Thursday, 18 June 2015

Woman, 85, assaulted with paving stone in Heysham

Police are investigating the serious assault of an 85-year-old woman in Heysham.

Officers were called by the ambulance service at around 11.45am today (Thursday 18 June) to the report of a woman suffering a serious head injury after being assaulted by a man with what is thought to be a paving stone at an address on School Road.

She was unconscious and taken to Royal Preston Hospital by air ambulance for treatment. Her condition is described as serious.

A 57-year-old man from Heysham has been arrested on suspicion of attempted murder and is currently in police custody.

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Local Cinema Round-Up for the 17th to 25th June 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.

Again a week with a good selection of new films. Mainstream releases are the comedy Entourage (15); drama with The Longest Ride (12A); suspense with Mr Holmes (PG) and the musical documentary The Damned Don't you wish that we were Dead. In addition there is drama from international cinema with The New Girlfriend (15 subtitles)Timbuktu (12A subtitles) and The Tribe (18 - no dialogue).

The region has lost the movies Avengers: Age of Ultron and Tomorrowland: A World Beyond. In addition it seems that we may soon lose Pitch Perfect 2. However by way of compensation, the wartime romance Suite Francaise has returned for one final showing.

Two films of note at different ends of the cultural scale are Take That: Live at the O2 and two short operas with Glyndebourne: Ravel Double Bill. A more unusual movie of interest is The Tribe. This features a cast of deaf actors and is set in a world of institutionalised crime.

The film Mr Holmes has attracted excellent reviews and lays claim as the must see movie of the week. Also by way of movie news, the Dukes are holding another of their film Quiz evenings on the Sunday.


Insidious: Chapter 3
Director: Leigh Whannell
Certificate: 15
Cast Includes: Lin Shaye, Stefanie Scott, Dermal Mulroney
The movie is set some years before the original Insidious brought us the haunting of the Lambert family, and the film is the third in the Insidious franchise. Quinn (Scott) and Sean (Mulroney) Brenner are daughter and father, Quinn's mother Lillith having recently died. Quinn starts to experience paranormal incidents and subsequently becomes the victim of full blown attacks by a malevolent entity. Her father contacts a gifted medium Elise Rainier (Shaye) and convinces her to work to save Quinn from the monster that is responsible for the hauntings. This is a very competent horror movie that builds up the tension and allows the audience to empathise with the various characters. There are frights a plenty and during the film we come to see the development of Elise into the fearless medium that we meet in the other films in the franchise. A 'must see' horror movie.

Jurassic World
Director: Colin Trevorrow
Certificate: 12A
Cast includes: Bryce Dallas Howard, Irrfan Khan, B.D. Wong, Chris Pratt
This is the fourth installment in the Jurassic Park series and the best of the sequels. Jurassic World is a theme park in Costa Rica that has been open for some two decades. However visitors are starting to get bored with the sight of tame dinosaurs. Hence, their lab has been using genetic techniques to create a real monster dinosaur, Indominus Rex, to rekindle interest. The park is managed by Claire Dearing (Howard) and Owen Grady (Pratt) is an animal behaviourist working with the Dinosaurs. On the day that Claire brings her two nephews to the park the Indominus Rex escapes. She must work with Owen to save her nephews and save the day. The movie has number of fine action pieces though the action gets in the way of character development. Also there is a romance element between Claire and Owen. The dialogue in not always believable, but there are jokes and the film pays homage to the original Jurassic Park. For an audience not yet jaded by dinosaur action, this is an entertaining action film.

Mr Holmes
Director: Bill Condon
Certificate: PC
Cast includes: Ian McKellen, Laura Linney, Milo Parker.
A Sherlock Holmes film that is loosely based on Mitch Cullin's 2005 novel 'A slight trick of the Mind'. Holmes is aged 93 and has retired to the Devon coast where he lives with a housekeeper Mrs Munro (Linney) and her son Roger (Parker). His passion is now bee keeping. His memory is fading and Holmes suspects he is succumbing to dementia. He is unhappy with the way he has been portrayed in Watson's accounts of his famous adventures and wishes to address this by writing his own account of one of his cases. The film is much slower than the portrayal of Holmes in recent TV series and Holmes himself has a more fragile and human character. Much of the sequences in the film are flashbacks and McKellen makes a superb Sherlock Holmes. An excellent film.

Pitch Perfect 2
Director: Elizabeth Banks
Certificate: 12A
Cast includes: Anna Kendrick, Elizabeth Banks, Rebel Wilson, Adam DeVine, Brittany Snow
A sequel to the the 2012 movie 'Pitch Perfect' with many of the cast from the previous movie continuing with their roles. The Bellas are an a cappella singing group at Barden University who have previously won a national competition. A hilarious 'wardrobe malfunction' during a performance means the group will be disbanded unless they can redeem themselves by winning the world a cappella tournament in Holland. This requires beating their rivals, a techno group called Das Sound Machine. This is one of the better teen movies and is the highest grossing musical comedy. A worthy successor to the original film.

San Andreas
Director: Brad Payton
Certificate: 12A
Cast Includes: Dwane Johnson, Carla Guging, Ioan Gruffudd, Alexandra Daddario, Hugo Johnstone-Burt, Art Parkinson
A magnitude nine earthquake hits California, demolishing Los Angeles and San Francisco. Chief Ray Gaines (Johnson), a pilot working for the LA Fire Department, rescues his estranged wife Emma (Gugino) from a crumbling building. The the two of them fly to San Francisco to save their daughter Blake (Daddario). Blake meanwhile been rescued by an engineer Ben (Johnstone-Burt) and his brother Ollie (Art Parkinson). This is a feel good disaster movie, following the lives of a half dozen people against the backdrop of a devastating series of earthquakes. There is impressive CGI footage of levelled cities and widespread destruction. Also we have fine acting from Daddario and Johnson, the latter playing his archetypal action character with a soupcon of humour. A proficient and watchable film.

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 send up of spy movies. McCarthy brings all her comedic talents to bear in this spoof and Statham also sends up his usual macho roles. Great performances, great comedy.

Suite Francaise
Director: Saul Dibb
Certificate: 15
Cast includes: Michelle Williams, Matthias Schoenaerts
Set in 1940 occupied France, this is a love story based on the unfinished 2004 novel by Irene Nemirovsky. French woman Lucille Angellier (Williams) waits for news of her husband who is a prisoner of war. A regiment of German soldiers arrive at their town and the soldiers are billeted in the French homes. In this way Lt. Bruno von Falk moves in with Lucille and over time the two fall in love. However the war ensures the course of the romance will not be smooth. This is a very competent production with excellent acting. It does not break any new ground and a more adventurous film may have made more of the material in Nemirovsky's novel. However as a sentimental romance the film works and is worth a trip to the cinema.

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Fathers in the frame in Lancaster: Specsavers is on the hunt for specs-wearing superstar dads

Families in Lancaster are being encouraged to enter their much-loved dads in the Spectacle Wearer of the Year Awards, a competition that celebrates glasses wearers nationwide.

By simply sharing a selfie in their specs at, dads could be in with a chance of winning £10,000 in cash and a dream stay at the Atlantis Paradise Island, Bahamas.

The prize will be presented later this year by former Spice Girl and Heart FM DJ Emma Bunton at a star-studded event in central London in October.

Shay Martin, 64, a former finalist and winner of Ireland’s Spectacle Wearer of the Year, says: ‘When I was invited to the grand final I was over the moon. My glasses are an important part of who I am and taking part in a competition that celebrates specs and glasses wearers was the best of fun.

‘As a father, grandfather and proud glasses wearer I think everyone should get involved this year, young, old and everything in between. It’s a fantastic night out for you and your loved ones and a great way of celebrating your glasses!’

Martin Jeffery, store director of Specsavers Lancaster, says: ‘We know that guys can be a little shy when it comes to shouting about how great they look. This Father’s Day we wanted to get families to put their dads forward to be in with chance of a once-in-a-lifetime prize.’

For every eligible entry, Specsavers will donate £1 to Kidscape, which is celebrating 30 years of helping vulnerable children in 2015. The money raised will help to support them in providing training, support and advice for children, parents, schools and those who may be affected by cases of bullying and abuse in the UK.

There are five age categories – 16-24, 25-34, 35-44, 45-59 and over 60s plus a Facebook favourite voted for by the public. A winner from each category will win a VIP makeover and will mingle with celebrities at the awards ceremony in London.

• To be in with a chance of scooping the biggest accolade in the specs-wearing world, glasses wearers can enter the competition online at, or alternatively at your nearest Specsavers store.

Recommendations Published on Shale Gas Planning Applications

Lancashire County Council has published its officers' recommendations on the applications by oil and gas company Cuadrilla to explore for shale gas at Preston New Road and Roseacre Wood, by drilling, hydraulically fracking and testing the flow of gas, and for monitoring their operations.

The officers' reports can be viewed on the Lancashire County Council website here (as Items 7 & 8).

Preston New Road: Recommended for Conditional approval
The application for Preston New Road has been recommended for approval, subject to a number of conditions controlling time limits, working programme, restriction on permitted development rights, highway matters, soil management, hours of working, safeguarding of water courses, control of noise, dust, lighting, security, ecology, archaeology, landscaping, restoration and aftercare.

Roseacre Wood: Recommended for Refusal
The application for Roseacre Wood has been recommended for refusal for the following reason: The proposed development would be contrary to Policy DM2 of the Joint Lancashire Minerals and Waste Local Plan – Site Allocation and Development Management Policies in that it would generate an increase in traffic, particularly HGV movements, that would result in an unacceptable impact on the rural highway network and on existing road users, particularly vulnerable road users and a reduction in overall highway safety that would be severe.

Associated applications have also been submitted for monitoring arrays. The monitoring arrays are designed to monitor seismic movement and water quality. These applications have been recommended for approval subject to conditions controlling time limits, working programme, site operations, times and hours of working, highway matters, protection of public rights of way, drainage, noise, protection of trees, ecological and archaeological protection, restoration and aftercare.

Council Restricted
The Council's Officers explained in their previous reports on these applications that they are not permitted to consider any issues which should be regulated by other agencies, such as the Environment Agency or the Health and Safety Executive.  They were not permitted to consider the track record record of the applicant. Despite repeated requests, the County Council has still not been permitted to see the unredacted version of the government's report on the potential economic impacts of fracking.

Government pressure
In keeping with the government's policy of fast-tracking fracking, regardless of local concerns, Chancellor George Osborne made it clear in his letter to government ministers that Cuadrilla's demands were to be expedited and that pressure was to be applied to Lancashire County County Council to ensure it understood what was required of it. The Chancellor's letter further explains that if the DCC refuses the applications, Cuadrilla will appeal and the final decision will be taken by the Secretary of State.

Decision Dates
The council's Development Control Committee will determine the applications for Preston New Road and Roseacre Wood at County Hall, Fishergate, Preston, PR1 8XJ on the following dates:

Preston New Road  - Tuesday 23 June 2015 10.00am, continued if necessary on Wednesday 24 June 2015 10.00am.

Roseacre Wood - Thursday 25 June 2015 10.00am, continued if necessary on Friday 26 June 2015 10.00am.

National Demonstrations in Preston
On the first day, Tues 23 June (and on subsequent days), concerned communities from around the UK will descend upon Lancashire County Hall on Fishergate in Preston for a peaceful show of solidarity and resistance. Lancaster people will be travelling down by train and coaches are organised from around the UK (see contact info poster to book seats from further afield). See Frack Free Lancashire on facebook for updates and 'The Frack Stops Here! 2' event page (and second event page).

Natalie Bennet, leader of the Green Party will be coming to present opposition to the applications on Wednesday 24 June (see event page) and activities are planned for all four days.