GOVERNMENT FORCED US TO BE
30/7/04 Fats & Proteins (UK) Ltd (aka Nightingale Hall Farm) are
still on trial in Carlisle on charges of breaking the terms of their
operating licence by allowing foul smells to escape the plant in May
2001. The trial is being held in Carlisle because it was felt that it
would not be possible for the company to get an impartial jury in Lancaster.
In their defence the former company Managing Director said that month
had been a special case as their hands had been tied due to the Government
Intervention Board taking over the site and forcing them to break the
rules in response to the foot and mouth emergency.
People who are familiar with the company and its emanations will remember
the visit of Prince Charles going on 20 years ago when he complained
about the smell from the plant, which he detected from the A6 at White
Our site editor satori remembers having to take a pregnant friend to
hospital one summer about 10 years ago because she had been sick for
days and unable to keep nourishment down. Where she lived there was
no escaping the foul smell from the plant. She was admitted and put
on a drip - but soon recovered away from the stench and went to stay
with relatives. She and her husband sold their house and moved away
from town a few months later to get away from the smell.
The plant is situated adjacent to three local schools and a hospital.
Virtual-Lancaster is seeking stories about Fats & Proteins (UK)
Ltd and the smells, which we will compile into a feature. If you are
a witness or have a story or anything to contribute to this, please
email the editor
ACT FOR ART'S SAKE
30/7/04 Artists who are interested in forming an action group are invited
to attend an open meeting at 'Upstairs Downstairs' on Morecambe promenade
on Friday 13 August at 2pm. The purpose of the meeting is to generate
artistic action to publicise artists' work, develop exhibition space
and benefit artists.
Morecambe has no public exhibition space for artwork, and the Storey
Gallery in Lancaster is currently allergic to work originating from
this area. The meeting is being called by G.W McLelland, whose letter
appears in this week's
MP BACK FROM SUDAN - JUST GIVE THEM THE MONEY!
30/7/04 Chair of the Associate Parliamentary Group for Sudan Hilton
Dawson MP visited Sudan including Darfur less than three weeks ago and
witnessed a catastrophe which will have got worse since the rainy season
set in. He saw thousands of people, many of whom will be dead by the
time you read this, who have been driven from their homes, living in
makeshift, inadequate shelters, hungry and lacking clean water and latrines.
Sudan is very close to ending its 21 year civil war. Its Government
is accused of backing the militias responsible for the current crisis
but now, under international pressure, it is allowing aid through and
preparing to improve the security of its people. There is much more
to be done to achieve and monitor a ceasefire and agree a political
settlement in Darfur. However, the priority now is to save as many lives
as possible. Hilton is hosting a fundraising coffee morning at Lancaster
Town Hall tomorrow (Saturday) from 10am - noon. There will be stalls,
a tombola and information on how to help more.
You can also send donations to: DEC Sudan Emergency, PO Box 999, London
EC3 or with a call to 0870 60 60 900.
£15 will provide a family with plastic sheeting, a water container
and purification tablets.
£44 will feed a family of five for two months.
£84 will buy two household kits including a mosquito net, blanket
and kitchen utensils.
COUNCIL PROVIDES FREE HANDYPERSON SCHEME
30/7/04 Lancaster City Council has begun offering the free services
of a handyperson to perform minor repairs and maintenance about the
house for people who are over 60 or disabled. The scheme is available
to anyone eligible within the Lancaster District, and people in the
Poulton Renewal Area can use the scheme, regardless of age, if they
are in receipt of certain benefits. For details, call Hayley Southcott
on (01524) 586820.
MORECAMBE SKATEPARK TO OPEN ON SATURDAY
30/7/04 Work on Morecambe’s new skatepark is going well, and if
all goes according to plan, should be open on Saturday 31st July. So
get your kneepads on, and trundle down there!
SHELLFISH BEDS SAFE AGAIN
30/7/04 After the latest scientific tests, Lancaster City Council has
lifted the temporary ban on the use of the shellfish beds at Heysham
Flat Skeer, which were closed earlier in the month due to the presence
of an algal toxin which can cause illness.
20,000 LEAGUES UNDER MORECAMBE
29/7/04 A chance to see an exciting play performed aboard a ship comes
to Morecambe on 20th to 23rd August, with the arrival of the Walk the
Plank Theatre Company at the Stone Jetty, in their theatre ship, the
Fitzcarraldo. They’ll be performing Jules Verne’s
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, and the ship’s hold will
be transformed into Captain Nemo’s submarine, the Nautilus,
in a family play for children of 8 and upwards. See
STOP THE PHONE MAST!
28/7/04: Thre are just 13 days left to object to the siting
of a new phone mast near galgate, local resident Steve Booth reports.
The mast will be built on Highland Brow, one of the last bits of clear
countryside between the village of Galgate and Lancaster University.
"The mast will be too near the residential housing in Galgate and will
spoil the visual appearance of the hill," says Steve. • Send your objections to Lancaster
City Council Planning Department, Palatine Hall, Dalton Square, Lancaster
against the planning proposal number 04/00962/PAM - Highland Brow Galgate
phone mast. FIRE EFFECTS - MORE INFORMATION 28/7/04: Following yesterday's fire at Lancaster Synthesis
on the White Lund Industrial Estate, Councillor Anne Chapman has informed
Virtual-Lancaster she has spoken to John Isherwood at the Environment
Agency, who is responsible for regulating this company under Integrated
Pollution Prevention and Control legislation. It would appear from his
comments that although the fire was bad, the environmental impact will
hopefully not be as damaging as some may have feared.
According to Mr Isherwood there seems to be no obvious explanation for
the cause of the fire, the only information at the moment being that
it seems to have started in a store room. Lancaster Synthesis has had
to apply for a new permit in the last few months, so it has been visited
quite a few times recently, and fire safety was one of the things considered.
The company, the Environment Agency and the Health and Safety Executive
will all be carrying out investigations into the cause of the fire and
Anne has asked to be kept informed of these. The Environemnt Agency says strenuous efforts
were made to contain the fire water on site and tanker it away. However,
some will inevitably have got into the drains, which is why the Council
has issued a warning about not going into the river, as a precautionary
The County Analyst did some monitoring of air pollution levels in the
vicinity of the site and was satisfied that these were not severe, since
most of the chemicals would thankfully have been destroyed in the fire.
There were chlorinated organics present, which would have produced dioxins
but apparently it is not possible to monitor for these in the fire plume,
only in chimney stacks. (This is probably because the levels would not
be high enough in the plume to be detected by the available analysis
methods. In stacks the air is extracted over a period of several hours
and the dioxins absorbed onto a solid substance of some sort, which
is then analysed). Anne asked whether soils in the area should be sampled
and tested for dioxins (dioxin does not stay in the air but tends to
bind to soil particles) but Mr Isherwood thought that this would not
be worthwhile - dioxins will be present (they are produced by PVC being
burnt in bonfires, for example) but it would not be possible to show
that the fire has increased the level.
It may be that the quantity of organochlorine chemicals at Lancaster
Synthesis is so small that the total amount of dioxins produced could
not make a significant difference to concentrations in local soils.
FIRE SERVICE REPORT ON SYNTHESIS FIRE 28/7/04: Lancaster and Morecambe's Fire Service have released
the following report on the fire at Lancaster Synthesis yesterday, which
has resulted in warnings about eating locally grown food and an alert
about the River Lune:
Fire crews were called to a major fire yesterday on the White Lund Industrial
Estate. The first call was made to the fire and rescue service just
after half past six when it is beleived a small explosion had occurred
in the chemical warehouse of Lancaster Synthesis on Newgate. The first
fire crew from Morecambe arrived minutes later to find smoke rising
from the roof of the building. After assessing the fire potential the
officer in charge of the first attendance instigated operation merlin
- the county's multi-agency response plan for serious chemical incidents.
Because of the nature of the processes and materials within the building,
the White lund Industrial Estate was evacuated and closed to the general
public by police straight away. The fire developed quickly inside the
warehouse and within 10 minutes thick smoke had filled the entire building
and flames appeared through the roof.
Sub Officer Murrell said "The products generated by the fire were extremely
hazardous, with flammable, toxic, corrosive, oxidising and water reactive
chemicals involved. This hampered firefighting operations considerably
and the wind direction changed several times, causing firefighters to
abandon their vehicles to avoid contamination."
Water supplies from all over White Lund were utilised by crews and the
pressure was increased to the area by United Utilities. Large volume
ground and aerial monitors were directed onto the fire from newgate
and the A683 dual carriageway. At its height around 11,000 litres of
water was directed onto the fire every minute. The fire was brought
under control 5 hours later, with 18 fire engines and around 70 firefighters
in attendance. Crews from as far away as Burnley have attended the fire
and is expected that crews will still be damping down at the fire today
The cause of the fire is being investigated by Fire Officers over the
LUNE MAY BE POISONED AFTER CHEMICAL FIRE
27/7/04, updated 28/7/04: The City Council is warning everyone to steer
clear of the River Lune where it runs through Lancaster, after the fire
at Lancaster Synthesis today on White Lund Industrial Estate.
Members of the public are advised to avoid bodily contact with the water
of the River Lune at any point between Skerton Weir in Lancaster and
Ashton Hall south (downstream) of Lancaster because some water used
to douse fire may have gotten into the drainage system and might be
poisonous (see explanation above). These
points are marked A and B on a map provided by the City Council (click
here). The same applies to pet animals.
This notice has effect until 12.00 midday on Thursday 29 July 2004 unless
a longer period is advised.
Any person encountering dead fish in the river at these locations is
asked to notify the Environment Agency by telephone on 0800 807060.
As a precautionary measure, the Food Standards Agency are recommending
that the public should wash and peel home grown fruit and vegetables
that will be harvested from areas that may have been affected by the
plume at ground level.
NORMAL COUNCIL SERVICES RESUMED 27/07/04: Lancaster
City Council's cleansing and leisure services are returning to normal,
following disruptions caused by today's fire at White Lund.
The tip and sports centre at Salt Ayre had been closed early this morning.
The tip has now re-opened and Salt Ayre Sports Centre will re-open at
6.00pm (closing tonight at 10.00pm).
As a result of the tip closure the city council made alternative arrangements
for the disposal of normal rubbish, recycled waste and green recycled
waste. Green waste was sent to Kendal Transfer Station, run by SITA.
The other waste was split 50:50 between Fleetwood and Clifton Marsh.
The time it took to transfer the waste to these alternative sites obviously
had an impact on services. in order to further minimise disruption off
duty staff were brought in and extra wagons were dispatched.
The emergency services have now allowed the tip to reopen and the council
has been given special permission by the Environment Agency to extend
its opening hours, from 4pm to 7pm, in order to clear the backlog.
City council director for community services, Peter Loker, said: "Everything
will be off the streets by 7.00pm tonight. Everyone has pulled together
in order to make this happen. I would particularly like to thank all
our staff who've worked extremely hard and pulled together brilliantly,
some of them coming in on their day off, in order to provide as near
normal a service as possible for the public. I'd also like to thank
the public for their patience and co-operation. It is much appreciated."
The city council run playschemes went ahead with the precaution that
children attending schemes in the Morecambe and Heysham areas stayed
indoors. The scheme at Loyne closed early when smoke began entering
MAJOR FIRE AT CHEMICAL PLANT
27/7/04: Local residents are being warned to stay indoors and keep windows
shut as a major fire at Lancaster Synthesis -- the second in a month.
BBC News reports more than 50 firefighters and 11 fire appliances were
tackling the blaze at the depot on the White Lund Industrial estate
in Morecambe. ASDA, Salt Ayre Sports Centre and Salt Are tip have all
been closed as black smoke spread across the area and has reached as
far as Abraham Heights.
A city council environmental health inspector is at the site of the
fire assisting the operations at the gound and another is attending
the Silver Command at Lancaster Police Station, where further decisions
arising from this incident will be made.
"We've got a severe fire involving a building containing a cocktail
of chemicals," Michael Laws of Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service told
BBC Radio Lancashire. "The fire is well established - we've not committed
any firefighters actually into the building because of the safety of
the crew. Eleven people including four firefighters were treated in
hospital after a chemical fire earlier in the month at the plant. Their
symptoms included nausea and headaches from breathing in fumes at Lancaster
Synthesis in Eastgate, Morecambe.
As a result of the tip closure council refuse and recyled waste collections
have also been affected. The city council has made alternative arrangements
for normal rubbish, recycled waste and green recycled waste. Green waste
is going to Kendal Transfer Station, run by SITA. The other waste is
being split 50:50 between Fleetwood and Clifton Marsh.
The time it will take to transfer the waste to these alternative sites
is obviously going to have an impact on services. The Council says it
has brought in people from their day off, and are using three extra
wagons and suspended some rounds n Lancaster. Even so the collections
will be behind schedule.
Today is also the first day of a new recycling round in Bare and this
service will be affected. The Council are asking the public to bear
with them as we do our best to ensure rounds are collected as quickly
as is possible.
City council run playschemes may also be affected, depending on advice
we may receive from the emergency services. Any parents or guardians
with any concerns should contact Bernice Dalton on 01524 582822.
Earlier this month, Lancaster Synthesis owners Clariant, a Swiss chemicals
group currently in the throes of a major restructuring exercise, announced
sold its UK-based Lancaster Synthesis unit to Johnson Matthey.
The £14.15 million deal is part of Clariant's strategy to sell businesses
that are no longer core activities, and takes Lancaster into a company
far more compatible with its focus on research chemicals and organic
synthesis. Lancaster Synthsesis has catalogue sales and small-scale
bulk manufacturing operations in Morecambe and additional distribution
facilities in the US, Germany, France and India. Last year, it started
operating in China through an agreement with Shanghai Chemical Reagent
Co. The business had sales of approximately SF 45 million in 2003 and
employs 225 people world-wide.
Lancasterís product range includes 14,000 compounds, with main lines
including reagents for synthesis, boronic acids, heterocyclics, fluorinated
organics, isocyanates and isothiocyanates, chiral molecules, organophosphorus
intermediates, iodoaromatics, and acyl and sulphonyl halides.
IS THIS THE END FOR THE PLASTIC CARRIER BAG?
26/7/04 Following a recent resolution, Lancaster City Council is to
campaign for the reduced use of plastic shopping bags and to lobby the
government for the introduction of a levy on each bag.
Green City Councillor Chris Coates said " If this is taken up seriously
by the council and local supermarkets it could make a big difference
to the number of bags littering the town. It can take a plastic bag
anything from 30 to 100 years to decompose in a landfill site and with
Salt Ayre tip due to close soon we need to be doing everything we can
to reduce waste." Read more.
A recent survey showed that around 15 billion plastic shopping bags
are distributed by supermarkets in a year in the British Isles or about
250 per person This would be enough plastic to cover an area greater
than the areas of London, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle and West
Yorkshire put together.
The council resolution also called on Margaret Becket, the Secretary
of State for the Environment, Food and Rural affairs, to introduce a
plastic bag levy nationwide, with the money raised being fed back into
local plastic recycling schemes.In the UK a number of councils and the
Local Government Association(LGA) have already come out in favour of
the plastic bag levy.
A levy on Plastic bags introduced in Ireland in 2002 resulted in over
a 90% reduction in the consumption of plastic bags. Green City Councillor
Catriona Stamp said " The Irish scheme has been a great success
with support from both shoppers and the supermarkets. All of us receive
plastic bags handed out by supermarkets and shops which we don't really
need and which end up in the bin the second we're home. These plastic
bags end up littering the environment, polluting our seas and causing
the deaths of sealife, birds and other animals as a result.."
On a personal note, having just come back from living in Germany, where
people habitually carry the strong cloth bags which supermarkets sell
for less than £1, I’ve found that using the phrase “I
don’t need a carrier bag, thank you,” in Lancaster often
meets with blank incomprehension, and needs to be repeated twice. I
was starting to think I was going to have to have it tattood on my forehead!
LOCAL MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES SLATED BY HEALTHCARE COMMISSION
23/7/04 Morecambe Bay Primary Care Trust (PCT) Mental Health Services,
previously given a 2-star rating by the Healthcare Commission, have
fallen off the map, with no stars at all in this year's DOH survey.
An overall reduction in the PCT's rating means it is no longer eligible
to acquire Foundation Hospital status - despite having invested heavily
in developing this project for some time. In the Mental Health Services
area a lack of integration between health and social support services
in the community was cited. Proposed
plans to reorganise services to a 'Regional Asylum' model, with in-patient
services centralised to one unit - up to 50 miles from many patients'
homes - have highlighted this deficit drastically. These plans involve
a reduction of in-patient facilities from 79 to 60 beds - almost 25%,
ward at Ridge Lea Hospital already closed. But poor liaison between
hospital and community services leads to slower rehabilitation - and
longer hospital stays. The inevitable result of this is tragedy and
increased risk to the community as patients are denied essential care
through a shortfall
in provision. The consultation period on these proposals will last until
30 September 2004. Read
LOCAL GOVERNMENT REFERENDUM CANCELLED 22/7/04: The referendum on whether to have regional assemblies
in the north-west (see here) has been
postponed. The government claims this is due to worries about irregularities
in postal voting, but critics claim that it is because it looked likely
there would be a "no" vote. The referendum in the north-east
will go ahead in November as planned.
DIVERSITY FESTIVAL CALLS FOR CONTRIBUTIONS
22/7/04: Throughout October, the Lancaster District’s first ever
Diversity Festival will take place, created by local people. A Steering
Group of volunteers is currently putting together the programme for
the festival, and they need your help.
An eye-catching logo, which sums up the ethos of the festival, is needed.
The Steering Group is holding a logo-design competition, with a £20
book token for the winning entry, to be submitted by 9th August.
The Steering Group also needs to receive details of all diversity-related
events that will be happening in October, so that they can be included
in the festival publicity. The deadline for this is also 9th August.
Anyone can put on an event as part of the festival, as long as it supports
at least one of the festival’s aims:
· Recognising and celebrating diversity
· Educating and awareness-raising
· Challenging discrimination
· Supporting long-term partnerships and programmes
· Bringing groups and individuals together
· Linking local and global issues
There are also seven themes: race and ethnicity, disability, gender,
sexuality, age and religion.
Proposals so far include:
· an International Evening at Dallas Road School
· an interactive exhibition challenging media myths about asylum
· a series of sexuality pride events, including film screenings
· an integrated disability workshop and performance at the Nuffield
Emily Heath, a Steering Group member and City Councillor, said: “The
Diversity Festival promises to be one of the biggest and most varied
festivals that the Lancaster District has ever seen, with scores of
individuals and organisations involved in making it happen.”
Donald Read, a Steering Group member who works in Health Promotion,
said: “We hope that by celebrating people from all kinds of different
backgrounds, we will help to make our community stronger, safer and
more welcoming for everyone.”
If you would like to know more about the festival or submit a logo
design or details of an event, please contact the Diversity Festival
Steering Group c/o Global Link, 24a New Street, Lancaster LA1 1EG, tel:
01524 36201 or email:
More information can also be found on the web at: www.virtual-lancaster.net/diversity/
FREE BELLS FOR CYCLISTS
22/7/04 It’s not often you get something for nothing, but if you
happen to be cycling along the cycle path between Lancaster and Halton
on Sunday 25th July, you’ll be given a free bicycle bell! This
opportunity is being offered by Dynamo, the Lancaster and District Cycle
Campaign, whose spokesperson (no pun intended!) Dave Horton says “the
expanding network of off-road paths in this area is great not only for
cyclists of different ages and abilities, but for all kinds of people
escaping from the noise and speed of our car-dominated roads. With a
bell, people on bikes can alert dog-walkers, horse-riders and other
path users of their approach. Although cyclists generally slow down
when approaching other people using our local paths, and obviously don't
endanger life in the same way as motor traffic, Dynamo thinks people
should ding-ding, as a simple courtesy signalling their approach, rather
than as a warning of danger.”
Dynamo will also be providing people with information about the current
closure of the popular riverside path further upstream, at the Crook
o'Lune bridges. The County Council predicts this off-road route to Caton
and Brookhouse will remain closed well into next year. Speaking for
the group, Patricia Clarke said, 'Dynamo finds the lengthy closure of
this important route completely unsatisfactory. The County Council knew
for a long time that the bridges need essential repairs. Their woeful
lack of action suggests that cycling and walking still aren't being
treated seriously enough by the Council, and continue to be given insufficient
resources. For anyone wishing to express their frustration at the closure
of this important leisure and commuting route, we will be handing out
postcards which they can send to the County Council'.
You can pick up a free bell, and fill out a postcard, at Dynamo's stall
at the old railway station at Denny Beck, Halton from 1:30, this Sunday,
In 2008 the Virtual-Lancaster Local News Service was transferred to an online blog where readers can add their comments and updates.
You can search both this blog and the old archive using the purple search box above.