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February 2009

Sainsbury's Plans for Morecambe Football Club Revealed

Friday, February 27, 2009 - 23:52: Sainsbury’s has revealed its plans for its new store at Christie Park, home of Morecambe FC, following a three-day consultation event. Almost 200 local residents and stakeholders, including local MP Geraldine Smith, attended the event, which kicked off with an evening preview session on Thursday 19 February and was followed by two full exhibition days on the Friday and Saturday.

Toilet Closures "Inconvenient", say Conservatives

Friday, February 27, 2009 - 11:37: Carnforth ccouncillor Tony Johnson has condemned proposals by the Council to close rural toilets. "An alliance of the Greens and the Conservatives on Lancaster City Council have 'saved' the community swimming pools," the Conservative councillor notes in response to the announced proposals for £1.7 million of budget cuts.

Green Leader to visit Lancaster

Friday, February 27, 2009 - 11:09: Green Party Leader and MEP for the South East Caroline Lucas will speak at a meeting in Lancaster in March just prior to the Green Party spring conference in Blackpool. The meeting titled - Future Bleak or Future Green? - will take place in the Hugh Pollard lecture theatre on the University of Cumbria campus on Bowerham Road, Lancaster.

City Council Faced Bankruptcy, Says Barry

Friday, February 27, 2009 - 09:05: The government and the national media are crowing about the "good news" regarding low council tax rises -- expected to average at around 3% across the UK as a whole. Locally however, councillors and staff having to implement wide-ranging service cuts to keep rises below the government's five per cent cap are far from happy.

Citizens' Advice Vital Role Threatened by Council Cuts

Thursday, February 26, 2009 - 16:13: Supporters of Lancaster and Morecambe Citizens' Advice Bureaux, which are facing a £20,000 reduction in their budget, are asking for help to stop the cuts. Lancaster City Council is proposing to cut £20,000 funding from these bureaux as they struggle to find savings and keep council tax rises to government imposed limits.

Toilet Closure "Called In"

Wednesday, February 25, 2009 - 12:38: Lancaster City Council's unpopular plan to close 13 pubic toilets and offer a ‘Community Toilet’ scheme instead has been "called in" by the council's monitoring group, the Overview and Scrutiny Committee.

Local Card Firm to Expand

Wednesday, February 25, 2009 - 12:19: Lancaster-based G-T-P Group Ltd, which offers a range of card issuing and transaction services, has been presented with an £185,000 Grants for Business Investment Award from the Northwest Regional Development Agency, to grow within the financial services sector, creating 25 jobs.

New Nuke Build? Your Views Wanted - But Tell Us Who You Are First

Wednesday, February 25, 2009 - 11:52: (Updated 25/2/08 after comment from the power station on 'advance booking' concerns): Residents around Heysham Nuclear Power Station are being offered the chance to hear first hand about plans to nominate land next to the site for new nuclear build -- even though such plans were dismissed in the past, as geological problems mean the Heysham site is not suitable for expansion.

Library Building Work Announced

Tuesday, February 24, 2009 - 17:30: Lancaster Central Library and has announced that both the main and junior libraries will be closed from 1.00pm on Wednesday 11th March for some exploratory building work, tied in with the Lottery funded refurbishment due this year.

Don't Close Anchor Lane, say Greens

Tuesday, February 24, 2009 - 14:19: Lancaster City Council has received a planning application to install glass doors at either end of Anchor Lane, which links Lancaster Market Square with Church Street so that these doors can be locked shut when the cinema is not open.

Council Cuts Services, More to Come?

Tuesday, February 24, 2009 - 14:14: (Updated 27/2/09, redundancy cost figure corrected): Public toilets, The Dukes, Salt Ayre Leisure Centre and Citizens Advice all face massive cuts in their budget as Lancaster City Council struggles to balance its finances to keep the council tax down and find £1.7 million of savings from its budget.

Lancaster community say 'No!' to plastic

Monday, February 23, 2009 - 16:09: Lancastrians of any religion or none are giving up buying plastic for Lent (25 February - 11 April).

Cash up for Grabs for Cycling Projects

Wednesday, February 18, 2009 - 14:38: Got an idea that will help boost cycling in the Lancaster and Morecambe District? If so, Lancaster City Council's Cycling Demonstration Town Team wants to hear from you.

Watch out for the Vegetable Nannies!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009 - 10:24: The Dukes and Lancaster University's Nuffield Theatre are celebrating the launch of ‘A Night Less Ordinary', a new national scheme that’s allowing the two theatre venues to team up and offer thousands of free tickets to local young people under the age of 26.

Experimental drawing showcased at Uni

Tuesday, February 17, 2009 - 09:42: Artwork by student Claire-Louise Nutbrown in the University of Cumbria exhibition. Trainee art teachers from the University of Cumbria will be exhibiting their experimental and innovative drawings in the Lancaster Campus's Alexandra Gallery from tomorrow, Wednesday 18 February to 26 February.

Comic Fans Gather...

Monday, February 16, 2009 - 09:10: Lancaster's comics fans gather at the Gregson this week, for an event organised by Lancaster's First Age Comics, which is based in the Assembly Rooms in King Street. The Uncanny League Of Astonishing Amazers will kick off at 8.00pm on Wednesday (18 Frebruary) at the Gregson in Moor Lane.

More Public Toilets to Go

Monday, February 16, 2009 - 08:29: With Lancaster City Council facing perhaps its worst financial crisis in years as it seeks savings of some £1.7 million, cut backs to services are under discussion this week that include the closure of over 10 public toilets.

Sainsbury's Showcases New Store Plans

Friday, February 13, 2009 - 10:16: Sainsbury’s will be holding a public exhibition to showcase its plans for a new store at Christie Park, Morecambe and ask for feedback from the community before submitting a planning application. The drop-in exhibition will be held at the Directors' Lounge at Morecambe Football Club on Friday 20 February from 9.00am to 7.00pm and Saturday 21 February from 9.00am to 4.00pm.

Virtual-Lancaster Down but Not Out

Thursday, February 12, 2009 - 14:37: The main is currently offline. Our hard working and fab technical team is busy shifting the sites to a better server and we fully expect to be back up and running later today, Thursday 12 February .

MP Savages Government Plans for Post Office

Thursday, February 12, 2009 - 12:14: Morecambe and Lunesdale MP Geraldine Smith joined other MPs in a heated debate on the future of the Royal Mail in Parliament yesterday, roundly condemning the Government's handling of the Post Office and continuing her strident opposition to its part privatisation.

Virtual-Lancaster Plugged on Diversity FM

Wednesday, February 11, 2009 - 13:49: virtual-lancaster contributor John Freeman was interviewed on Lancaster's Diversity FM this morning, the show repeated at 6.00pm tonight (Wednesday 11 February). The interview is the latest by local writer Jomar de Vrind, the man behind Lune Fiction, in his "Imaginary Friends" series for the community radio station, which is based in the YMCA building on Cable Street.

Four Stars for the Midland

Wednesday, February 11, 2009 - 09:39: Morecambe's art-deco Midland Hotel has just been accredited as a four star hotel, following a review by Visit Britain, who award four star statuses to hotels which have an 'excellent standard throughout'.

Carnival of Culture Returns

Tuesday, February 10, 2009 - 12:23: The Carnival of Culture is to return, with a meeting this Wednesday (10 February) at 7.30 pm in The Park Hotel pub, to discuss ideas about organising events to raise awareness about the public inquiry and explore alternatives to Centros' proposed development for Lancaster in a fun and creative way.

Questions Continue Over Centros Development

Tuesday, February 10, 2009 - 11:13: (Updated 18/2/09): Local development campaign group It's Our City has urged caution over to reports that the future of the £150 million Canal Corridor development for Lancaster proposed by developers Centros may be in doubt (see news story) "The headline in last week's Lancaster Guardian posed the question, 'Is £150m development going to be scrapped?'" group spokesperson Emilie Secker notes.

One Show Spot for Lancaster Library

Tuesday, February 10, 2009 - 00:32: Lancaster Library, which has been challenging the traditional image of libraries for some time with its innovative outreach work such as music events, was featured on the BBC's The One Show last night.

Uni Seeks Marketing Partner

Monday, February 9, 2009 - 23:59: Lancaster University has begun a search for a creative agency to to market its Management School, setting aside a budget of £300,000 to appoint an agency partner.Duties for the successful firm will revolve around developing and executing “an integrated marketing communications and brand strategy” that will touch upon web design, PR and the creation of a range of "printed collateral", such as the...

Centros Canal Corridor Plans In doubt?

Friday, February 6, 2009 - 16:03: (Updated18/2/09): The Lancaster Guardian reports that the future of the £150 million scheme to transform Lancaster's shopping centre has been thrown into doubt after developers Centros would not confirm whether it would be represented at a planning inquiry - but campaigners against the scheme are still urging objectors to send letters to the Planning Inspectorate before its 9th March deadline.

Have You Found Our Cat?

Friday, February 6, 2009 - 15:52: Mysterious 'lost cat' posters are appearing round Lancaster town centre as part of a unique storytelling project organised by Lancaster LitFest.

Sabbat Run Extended at Dukes after Sell Out Success

Friday, February 6, 2009 - 12:52: Lancaster's Dukes Theatre has added an extra week of performances to the run of its Lancashire Witch play, Sabbat. This unprecedented step has been taken due to more people booking tickets for the production than any other in recent memory. “We’re thrilled to be extending the run of Sabbat," says Dukes Director Joe Sumsion.

Opposite of Robot Gig at the YoHo

Friday, February 6, 2009 - 09:47: There's a great line-up to Opposite of Robot #10, which takes place at Lancaster's Yorkshire House later this month. Lead act is The Winter Journey, a classically drilled Brit folk male/female duo from Manchester, who released their debut album This Is The Sound Of the Winter Journey As I Remember It on Timbreland Recordings in late 2008 to much acclaim.

Leader Gone but Council Budget Woes Remain

Friday, February 6, 2009 - 09:34: Following the resignation of Roger Mace, the Conservative leader of Lancaster City Council after failing to come up with a budget (see news story and statement), other political groups on the cabinet now have to come up with a budget before the cabinet meeting on 17th February.

North West firms urged to sign up for government contracts

Friday, February 6, 2009 - 09:18: Small companies in the Lancaster and Morecambe area are being encouraged to sign up to the government's business website to take advantage of thousands of public sector contracts -- and a meeting in Manchester has been set up to help develop business tendering skills in March.

Council Tax Rise Set at 4%

Friday, February 6, 2009 - 09:04: Lancaster City Council has set its increase in Council Tax for 2009/10 at 4% -- but there are warnings of more service cuts ahead to achieve it. In real terms, the rise, which is in line with government guidelines means residents will pay an average of an extra £7.13 – or 14p a week – to the city council from April 2009.

Job Cuts at Guardian, Visitor?

Thursday, February 5, 2009 - 15:21: Johnston Press is to move the Lancaster Guardian and Morecambe Visitor's sub-editing and picture desk to Blackpool, after halving the numbers needed. We also understand there is a freeze on replacing reporters who have left in the last 12 months at both papers.

Singing out "Over the Sands"

Thursday, February 5, 2009 - 12:56: Tomorrow, Friday 6 February, sees the third annual “Over the Sands” event at the Central Methodist Church, Morecambe. “Over the Sands” is attempting to revive the spirit of the Morecambe Choirs Festival (in spirit, at least), which was a favourite of Edward Elgar and which had its heyday during the first half of the 20th century.

Roger Mace: Full Statement

Thursday, February 5, 2009 - 08:10: Councillor Roger Mace, who resigned as Leader of Lancaster City Council yesterday, has issued the following statement regarding his reasons and his view of the state of the Council's Cabinet body, and warning of the potential of both more cuts to Council services and a large rise in council tax next year, which we publish here in full: “ENOUGH IS ENOUGH” Carping and bickering in Cabinet has got...

Bryning new Council Leader after Mace Quits

Wednesday, February 4, 2009 - 16:25: (Updated with corrections, comment from Jon Barry, 5/2/09): Labour councillor Abbott Bryning is the new leader of Lancaster City Council after Councillor Roger Mace resigned the position during today's full Council Meeting. Mace cited continual sniping and political point-scoring among some of his cabinet colleagues as reasons for his departure.

Masters of the House Event cancelled

Wednesday, February 4, 2009 - 10:53: Lancaster City Council has announced the Masters of the House Sing the Musicals show which was due to take place at The Platform in Morecambe on 7th March has unfortunately been cancelled.

Drink Can Spoil Romance, Health Chiefs Warn

Wednesday, February 4, 2009 - 10:13: Don’t let drink spoil the romance of Valentines Day. That's the urgent message the Health Protection Agency (HPA) North West wants to get across in the run up to 14th February, urging young people not to let drink spoil the romance of the day.

In Review: Sabbat

Tuesday, February 3, 2009 - 00:23: The Story of the Trials of the Pendle Witches The Dukes, Lancaster Writer: Richard Shannon Director: Amy Leach Designer: Miriam Nabarro With its root in historical fact, together with much that is sensitively imagined to allow an early 21st century take, Sabbat is a great little play which does not shy away from complexities.

Help Gaza Relief Efforts

Sunday, February 1, 2009 - 23:38: Do you want to do something practical and concrete in response to recent events in Gaza? Then help fill a van that will be leaving Lancaster on 12th February to travel overland to Egypt!