Thursday, 9 July 2015

Police Appeal after pensioner seriously injured in Parliament Street collision

Police are appealing for information after a man was seriously injured in a collision in Lancaster yesterday.

The incident happened at about 11.40am on Wednesday 8th July when a 77-year-old local man was involved in a collision with a single decker Stagecoach bus at Parliament Street, Lancaster near to North Road car park.

The man suffered serious injuries and was airlifted to the Royal Preston Hospital where he is currently described as very poorly.

Seregant Nigel Ralphson, of West Road Policing Unit, said: “We would like to speak with anyone on the bus who didn’t provide their details to officers at the time and any other witnesses who may have seen the collision but weren’t in a position to leave their details.”

Anyone with information should contact police on 101 quoting log number 0453 of July 8th.

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Local Cinema Round-Up for the 8th to 16th July 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.

This week is rather quiet as far as the cinema is concerned. There is just a single new release, the comedy Listen Up Phillip (15).

We have lost the movies Knock, KnockMoomins on the Riviera and The Longest Ride. Also is seems that San Andreas will soon be coming to the end of its screening. However four movies have returned to the local screen. These are the family favourites Cinderella and Home; the horror film Insidious Chapter 3 and the drama Woman in Gold.

The week sees a good selection of family movies with MinionsFairytale: Story of the Seven DwarvesCinderella and Two by Two. Also next week brings the release of Thomas & Friends: Sodor's Legend of Lost Treasure and later in the month is the animation Inside Out.

Adult comedy is represented by Magic Mike XXLSpyEntourage and the excellent Ted 2.

Theatre on film this week has two entires, London Road and NT Live: Everyman.


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.

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 instalment 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.

Director: Pierre Coffin, Kyle Balda
Certificate: U
Cast Includes: Sandra Bullock, Michael Keaton, Steve Coogan, Jennifer Saunders.
The film is both a spin off and a prequel to the Despicable Me franchise. The Minions have always existed on earth and the movie begins by tracing their evolution. They have the purpose of serving the most despicable of masters though not very successfully. The race finally retired to the Antarctic where they fare badly. Hence Minions Kevin, Stuart and Bob decide to seek a new master for their race to work for. In a villain convention in Orlando they decide to serve the supervillain Scarlet Overkill (Bullock) who is planning to overthrow the Queen of England. The film, using skits and Musical numbers expands on this plot. The Minions were the best part of the Despicable Me franchise and so it is fitting that they have their own film. The movie is very entertaining, inoffensive and funny and will delight all ages. However this reviewer would have liked more minions and fewer supervillains.

Mr Holmes
Director: Bill Condon
Certificate: PC
Cast includes: Ian McKellen, Laura Linney, Milo Parker.
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.

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.

Ted 2
Director: Seth MacFarlane
Certificate: 15
Cast Includes: Seth MacFarlane, Jessica Barth, Morgan Freeman, Mark Wahlberg
The movie is a sequel to the highly successful 2012 original. Ted is a teddybear with human actions and emotions who has married his (human) girlfriend Tami-Lynn (Barth). Yet the marriage is having problems so Ted and Tami-Lynn decide to have a child to save their relationship. They try to adopt, but this leads to their marriage being annulled and Ted ruled as property and not a person. To resolve this Ted must go to court to prove he is human. The film provides adult humour in abundance and makes a worthy sequel the original. See it if you are not easily offended.

Terminator Genisys
Director: Alan Taylor
Certificate: 12A
Cast Includes: Jason Clarke, Emilia Clarke, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jai Courtney
The movie is an attempt to recover from the less that impressive sequel 'Salvation' and it strives to capture the appeal of the original. Again machines rule the future and they are trying to kill Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke) before she can give birth to John Connor (Jason Clarke). Again a future John Connor sends Kyle Reese (Courtney) back to 1984 to protect his mother. However Reese finds the time line has become altered. Now there is a Guardian cyborg (Schwarzenegger) who becomes Reese's ally. The plot provides a heroic effort to breath some life into the terminator franchise and to maintain what made the first movie such a classic. However the 12A certificate means the battle scenes are not as impressive and in parts the movie seems more of a parody of the original. A watchable film, but not a classic.

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Government cuts not to blame for staff and wage cuts at Beaumont College, says MP David Morris

Beaumont College. Photo © Copyright Roger May, licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence
Morecambe and Lunesdale MP David Morris has hit back at claims that government cuts are the cause of staff and wage cuts at Skerton-based Beaumont College, which is run by the national charity, SCOPE.

The college offers education and support to 79 young people with a range of conditions, including cerebral palsy, Down’s syndrome and autism and gained a positive report from health watchdog the Care Quality Commission after an inspection in September 2014.

Last month, employees at the College, which is running at a loss as student numbers have declined, were told 72 jobs would go and were informed that remaining staff could face a 13% pay cut. Staff told the Lancaster Guardian the cuts will seriously reduce the quality of care they give to students, who have a range of physical and learning disabilities and Lancaster MP Cat Smith argued government cuts, which have seen years with no increase in funding have not been easy for the college.

Maria Chambers, Director of Education at Scope, told the newspaper the changes were “a difficult decision”.

“Student numbers at Beaumont have been declining in the last few years,” she said. "As the number of students being referred by local authorities has reduced, the amount of money we receive in fees has also reduced by around £1.5m."

In a post to his official web site, David Morris MP reports that he met with Mark Hoda, Head of public affairs at SCOPE to get to the bottom of rumours about the reason for changes to staffing levels at Beaumont College in Slyne.

Mr Hoda told Mr Morris that the decision was not because of Government cuts, but because there were less pupils being sent to the School by the County Councils in the area and that the funding is paid per student by the County.

"After again reading fictitious reports that Government cuts were to blame I asked Mr Hoda to come and meet with me in Parliament to see where I could help," said Mr Morris.

"I was told that the decision was not something that had been made at a Government level but was due to more young people being sent to mainstream colleges as the County Council seemed to promote this route more favourably.

"I have been informed that staff are being talked to as part of a consultation process and no decision has yet been finalised.

"Most importantly however Scope have assured me that the students who are attending Beaumont College will not have their education disrupted in any way nor will future intakes of children. This is simply a measure to ensure the college has the right amount of staff for the number of pupils who attend."

Despite Mr Morris strident defence of the government, changes to benefits and other policy decisions made by the Tories are worrying a huge number of people. The 13% has alarmed staff at the college, with fears that they will no longer be able to afford to work there - an issue Mr Morris chose not to address in his statement.

Beaumont College students were recently in London, joining other young people with disabilities in the "National Star: Right Not a Fight" protest, campaigning for the same rights to further education as their peers.

Students with disabilities and learning difficulties started their campaign ‘Right not a Fight’ last year, to voice their concerns about being blocked from accessing the colleges of their choice.

One year on, campaigners say the situation is even worse – young people and their families are not receiving the right information and are enduring a revolving door of assessments, reviews and appeals, despite the introduction of the Children and Families Act 2014 which says that local authorities must support young people to achieve the best possible educational and outcomes, preparing them effectively for adulthood.

Monday, 6 July 2015

City centre mugging prompts police appeal

Lancaster detectives investigating the robbery of an 82-year-old man who was mugged in Lancaster's city centre have charged a man in connection with the incident but are appealing for any further witnesses.

The incident happened sometime between 7.00pm and 7.30pm on Friday 3rd July in the doorway of a bar on Market Street, Lancaster. It is thought that the victim was walking past the bar when a man asked him for money, before pushing him into the doorway and taking a bag from him containing his mobile phone and other personal items.

The victim has been left shaken and has since needed medical treatment after collapsing the day after the incident.

“Members of staff at the bar and members of the public came to assist the victim," said DC 6014 Jill Neil of Lancaster CID, "but we are still appealing for any further witnesses to come forward.”

A 30-year-old man from Morecambe has been charged with robbery and is due to appear at Lancaster Magistrates Court today (Monday 6th July).

Anyone with information should contact police on 01524 596639 quoting log number 1379 of July 3rd. Alternatively Crimestoppers can be called anonymously on 0800 555 111 or on-line at