount Vesuvius. Mile (Harington), a gladiator strives to save the love of his life Cassia (Browning) who is betrothed to Corvus (Sutherland) a corrupt Roman Senator. This is a film that is hard not to like as it 'ticks all the boxes' portraying poor boy/rich girl romance with action and combat set in a disaster movie incorporating spectacular special effects.

Director: David Ayer
Certificate: 15
Cast includes: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Terrence Howard, Joe Manganiello, Josh Holloway, Mireille Enos
John 'Breacher' Wharton (Schwarzenegger) leads a special drug enforcement team, all with equally outlandish nick-names, to raid a drugs cartel. However a large sum of money goes missing and there is suspicion of internal corruption. The members of the drug enforcement team find themselves targeted and start to be killed. There is no shortage of gore and bad language in this movie, though perhaps it is a little lighter on action then previous Schwarzenegger films, having just one major shootout piece. The film however supplies suspense as we learn what became of the missing ten million dollars. A star cast and one of Schwarzenegger's better films.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2
Director: Marc Webb
Certificate: 12A
Cast Includes: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Paul Giamatti, Jamie Foxx
Garfield plays the role of Peter Parke and his alter-ego Spider-Man. He must defeat Max Dillon (Foxx) who becomes transformed into the super-villain Electro, in order to save New York. The strength of the Spider man franchise lies in the tribulations of Peter Parker as he juggles his role as super-hero with the more mundane aspects of is life and his relationship with girlfriend Gwen Stacy (Stone). With jokes, special effects and love interest this is a worthy sequel to the Spider-Man series.

The Other Woman
Director: Nick Cassavetes
Certificate: 12A
Cast Includes: Cameron Diaz, Leslie Mann, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Kate Upton
Carley (Diaz) discovers that her boyfriend Mark (Coster-Waldau) is in fact married. She accidentally meets his wife they become friends, subsequently discovering Mark is also undertaking a third affair with Amber (Upton). The three women plot their revenge. This is a rather lightweight comedy, and a little light on laughs. Mildly amusing.

Director: Wally Pfister
Certificate: 12A
Cast includes: Johnny Depp, Morgan Freeman, Rebecca Hall, Kate Mara, Paul Bettany
Dr Will Caster (Depp), a brilliant scientist in the field of researching artificial intelligence, is creating a sentient computer called PINN. However anti-technology extremists embark on a series of attacks against the artificial intelligence community and Dr Caster is one of the casualties. In order to survive he digitises and loads his consciousness into the computer. Here he starts a quest for knowledge and for power that seems unstoppable. The film is well produced and visually appealing. However the characters come across as rather wooden and the topics examined in this film have already been explored in earlier science fiction movies.

Government set to force unemployed to accept "Zero Hours Contract" jobs

Local job seekers in Lancaster and Morecambe could be facing further misery in their hunt for a living wage after it was revealed that the government is planning to force people who are out of work to take zero hours contract jobs, or face losing their benefit.

The Independent newspaper reported on Monday that Department for Work and Pensions has said sanctions could be imposed on people who turn down an offer of work even if it came with no guarantee of a full-time wage.

This is possible because Universal Credit should adjust the levels of benefit automatically to correspond with the number of hours worked.

People on zero-hours contracts are essentially “on-call”, working when and if required. Critics say they can be exploited by unscrupulous employers to reward or punish employees.

According to figures released last week by the Office for National Statistics, there are about 1.4 million zero hour contracts in the UK, and the the government says such contracts offer an average 25 hours work a week and can be a good means of gaining experience.

No-one seems to be in any doubt that they can be a good way of working, if the job offers enough regular work to pay your bills. But the problem with these contracts is that they often don’t and now national campaign group 38 Degress - which has considerable local support, with volunteers recently running a voter registration campaign – are asking their supporters to protest about the planned changes.

This is the situation that over one million people currently out of work in the UK will soon be facing. If they don’t apply for, and accept, ‘suitable’ zero hours contract jobs they could lose their benefits (as reported by the Independent). Even though these jobs offer no guaranteed hours and no security.

After hearing from over 35,000 of 38 Degrees members, business minister Vince Cable carried out a review of zero hours contracts. As the Mirror newspaper reported last December, he’s already said that there’s “clear evidence of abuse”, but another part of the Coalition government is ploughing ahead with changes which could potentially force more people onto these contracts.

"Finding work is becoming increasingly hard," say 38 Degrees. "Most people just want a job that’s secure with a regular wage. But being forced to take a job on a zero hours contract could jeopardise that. If you don’t know what days you're working from week to week, it's hard to arrange interviews for a more secure role.

"Last year lots of 38 Degrees members shared their personal experiences of zero hours contracts. It was pretty shocking. Some had been forced to work extra hours for free. Some were threatened with reduced hours for taking a day off sick. Some were disciplined for questioning these bullying tactics.

"For some, zero hours contracts offer flexibility and the perfect way of working. But for others, ‘flexibility’ actually means job insecurity and exploitation."

• Take two minutes to email the Employment Minister Esther McVey and and tell her to rethink her plans:; and write to your local MP and tell them what you think

Local farmers go global for first free online course in food security

Bill Davies
Professor Bill Davies
Local food producers and farmers have been working with Lancaster University to help tackle the problem of world hunger.

 More than a billion people globally go to bed hungry in 2014 yet population growth means there will be an extra two billion mouths to feed by 2050.

 Distinguished Professor Bill Davies said: “Food security is one of the grand challenges facing the world, there is going to be a crisis but we are not going to just solve it by producing more food. “There all sorts of other considerations and economic issues, all sorts of things not to do with food. For instance, people around the world are getting wealthier and eating more meat and so are using up more resources.”

 He has been exploring these issues for the UK’s first free online course in food security entitled ‘Global Food Security: Addressing The challenge’ which is open to anyone. No qualifications are needed.

 The course includes videos of farmer John Geldard from Plumgarth’s Farm Shop and Café in Kendal, members of the Olive Branch Food Bank in Lancaster talking about food poverty, as well as the organic producer Growing with Grace from Clapham.

 John Geldar, from Low Foulshaw Farm and Plumgarth’s Farm shop, has his own family farm that he runs with his sons where he has beef, sheep and egg production. He has a farm shop where he sells food from other local producers as well as his farm. He also supplies 18 Asda stores in Cumbria and Lancashire with “local food”.

“From my perspective as a farmer born and bred in this area it is very, very important that consumers recognise and appreciate the effort and everything that goes into producing food and manufacturing it and getting it to them,” he says.

 Kath Willis, project manager from the Olive Tree Food Bank in Lancaster, said she has seen an “astronomical increase” in the past few years, grown from a couple of people wanting food a day to 13-15.

 “Food is at the bottom of pile to a lot of people," she says. "We have many people who come in here with families and they’ve said I haven’t eaten for days.

“When people come in here, if they’ve not got a good diet, you can tell, particularly with the children: they’ve got that pallor about them, you know their diet is lacking in nourishment.”

 The online course will feature the work of Distinguished Professor Bill Davies and his colleagues who developed water saving techniques for agriculture which earned Lancaster University a coveted Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education.

“The course will also explore why are younger people turning their backs on agriculture," says the profressor. "How we increase wellbeing and the health of a growing population and why less water, less land and a lack of food impacts on health.”

 Lancaster University science has already been used to develop new systems to grow cereals in North China, grape vines and top fruit in Australia and in viticulture and vegetable production around the Mediterranean and in the United States.. New water saving techniques have also been developed with the UK horticultural and agricultural industries.

  • For more information visit:

Free Compost from your green waste - Thursday 22 May

Spoil your garden rotten with free City Council compost at Morecambe Sainsbury's on Thursday, May 22 from 10.30am  until all the compost has gone.

Local residents can reap the rewards of food and green waste recycling by collecting free compost made from the waste collected from green bins.

Lancaster City Council will be at Sainsbury's supermarket on Lancaster Road in Morecambe and everyone is welcome to come along and fill up their bags.  Compost will be limited to two bags per household and people are asked to bring their own bags, and arrive early to avoid disappointment.

The compost is made from the food and garden waste that people recycle in their green bins, and is suitable for all types of plants.  It is produced by Global Renewables, who operate two waste processing facilities on behalf of Lancashire County Council and Lancaster City Council (and who deserve a medal, if my bin is anything to go by).

And while you're out, don't forget to go and cast your vote in the Euro-parliamentary elections.

To find out what can and can’t be recycled in your green bin, visit
If you have not received a food waste caddy please phone Lancaster City Council customer services on 01524 582491.

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Lancaster Prison welcomes world renowned DJs for A-Wing Weekend Party

Until 2011 parts of Lancaster Castle were still used as a category C prison, and it is in this very area that over the weekend of the Friday 23 - Sunday 25  May that the  'A-Wing' dance party will take place.

An intimate capacity, two floor venue will be taken over by DJs known the world over. Equipped throughout with a Funktion-1 sound system, A-Wing promises  more than your usual nightlife experience. Relatively untouched since the departure of the final inmate A-Wing will be an experience not be missed in what we know to be to be the only venue like it in the world.

A-Wing Organiser Chris Glaba ‘We’re very proud to bring to the great city of Lancaster a whole host of DJs who have rocked festivals and clubs around the world. This venue is unique and this is the first time anything like this has taken place in the Prison so we aim to put on a weekend of parties that will be etched in history. Tickets are very limited so we advise to buy as soon as you can’

23rd May, 10pm - 5am (Doors from 9pm. Last entry: 10:30pm) £25
Sentencing Begins with Rob Da Bank (Radio 1/Bestival), Raf Rundell, Joe Goddard (Hot Chip) join forces to give us The 2 Bears, who will also be joining A Wing for open proceedings.

24th May, 9pm - 4am  (Last entry: 10:30pm) £25
The stretch continues as Carlisle House brand UBER presents James Zabiela, Sonny Wharton, Denney, James Ryan.

25th May 9pm - 4am  (Last entry: 10:30pm) £25
Does Derrick do Disco? Damn straight. Of course Derrick does Disco! Love Dose Records presents brings Derrick Carter, he is regarded as one of the best underground house key players till this date.
Mr Derrick Carter flies in from Chicago on May 25th with some naughtiness. I mean if you were locked up for the night with a full Funktion One rig, wouldn't you bring some Disco grooves?

Tickets are available through, or alternatively head to


Appeal for witnesses after woman attacked in Lancaster

Updated 7/5/14: The below appeal has now be cancelled as the two men police were looking to speak to have now come forward, but if anyone has any information about the assault on the woman that prompted the appeal, please contact Lancaster Police.

Officers are appealing for two men to come forward after a woman was attacked on the outskirts of Lancaster.

Between 1.45am and 2.05am on Saturday 26th April, a 41-year-old woman was assaulted by a man near to St George’s Quay as she walked home from a night out in the city.

The police believe that the woman may have spoken with the two men in a local pub and would like them to come forward as they may be able to assist the enquiry.

DI Phil Jones of Lancaster CID said; “I should firstly emphasise that the two men we are looking to speak to are not suspects, and they have not done anything wrong.

“However, they may have some useful information, as we believe they spoke with the victim prior to her walking home in the early hours of Saturday morning.

“I would also ask the wider community, if you recognise these men, to please contact us and help us identify them. Any information provided will be treated in confidence.”

Anyone with information can contact Police on 101, quoting log number LC-20140426-0140.

Energy Fair and Green Open Homes Weekend

Smoothie Bike
At the Green Open Homes weekend on 17 and 18 May, you can find fun and information at the Halton Mill Energy Fair, and visit households all around the district who’ve made improvements to their homes.

Would you like cheaper fuel bills and a warmer home? Do you want to be kinder to the environment? Would you like to test drive an electric car, pedal yourself a smoothie or see a hydro being built?

Fifteen homes - including a narrow boat, a former shop, traditional terraces, country residences and specially designed eco homes - will be opening in Silverdale, Lancaster, Halton, Morecambe and Caton.

Visitors will have the opportunity to talk to householders about what they've done, how they've done it and how much they've saved.  A huge range of measures and technologies will be on show, including wood chip burning (biomass) boilers, solar PV (electricity), solar thermal (hot water); passivhaus eco homes; different types of insulation; green roofs, rainwater recycling and simple draught proofing measures.

On Saturday 17 May from 12 - 5pm there will be an Energy Fair at Halton Mill with fun and information for all the family. You can see the latest solar panels and energy efficient lighting systems; hear talks from experts about ways to save energy; watch inspiring films and even drive a Nissan Leaf electric car (if you are 25 or older, have a clean driving record, and bring your driving licence).

Activities for children include a mix-a-smoothie-as-you-pedal bicycle and a craft workshop, making model windmills and water turbines.

There’ll be a chance to tour the neighbouring Lancaster Cohousing development, with its award winning passivhaus eco homes and renewable energy technologies. You can also see England’s biggest community hydro scheme, currently under construction. (

“The idea is that people who are interested in saving energy in their own home, or even building an eco home from scratch, can talk to people who have already done something similar. They can have an honest conversation about what it costs, what is saves and how it’s done,” said Kathy Bashford, from Lancaster Green Open Homes.

“The Energy Fair will give people a chance to find out what they could do to save energy and money, and to learn from real experts in the field as well as having a fun day out with the family,” said Kevin Frea, from LESS, which is organising the Fair along with Transition City Lancaster.

The Lancaster District Green Open Homes weekend is on 17/18 May,  12 to 5pm. The Energy Fair takes place on Saturday 17th, from 12 - 5pm, at Halton Mill, Mill Lane, Halton, Lancaster LA2 6FD.

To find out more and learn which homes are opening near you go to: or ring Kathy Bashford on 07825 610342.

Sunday, 4 May 2014

Man charged with attempted murder of Heysham woman

Jonny MAUGHAN, 41 of Robinson Place in St Helens was last night charged with attempted murder. He has been remanded in custody to appear before Preston Magistrates Court on Monday morning, 5th May.

The charge relates to an incident that took place late Friday evening at an address on Charlbury Grove, Heysham where a twenty-five year old woman was found with multiple stab wounds. The victim remains at Royal Preston Hospital where she is described as stable.

Save our Fire Service in the Lancaster District

Lancaster District Chamber of Commerce is campaigning over the proposed and impending removal of a fire appliance from the Lancaster Fire Station, halving the fire cover in the city and its vast outlying areas.

Although the consultation period for this has been and gone, its implementation is still 3 years away and is by no means a foregone conclusion. The Chamber has been contacted by the Fire Brigade Union and serving Fire Fighters who have advised that the points below have not been fully taken into account, and many assumptions have been made.

  1. Lancaster has the largest station area in the county and covers as support or 2nd attendance, into Morecambe, Bolton le Sands, Carnforth, Caton, Halton, Glasson Dock, Quernmore and the Trough of Bowland. Within this station area Lancaster also covers a wide range of incidents right up to the Morecambe Bay Coast up to Silverdale, including sand and river specialist rescue.
  2. It covers a large and busy stretch of M6 motorway (28 miles), which is soon to be extended with the Heysham M6 Link Road
  3. The population of Lancaster (around 65,000) is set to swell considerably in the next 10 years with 600 houses a year planned to be built.
  4. Part of the minimum required emergency attendance to Heysham Power Station includes 2 appliances from Lancaster, along with all the necessary planning and training in response to incidents there.
  5. Most importantly, it requires a MINIMUM of 9 fire fighters to effectively and safely tackle all life critical emergencies, in particular building fires and road traffic collisions. A retained unit will have a MINIMUM turnout time from their station of 5 minutes. That is 5 minutes longer that members of the public will have to wait trapped in a building or vehicle whilst the sufficient number of fire fighters are available at the incident.
The Coalition Government are reducing the budget to Lancashire Fire Authority by over £10 million. This is resulting in front line emergency services being removed, prolonging response times to fires, road collisions and other emergencies.

The Lancaster station area covers approximately 87 sq miles, including several villages. The present fire station supports two pumping appliances, an Incident Control Unit and a Landrover.  The main risks vary from industrial to large life risks such as the University of Lancaster and the Royal Lancaster Infirmary and Lancaster Prison Farms.  The main London to Glasgow electrified railway system runs through the centre of the town and the M6 Motorway runs the full length of the station area.

The campaign has had support from a number of local businesses including Aaron Crewe, Director from SEO 24/7 based at the InfoLab, Lancaster University, who comments:
“The fire service provides a vital and crucial provision to the local area. Fire crews often have to contend with unknown events each day. If the number of fire appliances in the area is reduced, then in the unfortunate event that there are two or more incidents in different locations resources would be stretched, putting lives at risk. The range of incidents that fire fighters have to contend with is vastly diverse and it is vital that there are the appliances in place to ensure that all situations are dealt with effectively and efficiently.

"Although the retained fire fighters in the local area also provide a fantastic service it is the distance between the locations of each appliance that raises concern.  Although statistics show that in some cases accidents have reduced, it is not statistics that we should rely on alone but we need to factor in the risk to the local area and its residents if an appliance is to be removed. There is simply too many potential risks and the safety of the local residents needs to be given a higher priority than the benefits of cost saving’’

‘’As a chamber we support all of our local businesses and it is vital that we rally to try and prevent the fire appliance from being removed”.

If you support the campaign to save the Fire Appliance in Lancaster please show this by signing the online petition below.

Death Cafe - because you only do it once (but you always succeed)

Imagine a café where you can relax with a nice cuppa, a slice of delicious cake and chat about…death.

Admittedly not your stereotypical setting for afternoon tea or a first date but one that Lancaster University’s International Observatory for End of Life Care is keen to promote.

The aim of a Death Cafe is to get people to discuss what many would class as ‘unmentionable’.  It is one of many events being held in Lancaster to mark Dying Matters Awareness Week, which runs from 12th to 17th May.

The Death Café will be held on Tuesday 13 May from 11.30am to 1.30pm in the foyer of the Furness Building on the Lancaster University campus (see venue directions below).  Observatory staff and students, who all have a background in nursing, social work and other related fields, will serve drinks and cakes and stimulate discussion around death and dying.  Attendance is free of charge, but donations towards running costs will be very welcome.

The event is being organised by Observatory staff Janet Rigby and Sean Hughes.  Janet, who has been a palliative care nurse for 20 years and who is a Research Associate at the Observatory, said:  “The name Death Café is startling at first but it certainly promotes discussion. 

“This is a project designed to get people talking about death with the intention of helping them make the most of their lives and to ensure that others around them are aware of their wishes and preferences.”

Sean, a Research Associate who has a background in hospice social work and bereavement care, added: “This is a very sensitive area but we hope people will be curious about it and that it will stimulate questions and make people think. 

“When death is not discussed it can cause all sorts of problems when people don’t actually know what their relatives want.

“This is an open forum. It is definitely not about counselling or bereavement support, nor is it linked to any religious perspective or research project.”

Death Cafes have been run in Hackney, Chester and at the Royal Festival Hall in the UK. They were founded by Jon Underwood, who is supporting the Lancaster University event, and are based on the Swiss-style 'Cafe Mortels'.

The Lancaster University International Observatory on End of Life Care, established in 2003, is an internationally renowned centre of excellence for research into palliative and end of life care, led by Professor Sheila Payne, the President of the European Association for Palliative Care, and Dr Catherine Walshe.
Please email Janet at to book your place (for catering purposes)
A map of the university campus can be downloaded here.  Furness Building is no. 42 on the map.

For more information about Death Café go to:
The Dying Matters website can be found at:    
More information on Lancaster University’s International Observatory on End of Life Care can be found at: