Thursday, 21 May 2015

Plans for Morecambe BID ramp up

The old Morecambe Visitor building

Morecambe businesses and the Lancaster District Chamber of Commerce both recognise that central Morecambe is in need of improvement. Having taken on board the overriding concerns of the local business community, the Morecambe Business Improvement District (BID) believes that 2015 can be the year that businesses take control and begin the process of building Morecambe into the dynamic and prosperous town it can be.

Businesses in central Morecambe were invited to join the Morecambe BID at their campaign launch on Wednesday 20th May at the Midland Hotel in Morecambe, giving them the opportunity to meet the BID steering group, learn more about Business Improvement Districts, and hear about successful active BIDs around the UK.

The Morecambe BID has been in consultation with local businesses to find out how they would like to see central Morecambe improved. The results of the surveys and one-to-one discussions were fed back to the business community at the campaign launch, where attendees were greatly encouraged to join in the conversation.

Business Improvement Districts are business funded and business led initiatives designed to bring real and measurable improvements to town centres. Businesses have the first and final say as to how the BID money is spent, giving businesses the ability to transform their community for the better.

The Morecambe BID campaign launch was another step towards ensuring businesses' hopes and concerns for central Morecambe were heard.

• For more information about the Lancaster BID go to: Lancaster's Business Improvement District

• For more information about Morecambe BID go to: Morecambe's Business Improvement District

• For more information about local BIDs, contact the Chamber of Commerce on 01524 381331, or for the Morecambe BID, email 

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Psychology research team studies meat-eaters

Dieticians and nutritionists issue repeated warnings about the very common effects of overeating meat on health.

Climatologists warn that animal agriculture is responsible for 18 percent of all human-induced greenhouse gas emissions, including 37 percent of methane emissions and 65 percent of nitrous oxide emissions. The methane releases from billions of animals on factory farms are 70 times more damaging per ton to the earth’s atmosphere than CO2.

In addition, to prevent the inevitable spread of disease from stress, overcrowding and lack of vitamin D, factory farmed animals (ie most food animals) are routinely dosed with antibiotics.

So an international team led by Dr Jared Piazza, lecturer in Moral Psychology at Lancaster University, has been looking into how meat-eaters go about handling any guilt feelings that might arise about eating meat.

They also studied how these strategies related to other characteristics, such as concern or disregard for social equality, animal welfare or ethical food product choices and ability to distinguish mental activity in animals

They have found that those meat eaters who find reasons to justify their eating habits not only feel less guilty - but are also more accepting of social inequality.

Dr Piazza said: “Morally motivated vegetarians may serve as a source of implicit moral reproach for many omnivores, eliciting behaviours designed to defend against moral condemnation.”

In English this means that for some meat-eaters, when they see vegetarians, they may feel that they themselves are being judged badly for eating meat, and so they work out reasons to justify doing it, as a defense.

The team examined the ways in which people justify eating meat.

They found that the vast majority of omnivores defend their practice of eating animals by using one of four rationalisations, which they call 'the 4Ns'.

Dr Piazza explained: “The relationships people have with animals are complicated. While most people enjoy the company of animals and billions of dollars are spent each year on pet care and maintenance, most people continue to eat animals as food. People employ a number of strategies to overcome this apparent contradiction in attitude and behaviour.

"One important and prevalent strategy is to rationalise that meat consumption is Natural, Normal Necessary and Nice."

This study asked students and adults in the United States why they find it OK to eat meat.  The largest category used to justify their choice was that that it is “necessary” followed by the other three categories.

Typical comments used to justify eating meat include these 4Ns:

  • Natural “Humans are natural carnivores”
  • Necessary “Meat provides essential nutrients”
  • Normal “I was raised eating meat”
  • Nice “It’s delicious”
Men endorsed the 4Ns more than women - while people who rejected these justifications showed a greater concern for animal welfare.

People who said meat eating is Natural, Necessary, Normal and Nice also share other characteristics; they attributed fewer mental capacities to cows and were more tolerant of social inequality among humans.  

The study also indicated that they were:
  • less likely to be motivated by ethical concerns when making food choices, 
  • less involved in animal-welfare advocacy, 
  • less proud of their animal-product decisions, 
  • highly committed to eating meat. 

Omnivores who strongly endorsed the 4Ns tended to experience less guilt about their animal-product decisions, highlighting the guilt-alleviating function of the 4Ns.

Dr Piazza said: “The 4Ns are a powerful pervasive tool employed by individuals to diffuse the guilt one might otherwise experience when consuming animal products.”

The research Rationalising Meat Consumption. The 4Ns in the journal Appetite is co-authored by Matthew Ruby and Juliana Kulik from the University of Pennsylvania, Steve Loughnan from the University of Edinburgh and  Mischel Luong, Hanne Watkins and Mirra Seigerman from Melbourne University.

Local Cinema Round-Up for 20th to 28th May 2015

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.

A good time for new movies. This week sees nine new releases making it to the Lancaster screens.

There are four new family oriented films. These include two animations, Dino Time (PG) and Moomins on the Riviera (U). Also there is the adventure movie Up all Night (PG) and the Disney Fantasy Tomorrowland: A World Beyond (12A).

Other new releases are the adult comedy Spy (15); a welcome return to horror with Poltergeist (15); the revenge thriller Return to Sender (18); adventure with San Andreas (12A) and the drama Whiplash (15).

In addition the movie Big hero 6 has returned after a short absence.

Surprisingly with such an abundance of new releases only two films have vanished from the screens. These are A Little Chaos and Fast & Furious 7. However the films Big Game, The Age of Adaline and Unfriended look likely to vanish in the near future.

There is again a dearth of high culture this period, as the only theatre is NT Encore: Man and Superman. However the David Lynch season continues at the Dukes with the classic Mulholland Drive. Also the Dukes are holding another installment of their Film Quiz evening on Sunday 24th.


Avengers: Age of Ultron
Director: Joss Whedon
Certificate: 12A
Cast Includes: Robert Downey Jr, Mark Ruffalo, Jeremy Renner, Chris Evans, Scarlet Johansson, Chris Hemsworth, James Spader, Paul Bettany
This is the eleventh film in the franchise and the movie starts where 'The Avengers' finished. Following a raid on a Hydra outpost, Stark (Downey) and Banner (Ruffalo) complete Stark's defense program to protect the earth using an artificial intelligence. However the latter, Ultron (Spader) strives for human destruction. Ultron attacks the avengers and develops a plan to end humanity. Following the battle the avengers start to fight among themselves. However Stark creates a new being, Vision (Bettany) who aids the avengers in their final confrontation with Ultron. This is a very fast acting movie, louder and bigger than its predecessors with complicated plot and titanic special effects. The movie has received good reviews and will delight anyone who enjoyed previous Avenger movies.

Director: Kenneth Branagh
Certificate: U
Cast includes: Lily James, Cate Blanchett, Stellan Skarsgard, Richard Madden
Disney's re-telling of the story of Cinderella. Cinderella (James) finds herself at the mercy of her cruel stepmother Lady Tremaine (Blanchett) following the death of her father. The film sticks very close to Disney's 1950 animated musical. Cinderella is rather 'sickly sweet' but this is offset by the malevolence of the character of Lady Tremaine. The movie has some comedy action and a good selection of special effects. There is nothing in here to offend and the movie will be loved by all.

Far From the Madding Crowd
Director: Thomas Vinterberg
Certificate: 12A
Cast Includes: Juno Temple, Carey Mulligan, Tom Sturridge, Matthias Schoenaerts, Michael Sheen
The latest film adaptation of Thomas Hardy's classic novel of the same name. Bathsheba Everdene (Mulligan) is a willful young woman who has come into property by inheritance. Her looks and manner result in three potential suitors looking to marry her, a sheep farmer Gabriel Oaks (Schoenaerts), a middle aged neighbour William Boldwood (Sheen) and a handsome Sargent Frank Troy (Sturridge). However Bathsheba comes to regret her choice of husband. This is a fine adaption of what is a difficult novel to bring to the screen. The scenery is glorious and acting excellent. A solid period drama romance.

Director: Gil Kenan
Certificate: 15
Cast includes: Rosemarie DeWitt, Sam Rockwell, Kennedi Clements, Jane Adams, Jared Harris
This is a remake of the classic Spielberg and Hooper 'Poltergeist' released in 1982. Eric (Rockwell) has lost his job whereas his wife Amy (DeWitt) is an unsuccessful writer. Hence they downsize, taking their three children to live in a rather dilapidated house in the suburbs. Here the children suffer from psychic attacks and their younger child Madison (Clement) becomes infatuated with a TV set. Madison is captured by a malevolent spirit and the TV provides the only means of communication between herself and her family. Her parents seek help, initially from a parapsychologist Dr Claire Powell (Adams) and thence from a psychic Carrigan Burke (Harris) in order to save their daughter. This is an action packed film, with solid acting, though the film offers little time for the characters to be developed. The movie follows closely the 1982 original and provides a worthwhile remake.

Spooks: The Greater Good
Director: Bharat Nalluri
Certificate: 15
Cast Includes: Jennifer Ehle, Laura Pulver, Kit Harington, Tuppence Middleton, Peter Firth, Elyes Gabel
A terrorist, Adam Qasim (Gabel), escapes from MI5 custody. Harry Pearce (Firth), head of counter terrorism, is blamed and Harry subsequently vanishes. Agent Will Halloway (Harington) is brought back into MI5 to investigate. He succeeds in finding Harry and the two of them work to uncover a traitor who deliberately freed the terrorist and who is plotting to destroy MI5. The film is set in London and marks the cinema debut of the TV series that was first broadcast in 2002. The movie captures the spirit of the series and references events in the final episode. The plot is unpredictable with plenty of twists and turns and the film has its fair share of action. This is a tense, fast paced offering that will delight anyone who enjoyed the TV show. However it may not quite have enough presence to win over an international audience.

Director: Paul Feig
Certificate: 15
Cast includes: Melissa McCarthy, Jason Statham, Jude Law, Rose Byrne
Susan Cooper (McCarthy) is a CIA agent who works at a desk. However her partner Bradley Fine (Law) is assassinated in the field whilst another agent Richard Ford (Statham) is compromised. Despite lack of practical experience, Cooper volunteers to go underground and infiltrate the network of the arms dealer Rayna Boyanov (Byrne) in order to avenge Fine's death. In truth the plot does not really matter in this film, simply enjoy it as a tremendous spoof of spy movies. McCarthy brings all her comedic talents to bear in this film and Statham also sends up his usual macho roles. Great performances, great comedy.

The Age of Adaline
Director: Lee Toland Krieger
Certificate: 12A
Cast Includes: Blake Lively, Michiel Huisman, Harrison Ford
Adaline Bowman (Lively) is almost eighty years old. However she has kept her youth as, following a freak accident, she stopped ageing when she was 28. She hides the secret of her age by leading a solitary existence, and making a new identify every decade. However after a chance encounter with a philanthropist Ellis Jones (Huisman) she falls in love with him. She meets his family, but is recognised by his father William (Ford) who knew her in the past. The plot of this movie is a little contrived, but if you can forgive that it is a well crafted and well acted fantasy love story.

Director: Levan Gabriadze
Certificate: 15
Cast includes: Jacob Wysocki, Shelly Hennig, Moses Jacob Storm, Courtney Halverson, Heather Sossaman
This was initially released under the title Cybernatural. The movie is based in California, though the set of the film is the screen of the computer of Blaire Lily (Hennig). Blaire's friend Laura Barns (Sossaman) committed suicide a year earlier after a video was released on the Internet which shamed her. Now Blair and her set of friends find themselves being stalked on Skype and other social media by an unknown figure who starts to reveal the dark secrets of the group of friends. This is a teen horror movie that will appeal to a generation whose social life revolves around social media. The film has its share of frights and setting the movie on a computer screen is breaking new ground for the horror genre.

Director: Jean-Marc Vallee
Certificate: 15
Cast includes: Reese Witherspoon, Thomas Sadoski
A biographical drama based on Cheryl Strayed's memoirs of her trek across America. Cheryl (Witherspoon) is a woman with an unfortunate past. Her mother died of cancer. Her marriage failed and she fell into reckless and self destructive behaviour. In an attempt to make sense of her life, Strayed decided to hike the Pacific Crest Trail on her own. The trail is in excess of 1000 miles, extending from Mexico, through California to the Canadian border. The film follows Strayed's journey, with frequent flashbacks to fill in the details of her earlier life. This is a fine drama supported by the music and poetry that kept her going. It is difficult not to feel that you are accompanying her on the way. 

Police investigating boy-pack sexual assault on 14-year-old girls in Morecambe

Police are investigating a sexual assault against two 14-year old girls in Morecambe.

The incident happened at around 3.15pm on Saturday afternoon, May 16th on a cycle path between Trimpell Sports and Social Club in Morecambe and the Frankie and Benny’s restaurant on Central Drive

It is alleged that the girls were approached by a group of boys and then subjected to a sexual assault.

Detective Insp Jason Richardson, of West CID, said: “We are treating this extremely seriously and I would appeal for anyone who has any information or who witnessed anything to get in touch with us. The girls involved are being supported by specially trained officers.”

Five boys, three aged 12 and two aged 14 and 15 from Morecambe were arrested on suspicion of rape and assault by touching. They have all been bailed pending further enquiries until August

Anyone with information should contact police on 101 quoting log number 0998 of May 16th.

Lancaster University-developed Alzheimer’s drug to enter clinical trials

Professor David Allsop
A new drug developed at Lancaster University that may help to prevent the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease is to enter clinical trials.
The number of people with dementia is steadily increasing. Currently there are about 850,000 cases in the UK, with numbers expected to reach over a million by 2021. 

The most common cause of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease which begins when a protein called beta-amyloid forms senile plaques that start to clump together in the brain, damaging nerve cells and leading to memory loss and confusion.

David Allsop, Professor of Neuroscience, and Dr Mark Taylor, from the Faculty of Health and Medicine, have developed a new drug which in laboratory tests reduces the number of these senile plaques and the amount of brain inflammation and oxidative damage associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

Lancaster University has filed a patent application for the drug, and it will be progressing into clinical trials run by the north-west research company MAC Clinical Research, which has offiices around the country, including Blackpool and Manchester. If it passes regulatory hurdles, the ultimate aim is to give the drug to people with mild symptoms of memory loss.

Professor Allsop said: “It is encouraging that our drug is being taken forward and will be tested on humans.

“Many people who are mildly forgetful may go on to develop the disease because senile plaques start forming years before any symptoms manifest themselves. The ultimate aim is to give the drug at that stage, to stop any more damage to the brain.”

Professor Allsop, who is a member of the Alzheimer's Society Research Strategy Council, was the first scientist to isolate senile plaques from the human brain.

My grandfather suffered from Alzheimer's and from then on I developed a keen interest into how the disease is initiated and how it develops and progresses in the brain," he says. "This, together with my first postdoctoral research position at Nottingham University, sparked a career in dementia research that has continued ever since. 

"I hope that my research will make a significant contribution towards benefitting the lives of the many people affected by the disease. We must understand where the Alzheimer's protein (beta-amyloid) comes from and in what form it is able to damage the brain, and how we can prevent this damage from happening (or even reverse it). Ultimately, this knowledge will hopefully lead to a cure for this devastating disease."

Dr Steve Higham, Chief Operating Officer of MAC Clinical Research said: “Preventing Alzheimer's disease progression remains a critical unmet need for millions of people worldwide. With that in mind we are very pleased to begin this exciting partnership with Professor David Allsop, his team and Lancaster University.”

Dr James Pickett, Head of Research at Alzheimer’s Society which currently funds the research, said: “There’s a tremendous need for new treatments that can stop the development of dementia in its tracks. Trials in people are an essential step in the development of any new drug so it’s really positive to see this promising research being taken forward.

“Alzheimer’s Society will continue to fund drug development research like this to ensure the best new treatments reach the people who desperately need them as soon as possible.”

Other contributing researchers include groups led by Lancaster University’s Professor Christian Hölscher (formerly of Ulster University) and Professor Massimo Masserini at University of Milano-Bicocca, Italy. 

Lancaster University launched the “Defying Dementia” campaign earlier this year, in order to raise awareness of Alzheimer’s and the new drug, and to raise funds for further research.  You can find out more about the Defying Demential campaign at

• Dementia Awareness Week is running this week. Further Information:

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Alfred Street Recycling Site to close, branded eyesore by locals

Lancaster City Council is to close Alfred Street recycling site in Lancaster after local residents said it had become an eyesore.

In November last year, the council asked residents in the area for their views on the site and the vast majority felt that the site had become a hotspot for flytipping and that they would be happy to recycle using their kerbside recycling boxes.

The banks will be removed in the next few weeks and it will then cease to be a recycling site.

Anyone who regularly used the site can recycle the following items in their kerbside recycling boxes:

• Paper including shredded paper, catalogues, telephone directories, gift wrap and cards and junk mail
• Cardboard (large pieces can be placed at the side of your boxes for collection)
• Glass bottles and jars
• Food tins and drinks cans, foil, aerosols and large sweet/biscuit tins.
• Plastic Bottles
• Textiles and shoes can be placed in labelled carrier bags at the side of your recycling boxes for collection.

The nearest recycling site is now located in the car park on Thurnham Street, Lancaster where you can recycle glass, cans, paper, small electrical items and textiles.

Anyone requiring any recycling boxes should contact Lancaster City Council’s Customer Services Centre on 01524 582491.

If you have any queries regarding the closure of the recycling site, you should contact the council’s waste and recycling team tel. 01524 582466. For more information on waste and recycling in the area visit

Monday, 18 May 2015

Rocking Horse set to return to New Street - and Wibbly Wobbly burgers to Lancaster city centre, too!

Photo © James Mackie. Used with permission

With the great news that a much-loved takeaway, Wibbly Wobbly, is about to expand into new premises, the old toy shop in New Street, Lancaster, we're also pleased to report that restoration work has finally begun on the listed building's iconic rocking horse.

Wibbly Wobbly, which has an operation on Lancaster University campus, first opened in the 1980s in Sir Simon's Arcade and was not only a great takewaway – who reading this also remembers their named and themed burgers? – but was also a distribution point for the free events zines that preceded virtual-lancaster, Off The Beat and Something Completely Different.

"We have lots to do for the opening of the new shop, but it's business as usual at the Uni," say Wibbly Wibbly team.

In recent years 8 New Street been used as a restaurant and, most recently, as a vintage toy shop.

Local designer James Mackie (of Dalton Square-based Mackies of Lancaster) is busy working on returning the rocking horse - the third horse to grace the building's exterior, this one first erected in about 1987 when the shop was run as a Lawson's toy shop.

"My job over the next few months will be to fully restore this listed shop sign courtesy of the shop's owners and a grant from the Business Improvement District," says James. "It is no small task!"

James has art and design in his bones as both his parents were art teachers and he lived his formative years in the long and detailed restoration of his family home in Georgian Lancaster. A former pupil at Lancaster Royal Grammar School, he's had a varied career that includes being a keyboard player for the Two-Tone band The Selecter and later played for Madness, going on to compose music for theatre, television, film, and radio. His musical interests still continue today, despite being busy running his company's shop with his partner, Christine.

James was encouraged to learn gilding and specialist painting by a freelance craftsman and friend in London who undertook work for Aspreys and Buckingham Palace, amongst others. He then started to make and paint furniture and, later, became a member of the Guild of Master Craftsmen.

After returning to Lancaster with his wife and two children and in 2000 James decided to dedicate himself full-time to interior design and opened the shop in the heart of his historic home town.

Our thanks to James for permission to feature his photograph.

Wibbly WobblyBurger Bar on Facebook | Instagram

• Mackies of Lancaster: