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March 2011

Historic Prison HMP Lancaster Castle closes this week.

Thursday, March 31, 2011 - 18:34: After 56 years as a category C prison, accommodating between 200-300 prisoners, depending on the policies of the day, HMP Lancaster Castle is closing this week. Conservative Justice Secretary Ken Clarke has plans to reduce the prison population by 3000 over the next 4 years.

City Council backs cut local arts groups

Thursday, March 31, 2011 - 14:29: Lancaster City Council has voiced its support for local arts organisations - including those whose funding has been cut by the Arts Council this week (see news story).

Missing Morecambe man could be in Blackpool

Thursday, March 31, 2011 - 14:03: Missing: Morecambe man Darren ShentonPolice are appealing for the public to report any sightings of a missing Morecambe man who is believed to be staying in Blackpool. As we previously reported, Darren Shenton, 41, was last seen at his home address on West End Road in Morecambe on Friday morning (25th March) and police and his family are growing increasingly concerned for his welfare.

litfest, Storey Gallery and folly lose Arts Council funding

Thursday, March 31, 2011 - 11:56: Lancaster's long-running litfest, the Storey Gallery, the digital arts organisation Folly and LUDUS Dance are among the high profile victims of cuts in funding by Arts Council England, which unveiled its new National portfolio of funded organisations earlier this week.

'Operation Belvedere' action to target theft and driver crime

Wednesday, March 30, 2011 - 13:10: Police executed warrants, visited second hand shops and carried out checks on vehicles this week as part of an ongoing crack down on serious acquisitive crime. The activity was carried out yesterday (Monday) as part of Operation Belvedere, which is aimed at reducing crime in the north of the county.

Hammerton Hall Lane accident prompts Police clampdown

Wednesday, March 30, 2011 - 12:58: Police will be clamping down on motorists incorrectly using ‘access only’ roads following a collision involving a car and a motorcyclist. The rider needed surgery to a broken leg after his red and black Vulcan motorcycle was involved in a collision with a green Ford Focus on Hammerton Hall Lane, between Barley Cop Lane and Slyne Road, Skeron, at around 6.32am on Monday 12th March.

Appeal for missing Morecambe man

Tuesday, March 29, 2011 - 16:27: Missing: Morecambe man Darren ShentonPolice in Morecambe are appealing for information about a man who has gone missing from his home in Morecambe. Darren Shenton, 41, was last seen at his home address on West End Road in Morecambe on Friday morning and police and his family are growing increasingly concerned for his welfare.

Lancastrians In London TUC Anti-Cuts March: Personal Report

Monday, March 28, 2011 - 17:07: They say it was half a million at the Great TUC Anti Cuts Protest March in London last Saturday. Half the march never even made it to Hyde Park. For that to happen it would've had to start off at about 9am, not noon. It was a miracle we made it as far as Trafalgar Square, three and a half hours after the march began. 'Why are you stopping?' asked a copper, kindly.

36 motorists fined during young driver safety clamp down

Monday, March 28, 2011 - 12:03: Local young motorists driving at excessive speed, without tax or while failing to wear a seatbelt have been given fines during a road safety crack down. Throughout March, police officers in the county’s Northern Division, which covers Lancaster, Morecambe and Wyre, have been attempting to raise awareness amongst young drivers about the dangers they face if they drive irresponsibly or illegally.

More businesses leave Lancaster market as Council dithers over fate

Monday, March 28, 2011 - 10:12: (with thanks to various virtual-lancaster readers) As Lancaster City Council continues to ponder the fate of Lancaster Market - one year after councillors voted in droves to stop its closure and local people marched to keep it open - virtual-lancaster has learnt that more tenants are to leave, some fed up with its continued mis-management.

Local MP backs Tory bid to criminalize Squatters

Saturday, March 26, 2011 - 06:51: (updated 27/3/11) After our recent coverage of how housing benefit changes will effectively impoverish some of Britain's most vulnerable when changes come into force by the end of 2011, you might be thinking that some will simply turn to squatting rather than pay rent they can't afford.

Local Labour activists launch Save Sure Start petition

Friday, March 25, 2011 - 23:54: Local Labour Party councillors and prospective council candidates have launched a petition against the possible closure of Sure Start Centres in Morecambe. The campaign comes as the Government and Lancashire County Council, both Tory-led, are making cuts to services across the North-West with threats that Sure Start Centres may lose funding.

Government increases money for pothole repairs

Friday, March 25, 2011 - 12:29: Lancashire is to benefit from the doubling of funding available for repairing potholes - which should come as welcome news to local drivers. Transport Secretary Philip Hammond has written to all English local highway authorities to inform them of their share of £200m after the funding increase was announced as part of the Budget earlier in the week.

Teenager assaulted at Lancaster takeaway

Friday, March 25, 2011 - 11:57: Have you seen or do you know this man?Police are appealing for witnesses after a teenager was assaulted at a takeaway in Lancaster earlier in the year. Around 3.40am on Sunday 27th January 2011, a 19-year-old man from the town was repeatedly punched in the face and body as he was waiting to order food at Iky’s on St Leonards Gate.

3Cs challenge issued to would be 'adventurers'

Friday, March 25, 2011 - 11:07: Lancashire Clubs for Young People is once again organising its popular 3C's Challenge - encompassing Caving, Climbing and Cycling - which will raise money to provide activities to underprivilaged young people across the local area. The 3C's Challenge is a different kind of sponsored challenge for 'wannabe' adventurers, with a day full of Caving, Climbing and Cycling challenges.

Take Taekwondo at Trinity

Friday, March 25, 2011 - 10:46: A fun Taekwondo class, suitable for beginners and experienced martial artists begins at the Trinity Community Centre in Lancaster next week. Taekwondo is a South Korean martial art with an emphasis on the kicks which you'll see at the Olympics next year. Lessons include fitness work and stretches whilst teaching you the blocks, strikes and kicks you'll need.

Don’t let registration myths mean you miss your chance to vote

Thursday, March 24, 2011 - 13:15: Lancaster City Council is warning people that believing urban myths about electoral registration could mean missing out on the chance to vote in the local elections taking place on 5th May. There are many myths and misconceptions surrounding registration, but it is important to know the real rights and wrongs behind the process.

Bypass goes back to planning despite government funding green light

Thursday, March 24, 2011 - 10:23: This week's Lancaster Guardian reports that the proposed M6 Link to Heysham is to be re-submitted for planning approval - despite confirmation of much of the funding for the project from the government in yesterday's budget (see news story).

Budget confirmation for funding of M6 Link for Heysham

Wednesday, March 23, 2011 - 14:43: The Chancellor George Osborne today announced his Budget, with plans to reform the nation's economy and, he claims, steps to help families with the cost of living. He also confirmed of funding for the hugely controversial link road between the M6 and Heysham.

Adults warned about risks of buying alcohol for children

Wednesday, March 23, 2011 - 14:22: Adults are being warned about the risks of buying alcohol for underage children after a local man was given an £80 fine for buying booze for teens. The 20 year-old man was given the fine after police were alerted to the fact that he had passed vodka, wine and beer on to a group of youngsters after making a purchase in Halton.

Local Poets to launch new gathering

Wednesday, March 23, 2011 - 09:06: Ron Scowcroft. Photo: John FreemanThe first of a new twice-a-year series of quality readings by local poets will take place on Thursday 14th April at The Storey Auditorium in Lancaster.

Mayor of Lancaster to hold charity race night

Monday, March 21, 2011 - 15:12: Charity is tipped to be the winner at a special event on 1st April to raise lifesaving funds for the stroke unit at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary, hosted by the Mayor of Lancaster, Coun Tony Wade A charity dinner and race night will start at 7.00pm with a reception in the mayor’s parlour at Lancaster Town Hall, followed by dinner and a race night.

Budget Day Anti-Cuts Rally Planned in Lancaster

Sunday, March 20, 2011 - 20:54: Wednesday 23 March is Budget Day and Lancaster & Morecambe Against the Cuts plan a rally in Dalton Square, Lancaster, at 6pm. Let's make lots of noise on Budget Day. Bring placards, whistles, banners, children, dogs. Show them we can't pay and won't pay for their mess!

Red Nose? Red Chest, more like...

Friday, March 18, 2011 - 16:17: The things some people do for charity! Cover Supervisor Keiren Doyle at Heysham High School raised £250 for Comic Relief today by having his chest waxed. Pupils at the school also brought money in for wearing non-school uniform and Food Technology teacher Charlotte Western sold cakes at break times.

Hate the cuts? Love theatre? Theatre Uncut takes protest to the next level

Friday, March 18, 2011 - 15:38: Local theatre lovers will be joining a national protest against the cuts tomorrow, 19th March, by putting on plays specially written to highlight the problems the government's spending slashbacks will cause. Across the country, thousands of people are involved in protests and debates, sparked into action by the largest cuts to public spending since World War Two.

Campaigners warn on third nuclear station for Heysham and safety plan failures for Nuclear Waste plans

Friday, March 18, 2011 - 03:20: A locally-based anti-nuclear campaign group is warning that a third nuclear power station at Heysham will be built by EDF Energy unless local residents unite to oppose the decision. Lancaster City Council has already issued a response of support to the Government consultation on the National Policy Statements relating to energy which included a proposal for a third power station at Heysham.

Housing Benefit Cuts - The Knives Are Out

Thursday, March 17, 2011 - 22:09: Updated 20 March 2011 Last week Lancaster City Council wrote to Housing Benefit recipients warning them of forthcoming cuts to their benefits. Here is how it works. Local Housing Authority (LHA) rates used to be calculated so that the cheapest five in ten privately rented properties were affordable to people in receipt of Housing Benefit.

'Enzo' tagger plagues Lancaster Castle area residents

Thursday, March 17, 2011 - 12:34: Lancaster police are appealing for information after areas around the Castle area of the city have become the repeat target for graffiti. Residents have complained to police about the 'tagging' over the last month, with bins, lamp posts, garden fences, telephone kiosks and bus stops all sprayed with the same graffiti tag 'enzo'.

Steve Gribbin headlines latest Comedy Club at Borough Club

Wednesday, March 16, 2011 - 12:57: Steve GribbinSunday 27th March sees another array of world class comics appearing at The Lancaster Comedy Club at The Borough in Dalton Square. After a childhood in Liverpool spent idolizing the likes of Les Dawson, Tommy Cooper, and The Singing Nun, Steve Gribbin set out for London to study. Whilst at Goldsmiths’ College, he discovered sex, drugs and a small island off Perthshire.

Cash machine stolen from Lancaster supermarket

Tuesday, March 15, 2011 - 18:55: Police are appealing for information after a cash machine was stolen from Booths supermarket in Lancaster. Around 11.25pm on Sunday 13 March 2011, two vehicles approached the Booths supermarket on Hala Road. A number of people got out of the vehicles and smashed the glass surrounding the cash machine before attaching a rope or strap to it, pulling it entirely out of the frame.

Lancaster Market move to Museum building - 'investigations' continue

Tuesday, March 15, 2011 - 18:50: Despite intense opposition to the proposal, Lancaster City Council is to press ahead with its investigation into a plan to move Lancaster Market to the Museum building in Market Square.

Frankenstein stalks The Dukes...

Tuesday, March 15, 2011 - 16:26: If you've tried and failed to get tickets for Danny Boyle's hugely popular version of Frankenstein at the National Theatre, then The Dukes has the solution - because on Thursday, they'll be screening a live performance of the sell out show direct from London.

Music and comedy Ensembled in Lancaster for Comic Relief

Tuesday, March 15, 2011 - 16:15: Popular teenage musician Nancy Kent appears at St. Thomas Church as part of the Esemble@StTs line up on Friday A new series of cafe caberet evenings launches at St Thomas Church on Penny Street, Lancaster on Friday 18th March – and are set to prove as popular as previous events.

Council tests flood protection measures

Tuesday, March 15, 2011 - 14:54: Lancaster City Council will be testing its preparations for potential tidal flooding with an exercise next week. On Monday 21st March, storm boards will be put in place on Morecambe's promenade so staff can practice their deployment in case they are needed for a real life situation.

SAFE centre funding secured despite cuts gloom for Lancashire police

Tuesday, March 15, 2011 - 10:27: Despite news of cuts to Lancashire's police announced yesterday, there is some good news among the doom and gloom as public services come under increasing assault from the ConDem government. Lancashire Constabulary has confirmed that funding for the SAFE Centre, Lancashire’s specialist centre for victims of rape and serious sexual assault has been secured.

Scotforth residents give supermarket plans the red card

Monday, March 14, 2011 - 12:34: Scotforth residents protesting at new supermarket plans on Saturday. Photo courtesy Councillor Emily Heath Scotforth residents are "seeing red" over proposals to build two huge supermarkets and staged a demonstration outside Booths on Saturday.

Lancashire’s roads ‘safest they have been in years’

Monday, March 14, 2011 - 11:29: The number of people killed or seriously injured on Lancashire’s roads is at the lowest in 30 years, according to latest figures. Police say more work is needed to bring them down further, while the County Council argues its soon to be introduced 20 mph speed limits on residential roads will help that downward drop in tragic accidents.

William Penny's Residents Bless Parking Scheme as Flat Blazes

Sunday, March 13, 2011 - 16:30: Residents of the William Penny's sheltered housing scheme block of flats in Regent Street, Lancaster, were evacuated today as fire broke out in a basement flat. Fortunately the elderly resident of the flat where the blaze started was out visiting her daughter for the day and no-one was harmed.

Police appeal after attempted armed robbery

Friday, March 11, 2011 - 15:28: Lancaster police are appealing for witnesses to come forward after an attempted armed robbery at the Costcutters store on Mainway, Lancaster, earlier this week. At about 8.00pm on Wednesday 9th March a man wearing a balaclava entered the store and threatened a member of staff with what is believed to be a hand gun. A second man kept watch at the door.

Scotforth Residents see Red over Supermarket plans

Friday, March 11, 2011 - 15:22: Protestors will be gathering in Scotforth tomorrow afternoon (Saturday 11th March) to campaign against two proposed out-of-town supermarkets -- which would create a traffic nightmare for residents and suck trade from the city centre.

Claughton Moor wind farm appeal withdrawn

Friday, March 11, 2011 - 11:32: Community Windpower Ltd have withdrawn their appeal against the council’s decision to refuse planning permission for a 20 turbine wind farm development on land at Claughton Moor - but a similar proposal, but with less turbines, is still on the table.

Vehicles seized after Lancaster Farms contraband crackdown

Friday, March 11, 2011 - 11:24: Over 80 visitors to Lancaster Farms young offenders institute were searched by police in a crackdown on contraband items making their way into the establishment - and items seized as a result. The activity was carried out as part of regular checks on those entering the Lancaster Young Offenders Institute, to prevent items such as drugs or mobile phones being smuggled inside by visitors.

Nomination packs available for prospective local election candidates

Thursday, March 10, 2011 - 14:47: Nomination packs are now available for people thinking of standing as a councillor in this May’s local elections on 5th May, which will see new city councillors elected to represent local people until 2015. Nominations close at noon on 4th April 2011 and forms are available to collect from Lancaster Town Hall.

Local band HowdenJones set to launch seventh album

Thursday, March 10, 2011 - 11:15: Local band HowdenJones - currently between gigs in sunny Devon, on our ten day tour of beautiful places in the South-West - are about to release their seventh album. "plaything is now being manufactured for release on the 18th March 2011," Kate Howden and Paul Jones tell us.

Students' Union to help run activities day for children with disabilities

Thursday, March 10, 2011 - 10:56: Volunteers from the University of Cumbria Students’ Union have signed up to help organise and run an activities and information day for families of children with disabilities. The free event will take place on Saturday 26 March, at Salt Ayre Sports Centre from 11.00 to 16.00, and 25 students have given up their time to help out.

Life is a 'Cabaret' for Grammar School students

Tuesday, March 8, 2011 - 14:55: The cast of Cabaret, this year's joint musical show from students of Lancaster Royal Grammar School and Lancaster Girls' Grammar School. Photo: John Charles Taylor ( from Lancaster Royal Grammar School and Lancaster Girls’ Grammar School are taking on the grim but compelling play Cabaret for their joint theatre production at Lancaster's Grand Theatre later this month.

Council's chief executive hits back on Conservative 'gagging' claim

Monday, March 7, 2011 - 12:33: Mark Cullinan, Lancaster City Council’s chief executive, has responded to claims from Conservative councillor Roger Mace that he was effectively 'gagged' from speaking on a proposal to consider take action on the escalating costs of Lancaster Market, which might include a move to the City Museum at last week's Full Council meeting (see news story).

Police name two people found dead in Morecambe

Saturday, March 5, 2011 - 07:10: Police have named the two people whose bodies were found at an address in Morecambe yesterday. The bodies of 44-year-old Robert Holden and 40-year-old Nicola Holden were found at their home address on Low Lane in Morecambe after police were called to the address at around 11.50am yesterday morning.

Spruce up your fashion sense at The Storey

Saturday, March 5, 2011 - 06:56: If you've ever wanted to enter the glamorous world of fashion design, or simply desire to make your own classic shift dress, Lancaster-based fashion designer Jennifer Pritchard Couchman is offering you the chance, with a new series of short fashion courses, to be held at The Storey Creative Industries Centre in Lancaster.

Admission fees for pools and parks set to rise from Monday

Friday, March 4, 2011 - 16:55: New fees and charges for the use of Lancaster City Council-run leisure facilities will come into effect on Monday 7th March. The decision made by Cabinet to increase the prices charged at Salt Ayre Sports Centre, community pools, Williamson Park, parks and recreation grounds and the Platform takes account of the rise in inflation and the implications of the increase in VAT.