Friday, 26 September 2014

Charter Market consultation continues amid concern about its future look

Lancaster Charter Market. Image: Lancaster City Council

Further public consultation on the future layout of Lancaster’s Charter Market is due to take place after recent consultation with Charter Market traders and the business community showed that there are a range of different views about how the market should be set out.

Some market traders have expressed dismay at proposals that included cutting the size of pitches and are already up in arms after the lengthy "Square Route" renovations that have damaged their business over the summer months.

As part of the City Council's consultation, two further layout options are being drawn up which the Council says aim to balance the needs of the market traders, businesses and shoppers while making best use of the city centre following the completion of the recent improvement works. 

In addition to this the consultation will ask a range of questions that will help the council make the best decision.

As well as the views of market traders, businesses and shoppers, issues such as access for emergency vehicles, street cafes, street cleansing and traffic management will be taken into account.

Lancaster has been a market town since 1190, but lost its indoor market after a hard fought battle to save it against a background of poor management and an inept plan to sell the building to a now-bankrupt company, which virtual-lancaster helped expose. The battle to save the indoor market and the treatment of stall holders has not been forgotten, even though some of the council staff responsible for the disaster have now left the organisation.

“The council wants to see a thriving market and the challenge is try and achieve that while best accommodating the different uses of the city centre," insists Mark Davies, Chief Officer (Environment).

“A balance has to be struck between the needs of different users and there’s clearly a difference of views on what the final layout should be.

“Some good ideas and input have come from both market traders and businesses and these are now being used to help produce drawings of what the two layouts could look like.

“All the views from the consultation will feed into a report to be considered by the city council’s Cabinet.”

The further consultation will seek views on a number of questions which will help decide what the layout should be like.

In particular the council is interested in finding out is what people think the council’s view of the market should be:

•       Is it something to facilitate and manage day to day with the main priority being to ensure that there’s enough pitches for traders, in the locations that best suit them?
•       Is it something to actively manage and develop in a way that best complements the other trading activities in the city, as well as the other aspirations for the city?
•       Should it be seen primarily as an attraction in the city centre that makes the centre an attractive and vibrant place, that is then managed to take account of other users and to make sure it achieves high standards?

The answers to these question will significantly contribute to deciding on the layout.

Cabinet members could choose either layout or a different combination for the future layout of the market.

More details on the consultation will become available after the two proposed layouts for the Charter Market have been drafted.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Lancaster Climate Picnic calls for 100% fossil fuel-free energy

Lancastrians enjoyed a very pleasant picnic in Market Square last Sunday - and called for action on Climate Change at the same time.

Hundreds of thousands of people demonstrated worldwide last Sunday to demand that world leaders take positive steps to combat climate change. But not everyone can get away to these events and so a group of recent school-leavers and pupils from Queen Elizabeth School in Kirkby Lonsdale decided to take some action closer to home and organised a People's Climate Picnic in the heart of Lancaster City Centre.

The purpose of the picnic was to draw attention to the fact that the UN General Secretary Ban Ki-Moon has assembled 100 world leaders in New York this week to discuss the increasingly urgent need to tackle climate change.

Research by NASA over the last 10 years has shown that the melting of the polar icecaps is releasing high levels of methane causing a feedback loop intensifying the raise in global temperature and the melt-rate.

Mirte, Rosie, Harriet, Mollie, Evie and Julia originally got together on a campaign to promote solar energy use in schools. They support the Avaaz 100% clean fuel campaign which is asking the UN to set early targets for a worldwide end to using carbon-emitting fossil fuels such as oil, coal, and natural gas and to focus on developing and encouraging sustainable energy production.

The group had an excellent banner made by a neighbourly local printer (in exchange for babysitting!). They also received help with food for the picnic from local market traders, namely the Market Square fruit and veg stall, the Yummy Cupcake Co and the artisan bread stall. They set up a stall serving free soft drinks and cakes, with  rugs with lots of very delicious cakes and sandwiches out on the Square Stage for picnickers to help themselves too.

A couple of hundred local people came to join the picnic and sign the Avaaz petition calling the world leaders to make the move towards 100% clean energy. Also, they brought cake too. I have to say, the cake situation was outstanding. And the group organised recycling for any rubbish too. Young people today? Impressive.

One person who would disagree is Prime Minister David Cameron, who is strongly resisting moves to tackle climate change on all fronts. This week he declared his opposition to the setting of EU targets to limit emissions of greenhouse gases. He also restated his aim to cut through regulations ("green tape") protecting the environment and public health to allow the fracking industry to drill for further 'extreme' fossil fuels in the UK without the safeguards that apply to other industrial processes.

David Cameron says his concern is that action to combat climate change could harm economic growth.  He has made it clear that while he is in power the UK will not cooperate with international efforts at tackling this problem, despite the large scale catastrophic devastation it will certainly bring. In this he also speaks for the oil and gas companies that financially support his party and for the numerous oil company executives and shareholders who are members of his government.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Local Cinema Round-Up for 24th September to 2nd October 2014 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.

This is a good period for new film releases. We have drama and suspense with The Equalizer (15) and Gone Girl. Also there is comedy with What We Did on Our Holidays (12A) and finally song and dance with Billy Elliot The Musical (15).

Unfortunately we have lost the film The Nut Job. Also it is looking like the films Guardians of the Galaxy, How to Train Your Dragon 2, Lets Be Cops and Sin City 2: A Dame to Kill For are soon to come to the end of screening.

Highlight this week are a double bill of Gone Girl/Fight Club being shown at the Vue on 1st October. Also there is a live screening of an audience with Stephen Fry with More Fool Me at the Dukes also on the 1st.


A Most Wanted Man
Director: Anton Corbijn
Certificate: 15
Cast Includes: Rachel McAdams, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Robin Wright, Willem Dafoe, Grigoriy Dabrygin
The film is an adaptation of John le Carre's novel of the same name and is also the last role of the late Philip Hoffman. Gunther Bachmann (Hoffman) is an intelligence officer working in Hamburg who becomes aware of a tortured half Chechen half Russian immigrant Issar Karpov (Dabrygin) who has arrived in Hamburg to claim asylum and seek his fathers fortune. However is the immigrant a victim or is he a terrorist? If the latter could he be played to lead the security forces to others higher in the terrorist chain? Hoffman steals much of the film with his world weary character and the movie unfolds by covert meetings and dark conversations. This is an intricate, well directed, gripping espionage film.

A Walk Among The Tombstones
Director: Scott Frank
Certificate: 15
Cast Includes: Liam Neeson, Ruth Wilson, David Harbour, Robert Boyd Holbrook, Dan Stevens, Adam David Thompson, Brian Bradley
Set in 1999 and based on the tenth book in Lawrence Block's best selling crime series. Matt Scudder (Neeson) used to be an alcoholic police officer until a disastrous shootout caused him to give up both. Now he works as an unlicensed private eye and, with some reluctance, he agrees to help find the men who kidnapped and killed the wife of a drug trafficker (Stevens). Scudder discovers the kidnappers are serial killers and, helped by a homeless teenager (Bradley), who acts as his apprentice he tracks them down. Neeson gives a strong performance in this atmospheric thriller. There are quite a few sub plots during the course of this movie as it builds to up a violent conclusion. A fine film.

Before I Go to Sleep
Director: Rowan Joffe
Certificate: 15
Cast Includes: Nicole Kidman, Colin Firth, Anne-Marie Duff, Mark Strong
A movie based on the best selling 2011 book by S J Watson. Christine Lucas (Kidman) suffered a head trauma thirteen years ago, with the consequence that she starts each day with no memories of the past thirteen years. She does not recognise her husband, her doctor nor even her own face. To try make sense of her world, she starts to keep a video diary and in this way can begin to get some continuity in her thoughts. However this reveals that her husband Ben (Firth) and her doctor (Strong) are concealing something from her. This film is a psychological thriller which successfully builds suspense with twists to the plot and some false trails. An enjoyable thriller.

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.

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.

Director: Luc Besson
Certificate: 15
Cast Includes: Scarlett Johansson, Morgan Freeman
Lucy (Johansson), a rather average American woman visiting Taiwan, is kidnapped by gangsters, abused and made to smuggle an experimental new drug which is sewn into her stomach. However a beating received by one of the gangsters causes the bag to rupture and she absorbs the drug, with the effect of increasing the efficiency of her brain. This leads her to outgrow her physical and mental limitations as she develops vast intellect and formidable psychic powers. Lucy can now take her revenge. This is a fun film with the story told from Lucy's point of view. However as her powers develop the revenge part of the movie becomes very one sided and the film sacrifices action sequences for a quest to understand her evolution into something that is beyond human.

Director: Matthew Warchus
Certificate: 15
Cast Includes: Bill Nighty, Dominic West, Imelda Staunton Joe Gilgun, Ben Schnetzer
The film is based on a true story and is set in the summer of 1984 during the miners strike. Mark Ashton, a member of a London based gay and lesbian group organises a collection for the miners. However when the group came to offer the donation, they were rebuffed due to prejudice (the AIDs epidemic is one of the backdrops to the film). The group therefore decide to bus to a mining village in the Welsh Dulais Valley to make the donation personally. This movie is played for laughs. It is an excellent comedy supported by an excellent cast and it explores the clash of two very different cultures.

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For
Director: Frank Miller & Robert Rodriguez
Certificate: 18
Cast includes: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Josh Brolin, Mickey Rourke, Eva Green, Rosario Dawson, Jessica Alba, Powers Boothe, Clive Owen
It has been nine years since the initial Sin City was released, based on the graphic novels of Frank Miller. This film has the same spirit (and some of the same characters) as the original and again is shot in black and white (relieved with effective splashes of colour). It is shot in a style half way between live action and animation. The film comprises a couple of interlocking narratives. There is the return of Senator Roark (Boothe) which gives some of the characters motive for revenge. Also there is the relationship between Dwight McCarthy (Owen) and his ex Ava (Green) who gets him to commit murder. The film has an impressive cast, nudity and stylised violence as it explores power and its abuse.

The Equalizer
Director: Antoine Fuqua
Certificate: 15
Cast includes: Denzel Washington, Chloe Grace Moretz, Bill Pullman, Marton Csokas.
A big screen adaption of the 1980's TV drama series which starred Edward Woodward. Now Washington takes on the role of McCall, a black ops commando who faked his own death so he could retire to an uneventful existence in Boston. McCall is a childless widow, working in a superstore and with a fondness for reading. He befriends Teri (Moretz) a young woman who works as a prostitute. However she is beaten and hospitalized by Russian gangsters. McCall decides to use his skills to retaliate and as a result finds himself the target of a Russian team led by a psychopath Teddy (Csokas). Washington is a consummate actor who plays the role with skill and conviction. However the whole is essentially a violent vigilante movie. Entertaining and believable but the film does not break any new ground.

The Hundred-Foot Journey
Director: Lasse Hallstrom
Certificate: PG
Cast Includes: Helen Mirren, Manish Dayal, Om Puri, Charlotte Le Bon
A Walt Disney adaptation of the 2010 novel by Richard C Morais. The Kadam's are an Indian family that were displaced due to political rioting. They arrive at a quaint but rather conservative French Village and decide to open an Indian Restaurant, the Maison Mumbai. However just across the road is a classical, Michelin starred restaurant Le Saule Pleureur run by Madame Mallory (Mirren). This leads to fall-outs and ultimately sabotage between the two institutions. Meanwhile Hassan (Dayal) the master cook of the Indian restaurant begins a flirtation with Marguerite (Le Bon), the sous chef of Mme Mallory's restaurant. This is a well acted and endearing movie with plenty of laughs. Entertaining but lacking suspense.

What We Did on Our Holidays
Director: Andy Hamilton, Guy Jenkins
Certificate: 12A
Cast Includes: Rosamund Pike, David Tennant, Billy Connolly
Doug (Tennant) and Abi (Pike) are a married couple on the cusp of a divorce. Despite this, they decide to take their three children to Scotland to attend a family gathering to celebrate the 75th birthday of Gordie (Connolly), Doug's father. In conversation, the children let slip to the wider family the details of their life in London and the parents arguments. Hence tension and family feuds ensue. The characters of the film are based on the TV series 'Outnumbered' and the film is in part comedy sitcom and in part an emotional 'roller-coaster'. Despite fine acting (with Connolly in particular fine form) the final third of the film seemed a little flat.

Monday, 22 September 2014

Police appeal after attempted murder at Heysham's Ocean Edge caravan park

Police are appealing for information after a woman was seriously injured when she was assaulted at Ocean Edge caravan park in Heysham.

Three other people, including one man who is fighting for his life in Royal Preston Hospital, were also hurt in a series of road accidents which followed. A man has been arrested in connection with the incidents.

Police were called at about 7.00pm on Saturday following a report that a 32-year-old woman had sustained serious head injuries during an assault at the Ocean Edge caravan park. She was treated in hospital and released.

A short time after the assault, a 42-year-old man sustained serious head injuries when he was struck at the entrance to the caravan park by a dark coloured Ford Fusion being driven from the scene of the first assault. The man is currently in a critical condition at the Royal Preston Hospital.

At about 7.15pm, a 53-year-old man walking his dog was struck by what is believed to be the same car at Half Moon Bay. Fortunately he only suffered minor injuries.

Around 7.30pm, a 36-year-old woman driving a Peugeot 207 also suffered minor injuries, when her car was involved in a collision with a Ford Fusion, again thought to be the same car involved in the earlier incidents. Police have launched a major investigation and are appealing for witnesses or anyone with information to get in touch.

A 45-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of attempted murder, dangerous driving, failing to stop after a collision and drink driving and is currently in custody.

Detective Superintendent Sue Cawley, who is leading the inquiry, said: "Two people have been left with extremely serious injuries following this incident and others have also been injured, fortunately less seriously. I would appeal to anyone who has any information to get in touch with the police."

 • Anyone with information can contact 101 quoting log number 1321 of 20th September 2014 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111