Friday, 28 December 2007

Monday Night Jazz at the John O Gaunt, Lancaster for January 2008

Lancaster's John O'Gaunt pub continues to be the place for jazz fans on Monday nights with a variety of swinging sounds lined up for January.

On 7th January 2008 guitar maestro Mark Townson takes the stand, followed on 14th
January by trumpeter Melvyn Dod. January 21st offers Something Cool - a laid-back trio from Kendal featuring Paul Palmer on sax. Monday 28th January features a very special guest when superb trombonist Suzanne Fonseca brings a handpicked ensemble to Lancaster. Suzanne is one of the northwest's finest players, with a lyrical approach to improvising and a gorgeous tone. Don't miss it!

The music starts at 9.00 pm and admission is free. Further information from the John O Gaunt on 01524 65356 or see www.yeoldejohnogaunt.org.uk

Friday, 14 December 2007

Should Have Been Christmas Number One...

Well this, or Shaun the Sheep... definitely a good one for Lancaster's many cat lovers. Happy Christmas!

Thursday, 15 November 2007

Clive Grunshaw chosen as the Labour candidate for Lancaster and Fleetwood

Local county councillor Clive Grunshaw has been selected by Labour Party members to fight the new seat of Lancaster and Fleetwood at the next General Election. But despite some impressive credentials, his selection may irk some local residents with long memories after his involvement in plans to end some local services such as Greaves Nursery and Bowerham Long Stay Children's Unit.

Clive worked as a dockworker in Fleetwood before attending Lancaster University as a mature student, where he gained two degrees. He's worked as a Personal Assistant to Joan Humble MP and a lay tutor for a trade union. Currently, he represents Fleetwood residents on Wyre Borough Council, where he's Leader of the Labour Group, and Lancashire County Council. He has also been involved in efforts to reclaim derelict land as green spaces and is chair of the Biodiversity Group, credentials which Labour is sure to hope will sway Lancaster's growing Green vote in his favour at the next General Election.

In the run-up to Clive's selection, the local Labour Party says it conducted an extensive "Have Your Say" consultation campaign, asking voters which issues mattered to them. Anti-social behaviour, transport and the environment emerged as the biggest concerns locally.

However, we should perhaps take Clive's claims about the results of consultation with a pinch of salt. Back in 2005, when Greaves Nursery faced closure, he claimed the result of a consultation with local people about the plans was overwhelmingly in favour of closure. Then ancashire County Council has now admitted that the majority of people who responded actually favoured keeping the nursery open.

Lancaster's Green Party discovered a report to the Council's Education Overview and Scrutiny Sub-Committee showed that 219 out of 227 parents and other residents responding were opposed to the closure.

Grunshaw has also been involved in other closure plans of services in the Lancaster area, which Lancaster MP Ben Wallace severely criticised last year, accusing the county council as seeming "to put itself before services."

Clive said of his selection: "I am delighted and privileged to have been chosen to contest the constituency where I have lived all my life. I am keen to start campaigning to remind people of the good things this Labour government has achieved. I'm confident we can improve people's lives further by getting to grips with anti-social behaviour, the environment, improvements to the highways and inward investment."

Eileen gets back in the saddle

A Lancaster councillor has got back on her bike thanks to Lancaster City Council’s ‘Bike Buddy’ scheme.

Councillor Eileen Blamire stopped cycling three years ago due to a lack of time and the ever increasing traffic on the district’s roads. Keen to start cycling again, Eileen turned to the Bike Buddy scheme for help.

The scheme is a free service for local residents to help new and returning cyclists find a safe and suitable route from their home to their chosen destination.

Eileen cycled from the Millennium Bridge to Morecambe with the help of her bike buddy Neil Emery. Neil was able to show her the best way to get there and passed on lots of handy tips for riding safely in traffic and varying weather conditions. He gave her advice on equipment and bike maintenance.

Coun Blamire, cabinet member with responsibility for cycling, said: “I really enjoyed the ride. It was very exhilarating after a nervous start. My bike buddy Neil was really encouraging and friendly.

“I first started cycling when I was 10. After cycling through my teenage years I stopped when I started work and had a family. I got back in the saddle eight years ago to help me keep fit. However in recent years, I haven’t had the time and some road users have made it difficult to cycle.

“I’d forgotten how enjoyable cycling can be. Thanks to the bike buddy scheme and with a bit more practice I’m going to start cycling again.”

If you are interested in making use of the scheme, simply contact the Cycling Demonstration Town Team on 01524 582086, by email: celebratingcycling@lancaster.gov.uk or in writing to: Bike Buddy, Lancaster City Council, Palatine Hall, Dalton Square, Lancaster, LA1 1PW. The application form and questionnaire is also available on the council’s cycling website: www.celebratingcycling.org.

By completing a simple questionnaire asking a few basic questions about your cycling abilities, you will be matched with a buddy. Your buddy will contact you by phone or email to discuss your requirements and arrange a convenient time and date to meet up for the ride.

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

Highways Agency warns drivers to take care in fog

The Highways Agency is advising drivers to take extra care on the roads, with the Met Office forecasting patches of dense freezing fog on some routes in northern England and the Midlands on Thursday morning.

The fog could be slow to clear and may linger into the afternoon on some roads on Thursday and Friday.

Roadusers should be extra cautious as visibility could change without warning.

Drivers are advised to use dipped headlights or fog lights if visibility is seriously reduced (less than 100m/328ft). Fog lights can dazzle other road users and obscure brake lights, so should be turned off immediately as visibility improves.

In patchy fog try not to speed up as visibility improves, as roadusers could suddenly find themselves back in thick fog further up the road.

It can feel more secure to 'hang on' to the tail-lights of the vehicle in front, but drivers should beware - it is a false sense of security. Travelling too close to vehicles is dangerous, particularly
when reduced visibility could obscure potential hazards and force a vehicle to stop abruptly.

The Highways Agency is advising drivers that the best way to stay safe on the roads during severe weather is to plan their journeys. Up-to-date information on road conditions on England's motorways and trunk roads is available on the Highways Agency website at www.highways.gov.uk, from the new Traffic Radio service on DAB digital radio or at www.trafficradio.org.uk, or by calling the Highways Agency 24-hour automated phone service on 08700 660 115.

For information on weather conditions, visit the Met Office website at www.metoffice.gov.uk or listen to local radio broadcasts.

Tuesday, 13 November 2007

Animal Care Appeal

Lancaster-based charity Animal Care have their Christmas Fairs soon and are appealing for Tombola items, Toys and Games, DVD's and good quality Bric a Brac to sell to help raise money to look after the stray and unwanted animals in its care.

The items need to be new or good condition so they can be sold and all items can be taken to the sanctuary in Scotforth, Lancaster (between 9am-4pm anyday) or ring Vanessa on 01524841819 to arrange for them to be collected.

School closure plans prompt meetings

Parents, teachers and other interested parties have been invited to attend special meetings being organised by the Overview and Scrutiny Committee of Lancaster City Council to discuss proposals by Lancashire County Council to close two Lancaster schools.

The meetings have been arranged so an elected member task group set up by Lancaster City Council can gather evidence for a review of secondary education in the district.

Central Lancaster High is the venue for the next meeting on Wednesday November 21 at 5pm.
It will be followed by a meeting at Lancaster Town Hall on Thursday November 29 at 5.30pm, when the potential closure of Hornby High will be discussed.

Monday, 12 November 2007

Cabinet accepts request from Overview and Scrutiny

Lancaster City Council’s Cabinet has accepted an offer of support in drawing up a tender brief for the Lawson’s Bridge site in Scotforth, a sell off which has prompted furious reaction from local residents as it could well mean a supermarket will be built on the Scotforth site.

Last Wednesday (31 October) members of the council’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee asked for the tender brief to be referred to them before it goes to Cabinet.

The request was accepted at Cabinet’s meeting on Tuesday (6 November).

Coun Roger Mace, leader of the council and chairman of the Cabinet, said: “I am more than happy for the Overview and Scrutiny Committee to offer some input into the future of the land at Lawson’s Bridge.

“It can only be constructive and it is in the interests of all of us that the tender brief should deal effectively with the land in question.

“To that end Graham Cox (Head of Property Services) and I have already met with the chairman of Scotforth Parish Council to discuss the issues.”

The request from Overview and Scrutiny followed a call-in of Cabinet’s decision on October 9 to draw up a tender brief for the land.

If the brief is approved it is likely the land will then be marketed by way of a development agreement.

The draft tender brief is due to go back to cabinet in December.
It is likely that a special meeting of Overview and Scrutiny will take place prior to the meeting of Cabinet so committee members can discuss the tender brief.

Coun Stuart Langhorn, chairman of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee, said: “I am pleased that the request for the committee to examine the tender brief before it goes to cabinet has been accepted.

“Effective scrutiny of decisions made by the cabinet is necessary to ensure the council achieves the best outcome possible for all parties, including the residents of Scotforth.”

The inclusion of the land at South Lancaster in the Council’s asset sales programme has been discussed by the Council on a number of previous occasions. Originally it was discussed by Council some years ago when a planning application for a housing development was refused.

More recently it was discussed in public at both Cabinet and full Council in January and February earlier this year when Council approved the inclusion of the sale of the land in its list of asset sales, along with a number of other assets, in order to help finance the schemes included in the Council’s five year Capital Programme.

A receipts target for asset sales was subsequently included in the Council’s Corporate Plan, approved by Council in April, which set specific targets for generating receipts within this financial year.

The report to Cabinet in October included proposals to implement the Council’s earlier decision and to meet the receipts targets in its Corporate Plan.

LitFest Week in Lancaster

It's finally here - Lancaster's litfest starts on Wednesday. If you haven't planned what events you want to see then now is definitely the time - all the information is on the litfest website.

This year's headline guest, Linton Kwesi Johnson, is a must-see - a fantastic performer and one of the most influential poets in the country. Don't miss this chance to catch his performance.

The litfest has also have lined up special deals with local restaurants, Quite Simply Food and Pizza Margherita on Moor Lane, for those of you who want to get a bite to eat before or after the show.

It all starts on Wednesday 14 November at 6pm with Annie Clarkson, Graham Mort and Ian Duhig.

More Money for Local Groups

The Galbraith Trust is once again inviting applications from local voluntary and community groups for grants from the charity. The Trust was set up in 2001 from the estate of Ian Galbraith, the former city hardware store owner. Forms and guidelines are available from the CVS (see below) and the next closing date is Friday 25th January 2008 for decisions in February.

Since July 2007, 24 Local Charities shared almost twenty thousand pounds from the Galbraith Trust. Grants varied from £200 to £1850.00 and have included grants which support the work of The Overton Players, North West Children’s Support Group & Cockerham Hand Bell Ringers. Other grants have enabled groups to purchase equipment, go on coach trips, and hold community events & Festivals.

Further information is available from:
Council for Voluntary Service (CVS)
Trinity Community Centre, Middle Street, Lancaster, LA1 1JZ.
Tel: 01524 555900 ex 25
Email: sulivesey@lancastercvs.org.uk

Wednesday, 5 September 2007

Borrowdale Johnny

12th October 2007
Borrowdale Johnny
7.30pm Arnside Educational Institute, Arnside. Ticket prices: £6 adults, £4 children, £15 family (2+2). Contact: 01524 762254

Highlights Rural Touring Scheme continues its autumn season in the South Lakeland area with a visit from Striding Edge who are performing their show ‘Borrowdale Johnny’ at Arnside Educational Institute, Church Hill, Arnside on Friday, 12th October at 7.30pm.

Rooted in the rugged music of Cumbria and the Lake District, Striding Edge’s music also takes in earthy rhythm & blues, rock n’ roll and world music grooves which always engages their audiences. Material from their latest album, Borrowdale Johnny, will be played during the first half of the evening as a seated concert, followed by a Ceilidh. The title was inspired by the ballad “Borrowdale Johnny” composed by Robert Anderson, the bard of Cumberland, in the 19th century. It tells the tale of Johnny, who leaves Borrowdale amidst gossip, to seek his fortune in ‘the Big City’, eventually returning home again. An eternal and familiar theme in any century...

XWA Wrestling at The Dome

A bumper weekend of wrestling is coming to Morecambe - with two exciting shows featuring the cream of British grappling, a huge eight-man tournament, a 70 stone tag team and a wrestler who recently won £10,000 on a hit Channel 4 game show. The XWA - Morecambe’s very own professional wrestling extravaganza - will hold its Battle of Britain Weekend on September 29 and 30, when two live pro wrestling events will be held in the district over two days, including wrestling’s debut at the Hexagon, Lancaster and Morecambe College. This means local fight fans have the chance to enjoy double the devastation as the larger-than-life stars of the wrestling ring brawl for it all!

The Battle of Britain Weekend starts at the XWA’s usual home of The Dome in Morecambe on the Saturday night, when the first round matches of the knockout tournament will take place.
Then the semi-finals and finals will be at the Hexagon on the Sunday afternoon - with the overall winner set to receive a British Heavyweight Title match on a future show. The Dome event will also feature Europe’s largest tag team, the combined 70 stone bulk of the UK Pitbulls, who will appear on the Saturday leg of the weekend only.

Regular fans can also expect to see the villainous Stevie Knight boasting about his recent victory in the Channel 4 show ‘Deal Or No Deal’, hosted by Noel Edmonds. The loudmouthed grappler walked away with £10,000 in his pocket and will now try to win another prize as he attempts to outlast the field in the eight-man tournament. Heavyweight superhero Sam Slam will also be part of the Battle of Britain Weekend after making a huge impression on Morecambe fans last time out.
Also fighting it out in this double-header of grunt and groan will be The Manchester Massive, Mexican masked sensation El Ligero, ‘The Pukka 1’ Darren Burridge, ‘Rowdy’ Ricky Knight, ‘The Bombay Dream’ Ross Jordan and some of the best new wrestling talent from right here in the north west.

As always your host with the most, trying desperately to maintain order between the lords of the ring, will be Morecambe’s own Greg Lambert.
The XWA Battle of Britain Weekend part one is at The Dome in Morecambe, bell time 7.30pm on Saturday September 29. Part two is at the Hexagon, Lancaster and Morecambe College, bell time 3pm on Sunday, September 30.

Tickets for one show cost £15 ringside, £10 adults, £8 children and £32 for a family. Weekend discounts are available for fans wishing to attend both shows. Please enquire at the box office on 01524 582803 or at local tourist information centres.
Student discounts are also available for L&M College students only - please enquire at the college travel shop.

• Keep up to date with the XWA by visiting www.xwawrestling.com or www.myspace.com/xwamorecambewrestling

Get fired up at a Charity Ball

Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service are organising a Charity Ball on Saturday 6 October 2007 at Lancaster House Hotel, Lancaster to raise money for the Operation Florian (Fire Service Humanitarian Charity) , and the Fire Service Benevolent Fund. Tickets are available at £35.00 per head and include a three-course meal, complementary drink with live entertainment, disco and raffle. Tables of 8 can be booked for groups or corporate businesses.
For further information and to purchase tickets please contact Wendy in Community Fire Safety on 07920 291854 before Saturday 22 September 2007.

Don’t miss the Party

About Theatre - a group of local actors/friends - have teamed up to stage the first ever performance in the Lancaster district of Stephen Sondheim’s Putting it Together musical review as a tribute to their good friend Roger Bradley – with all proceeds to Melanoma Charities and the Grand Theatre project.

The show features a series of clever, comic and poignant songs taken from a wide variety of Sondheim’s musicals weaved together against the setting of a cocktail party where the audience witness the relationships (good and bad) and diverse personalities of a host of different characters. The concept was ‘put together’ by Stephen Sondheim and Julia McKenzie as a request to follow up the previous review ‘Side by Side by Sondheim’

Roger Bradley died earlier this year from a melanoma aged 42 having devoted much of his spare time to amateur theatre, both acting and directing. One of his great passions was Sondheim musicals and we welcome the opportunity to stage this particular production (which he had hoped to direct himself) to raise money for two very worthy causes.

You are invited to join us at the party on either Friday 23rd or Saturday 24th November at the Grand Theatre, Lancaster. Tickets are £10 (including programme) and are available from the box office Tel. 64695 - open from 10am to 3pm Monday to Saturday.

Tickets are limited, so pick up the phone and order yours now!

Draft Air Quality Action Plan launched

Draft Air Quality Action Plan launched
(Press Release, Lancaster City Council): Lancaster City Council has taken another step towards cleaning up air quality in Lancaster.

On Tuesday the council’s cabinet approved an interim Air Quality Action Plan (AQAP).
The plan identifies 19 actions which could help towards reducing the amount of nitrogen dioxide, caused mainly by traffic fumes, in the city centre.

These short-term actions will be developed by Lancaster City Council and Lancashire County Council over the next 15 months.

They will allow longer-term actions for reducing exhaust emissions and encouraging alternative transport measures to be found.

However, no actions have been identified which could solve the air quality problem in central Lancaster in one fell swoop.

But it is expected that an in-depth transport study by the Lancaster and Morecambe Vision Board will identify the medium and long-term potential solutions that would ultimately help to improve air quality in the city centre.

The Board is expected to report the findings of the study later this year.
Coun David Kerr, cabinet member with responsibility for environmental health, said: “Lancaster City Council is committed to improving the poor air quality currently suffered by a small number of its residents in central Lancaster.

“The approval of the draft Air Quality Action Plan is a good start towards developing solutions whilst we await the findings of the Vision Board’s transport study.”

The approval of the Air Quality Action Plan follows the formal declaration of an Air Quality Management Area in 2004. The AQMA contains approximately 200 to 250 households within the one way system, some of which are located one footpath width from heavily trafficked road sections.

Due to the complex nature of Lancaster’s road traffic congestion and air quality issues progress on the issue has been difficult.

But the formal adoption of the interim draft AQAP offers the prospect of a concrete solution being found.

The city council is also currently consulting residents, businesses and organisations in Carnforth following the declaration of an AQMA in the town earlier this year.

Wednesday, 6 June 2007

Highway Code cracked: more than 40 rules changed!

Following a high-profile campaign from the Cyclists Touring Club, the Government has agreed to amend the Highway Code to improve cyclists' safety and to encourage drivers to take more care around vulnerable road users. In total over 40 rules have been changed to the benefit of cyclists.

In Lancaster, the proposed changes, which would have denied cyclists the right to cycle on roads, would have meant they would have had to cross two lanes of busy traffic in parts of the city centre in order to use cycle lanes provided but badly located.

CTC has been working with the Department on these changed words for the past month and we are delighted that the Government has decided to make these improvements to the Highway Code.

The CTC say they had intensive negotiations, but the Department for Transport has listened and the new wording is a definite improvement.

CTC Director Kevin Mayne said "I am also delighted for CTC as an organisation, for our staff, members and supporters. This has been nearly two years work and a huge investment of our resources. We thought at several stages during the process we had achieved the outcomes we sought, but now we have an agreement we can work with.

"I am convinced that at the final stage of the process only CTC could have achieved this outcome with our focus, our knowledge, our ability to bring together the whole cycling movement and the respect we are given by government."

The new version makes clear that cyclists have every right to cycle on the road. Rules 61 and 63 state that cycle lanes and cycle facilities, are "not compulsory" and the decision to use them "will depend on your experience and skills".

CTC is asking cyclists to sign their petition to support the new wording and their campaign.

Monday, 7 May 2007

Centros Miller in action

Report by John Freeman: We thought you might be interested in these pictures from Bury St Edmunds courtesy of Bury Free Press, where developers have ridden rough shod over local opposition and let Centros Miller redevelop the old cattle Market.

Some locals there were so upset by the plans they even put a curse on CM, which must surely still be banned under never-repealed witchcraft laws.

Work on the development has already met with criticism from locals after the builders put up two-storey huts next to homes - which, because they are temporary structures, do not require planning permission.

Following local elections here in Lancaster a peculiar coalition of councillors of every political hue looks set to take control of the City Council, in a desperate bid to remove the Greens, who have taken even more seats at the expense of Labour and Liberals, from getting more power over local decision making.

Council leader and Labour councillor Ian Barker lost his seat to the Greens in the election and told local press he was in no doubt that those elected are against development and progress in the City. (The Greens have of course put forward their own plans for development on the controversial canal corridor area, but Barker seems to have ignored those).

His backing of the much-hated Northern Bypass scheme proposed by the County Council probably didn't do him any favours, either with Transport Solutions for Lancaster and Morecambe quite sure it played a part in his downfall.

“We have long known from our campaigning that the Northern Route is detested by most local voters, and Lancaster’s traffic congestion is not helped by either scheme,” says chair of the group David Gate, referring to both the Northern proposal and the long-since-dropped Western Bypass plan, which local lorry hauliers are trying to get back on the agenda .

“TSLM is not a political organisation, but our supporters are voters, and they are not going to stand for the destruction of the district by a massive road that only increases traffic. The Northern Route has backfired on the Council leader, and has been shown to be a massive vote loser.

"The councillors who listened to the people and opposed this unpopular road - the Independents and the Greens - have seen their vote increase. Those who ignored the people have lost seats. Surely it's time for Lancaster City Councillors to follow local MP Geraldine Smith and ditch this unpopular and underperforming scheme."

Cal Giles, one of the co-ordinators of the Lancaster pressure group It's Our City, which opposes the Centros Miller vision for the town, says elected councillors, as well as newly elected councillors, now need to be reminded that should this development go ahead, what is happening now in Bury St. Edmunds is what our city will have to put up with during a build.

"Four years may seem a long time from now," she says, "but by the next election this is what we will be living with. Voters get very angry when their lives are so disrupted and as we have proved, vote with their feet."

Of course, while councillors may appear to listen, they have to be watch like a hawk in case they pull some dirty tricks. Last night, this VL contributor was reminded that after 34,000 local people signed a petition back in the 1980s opposing plans for a two tier market to replace the Victorian one that burnt down (and could not simply be rebuilt because the Conservative council at the time did not have it sufficiently ensured, according to a local Labour activist), the petition mysteriously vanished.

The two tier market went ahead and remains half empty of stalls to this day...

Wednesday, 2 May 2007

Do the Maths

I see that the latest issue of Labour's Bulk Rose newsletter has quoted the Centros Miller ICM poll as stating that of those Lancaster residents aware of the proposals, 61% are in favour, 12% opposed, 14% don't know and 19% have no opinion.

Monday, 30 April 2007

Sun, sea, sand and cycling - the order of the day in Morecambe

Sun, sea, sand and cycles were the order of the day in Morecambe yesterday (Sunday) when hundreds of people arrived by bike to join in the fun at the official launch of cycling on the town's promenade.

The event was organised by Lancaster City Council’s Cycle Demonstration Town (CDT) Project Team and Cultural Services to bring the community together to celebrate the change in the promenade byelaws which has enabled the five mile stretch of stunning views and fresh sea air to be opened up to cyclists.

Those there to mark the historic occasion enjoyed the variety of stalls and exhibitions on offer including cycle displays, an appearance by "Dr. Bike", Lancashire County Council’s cycling roadshow, street entertainment, and assault course, cycling information and plenty of freebies.

The highlight of the day was a historic mass cycle ride, when over a hundred cyclists, on bikes of all shapes and sizes, were officially sent on their way by Visitor editor, Glen Cooper, riding side by side along a section of Morecambe promenade and the Stone Jetty. Every one who took part received a cycling goodie .

As a Cycle Demonstration Town - one of just six in the country - Lancaster District has received Government funding to show how increased investment can raise levels of cycling in our district. The opening up of the promenade is seen as a major step forward towards the aims of the CDT project – to double the amount of cyclists in the district by 2008.

A year into the project and figures already show that cycling across the district is on the increase and Morecambe promenade is no exception now that cyclists are being encouraged to share its use, with an increase of 20% compared to the same time last year . After yesterday's fantastic cycling bonanza and so many new people experiencing the benefits, those figures are set to soar.

Lancaster City Council Director and Chair of the Cycle Demonstration Town Project Board, Peter Loker said: "It was wonderful to see the massive support for shared use of the promenade. We anticipate that this will encourage even more people to get on their bikes and make the most of the beautiful surroundings we are lucky to have in this district.

"I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who came along to this very successful launch event and all those who helped organise it".

Friday, 27 April 2007

Out with the Local Plan, in with the Core Strategy

In line with government planning reforms, the current Lancaster Local Plan is being replaced by a Core Strategy, which will be submitted to Government on 4 May 2007 and is the Council’s overarching spatial planning strategy for the period up until 2021.

The overall intention is “a sustainable district, whose quality of life and standards of development, comprising a prosperous knowledge-based city, a regenerated coast and a conserved countryside.

The council says the Strategy also sets out broad locations for new homes and jobs, regeneration areas and the district’s natural and built heritage. In addition it outlines how public and private agencies will help make the vision come to fruition in the run up to 2021. Underlying this strategy is the principle of urban concentration, with key themes of sustainable communities, economic regeneration, improving the environment and delivering quality services.

It will now be on deposit between 4 May and 15 June, during which time people can make supporting representations or formal objections. It will then be the subject of an ‘Independent Examination’ early next year.

You can make a comment by;

• Using the online representation form on the Council’s website (www.lancaster.gov.uk)
• Emailing your representation form to fforwardplanning@lancaster.gov.uk or
• Sending a paper copy of your representatives to the City Council

The Strategy, representation forms and all other relevant documents can be viewed and downloaded from the Council’s website (www.lancaster.gov.uk) and are available at Palatine Hall and Morecambe Town Hall.

Copies of the Strategy can also be viewed at all public libraries in the District and at University.

Let Your Fingers do the Recycling

If you want to recycle your old Yellow Pages directory, given that the recycling box collectors have rejected it, then give it to a schoolkid.

Over the next seven weeks, several local schools will be taking part in the Yellow Woods Challenge, run by Yellow Pages, working with the Woodland Trust and Lancaster City Council, to recycle old Yellow Pages directories and help increase woodland in England – one of the least wooded countries in Europe.

Funds raised through the Yellow Woods Challenge will be invested in the Woodland Trust’s most ambitious children’s tree planting campaign ever launched – ‘Tree For All’ – which aims to plant 12 million trees by 2009.

Youngsters will learn about recycling and woodland conservation through educational materials in the classroom and games on the internet.

The primary schools taking part locally in Lancaster are Moorside, Ryelands and St Bernadettes plus Poulton-le-sands Primary; St Margaret's, Hornby; St Peter’s, Heysham; St Lukes, Slyne with Hest; Arkholme Primary, Silverdale CE Primary and Carnforth Primary. The competition closes locally on May 25, 2007.

For more information, visit www.yellow-woods.co.uk.

Or if that’s not possible, there are yellow pages recycling banks at Booths and Tesco in Carnforth and Morrisons in Morecambe.

Tuesday, 24 April 2007

High Court strikes down planning committee "perceived impartiality" fallacy?

(Thanks to Max for this item): Outside and critical observers of local democracy have long had a problem with the idea that councillors on planning committees should not say or do anything which indicates support or opposition to developments.

An example of this absurdity could be seen at the It's Our City panel debate in Lancaster last Friday when several councillors refused to say whether they thought the Centros Miller plans for a huge and unwelcome shopping complex (unwelcome to many local residents, that is) were rubbish - despite the fact that no planning permission has yet been applied for.

Now, the BBC reports that the High Court has ruled on a case related to the new high pressure gas pipeline being built across England and Wales. Some local councillors were advised by council officers not to take part in the planning committee vote due to having taken part in a protest against the pipeline. They didn't take part, the decision was taken to judicial review, and now that planning committee decision has been branded unlawful.

High Court Judge Mr Justice Collins said the councillors should never been told not to vote. "The councillors did feel under pressure not to participate," he commented. "Where it seems that the advice given was clearly wrong, was in raising the threat of a
complaint to the ombudsman."

He went on to say that councillors should not be inhibited from "doing the duty imposed upon them by the democratic system by the over-cautious advice from monitoring observers".

Perhaps now we can look forward to seeing local councillors show some backbone when standing up to overcautious civil servants?

Thursday, 12 April 2007

Have your say on open space, sport and recreation facilities in Lancaster

Lancaster City Council has recently appointed specialist sport and leisure consultants PMP to look into how open space, sport and recreation facilities can be best used. The study is required by the Government, as laid out in current planning guidance. It has been funded by the council, and will investigate whether the city’s open space meets the needs of residents now and in the future, in relation to quality, quantity and accessibility.

The study will concentrate on open space that is well used and valued by local people. It will include parks, woodlands, canals and footpaths, outdoor sports facilities and pitches, children’s play areas, amenity greenspace within housing developments, allotments, civic spaces and cemeteries and churchyards. It will also consider the adequacy of indoor sports facilities to meet the needs of local residents.

PMP will be undertaking an extensive programme of research and consultation with users, providers and other key organisations over the next few months. This includes a household survey, which will be distributed to 5000 randomly selected households across the district over the next two weeks and a survey for young people which will be distributed through schools.

The following neighbourhood ‘drop in’ sessions have also been organised.

Tuesday 17th April 2007
10 - 1 – St Nicholas Arcades - Lancaster

Wednesday 18th April 2007
9.30 – 11.30 – Hornby Village Institute

Thursday 19th April
9-11am – Booths Supermarket – Carnforth
12 – 3 – Morecambe Arndale Centre.

A session on Lancaster University Campus will also be arranged.

PMP would like to hear your views on the quantity, quality and accessibility of open space within Lancaster and the surrounding area so please come along. Alternatively, if you have any comments to make regarding any types of open spaces within your area, feel free to contact the consultants directly by email, text message or freepost address via the following email address:

lancasteropenspace@pmpconsult.com

or send a text message with the letters LAN and your message to:

07920 203006

or write to the following freepost address:

Lancaster Open Space, Sport and Recreation Study
Business Reply Plus Licence Number RRHL – GSTH – XZCE
PMP Consultancy Ltd
Century House
11 St Peters Square
Manchester
M2 3DN.

Monday, 26 February 2007

Launching the Virtual-Lancaster Team blog

Welcome to the Virtual-Lancaster Team Blog on blogger. This is a temporary solution to the problem of posting news items quickly when the team doesn't have time to work on the full site, post comment (you can also use VL's forum to do this, but many find the current one a bit fiddly.

All core VL team members will soon be able to post here and once our spiffy Content Managed System on virtual-lancaster is up and running, will archive everything posted here on the new site.