Saturday, 14 November 2015

Celebrate Lancashire Day!

Enjoy all things Lancashire at Lancaster City Council’s Visitor Information Centres, when both centres have their own celebrations of this special day.

This year’s Lancashire Day (27th November) falls on a Friday and the award winning Visitor Information Centres in Morecambe and Lancaster are inviting people to pop along and pick up lots of information about the county all week from Friday 20th November.

Lancashire Day recalls the occasion on November 27 1295 when elected representatives from Lancashire were called to Westminster by King Edward I to attend what later became known as “The Model Parliament.” True Lancastrians are asked to raise their glasses and drink the Loyal Toast to “The Queen, Duke of Lancaster”.

Both centres will be having a free prize draw to win a Lancashire goodie bag – pop along during the week to enter.

Books, tea, badges, fridge magnets, tea towels and china mugs – all with a Lancashire theme - are just a few gift ideas available from the information centres – ideal Christmas presents!

Green Party's Chris Coates runs for Carnforth city councillor post

Chris Coates 2015

Long standing member of the Green Party and former city and county councillor Chris Coates is standing for the Party in the Carnforth and Millhead by-election on 26th November 2015.

Four candidates who will be running for the vacant position of city councillor, following the recent death of Councillor Chris Leadbetter."With my previous background I have a lot to offer in representing Carnforth," says Chris, which has a mixture of urban and rural challenges; one of which is getting the housing mix right for the area.

Chris was instrumental in setting up and managing the development of the co-housing project in Halton, along with the Halton Hydro project

"I think Carnforth has so much going for it - a lovely historic small town with its history of being a transport hub,:" he added. "But it is vital that Carnforth's concerns and opportunities are brought to the fore within the district."

The other candidates are Conservative George Askew, Liberal Democrat Philip Dunster, Labour’s Paul Gardner and Michelle Ogden of Ukip.

Lancaster University winner of the UK ICT Pioneers contest 2015

Jonathan Roberts and Jonathan Legh Smith of BT

A Lancaster student has won a national competition for the excellence and commercial potential of his ICT related research.

Jonathan Roberts is the overall winner of the 2015 UK ICT Pioneers competition for his research Nano-Identification: Fingerprints of the Future.

His invention uses next-generation quantum technology to uniquely identify any product, and there are plans to commercialise this through the Lancaster University spin out company Quantum Base.

The Physics PhD student came first in the Future ICT category and went on to triumph following a Dragon’s Den-style pitch to claim a £3,000 prize at an awards ceremony in London.

Industry judges and sponsors of the competition were from; the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl), Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Facebook, British Computing Society (BCS), Samsung and BT.

Martin Sadler, Vice President and Director of Hewlett Packard Labs, EMEA, said: “We are truly amazed at the quality and excellence of all the finalists. Industry and universities absolutely need you and your talents.”

Jonathan is a Lancaster PhD student at the EPSRC NOWNANO Doctoral Training Centre.

“My invention involves the creation of devices with unique identities on a nano-scale employing state-of-art- quantum technology," he explains. "Each device will be unique and 100 per cent impossible to copy. I’ve created an optical identity using graphene and an electronic identity. We’re now working towards measuring these devices with a smart phone set-up so you can authenticate any device at any point in the supply chain.”

“By slimming digital fingerprints down to an atomic scale we’ve created devices that are not only smaller and cheaper but also fundamentally more secure than any other existing technology.”

Philip Nelson, Chief Executive of EPSRC, who presented the prizes, said: “ICT Pioneers is our 18 monthly regular competition that we use to showcase the best work produced by UK PhD students. It’s awarded to students who can demonstrate the excellence and commercial potential of their ICT related research.”

15 finalists showcased their research at the prestigious event which was compered by BBC science presenter Quentin Cooper.

County Council floats Community Buses Proposal

Lancashire County Council is offering communities the opportunity to run their own bus services through parish, town and borough councils to improve existing services and develop new routes.

The county council has written to other councils and community groups across Lancashire to ask whether they would be interested in running their own service, with the offer to provide a vehicle and guidance to help set it up.

County Councillor John Fillis, cabinet member for highways and transport, said: "Public transport tends to focus on providing services where demand is highest and as such there will always be some unmet needs where people would like a bus but nobody provides a service.

"A number of parish councils around the UK operate bus services, taking advantage of the flexibility available to community-based services to meet specific needs in their area and keep costs low and quality high. Through discussion we have identified a clear demand for such a community-led service to be established and managed locally.

"These are very valuable services, and can have added benefits by improving people's independence and bringing people in rural communities together.

"We've written to our partner councils to ask them whether this is an option they'd like to explore on behalf of their communities. Working in partnership with other councils and community organisations we feel that this can be the base for building better bus services."

The county council's letter to councils, community organisations and bus operators asks them to consider whether the proposal may be of interest, whether they think there's a demand, and what support they might need to set up their own bus service.

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Local Cinema Round-Up for the 11th to 19th November 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 period sees quite a churn, with six films lost and eight new releases making it to the local cinemas.

Christmas comes early with A Christmas Star (U). There is some excellent drama with Brooklyn (12A); Steve Jobs (15) and The Lady in the Van (12A). There is canine adventure in Max (12A), kitchen comedy with Burnt (15) and horror documentary with The Nightmare (15). Finally, the much anticipated science fantasy The Hunger Games: Mockingjay part 2 (12A) arrives next week.

Films that have vanished from our screens include family entertainment with Animal Kingdom: Lets Go Ape & Paper Planes. The horror films Crimson Peak & The Vatican Tapes have gone, along with the fantasy Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials & The Last Witch Finder. As compensation the strong crime drama Sicario has made a return.

This period sees the start of two weeks of novelty as the Dukes host a variety of films in a mobile cinema located in the scenic Williamson Park. The movies on offer include the comedy romance Amelie the classic Casablanca, drama with 45 Years and documentary with Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution. This is in addition to a full showing of films at the Dukes cinema.

An item of note is a double feature of the The Hunger Games: MockingJay with parts one and two shown 'back to back' at the Vue on the 18th November.


Director: John Crowley
Certificate: 12A
Cast includes: Saoirse Ronan, Fiona Glascott, Emory Cohen.
The movie is a period drama, based on the novel by Colm Toibin. Eilis Lacey (Ronan) grew up in Ireland, but her sister (Glascott) arranged for her to move to Brooklyn for a chance to find a better future. Initially homesick, Eilis finds lodgings, a job and subsequently romance in the form of Tony (Cohen) who she meets at a dance. However back home her sister Rose dies and her mother gets her to return to Ireland. Here Eilis must decide whether to continue with her life at home or to return to New York. The film has been well received and is marked by very strong acting. An excellent movie that will tug at the heartstrings.

Director: Baltasar Kormakur
Certificate: 12A
Cast includes: Jake Gyllenhaal, Jason Clarke, Robin Wright, Nasko Mori
A docudrama set in May 1996 when two expeditions tried to make it to the peak of Mount Everest. However a blizzard resulted in the death of eight climbers. The main emphasis is on the five climbers who perished on the South face. This is a dramatic and moving film, best appreciated in 3D to get the most of the scenery and the dizzying drops. The mountain itself is the primary focus, with character development taking second place, though there is much made of the trials of the climbers and of the emotional distress of loved ones left behind. An unsentimental movie which makes the viewer feel that he is part of the expedition.

Director: Joe Wright
Certificate: PG
Cast Includes: Hugh Jackman, Levi Miller, Amanda Seyfried, Kathy Burke, Garrett Hedlund
A prequel to the story of Peter Pan. Peter (Miller) is abandoned by his mother and brought up in an orphanage run by Mother Barnabus (Burke). He is captured by pirates and taken to the magical world of Neverland where he is forced into slave labour by Bluebeard (Jackman). Peter and his friend James Hook (Hedlund) manage to escape to the forest where Peter befriends the fairy Tinker Bell. The fairies fight and defeat the pirates and Hook becomes captain of the Jolly Roger ship. A rather bland and somewhat contrived movie.

Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension
Director: Gregory Plotkin
Certificate: 15
Cast includes: Chris Murray, Brit Shaw, Ivy George, Dan Gill
This is the sixth instalment in the Paranormal Activity series and it opens with a scene from Paranormal Activity 3. Ryan Fleege (Murray) moves into a new home in California along with his wife Emily (Shaw), daughter Leila (George) and his brother Mike (Gill). The two brothers discover a box of old VHS tapes filmed by a previous inhabitant of the property, starring two girls Katie and Kristi. These girls start to communicate with the current family by means of the TV set and various supernatural phenomena manifest within the house. Ryan brings in a priest to perform an exorcism, but things don't go to plan, leading to an unsettling conclusion.

Scout's Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse
Director: Christopher Landon
Certificate: 15
Cast Includes: Tye Sheridan, Logan Miller, Joey Morgan, Sarah Dumont.
Ben (Sheridan), Carter (Miller) and Augie (Morgan) are three scouts on a camping trip. They plan to attend a party, but things go awry when zombies commence an attack on their local town. They team up with a cocktail waitress from a strip club and must use their scouting prowess to defeat the zombie hordes. This is a teen comedy horror, a raunchy movie with breasts and dubious jokes. There are some memorable scenes and snippets of real humour amid the gore and bad taste.

Director: Sam Mendes
Certificate: 12A
Cast includes: Daniel Craig, Ralph Fiennes, Christopher Waltz, Andrew Scott
The latest James Bond Movie. M engages in a political battle to keep the secret service, in the light of a plan by Max Denbigh (Scott) to replace the 00 program with computer surveillance. Bond meanwhile is trying to locate Franz Oberhauser (Waltz), the suspected head of the evil organisation 'Spectre'. The movie starts in Mexico during the Day of the dead celebrations and thence the action continues in London, Rome and Morocco. There are numerous over the top action sequences, car chases, a good assortment of scary villains and exotic love interest. However amid this harshness, the movie contains a good level of humour. Tension builds from the very start, though some of this starts to dissipate as the film progresses. This is James Bond from the classic mould and Daniel Craig delivers a great performance.

The Lady in the Van
Director: Nicholas Hytner
Certificate: 12A
Cast includes: Maggie Smith, Alex Jennings
A true story, adopted from 1999 West End Play of the same name and filmed on location in North London. In 1974, Miss Shephard (Smith) is a woman looking for somewhere to park after being moved on the council. Playwright Alan Bennett agrees to her parking her van (which is also her accommodation) in his drive for a couple of days. However Miss Shephard then lived in the drive for the next fifteen years and the film shows the relationship between Bennett and his nuisance neighbour. This is a warm, charming and thoroughly fun movie.

The Martian
Director: Ridley Scott
Certificate: 12A
Cast includes: Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Kristen Wiig
A manned mission to the planet mars is aborted when the crew face a huge sandstorm. However astronaut and botanist Mark Watney (Damon) is left behind, presumed dead. Yet he lives and must now find a way to survive and contact Earth in the hope that a rescue mission can be mounted. The movie is based on the 2011 novel of the same name by Andy Weir. This is a homage to the ingenuity of man in desperate circumstances. The movie is visually effective, scientifically accurate and is well seasoned with humour. An excellent film that has received glowing reviews.

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Year of Light free public lecture series starts at the Storey

Today saw the start of The Year of Light  series of free Science and Technology talks in Lancaster this winter, delivered by academics from across science and technology at Lancaster University. The weekly lecture series, at The Storey in Lancaster, runs every Tuesday at 7pm until 15 December. The talks are completely free, though you will need to book online or call 01524 594011 (office hours).

Following the success of last year's Unlocking the Future lectures last autumn, this year's talks take the theme of the Year of Light Within Science and Technology. Each talk covers the latest science and technology research at Lancaster and covers many disciplines; from how humans experience colour to how light can be captured for energy conversion.

You can see the full schedule of Lectures and book online here. 

Community Radio Station Seeks Support Through Crowdfunding

Beyond Radio, Lancaster & Morecambe's Community Radio Station, is seeking crowdfunding support from local people ahead of its launch on FM radio early in 2016.

The station, which is the community run and led replacement service for the very popular Diversity FM, is currently broadcasting a music only service via its website in the run up to its full launch on FM. The team behind Beyond Radio includes key members of the team who developed and delivered the Diversity FM project on behalf of the YMCA until the station closed in April 2012. Since then this group has been working to return community radio to the district.

Because of the way the station is run there are no salaries or shareholder bonuses to pay. The management team and other staff are all volunteers - passionate about what community radio can do. As a not for profit organisation they are pledged that any income will go to support the project and improve the service offered to local people.

Beyond Radio are currently seeking funding to enable the station to launch. Some of this has already been secured through fundraising and small grants but the project needs to raise about £6,500 to launch and sustain the station for the first 12 months. They are asking local people to support their newly-launched crowdfunding initiative. There are rewards for those who pledge to the project and they will be supporting a great community resource that aims to help improve the lives of local people and bring our community closer together.

The Beyond Radio crowdfunding page can be found at:  and pledges start at 10 pounds. Beyond Radio would welcome any financial support local people can offer in its quest to bring the station back to air.

A great community resource!
Duncan Moore, chairman of the group behind the project said, "Each week we take a few steps further forward in our quest to bring a great local community resource back to life. We have a great management team and a willing group of volunteers who are itching to get behind the microphone and start to deliver the type of locally sourced programming we know our community wants. That was shown through the popularity of Diversity FM."

Beyond Radio will deliver a mix of programming that will include specialist music shows and feature local musical talent alongside more mainstream music. It will air feature led programmes covering local history, drama, poetry, politics, environment, wildlife, comedy, documentary and more. Whatever the local population want to hear, Beyond Radio will seek to deliver that programming.

Local focus
Duncan said, "We are in a unique position in the radio industry, our programming is produced in order to entertain and inform our listeners and it has a truly local focus. Those programmes will be produced and presented by local people who are invited to register as volunteers through our website We'll give them the skills and support they need to produce great radio shows." 

A main focus of the station will be to support other community and voluntary groups and charities. These will be able to access free air time in order to promote their work to a wide audience and get their message out into the community much quicker than relying on other forms of promoting their services.

Police seek info on sexual assault by man on Langley Road

Detectives are appealing for information after a man committed a sexual assault on a woman in Lancaster.

Around 3am on Sunday, November 8, a 28-year-old woman was walking home on Langley Road when she was approached by a man.

This man grabbed the woman, forcing her to the ground before sexually assaulting her.

The man then ran away from the scene.

He is described as 5ft 6in tall, of stocky build, wearing a light coloured beany style hat and light coloured jumper or fleece.

Officers are appealing for information and have asked anyone who saw or heard anything to contact Lancaster CID on 101 quoting crime reference WB1509163.

DS James Edmonds of Lancaster CID said: “We would appeal to anyone who saw or heard anything to contact officers.

“Police have increased patrols in the area.”

Jeremy Corbyn's Lancaster visit offers his ‘New Politics’ - Politics with People in mind

Jeremy Corbyn speaking at Lancaster Priory. Photo © Ben Soffa
Cheryl Hale was one of hundreds who attended a meeting organised by Lancaster Labour with Jeremy Corbyn at Lancaster Priory last week. Here's her report...

Anyone who knows me knows that I don’t really do Facebook. I occasionally comment, I rarely post and I’ve never taken a pouty selfie in my life (or any other kind of selfie, for that matter). I browse, and it was while browsing on Thursday 22nd October that I saw a post advertising a forthcoming visit to Lancaster by Jeremy Corbyn MP, Leader of the Opposition.

The title for the evening was ‘Introducing the New Politics’, and it was this that intrigued me. I clicked the link, expressed an interest and secured my place to hear Corbyn and others speak. I was instructed to arrive at the Priory the following Thursday evening from 7 o’clock for a 7.30 start.

Crowds outside Lancaster Priory. Photo © Ben Soffa

Living very close to the Priory, I left the house at 6.45, assuming, rather naively it turned out, that I’d be one of the first people there, and arrived at 6.55pm. By that time, however, the queue stretched down the entire length of the Priory and down the steps, illustrating the public interest in Corbyn, and just how ready people are for a new kind of politics.

Cat Smith speaking at Lancaster Priory. Photo © Ben Soffa

By 7.30pm, the Priory was filled to capacity and the evening commenced. Lancaster University student Cat Finnerty spoke first, giving an eloquent and informed speech about the need to register for voting in light of forthcoming changes to constituency boundaries. Clive Grunshaw, Lancashire Police and Crime Commissioner, then spoke about the impact of spending cuts on policing in the county before Lancaster and Fleetwood MP Cat Smith spoke about her experiences as our Member of Parliament since being elected on 7th May.

The main speaker was, of course, Jeremy himself, who spoke at length about a diverse range of subjects, from mental health to the proposed cuts to tax credits to fracking to the British steel industry to the NHS. He talked about the refugee crisis in the Mediterranean and about his plans for the economy.

Despite what certain elements of the British media would have us believe, at no time did Corbyn sound naïve or idealistic. Rather, he presents politics with a humanitarian face. What the other parties seem to forget is that politics is about people; Corbyn clearly gets this. Speaking without a script and only occasionally referring to his notes, he related every single comment he made to the real-life impact on real-life people. Everything he said made sense.

Jeremy Corbyn speaking at Lancaster Priory. Photo © Ben Soffa

What came across most strongly to me is that this is a man who cares about the lives of people he has never met. He sees the human impact of decisions made in Westminster. Corbyn has already altered Prime Minister’s Questions by asking David Cameron questions posed by the electorate, rather than by himself or MPs: another example of how he's putting people at the heart of politics. This is the sort of politician we want, and the sort of politician we need. This is the “New Politics”.

Repeatedly throughout his speech, Corbyn was interrupted by spontaneous rounds of applause, and received a standing ovation at the end of the evening.

Whether you agree with him or not, whether you’re a Labour supporter or not, there can be no argument that under Jeremy Corby, the Labour Party now offers a definite alternative to the Conservatives. Voter turnout for General Elections has risen slightly for the last four elections, but at 66.1% in 2015, it’s still way below the 1950 high of 83.9% ( It’s my fervent hope that those hundreds of thousands of people who choose not to vote will realise that they have a voice, and will become engaged with politics, if not active. After all, it’s very hard to argue with apathy, and with two such different major political parties, there’s now a real choice for voters.

At the end of the evening, Cat Smith stated that this would not be the last visit to Lancaster by Jeremy Corbyn. I would urge anyone who missed this chance to hear him, anyone who is undecided for whom to vote, or even whether to vote, to listen to what this man has to say. You never know, you might like what you hear.

And if you don’t, in the words of Corbyn himself, “That’s fine.” At least you’re taking part in the “New Politics”.

• Lancaster Labour is at | Follow Lancaster Labour on Twitter @LancasterLabour

• Follow Jeremy Corbyn on Twitter @jeremycorbyn

Other political parties are available.

Read the Lancaster Guardian's report of the meeting

Monday, 9 November 2015

Silverdale Library Set to Remember World War One at special talk

British trenches during World War One

Lancashire County Council's community heritage team is helping people to discover the importance of newspapers of the time as a way of finding out about World War One.

Staff will hold an informative talk at 11.00am on Thursday 12th November at Silverdale Library, Lancaster, exploring how both national and local press reported World War One.

Fiona McIntyre, community heritage manager, said: "We're lucky to have an excellent collection of newspapers dating from this time.

"Visitors will be able to learn more about what was reported and how stories were covered.

"We'll also examine some personal stories, letters, advertisements and obituaries of local people in the newspapers.

"These sorts of resources can be really useful for anyone who is trying to trace a World War 1 ancestor or is interested in this period of history."

• The talk is free to attend but booking is essential as places are limited. Either call 0300 123 6703 or call in at the library to book a place. For more information visit

• Did You Know? The RSPB reserve at Leighton Moss near Silverdale is one of the most important wildlife habitats in the country. But, if it hadn’t been for World War One, it may never have existed.
In the 19th Century, this was rich agricultural land with the water from Morecambe Bay pumped away, using coal-powered pumps. The fertile land became known as “golden” because of its crops but during the war coal became too expensive and the decision was made to turn off the pumps. This let in the water; ruining the land for crop-growing but making it once again a haven for wildlife.