Thursday, 6 November 2014

County Council Reveals Plans for £176 million in budget cuts

Lancashire County Council's cabinet was today presented with a series of options that could help deliver £176 million in savings by April 2018.

Senior council officers presented a report detailing how services could be delivered in future and how this could enable savings to be made.

In January, the Council, which employs over 34,000 staffannounced it would have to shed some 2500 jobs by April 2016.

Cabinet members are now inviting people's views on the options, and their priorities for spending, as they consider what to include in their budget proposals, which will be published early next year.

David Borrow, Deputy Leader of the Council, explained: "Cuts imposed by central government and rising demand for many essential services mean that we have to find an unprecedented level of savings.

"By April 2018 we have to reduce the council's budget by £315 million. This is a very difficult task, given that since 2010 we have already delivered or approved £532 million of savings.

"It is clear that we have to take radical action to achieve those savings. We can do some of that by introducing more intelligent and efficient ways of working. However, it is also clear that we will have to deliver some services in a different way and stop providing some services altogether.

"We are responsible for supporting the most vulnerable people in the county and will do all we can to ensure that they are protected. We are also committed to spending fairly, according to need. But in order to develop our formal budget proposals we really need the people of Lancashire to tell us what is important to them."

The options presented to cabinet today were drawn up by senior Council officers at the request of the Cabinet, and further options wi! ll be published at the next cabinet meeting in December. The Council's leadership will present its formal budget proposals in January.

A public consultation to inform the content of those formal budget proposals has been launched today to encourage people across Lancashire to come forward with their views. The consultation will run until 15th December 2014.

To help people do that, a Budget Calculator has been developed on the Lancashire County Council website. It gives an insight into the challenges of setting a balanced budget as any money protected in one area has to be taken out of another.

• You can also view all the documents being presented to council here in PDF or docx format

• Full details of the budget options and the Budget Calculator can be found at:

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Lancashire prepares for winter

Image: Lancashire County Council

With temperatures expected to plummet tonight, Lancashire County Council is ready for the winter weather and is urging residents to prepare for the cold. 

Lancashire's fleet of 49 gritters will be out tonight for the first time this winter. They will treat the roads whenever a freeze is expected. 

Highly trained crews will be using the latest technology and have more than 30,000 tonnes of salt ready to keep Lancashire moving this winter. 

County Councillor John Fillis, cabinet member for highways and transport, said: "We're fully prepared for the winter weather and will once again be doing everything we can to keep Lancashire's roads moving. 

"We look after 4,300 miles of road, a third of which are priority routes and are gritted first whenever a freeze is forecast. 

"We also grit other secondary routes in snowy conditions. However, it's impossible to grit every road. 

"Just because a road has been gritted, it may not be clear of ice and people should take extra care and prepare ahead for their journeys in freezing weather." 

The county council is also responsible for public health and is encouraging people to take steps to keep warm and healthy this winter. 

A number of people died last year in Lancashire because of winter-related illnesses and there were thousands of emergency hospital admissions. 

People are being urged to stock up on salt to keep paths around their homes clear, get free flu jabs if they are eligible, get support if they are struggling to keep their home warm, and make the right choice of who to speak to if they become ill. 

County Council Azhar Ali, cabinet member for health and wellbeing, said: "We're expecting the weather to get much colder from this week. We want people to look out for their neighbours, particularly those who are elderly and disabled. 

"It only takes a few minutes to call round to make sure someone is okay and has everything they need, including food and medicine, to stay well. 

"There are also other measures you can take to help keep you and your family fit and well this winter. 

"We'll continue to work with our colleagues in the NHS and other organisations to help people stay healthy." 

• For gritting updates, advice on preparing for winter, school closures and more, visit: or

Here are five steps to help you, your families and neighbours stay healthy this winter: 

Look out for your neighbour 

Call in on elderly or disabled neighbours to ensure they are well and have food, medicine and everything they need. 

Keep paths and driveways around your home free from ice 

It is a good idea to stock up on salt and have a snow shovel handy to keep pathways around your home clear. Salt in grit bins must only be used on roads and pavements. 

Flu Jab 

Everyone in an 'at risk' group should get a free flu jab – this could mean you, as well as the people you look after. Check with your doctor if you need more information. 

Keeping your home warm 

Visit Lancashire County Council's website for advice on keeping your home warm, particularly if you feel you are struggling and need help with insulating and heating measures. 

Choose well if you are ill 

There are a range of places you can go for NHS treatment and making the right choice will ensure you get the right care as quickly as possible. 

During the winter, A&E departments are under a lot of pressure. A&E and 999 calls should only be used for life-threatening and emergency conditions, such as heart attacks, strokes and serious injuries. 

The following guidelines should help: 

• Self-care - For minor illnesses and injuries, look after yourself at home with a well-stocked medicine cabinet. 
• Pharmacists - If you are suffering from a common winter health problem that doesn’t require a doctor, visit your local pharmacy for expert advice on common illnesses and the best medicines to treat them. 
• Doctors (GPs) - If you have an illness or injury that will not go away, make an appointment with your doctor. 

• Walk in centres - Visit your local walk-in centre for minor injuries and illnesses. They are open to anyone and you don’t need an appointment. 

Local Cinema Round-Up for 5th to 13th November 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 period brings two new releases, science fiction spectacular with Interstellar (12A) and motor-racing drama with Journey to Le Mans (12A).

The films Dolphin Tale 2 and This is Where I Leave You have come to the end of their screening. In addition it is likely we are soon to lose Love, Rosie and Dracula Untold. However there is good news with the return of the fun movie Guardians of the Galaxy.

In all this is an excellent period for science fiction adventure with Frankenstein, The Maze Runner, the 1956 version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers and The Terminator also being screened.

As we prepare for the release of a new installment of the hunger games franchise with Mockingjay, due to be released later this month, The Vue is screening the original The Hunger Games for one day only.


Director: John R Leonetti
Certificate: 15
Cast includes: Annabelle Wallis, Ward Horton, Alfre Woodard
The film is set in California in the 1960's where a young couple move into their new home. The wife Mia (Wallis) is pregnant and has a hobby of collecting dolls. The husband John (Horton) is a medical student and he gives a creepy pigtailed doll to Mia to add to her collection. Yet the doll is possessed and with its acquisition comes a series of disturbances including slamming doors and the malfunctions of an elevator. Mia gives birth and the newborn is also threatened by these disturbances. The film is the prequel to 'The Conjuring' but was shot with limited budget. It borrows heavily from other horror movies and comes complete with cookie neighbour and helpful priest. However despite a rather stilted dialogue and lack of originality, it successfully builds suspense to become quite an effective horror movie.

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: David Ayer
Certificate: 15
Cast includes: Brad Pitt, Scott Eastwood, Logan Lerman, Shia LaBeouf
The film was written and directed by David Ayer following extensive research, and much of the filming took place in the UK. Set towards the end of the second world war, it tells the story of Sargent Dan 'Wardaddy' Collier (Pitt) and his crew of a Sherman tank as they undertake a mission behind enemy lines. One of the tank crew was recently killed in action and they are joined by a new recruit Norman Ellison (Lerman). The film shows war thought the eyes of Ellison as he becomes brutalized as a result of his experiences. All the actors give a stunning performance in this loud and intense portrayal of the violence and ugliness of war. An authentic and memorable war film.

Gone Girl
Director: David Fincher
Certificate: 18
Cast Includes: Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike
The film is based on, and is pretty much true to, the best selling book by Gillan Flynn. It is the fifth wedding anniversary of the Dunne's. Nick Dunne (Affleck) goes for a drive, and returns to find his wife Amy (Pike) is gone and the house ransacked. He reports her as missing to the police and initially he is treated with sympathy. However as time passes he becomes a prime suspect. The film is told in a broken time-line and we see in flashbacks that the marriage had started to fail. However is Nick guilty of murdering his wife? The film is a psychological thriller with the plot taking a sharp turn in the latter half of the film. This is an excellent, must see, movie.

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 that does not take itself very seriously and will be loved by teenagers and adults alike.

Director: Alexandre Aja
Certificate: 15
Cast Includes: Daniel Radcliffe, Juno Temple, Kelli Garner, James Remar
Ignatius (Ig) Perrish (Radcliffe) is a small town DJ whose girlfriend and childhood sweetheart Merrin (Temple) is murdered. Ig finds himself the prime suspect with the town locals turning on him. He wakes one morning to find horns starting to grow from his temples and these confer powers. He finds people confess to him their sins and he can easily persuade others to act on their base impulses. With these powers Ig is able to seek his sweetheart's murderer and to exact a revenge. The movie is based on the novel by Joe Hill and it uses flashbacks to develop the relationship between Ig and Merrin. This is a film that breaks new ground and is difficult to categorise, being part murder mystery part religious satire but mainly a dark comedy. It is not destined to be a classic supernatural film but worth seeing. for its originality.

Director: Christopher Nolan
Certificate: 12A
Cast Includes: Matthew McConaughey, Casey Affleck, Anne Hathaway, Wes Bentley, Michael Caine.
The earth is facing environmental disaster. Dust storms are common and crops are failing. Cooper (McConaughey) a farmer, but formerly a top pilot, is recruited by Professor Brand (Caine), to fly a final mission taking a team of specialists through a newly discovered wormhole to find a planet in a far solar system that could be a new home for humanity. This is a big budget very grandiose film full of action and spectacular scenery as the crew search to see if there is a future for mankind. It is however a little low on humour and at times requires some suspension of disbelief but in all it is a great movie.

Love, Rosie
Director: Christian Ditter
Certificate: 15
Cast Includes: Lily Collins, Sam Claflin
Rosie (Collins) and Alex (Claflin) have been friends from early childhood and repeatedly become close to falling in love with each other. However every-time they start to come together other people and situations serve to come between them and they drift apart. In time. Rosie becomes a single mother and Alex in turn gets married. However there remains a spark between them - but will they ever get together? The movie is based on the 2004 novel 'Where Rainbows End' by Cecelia Ahern. The acting is first rate and the whole is a first rate romantic comedy.

Director: Dan Gilroy
Certificate: 15
Cast includes: Jake Gyllenhaal, Ann Cusak, Rene Russo
Lou Bloom (Gyllenhaal) is a petty thief with no family and few morals. One night he comes across film crew, filming an accident. He realizes there is money to be made in free-lance journalism, filming victims of accidents and crime and then selling the footage to news stations for broadcast. Lou gets a camcorder, a radio to listen to police broadcasts, and throws himself with enthusiasm into making this his career. His first scoop is bought by journalist Nina (Russo) and so a partnership forms. Lou never has qualms about his new profession and as the film develops he increasingly adopts an attitude of anything is permissible for the best footage. The film is set in contemporary LA and most of the action takes place at night. This is a riveting, disturbing and very original movie, providing a satire on modern journalism.

Director: Stiles White
Certificate: 15
Cast includes: Olivia Cooke, Douglas Smith, Daren Kagasoff, Shelly Hennig
Debbie (Hennig) confesses to playing with an Ouija board but she is murdered. Her friend Laine (Cooke) decides to investigate her death by using the Ouija board to contact Debbie's spirit and to this end she enlists the help of a group of friends. They hold a seance in Debbie's house. However, they inadvertently connect with a murderous spirit which starts to attack them. The whole is a competent horror film complete with ghosts, unexpected noises and frights for the viewer. Given the film was released just before Halloween, it merits a visit to the cinema.

The Maze Runner
Director: Wes Ball, Douglas Cumming
Certificate: 12A
Cast includes: Kaya Scodelario, Dylan O'Brien
Thomas (O' Brien) awakes with no memory to find himself trapped with dozens of other boys inside an enclosure with towering walls. He subsequently discovers this to be a gigantic maze. He integrates in the society of boys, becoming one of the runners, a sub group who try to map the maze and find a way out. Attacking the boys are Grievers which are giant spider like creatures who also inhabit the maze. Thomas has dreams about an organisation called W.C.K.D. and he must uncover his purpose and find a way to escape. The movie is a decent adaption of the best selling novel by James Dashner, the first in a trilogy. The acting is strong and the depiction of the maze and its grandeur is very impressive. The movie is aimed at young adults but it contains some violence and the whole has a rather joyless atmosphere. The ending was somewhat complicated, designed perhaps to pave the way for the forthcoming sequel.

Comic Artist Oliver East talks “The Homesick Truant’s Cumbrian Yarn”

Oliver East: Photo: Yorick de Munnik

Comic creator Oliver East will be at the Beach Hut Gallery at Kents Bank Station, Cumbria on Saturday 8th November 2014 from 11.30am onwards to talk about his railway-inspired drawings that formed hisLakes International Comic Art Festival-supported exhibition “The Homesick Truant’s Cumbrian Yarn” which was part of this year’s events.

Oliver first started making comics as part of art school projects – many of which he gave away to friends. Finally deciding he was interested in drawing he started the Trains are.. Mint series. He self-published three issues of the much-praised project before teaming up with British publisher Blank Slate to produce a collected edition and its two sequels Proper Go Well High and, more recently, Berlin and That which form a ‘walking’ trilogy. His earlier self-published books like the House of Fire trilogy from 2005 are now pretty hard to find but not as rare as his hand made book of Trains are… Mint 4, which is stated to be his next release on the Blank Slate label.

The artwork on display is from the work produced during his Festival supported walk of Cumbria from Arnside to Carlisle that has resulted in seven Homesick Truant’s Cumbrian Yarn comics, on sale directly from Oliver’s official web site.

Oliver was also commissioned to produce ten large murals in The Factory building in Kendal for the Festival itself, all taken from his project “The Homesick Truant’s Cumbrian Yarn”. Each mural represented for each day of his walk.

• For more information visit or telephone 015395 35959. The Beach Hut Gallery is open Friday to Sunday and Bank Holidays 11.00am – 5.00pm, Autumn/Winter sometimes open Thursday.

• To buy copies of The Homesick Truant’s Cumbrian Yarn visit:

Read our interview with Oliver East about the Cumbrian Yarn project here
• You can watch Oliver working on The Factory murals in this film by Ben Barden:

Buy Nothing Day Returns

Buy Nothing Day is back later this month and it's time to lock up your wallets and purses, cut up your credit cards and dump the love of your life - shopping.

Saturday November 29th 2014 is Buy Nothing Day (UK). It's a day where you challenge yourself, your family and friends to switch off from shopping and tune into life. The rules are simple, for 24 hours you will detox from shopping and anyone can take part provided they spend a day without spending.

"Everything we buy has an impact on the environment," say the organisers. "Buy Nothing Day highlights the environmental and ethical consequences of consumerism. 

"The developed countries - only 20% of the world population are consuming over 80% of the earth's natural resources, causing a disproportionate level of environmental damage, and an unfair distribution of wealth.

"As consumers we need to question the products we buy and challenge the companies who produce them. What are the true risks to the environment and developing countries? We all know recycling is OK for the the environment, but consuming less is better and Buy Nothing Day is a great way to start.

On Buy Nothing Day, people around the UK will make a pact with themselves to take a break from consumption as a personal experiment or public statement and the best thing is - it's free.

Of course, Buy Nothing Day isn't about changing your lifestyle for just one day - the people behind the idea want it to be a lasting relationship with you consumer conscience - maybe a life changing experience? 

"We want people to make a commitment to consuming less, recycling more and challenging companies to clean up and be fair. 

"The supermarket or shopping mall might offer great choice, but this shouldn't be at the cost of the environment or developing countries."

• For more info visit or Follow Buy Nothing Day UK on TWitter ( and Facebook (

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Conscientious Objection in World War One in Lancashire talk announced

Lancaster will host a free public talk by Barry Mills exploring the history of conscientious objection and the Northern Friends Peace Board during World War One next week.

The Global Link Development Education Centre has received £10,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund’s First World War; then and now programme to mark the First World War Centenary by researching the stories of conscientious objectors in Lancashire. These stories will be shared through a lecture series, a touring poster exhibition and a website.

The Northern Friends Peace Board was founded in 1913 after a conference of Quarterly Meetings (the then regional groupings and main administrative unit amongst Quakers in Britain) in February of that year. Today, most of the Board are appointed as representatives by Quaker Area Meetings in the North of Britain. Their purpose, from our 1913 founding meeting, is "to advise and encourage Friends, and through them their fellow citizens, in the active promotion of peace in all its height and breadth".
Education Worker Alison Lloyd Williams said, "We are delighted to have received the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund for this project. If anyone would like to get involved as a volunteer, researching and documenting the stories of conscientious objectors please contact

"Or if you have photos, objects or memories of conscientious objectors among your family and friends, get in touch, so we can share and celebrate these stories as well."

• Barry Mills: The History of Conscientious Objection and the Northern Friends Peace Board during World War One 7.30 pm Wednesday 12th November 2014, the Friends Meeting House, Meeting House Lane, Lancaster. Web:
• Northern Friends Peace Board:

Eric Statue Back in December

Lancaster City Council has officially announced that the Eric Morecambe statue will return to its rightful home on Morecambe's sea front on Thursday 11th December.

Following the recent damage to the statue, the city council has been working closely  with its creator, sculptor Graham Ibbeson, to make the necessary repairs. The London foundry which has been working on the statue has now confirmed that it can be reinstated in December.

Coun Ron Sands, Cabinet member with responsibility for tourism, said: “The city council has been working closely with Graham, who has pulled out all the stops to make the repairs as quickly as possible.

“We are extremely grateful to him for rearranging his own busy workload, and also to the London foundry doing the work, to help us get Eric back home.”

Details of an official event to celebrate the statue’s return are currently being discussed and more details will be provided nearer the time.

Sci-Tech future talks series launches with 'Deception and Fake IDs' at the Storey

'Unlocking the future' is a series of free Science and Technology talks to be delivered by Lancaster University PhD students and early career researchers. They will be held at the Storey every Tuesday at 7pm from 18 November until 9 December.

The series launches on the 18th with 'The Web of Lies: Deception and fake identities on- and offline'. Lara Warmelink and Alistair Baron will discuss lying and masquerading as someone else on the internet.
First Lara will discuss deception and how to detect it from a psychological point of view, then Alistair will present work on software that detects adults masquerading as children online.

Following every talk and audience questions, there will be opportunity to chat to the speakers in the bar area, where some complementary light catering will be provided.
The talks are completely free, though you will need to book online at where you can see the full series programme.

On the 25th comes 'Mighty metals: Probing nuclear waste and expediting drug discovery', with Dr Vil Franckevičius and Dr Fabrice Andrieux.  This session will give a flavour of two seemingly disparate practical applications of metals in contemporary engineering and chemistry.
Fabrice will show how the behaviour of metallic compounds can be used to detect them in industrial applications, helping the nuclear sector to improve safety.
Vil will then move on to discuss the advances, demands and challenges of modern drug discovery, and illustrate how metal catalysts can be used to accelerate the preparation of new drug molecules.

On 2 December, Robin Frost, researcher in business supply chain emissions, and extreme weather statistician Hugo Winter will talk about 'The Impacts of Climate Change: From Global to Local'.

Finally, pursuing the quest for online privacy, on 9 December Dr Rob Young will talk about 'Trusting Quantum Physics: Lighting the way to secure communications'.
Protecting communication against eavesdropping has remained an unsolved problem since the dawn of information exchange. Nowadays, public systems tend to base their encryption on mathematical complexity, but this is vulnerable to intelligent attacks, and the ever-increasing power of computers.

Recent advances in physics have offered a novel solution to this problem. Quantum physics tells us that we cannot measure a system without altering it; so if ultra-weak pulses of light are used to communicate a secret, then we can detect the presence of someone snooping, through the unintentional changes they must make. In future, the security of information could be guaranteed by basic principles of physics.
In this talk Robert will discuss quantum information, and explain the work that’s going on at Lancaster to build the components required to create a quantum internet.