Friday, 8 August 2014

CCTV appeal after teenager is raped in Lancaster

(Updated 11th August, images removed, see news story): Police are appealing for information after a teenager reported being raped by two men in Lancaster.

At around 10.40pm on Monday 4th August 2014 the 17-year-old local girl was outside McDonalds, Cheapside when she met two men who offered to walk her home. They walked to Nelson Street car park when it is believed that one of the men grabbed her by the arm and pulled her on to the canal path at the rear of the car park where she was raped.

Officers have released CCTV images of two men they are looking to speak to in connection with the incident and are appealing for them, or anybody who knows them, to come forward.

DS Martin Foley of Lancaster Police said: “This young woman has suffered a distressing ordeal and we are continuing to support her whilst our investigation is on-going. I am particularly keen to speak to the two men pictured on the CCTV images and I would urge them or anybody who knows them to contact us. If anyone has any other information that they think could help our investigation, I would ask them to get in contact with us.”

• Anybody with any information should contact police on 101 quoting log number LC-20140807-1511. Alternatively, information can be passed to 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.

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Lancaster residents call on Prime Minister to exempt NHS from trade deal

Proposals which could allow US healthcare companies bid for contracts to run NHS services at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary have been given the thumbs-down by local residents.

Nearly three quarters of over 200 people surveyed in the Lancaster and Fleetwood parliamentary constituency said the NHS should be excluded from a new EU-US trade agreement.

The Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, much of it being discussed in secret and which has been described as a full frontal assault on democracy by the Guardian's George Monbiot, widely aims to make trade between Europe and the United States easier - but the whole agreement has raised alarm bells among numerous campaign groups across Europe, including civil society groups and charities such as War on Want, and environmental groups opposing fracking.

The main goal of TTIP is to remove regulatory ‘barriers’ which restrict the potential profits to be made by transnational corporations on both sides of the Atlantic.

War on Want points out these ‘barriers’ are in reality some of our most prized social standards and environmental regulations, such as labour rights, food safety rules (including restrictions on Genetically Modified crops etc), regulations on the use of toxic chemicals, digital privacy laws and even new banking safeguards introduced to prevent a repeat of the 2008 financial crisis. The stakes, in other words, could not be higher.

If the NHS is included as part of the deal, private healthcare companies in the US would be guaranteed the right to bid to run NHS services. If a future UK government tried to stop the practice, US healthcare firms could then take legal action due to the lost business opportunities.

The union Unite, which is opposing the inclusion of the NHS in the TTIP, asked people in Lancaster and Fleetwood for their views during a telephone survey about voting intentions ahead of the 2015 General Election.

More than 71 per cent of people surveyed said Prime Minister David Cameron should exclude the NHS from TTIP, while little more than seven per cent supported its inclusion.  Just over 21 per cent of people said they weren’t sure.

Cat Smith, Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Lancaster and Fleetwood (the L, said: “People in Lancaster and Fleetwood are sending a clear message to David Cameron that he should put the safety of local patients ahead of fat profits for trans-Atlantic multinationals.

The Labour Party is not opposing TTIP as a whole but is arguing for an NHS opt out.

“The Tory-led Coalition’s Health and Social Care Act is already putting our precious NHS at risk by allowing private companies to compete for contracts.

“Including the NHS in TTIP could make this situation even worse.  Imagine a company boss in California or a manager in Massachusetts being accountable for local health services here in Lancaster.

“The Prime Minister needs to make a clear commitment to excluding the NHS from this deal and re-think his Government’s damaging health reforms.”

When asked who they would vote for at next year’s General Election, 26.7 per cent of survey respondents in Lancaster and Fleetwood said they would back Labour, with the Tories on 17.6 per cent and the Greens on 9.1 per cent. Nearly a quarter of residents (22.6 per cent) were undecided.

Supporters of the TTIP, who include former Tory minister Ken Clarke, argue the project is good for the UK. "According to the best estimates available, an ambitious deal would see our economy grow by an extra £10bn per annum," he claimed last November. According to the Munich-based IFO institute, the treaty will create up to 400, 000 new jobs in Europe.

The telephone survey involved 202 people chosen at random.

Web Links

TTIP - EU Information Page

Where the political parties stand on TTIP

• George Monbiot: This transatlantic trade deal is a full-frontal assault on democracy

• Ken Clarke: This EU-US trade deal is no 'assault on democracy'

• Politics UK: The EU-US treaty which enforces privatisation

American Chamber of Commerce - Notes on the TTIP

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Local Cinema Round-Up for 6th to 14th August 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.

There are two new films released during this period, both in the category of action and adventure. There are military capers with The Expendables 3 (12A) and family animation with Planes: Fire and Rescue (U). In addition, for one day only, Godzilla returns.

Films that we have lost include Maleficent, Mrs Brown's Boys D'Movie, Pudsey the Dog: The Movie, Rio 2 and Transformers: Age of Extinction. It is also looking likely that the following films are coming to the end of being screened Meet the Firm: Revenge in Rio and The House of Magic.

Unlike last week, we see the return of high culture with Glyndebourne: La Traviata and NT Encore: Skylight. In addition the Dukes are showing the classic Casablanca for one night only.


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.

Guardians of the Galaxy
Director: James Gunn
Certificate: 12A
Cast Includes: Zoe Saldana, Chris Pratt, Michael Rooker, Lee Pace
An action packed space adventure from Marvel. Adventurer Peter Quill (Pratt) steals a mysterious artifact which is wanted by the villain Ronan (Pace) who wishes to use it to destroy the planet of Xandar. This forces Quill into a truce with a group of misfits (including Rocket a talking raccoon and groot a walking tree) who find they must make a stand to determine the fate of the galaxy. This is a very 'busy' film with lots of spectacular action, plenty of great characters, great one liners and lots of jokes. The plot seemed a little convoluted, but just go with it and enjoy the action. The movie does not take itself very seriously and will be loved by teenagers and adults alike.

The Expendables 3
Director: Patrick Hughes
Certificate: 12A
Cast Includes: Sylvester Stallone, Wesley Snipes, Jet Li, Jason Statham, Mel Gibson, Arnold Schwarzenegger
An attempt by the Expendables military team to apprehend an arms dealer goes wrong. The dealer proves to be Stonebanks (Gibson) who was a founder member of the Expendables who subsequently went rogue. In the light of this Barney Ross (Stallone) decided to recruit new members to his team to make it a match for the task of dealing with Stonebanks. This is the third installment in the Expendables franchise and it follows the established formula of a well known cast, wisecracks and violent set pieces. However this film does not break any new ground and in all felt a little tired.

The Grand Budapest Hotel
Director: Wes Anderson
Certificate: 15
Cast includes: Saoirse Ronan, Ralph Fiennes, Jason Schwartzman, Bill Murray, Tony Revolori
An idiosyncratic movie telling the adventures of Gustav (Fiennes) the concierge at the Budapest hotel and his friend Zero Moustafa (Revolori). The film is full of madcap characters and is filmed in the classic Anderson style. Set in Europe between the wars, the film tells the story of the theft of a Renaissance painting and disputes over fortunes. The movie has a star-studded cast and much of the plot of interlocking stories is told in flashbacks. A fine comedy making this a must see movie.

The Nut Job
Director: Peter Lepeniotis
Certificate: U
Cast Includes: Will Arnett, Liam Neeson, Katherine Heigl
Set in the 1950s, this animation follows the adventures of Surly the squirrel who, with his friend Buddy the rat, plan to steal from Maury's Nut shop. However the shop proves to be a front for gangsters who are planning to rob the nearby bank. This combination leads to action, car chases jokes and general mayhem. This is an inoffensive film that will amuse children but leave parents a little bored. An enjoyable romp, but not destined to be a cartoon classic.

The Purge: Anarchy
Director: James DeMonaco
Certificate: 15
Cast Includes: Kiele Sanchez, Frank Grillo, Zach Gilford, Michael K. Williams
A sequel to the 2013 hit movie. Every year a cathartic purge is sanctioned which is an orgy of crime and violence. The film follows the fortunes of five strangers who find themselves on the streets during the purge as they try to make their way to a place of safety. This film is more ambitious than the original (which was effectively just a home invasion) and moves at a faster pace. It contains sufficient violent set pieces to justify its film certificate and there is some attempt to develop the characters of our five potential victims. Despite being rather weak on narrative the movie is an effective and gripping drama.

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Guess Who’s Coming To The Dukes?

Doctor Who fans will get the chance to see the latest incarnation of the world's favourite Time Lord on the big screen on 23rd August when The Dukes shows the first episode starring Peter Capaldi.

This new screening is the first time that Lancaster's independent cinema has broadcast an iconic television drama, although it has been screening satellite broadcasts of popular London stage plays since the National Theatre Live scheme began.

After the global success of cinema showings of the SF drama's 50th anniversary special last year, Doctor Who is set to make a spectacular return to the big screen in the feature-length premiere episode of Series 8: Deep Breath (PG), which will be followed by a live by satellite Q&A session with the Capaldi himself.

And there’s more exciting news for fans of these theatre screenings as it has been announced that A Streetcar Named Desire, the fastest-selling production in the Young Vic’s history can be enjoyed live on the big screen on 16th September, featuring another SF star.

Gillian Anderson, well known for her role in The X-Files, plays Blanche DuBois in this Tennessee Williams timeless masterpiece. As Blanche’s fragile world crumbles, she turns to her sister Stella for solace – but her downward spiral brings her face to face with the brutal, unforgiving Stanley Kowalski.

• Tickets for the Doctor Who screening are £11/£10 (A £1 transaction fee applies when booking online). Tickets for A Streetcar Named Desire are priced £14/£13 concessions (includes £1 per ticket fee when booking online).

• For more information or to book, call The Dukes Box Office on 01524 598500 or online at

Monday, 4 August 2014

Witness appeal after injured man found on Skerton Bridge

Police are appealing for information after a 39 year old man was found injured on Skerton Bridge just after 7.30pm on Thursday 31st July.

Officers believe the man had walked from Lancaster city centre and enquiries are ongoing to establish the circumstances that led to his injuries.

He was seen just prior to 7.30pm walking close to Skerton Bridge and was found by police just after 7.30pm in the road.

The man from Skerton sustained cuts and bruises to his face and has been treated at Royal Preston Hospital for broken ribs, a back injury and a collapsed lung.

He is described as a white male, 6ft tall with short dark hair and of a stocky build. He was wearing a black t-shirt and black stonewashed jeans.

DS Simon Ball of Lancaster and Morecambe CID, said: “We are keen to speak to anyone who may have seen this man walking from Lancaster city centre or who may have been driving close to Skerton Bridge at the time. Anyone with information should contact police on 101 quoting log number LC-20140731-1220.”

Alternatively, they can contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or online at No personal details are taken, information is not traced or recorded and you will not go to court.