Saturday, 18 June 2016

Local Residents Warned on Security after spate of Lancaster Burglaries

Map via
Lock up to lock thieves out! Lancaster's CID are reminding Lancaster residents to keep their most treasured possessions safe by ensuring their property is secure.

Since Friday 20th May, there have been five burglaries in the area which have occurred on Golgotha Road, West Road, Gladstone Terrace and Westham Street in Lancaster and Harcourt Road, Skerton, after thieves have managed to gain entry to addresses through open doors and windows.

Items stolen have totalled hundreds of pounds and include laptops, Macbooks, a PS4 games console, a designer watch, sunglasses, televisions, an iPad and cash.

DS 1472 Simon Balderstone from Lancaster CID said: “Opportunist thieves look out for an easy way in to steal whatever valuables they can find and so we usually see an increase in these types of incidents as the weather warms up with people leaving their windows and doors open.

“This is an open invite to a burglar and so I would say do not make it easy for them to get in and take your possessions, make sure that your windows and doors remain locked and secure.

“To avoid becoming a victim of this type of crime, please follow our advice and if you know anything about the burglaries mentioned, please contact us on 101.”

Residents are being asked to:

  • Keep front and back doors locked and windows closed at all times
  • If windows are open keep them on the latch so that they cannot be opened further from outside
  • Fit a door chain and use it whenever you answer the door to an unexpected caller
  • Keep side gates locked
  • Use a strong lock on sheds, garages and other outbuildings
  • Consider fitting outdoor security lighting
  • Keep an eye on neighbouring properties and if you see anything suspicious contact police

Friday, 17 June 2016

Changes Ahead For Lancaster's Museums? New Report suggests closing Martime and Cottage Musuems

Lancaster Market Square. Photo: John Freeman

(Updated 9th July 2016): A major new report with recommendations on the future of Lancaster City Council’s museums has just been published (PDF link), making recommendations on future museum provision, including proposals to close the Maritime and Cottage Museums - and moving the Visitor Information Centre into the City Museum.

Despite a need to save on costs in part driving the report for the Council, it also suggests building an all-new facility on Morecambe Seafront.

Currently, Lancaster City Council’s museum collections reside in the City Museum located in the Old Town Hall in the Market Square, the Cottage Museum adjacent to the Castle, the Maritime Museum in the Port of Lancaster Custom House and adjacent Warehouse on St George’s Quay, and an out-of-District store in Preston. The three museums are managed by Lancashire County Council under an agreement with the City although the buildings and the objects (with the sole exception of those of the King’s Own Regimental Museum which occupies space within the City Museum) remain the property of the City Council.

During the financial year 2015-2016 Lancashire County Council reports the The City Museum had 46,620 visitors (down from 50,316 in 2014/15 -PDF link), the Cottage Museum 4,800 (up from 4,398 in 2014/15) and the Maritime Museum 8,038 (but has been closed since October 2015).

(Less publicity for the museums offering and activities may, in part, be a reason behind these visitors numbers. Lancaster Castle and the Judges' Lodgings have also seen reductions year on year. Nationally, as council budgets have been cut, while visitor numbers for museums and galleries have risen steadily in recent years, reaching over 50,840,545 in 2014/15, government figures indicate they declined in 2015/16 to 47,621, 523. In May 2016 there were a total of 3.6 million visits to the DCMS sponsored museums and galleries, 17.2 per cent lower in May 2016 compared to May 2015 (a decrease of 747,790 visits).).

The report on the future for the Council-owned local museums, compiled by locally-based museum consultant Robert Aitken and London-based Prince and Pearce Ltd, who the Council previously Council consulted back in 2012, presents ideas for a complete redesign of the city council’s museums, but is unlikely to be popular with locals already dismayed by the impending closure of the Judges' Lodgings Museum, which is run by Lancashire County Council.

It comes as councils across the country are facing cuts in services and are looking at ways to save money - and the museums are just one service in the firing line, along with libraries at County level.

Their vision for the future includes a radical revamp of the City Museum as the central hub of a new and reinvigorated museums service that can provide an enhanced cultural offer and much improved public access.

The report that cost £9500 from Prince + Pearce, which had a £6.5 million turnover last year and has previously consulted on the future of the Royal Yacht Britannia and the National Army Museum, suggests the museum could potentially act as a gateway to the city and the wider district and could include the Lancaster Visitor Information Centre (currently in The Storey), retail and catering alongside frequently refreshed collections and exhibitions.

Another recommendation the report makes is the longer term development of a new multi-use facility at Morecambe Seafront with a museums and cultural dimension. This would bring together the interests of many partners around culture, heritage, ecology, wildlife and outdoor pursuits.

The report also deals with the future of the city council’s two other museums – the Maritime and Cottage, recommending they should be closed as maintaining them would be costly and risk the viability of the museum service as a whole.

Despite this grim proposal, the report does suggest the Customs House part of the Maritime Museum, could simply be ‘mothballed’, in case the building is needed in connection with the interpretation of the Roman finds found recently in Quay Meadow.

A large proportion of the collections within the Maritime Museum relate to Morecambe and the Bay area and the reports suggests there may also be opportunities for temporary exhibitions in venues such as the Platform.

When not on display, the report recommends that new improved storage facilities are needed for collections from all the museums.

“All local authorities are faced with having to reduce expenditure and make savings whilst also striving to ensure that services remain relevant and fit for purpose," says Robert Aitken, one of the authors of the report.

“These challenging circumstances need to be embraced and they provide a golden opportunity for the city council to re-invent its museums and bring them into the 21st century."

“As someone who lives locally, I’m passionate about the future of our culture heritage and how it can inspire future generations," he says. “There is much work to do on many of the options we have presented, but with a bold vision the district will be able to safeguard and display its cultural assets for many generations to come.”

Cabinet members will consider the report when they next meet on Tuesday 28th June 2016. No decisions will be taken in respect of which recommendations to pursue, but they will be asked to authorise that further work takes place to test the options.

Aitken, Prince + Pearce (AP+P) were asked to review their earlier recommendations set out in an options appraisal for Lancaster City Museum prepared in 2012, and to address the new brief by producing further options for the District museums service. This includes the City Museum, Maritime Museum and the Cottage Museum.

The Judges’ Lodgings, owned by Lancashire County Council, and Lancaster Castle, owned by the Duchy of Lancaster, were not included in the review.

Among other recommendations, the report from Aitken, Prince and Pearce suggests:

  • The City Museum could potentially act as a gateway to the city and the wider district and could include the Visitor Information Centre, retail and catering alongside frequently refreshed collections and exhibitions
  • In the longer term the development of a new multi-use facility at Morecambe Seafront, with a museums and cultural dimension, should be looked into. This would bring together the interests of many partners around culture, heritage, ecology, wildlife and outdoor pursuits
  • The Maritime and Cottage museums should be closed as maintaining them would be costly and risk the viability of the museum service as a whole. The Customs House part of the Maritime Museum, however, could be ‘mothballed’ in case the building is needed in connection with the interpretation of the Roman finds found recently in Quay Meadow
  • New improved storage facilities are needed so collections from all the museums are consolidated and conserved in a new store
You can read the Report online here. There are no costings in the report in terms of how much it would cost to close the two museums, or how much it would cost to build an all-new facility in Morecambe

Lancashire County Council: figures for visits to attractions in Lancashire, 2014/15 (PDF)

• The Museums Asscociation has details of national visitor numbers to museums for comparison here and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport posts details of visitor numbers to DCMS sponsored museums and galleries here

Association of Leading Visitor Attractions - Visitor Number Data 2015

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Local Cinema Round-Up for the 15th to 23rd June 2016

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.

There are five new releases coming to our region this week. We have the much anticipated science fiction thriller Independence Day: Resurgence (12A). There is Fantasy action with Gods of Egypt (12A); comedy animation in The Secret Life of Pets (U); horror with Green Room (18) and fantasy horror with Tale of Tales (15).

The movie Florence Foster Jenkins has again vanished from the screens. However we do see the return of Eddie the Eagle; London Has Fallen and Robinson Crusoe.

Movies coming in July include Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie; Batman: The Killing Joke; Finding Dory; Ghostbusters and The BFG

Comedy this period is represented by Bad Neighbours 2; The Boss and Mother's Day. For drama we have Eddie the Eagle; London has Fallen; The Nice Guys and X-Men: Apocalypse. Romance is also on offer with Me Before You. Finally, horror is well represented with The Conjuring 2; along with Green Room and Tale of Tales.

Family entertainment this period includes Alice through the Looking Glass; Robinson Crusoe; The Angry Birds Movie; The Jungle Book; and The Secret Life of Pets.

Finally high culture comes with Glyndebourne: The Barber of Seville.


Alice Through the Looking Glass
Director: James Bobin
Certificate: PG
Cast includes: Johnny Depp, Alice Hathaway, Mia Wasikowska
Alice (Wasikowska) has spent three years travelling and has now returned to London to contemplate her future. She uses a mirror to return to Wonderland but find things are not well, and the Hatter is more mad than ever. To aid him she must go back in time and face the Jabberwocky. This is Disney's sequel to the 2010 production of 'Alice in Wonderland' and all the major characters from the original movie make an appearance. The film is a visual feast, a lavish performance with a star studded cast. However for this reviewer the whole seemed more gloss than substance. It does not quite live up to the magic of the original.

Bad Neighbours 2
Director: Nicholas Stoller
Certificate: 15
Cast includes: Seth Rogen, Rose Byrne, Chloe Grace Moretz, Zac Efron
A sequel to the 2014 Bad Neighbours. Mac Radner (Rogen) and his wife Kelly (Byrne) are expecting their second child. They are in the process of selling their old house when a newly established female sorority, Kappa Kappa Nu led by Shelby (Moretz), moves into the house nextdoor. Excessive partying on the part of the sorority makes life a nightmare for the Radner's and will jeopardise the sale of their house. Their requests for the girls to keep the partying quiet lead to an all out war. Teddy (Efron) from the previous film has not coped well outside of college and he is enlisted by the Radner's to be their ally in the battle with the sorority. This movie is little more than a re-run of the first Bad Neighbours, but the film still has more than its share of very funny moments. Good entertainment.

London Has Fallen
Director: Babak Najafi
Certificate: 15
Cast includes: Aaron Eckhard, Gerard Butler, Morgan Freeman, Charlotte Riley
The UK prime minister has died in mysterious circumstances. A state funeral is held and the leaders of the western world attend. However the event is exploited by terrorists, who have infiltrated the British Secret Service and are intent on killing the leaders and devastating London. Working to thwart the plot is the US President Benjamin Asher (Eckhart), a US agent Mike Banning (Butler) the American vice president Allan Trumbull (Freeman) and a British MI6 agent Jacquelin Marshall (Riley). The president gets stranded in the London streets and Banning has to battle the terrorists to escort him to the US Embassy. This is a sequel to the hit movie 'Olympus has Fallen' and it follows a similar format. There are some very good set pieces in the film and footage of many of the London landmarks coming under attack. For this reviewer it did not quite have the magic of the original, but a competent and entertaining film nevertheless.

Mother's Day
Director: Garry Marshall
Certificate: 12A
Cast includes: Jennifer Aniston, Shay Mitchell, Kate Hudson, Britt Robertson, Julia Roberts
Set in Atlanta, the film follows the lives of a number of middle class mothers as mother's day approaches. These include Sandy (Aniston) a mother of two boys who is now divorced but finds her ex is about to marry a younger woman Tina (Mitchell). There is a writer Miranda (Roberts) who gave her only baby Kristen (Robertson) up for adoption. However, when grown her daughter decides to try to find her birth mother. Yet more people give rise to a bewildering set of sub-plots that play out leading to a climax on Mother's Day. Despite a star studded cast, and some gags that work, this comedy drama never really takes off and the movie has received poor critical review.

The Conjuring 2
Director: James Wan
Certificate: 15
Cast includes: Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Frances O' Connor, Madison Wolfe
A sequel to the 2013 film 'The Conjuring'. Lorraine (Farmiga) and Ed (Wilson) Warren are psychic investigators. The hear of a haunting and travel to the UK to help Peggy Hodgson (O'Connor), a single mother of four, who is plagued by poltergeist activity in her London council house. However things get worse when Peggy's youngest daughter Janet (Wolfe) shows signs of daemon possession. The psychic investigators come to find themselves in peril. A superior horror movie which provides plenty of frights and has been well received.

The Jungle Book
Director: Jon Favreau
Certificate: PG Cast includes: Neel Sethi, Bill Murray, Scarlett Johansson, Ben Kingsley, Idris Elba
Based on Rudyard Kipling's works, this is a reworking of a the well known classic using live action and CGI. Mowgli (Sethi) is an orphaned boy raised by a wolf and thence by Bagheera (Kingsley) a black panther. Mowgli alienates the Bengal tiger Shere Khan (Elba) and so must make his way to humankind for safety, meeting the well known characters Baloo and Kaa on the way. Subsequently he returns to the jungle to face Shere Khan. The movie is a good example a remake that improves on the original. An excellent movie that will entertain all ages.

The Secret Life of Pets
Director: Chris Renaud, Yarrow Cheney
Certificate: U
Cast Includes: Louis C.K., Ellie Kemper, Eric Stonestreet, Kevin Hart
A family animation film that follows the lives of pets living in a Manhattan apartment building during the time their owners leave them alone. Max (Louis) is a rather spoilt terrier who starts to find himself neglected when his owner Katie (Kemper) brings home Duke (Stonestreet), a mongrel, from a dog pound. However the two dogs must put their rivalry behind them when they are captured by Snowball (Hart) a rabbit and an army of abandoned pets who are trying to get back at all happily owned pets and their owners. This is a delightful and energetic animation movie that is inoffensive and fun for all, young and old.