Friday, 18 July 2014

Frack-Off UK campaign schedules local resistance training sessions

Frack Free Lancashire 4" Stickers 

Frack-Off UK tell us that a series of anti-fracking resistance training opportunities are coming up in Lancashire in response to the Cuadrilla licensing applications. Frack-Off Uk is a nationwide co-ordination of many local groups, including Frack Free Lancashire. You can click here to see the invitation on their facebook page. More training sessions are underway in other UK regions also.

People who would like to get responsibly skilled-up to maximise their usefulness in the local regiments of popular resistance to fracking are invited to attend. There's no need to book and it's a training that can stand you in good stead across a great many situations.

Below you can also find details of how to submit objections to Cuadrilla's licensing applications online.

Training Session Dates
* Legal Observer Training (with Green & Black Cross) (see info below)
Sat 26th July 1pm – 5.30pm, The Steamer, Fleetwood, FY7 6BT
* Know Your Rights Training (with Green & Black Cross)  (see also below)
Sun 27th July 1pm – 3pm 27th July, United Reform Church, St George’s Rd, Lytham St. Annes, FY8 2AE
* Direct Action Training (with Seeds For Change)
2nd Aug 1pm – 5pm, The Steamer, Fleetwood, FY7 6BT

Public Meeting
29th July 7.30pm, Formby Gild Hall, Church Rd, Formby, L37 3NG

Legal Observer Training
The North West anti-fracking movement needs more Legal Observers.  If you want to do something crucially useful at camps, demos & community blockades and want to know your rights inside out… Get trained next weekend! The training is designed to give you more confidence and knowledge of how to deal with the police in most situations.

The training is very comprehensive, covering: Police tactics – Stop & search law & procedure – How to support arrestees – Police ranks & command structure – Supporting direction action – How best to support activists and challenge inappropriate policing. If you want to help protect the protectors and also want to stay well clear of being arrested yourself, this is the job for you.

Frack Free Lancashire badges
Know Your Rights Training
Find out about the laws that regulate the relationship between police and protectors and what can and can’t be done regarding searches, arrests, giving your details, etc. The training will take the form of a briefing with opportunities afterward for questions.

Community Action Training
Organised residents groups have proven to be the single most effective method for opposing injustice and extreme energy developments around the world. Community direct action took place every day at Balcombe Community Protection Camp last summer and at numerous camps and blockades since. Find out how to plan, take and support direct action. Learn and experience a variety of techniques and how to deploy them effectively and safely. These training sessions will equip and prepare you to resist the threat of fracking in your community.

How to object online
The closing date for objections to Cuadrilla's application for a test drilling site at Preston New Road is 5 September 2014. There have been about 6000+ objections to date and it's starting to look like a regional record. You can lodge your own objections online on the Council's website at LCC/2014/0096 or very quickly sign a pre-filled objection (which you can also edit) at the Friends of the Earth website (click here).

Cuadrilla's application for a similar test drilling site at Roseacre Wood, about 5 miles from Little Plumpton has now been made public and can be viewed on the County Council website (LCC/2014/0101), where you can also submit your views (click here) or very quickly sign a pre-filled objection (which you can also edit) at the Friends of the Earth website (click here).The closing date is 19 September 2014.

Cuadrilla's equally important Environment Agency radioactivity licensing permit applications remain open to objections until 5 August and you have your say on that by clicking here. These are in addition to its applications to the County Council and are for licensing for its use of toxic and radioactive chemicals where there is a risk of pollution to groundwater, and managing its millions of gallons of toxic and radioactive waste (something no fracking company has yet managed successfully).

national government public consultation on Underground Drilling Access rights - ie the right to drill under private property without the landowner's consent closes on 15 August. Click here to view it and have your say.

Peel Holdings (again) and the Local Authority
Despite the very heavy popular opposition to fracking, Frack-Off UK don't appear to have a great deal of faith in the local authority's ability to follow the evidence and their mandate instead of the hype. Perhaps they have some reason. 

Since 2008 IGas has had a joint venture with Peel Holdings, a major landowner throughout the area. Peel has more influence in Lancashire than Lord Ashton ever had in Lancaster. It is under the control of the Saudi Arabian Olayan Group. Under the deal, Peel has given IGas unlimited access to its entire land holdings for the purpose of identifying suitable sites for drilling for coal bed methane. The companies also agreed commercial terms for leases of sites if drilling went ahead.

Peel owns major holdings throughout the North West, including Heysham Port, which, for tax purposes, is part of the Cayman Islands.  It was the subject of a 2013 report by Ex Urbe which detailed how the company had 'embedded' its people throughout the regional political decision-making infrastructure, obtaining a disproportionate influence over planning decisions and a hugely disproportionate share of public subsidy.
You can read more about that in our previous report: Port in tax avoidance row as Link Road challenge goes to court

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Local Cinema Round-Up for 16th to 24th July by Peter Clarke

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

The big event of the week is the release of the science fiction adventure Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (12A). In addition there are two other family adventure films released: Earth to Echo (PG) and Pudsey the Dog: The Movie. For something completely different we also have Monty Python Live (Mostly) being screened at all three local cinemas.

This period sees the loss of Chef, Edge of Tomorrow and Belle. However we see the return of the Walt Disney modern classic Frozen.

Culture is represented by NT Live: Skylight starring Bill Nighy and Carey Mulligan. Also of interest is the digitally restored version of the Beatles film A Hard Days Night (15).


22 Jump Street
Director: Phil Lord and Chris Miller
Certificate: 15
Cast Includes: Jonah Hill, Peter Stormare, Channing Tatum, Amber Stevens, Ice Cube
The movie finds Police officers Schmidt (Hill) and Jenko (Tatum) working undercover at a local college to investigate supply of an illegal drug. Actually the movie is a deliberate re-hash of the earlier '21 Jump Street', but this still makes it a zany comedy with humour ranging from slapstick thought parody to the surreal. Well rated and very enjoyable.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Director: Matt Reeves
Certificate: 12A
Cast includes: Kodi Smit-McPhee, Jason Clarke, Gary Oldman, Keri Russell
This movie is already proving a success at the US box office and has the makings of a summer blockbuster. The film is set a decade after 'Rise of the Planet of the Apes'. Much of humanity has been wiped out following an outbreak of an artificial virus which killed humans yet increased the intelligence of apes. Human and ape live in a state of fragile peace and the film explores the conflict that arises when the humans try to start a hydroelectric dam that is located in the apes territory. The first part of the movie builds the characters of both humans and apes and later there are very impressive special effects as hostilities commence between the two sides. Both apes and humans have understandable motives and thus the film is much more than a simple war between right and wrong. An excellent movie.

Earth to Echo
Director: Dave Green
Certificate: PG
Cast includes: Teo Halm, Ella Linnea Wahlestedt, Reese C. Hartwig, Jason Gray-Stanford
A construction project is destroying a neighbourhood when a group of friends start to receive strange signals on their phones. They search for the origin of the signals and discover an alien who has become trapped on earth. The film tells the story of the youngsters as they battle the government and help the alien return to his home. It is hard not to compare this film with 'E.T.' However the movie is really about the youthful friendships rather than an extra-terrestrial. A entertaining if rather average family film.

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.

Jersey Boys
Director: Clint Eastwood
Certificate: 15
Cast Includes: Erich Bergen, Michael Lomenda, John Lloyd Young, Christopher Walken, Vincent Piazza
A film version of an award winning musical telling the story of the formation of the rock group 'The Four Seasons'. This in an entertaining movie that succeeds in recreating the rock and roll era. The highs and lows of the working class band members are explored against a backdrop of fine musical accompaniments.

Director: Robert Stromberg
Certificate: PG
Cast Includes: Angelina Jolie, Miranda Richardson, Elle Fanning, Sharlto Copley, Sam Riley
In part a re-telling of the tale of sleeping beauty but from the point of view of the villain of the story, Maleficent (Jolie). Maleficent was driven to evil following an act of betrayal which cost her the ability to fly. She battles to save her shadowy forest kingdom and plots revenge by placing a curse on the infant Aurora (Fanning), daughter to the king. Aurora herself becomes caught in the conflict between forest and human kingdoms. This is a rather dark fantasy for a Disney film, but a great tale with powerful characters and impressive special effect.

Mrs Brown's Boys D'Movie
Director: Ben Kellett
Certificate: 15
Cast includes: Brendan O'Carroll
Agnes Brown (O'Carroll) is a market trader who finds her livelihood under threat from a property developer. Supported by her family she embarks on a crusade to save her stall. This is a movie adaption of the well known and much loved BBC comedy and the film was extremely successful in its opening weekend. This is a very capable comedy that captures the spirit of the TV series.

Director: Ben Falcone
Certificate: 15
Cast includes: Melissa McCarthy, Susan Sarandon, Dan Aykroyd
In one awful day Tammy (McCarthy) has been fired from her job, crashed her car and discovered her husbands fondness for a neighbour. She needs to escape and thus joins her grandmother Pearl (Sarandon) in a trip to see the Niagara Falls. McCarthy plays the working class slob Tammy to perfection and her grandmother lusts after men and drink. Hence the film is a road movie with all the ingredients of a first class comedy. However the elements do not quite come together and the film does not achieve its full potential.

The Fault in our Stars
Director: Josh Boone
Certificate: 12A
Cast Includes: Shailene Woodley, Ansel Elgort, Laura Dern, Nat Wolff, Mike Birbiglia, Willem Dafoe
A romance between Hazel (Woodley) and Gus (Elgort), teenagers who have just months to live when they meet at a cancer support group. The movie is based on the best selling novel by John Green and it is predominantly aimed at a young adult audience. With an excellent dialogue the film is a very moving love story that could easily leave you in tears.

New £1 parking charges at Condor Green picnic site

Lancashire County Council will be charging a £1 daily fee for parking at Condor Green picnic site.

In 2011 a  £1 charge was brought in for parking at the visitors' centre at Beacon Fell Country Park, near Preston, and the Crook O' Lune picnic site at Caton, near Lancaster. Asking the thousands of annual visitors to these two sites to pay a small fee has already helped to generate income which has been reinvested to protect the Countryside Service at a time when the council is facing huge cuts to its budget.

The council has now decided to extend the pay and display system to Conder Green Picnic Site in Lancaster, Springwood Picnic Site in Whalley, and Wycoller Country Park in Colne. Charges will be introduced later in the season.

To get to the Condor Green carpark, turn west off the A588 onto Corricks Lane at the historic Stork Inn (which has its own carpark) and it is just after the Cafe d'Lune where the lane joins the Lune Estuary foot and cyclepath, at the start of the saltmarsh footpath embankment to Glasson Dock.  The carpark is shady and well-maintained, with a handy free toilet block with disabled facilities. The area is popular with cyclists and walkers too and has stunning views across the Lune estuary.

Regular users will be able to buy an annual season ticket for £50, which works out at less than 14p per day. Blue badge holders will not be charged.

County Councillor Marcus Johnstone, cabinet member for environment, planning, and cultural services, said: "This is not a decision I have enjoyed taking and in an ideal world parking would remain free. We are however going through exceptionally difficult financial times and this is the sort of change we are forced to make as a result.

"The pay and display parking already in operation at two sites has shown most people accept paying this small charge. Our Countryside Service offers visitors a really good day out and we believe most people who choose to park at these sites will accept paying £1 a day.

"We're doing this for a very good reason – we need to save £300m from the council's budget over the next four years as a result of government cuts and this represents an opportunity to protect a service which many people value.

"Any extra income will go towards the cost of maintaining the sites. Paying £1 a day to park is very good value for money compared with the charge at many similar visitor attractions."

The proposal to introduce car park charges at countryside sites was included in the consultation carried out as part of the council's budget setting process in February 2011.

Lancashire Parking Services will manage the pay and display scheme. The county council's countryside rangers will deal with minor maintenance issues such as ticket and coin jams and keeping the machines topped up with tickets.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Lancaster's first Ukelele Malarkey Day celebrates craze for of 4-stringed strumming

Sue Parish and her Ukelele Team

Lancaster celebrates the ukulele craze with a day of four-stringed strumming this Saturday 19 July. The first ever Lancaster 'Ukulele Malarkey' includes a try-out session for absolute beginners, group performances, solo spots and pub sessions, as well as a performance by ukulele and violin duo Lou Armer and Alice Brockman.

All events are free, and everyone is welcome, whether as a player or audience member.

The city's fabulous historic St John the Evangelist's Church, on North Road, LA1 1PA, will be the main focus for the afternoon events, lending an elegant Georgian atmosphere to the day.  There will be a short beginners workshop from 12.30pm, with ukes available to try.

Local clubs will then perform and share their songs from 2pm, including sets by players from Lancaster, Morecambe and Arnside. Each group will perform favourite songs, and lead the audience in a sing and strum as well.  The nearby Bobbin pub will also welcome uke players if you like refreshment with your music.

From tea-time the focus shifts to the city's uke-friendly Robert Gillow pub with solo performers and small groups taking the stage from 6pm.  Lou Armer and Alice Brockman round off the evening with a performance of their original songs from 9pm.

Said organiser Sue Parish: "I started running uke sessions in Lancaster about 18 months ago, and it's been amazing to see how much fun people get out of strumming and singing together. So I thought it would be good to bring the local ukulele community together for a day.  The idea is that it's relaxed and informal, and, as we've never done this before, it may well turn out a bit unpredictable too!"

All events are free, although donations are invited to support the upkeep of St John's church.  After Saturday, St John's will be closing for guided tours and events until further notice, so this will be a golden opportunity to enjoy its legendary acoustics while you can. Performance and workshop places are limited and should be booked in advance.  Further information can be found on the website:  or by contacting or 07981 535 073.

Monday, 14 July 2014

NHS hospital services privatisation to go under spotlight at public meeting

No Health Selloff petition campaign at Horseshoe Corner

Morecambe Bay Hospitals Trust's privatisation plans will be under the spotlight at a public meeting at Lancaster Town Hall at 7pm on Wednesday 23 July. The meeting is open and everyone is welcome to attend.

County Councillor
Gina Dowding
N. Lancs Green Party
The Morecambe Bay Trust (UHMB)  has put the Pharmacy services at its hospitals  out to tender, with private companies in line to take them. (See previous story 'There's no public support for hospital pharmacy services sell-off' say campaigners')

You can view an online copy of the UHMB tender contract by clicking here. As you can see, tenders were due to be opened on 20 June.
Cat Smith
Lancaster Labour Party

Local campaign Group 'No Health Selloff' are calling on the Trust to halt this, and any future sell-offs of our NHS.

County Coun Gina Dowding, the Green Party's National Speaker for Health and Cat Smith, the Labour parliamentary candidate for Lancaster and Fleetwood will be speaking at the meeting, as will Dr David Wrigley, who is a Carnforth GP and Council Member of the BMA.

Members of the public will also have the opportunity to ask questions and to contribute to the discussion.

You can find out more about the 'No Health Selloff' campaign at their facebook page:

Changes to electoral registration will bring major changes for local voters

More than 100,000 people in the Lancaster district will be receiving a letter to tell them about important changes to the electoral registration system.

Individual Electoral Registration has been introduced across the country, meaning that everyone will be registered to vote individually, rather than by household.

From today (14th July 2014) residents will receive a letter from Lancaster City Council informing them of the changes and whether they need to re-register and what to do.

Residents are advised to look out for the letter and follow the advice given.

It is expected that the majority of residents will not have to do anything but approximately 10,000 people will not automatically transfer to the new electoral register.

If that effects you don’t worry - registering to vote is easier than ever and takes around five minutes. Visit to provide your details.

You will need to have your National Insurance number and date of birth to complete the process.

With both a General Election and local elections taking place next year, it’s vitally important that people take action and read the letter to ensure they remain on the electoral register.
Mark Cullinan, Returning Office for Lancaster City Council, said: “This is the biggest change to electoral registration in 100 years. It is extremely important that people register to vote and, in doing so, ensure their voice is heard.

"Look out for the letter as it will tell you if you have been automatically transferred to the new register or not. If you have not been transferred, you will need to provide some additional information and the letter will tell you exactly what you need to do.”

• For help and advice call the elections helpline on 01524 582905

Lancaster team sets off International Youth Games

A group of young people set off for Holland on Sunday to take part in a week long annual festival of sport and culture.

From 14 to 17 July the International Youth Games will be held for the sixth time in Almere and will see a group of more than 40 young people aged between 14 and 16 representing their clubs, schools, town and country at the games.

Representatives from most of the local high schools will be competing in a mix of sports including athletics, badminton, dance, rowing, swimming and tennis.

They will be competing against youngsters of a similar age from our twin and friendship towns Almere (Holland), Aalborg (Denmark), Rendsburg (Germany) and the Swedish city of Växjö.

Coun Ron Sands, cabinet member with responsibility for children and young people, said: “The International Youth Games have been taking place now for well over 20 years and are an excellent way for our young people to take pride in their area through their sporting achievements and show off their sporting prowess. They are all a credit to their schools and communities.”

Lancaster’s involvement in the International Youth Games is organised by Lancaster City Council with valuable support from local sports clubs and community organisations including the volunteer leaders, without whom the opportunity to take part would not exist.

• Regular updates are being posted on the International Youth Games Facebook page