Homeless newts and other stories in 2013

Edward Tudhope and other business owners at Middleton retirement village are up in arms because of roadworks stopping customers getting to the village.
Edward Tudhope and other business owners at Middleton retirement village are up in arms because of roadworks stopping customers getting to the village.

Violent storms, arson, bay rescues and major new developments all hit the headlines in the second half of 2013. Reporter Michelle Blade takes a look at the stories and issues brought to the fore between July and December 2013.


Residents and business owners in a village community said they had been left high and dry while newts, frogs and toads were relocated because of roadworks.

The amphibians had been moved from Middleton Wood as preparations were made to lay underground cable from Heysham for a wind farm in the east Irish sea.

But residents and business owners in Middleton said their lives were being made a misery with numerous sets of roadworks on Borrans Lane and Carr Lane.

* A dad slammed ‘heartless’ burglars who had stolen his childrens’ climbing frame.

Andrew Baxter said his kids Logan, six, who suffers from autism and his sister Lulu, four, were left inconsolable after the frame and slide were taken from the garden.

The thieves also trashed a battery powered jeep.

* Business was booming for businesses on Morecambe promenade thanks to a heatwave.

But happy traders said the spell of unusually hot weather was just papering over the cracks in Morecambe. A seafront shopkeeper said: “It’s been wonderful but people should realise that it’s a flash in the pan and shouldn’t deter us from long-term objectives like getting the town’s car parking sorted out.”

* Arsonists set a fire at a children’s playground just a day into the summer holidays.

Police said discarded wood and other rubbish was piled up underneath a climbing frame, swings and slide at the Clay Pitts play area near Charles Street in Morecambe before it was set on fire.

* A fisherman rushed to the aid of a family of five who became trapped up to their waists in water at Morecambe.

The drama, right next to the Green Street slipway on the promenade, was just one of five rescues in the bay.

In a sixth drama, emergency services were called to locate people trapped in sinking sand - which turned out to be an expensive hoax.


Caravan owners at a resort site were furious after being told they had to quit or upgrade their vans by November.

Van owners at Ocean Edge caravan park in Heysham received letters saying that because their caravans were 20 years old, they had reached their age limit and would have to walk away or pay thousands to upgrade to newer vans.

Many of the 37 people who received letters said the clause wasn’t in the original contract.

* Developers who had first refusal on regenerating a prime piece of Morecambe land severed ties with the town.

Urban Splash would not appeal against a decision to refuse their plans for the central promenade area.

That meant that their blueprint for the future of the land east of the Midland hotel was completely off the table.

* A major new development was unveiled by Lancaster and Morecambe College.

The Hexagon Student and Learning Centre was redeveloped by project partners Ellis Williams Architects and Kier Construction. It opened in time for new students joining the college in September.

* A dramatic river rescue was launched after a pensioner fell off his boat into a fast-flowing River Lune.

Emergency services were scrambled after the man, 65, was seen in distress near the water treatment plant at Glasson Dock. He was carried down the river for about two miles but was eventually plucked from the water.


The Morecambe Seaside Festival once again lived up to its billing as the town’s greatest weekend of the year.

While not quite as spectacular as the previous year’s Red Arrows visit, the air display and fireworks still pulled the biggest crowds of 2013 to the seafront.

* A Morecambe boy made good was to make a triumphant return home with an event set to bring thousands into the town.

Designer and TV personality Wayne Hemingway hoped Vintage-by-the-Sea at the Midland and the Winter Gardens would give his birthplace a shot in the arm.

* A caring schoolgirl did the junior Great North Run in memory of a friend who died suddenly.

Morgan Bower, 10, a pupil at St Peter’s C of E School in Heysham, wanted to raise as much money as possible for her friend Emily Hood’s charity called Emily’s Starlite.

Emily, also a pupil at St Peter’s, passed away suddenly in October 2012.

* An American website which challenged cyclists to race along Morecambe promenade was shown the red light.

Strava.com had been asked to stop promoting Morecambe prom as a cycle route on its ‘social fitness’ website.

Runners and cyclists used the California-based site to record their best times on roads all over the world.


War broke out between the man who had been guiding walkers across the treacherous sands of Morecambe Bay for 20 years and city council safety officers.

Alan Sledmore said he was giving up the walks for good after two complaints led to Lancaster City Council launching an investigation.

The city council said the safety of members of the public was paramount.

* A popular wildlife programme was broadcast live from RSPB Leighton Moss at Silverdale.

BBC’s Autumnwatch, presented by Chris Packham, Michaela Strachan and Martin Hughes-Games, was broadcast from the reserve within the Arnside and Silverdale Area of Outstanding Beauty.

* A have-a-go hero tackled a car which burst into flames without a thought for his own safety. Despite the possibility of the car exploding, Grant Wilson and another motorist both grabbed fire extinguishers to tackle the blaze opposite Sainsbury’s garage.

* Kids were stopped from playing on a public field after it was put under lock and key.

Lancashire County Council, owners of the field on Acre Moss Lane, said its gate had been locked to prevent anti-social behaviour from youths.

* Bolton-le-Sands couple Ron and Clare Kelbrick became the first in the North West to own a tandem scooter.

Ron, 79, described the vehicle as the “Rolls Royce of scooters” after paying £7.500 for it.


Hungry people given food parcels were sending them back because they were too poor to pay for the electricity to heat them up, said a local food bank.

A client at the Morecambe Bay food bank, set up in January, could not accept a food parcel because he had no money to pay for gas or electricity to heat the food.

His food parcel was adapted to take into account that the food had to be eaten cold.

* A freak lightning strike wrecked a man’s home and caused electrical appliances to explode across Morecambe.

David Tarbun’s home on Lathom Avenue took the brunt of the massive bolt, described as sounding “like a bomb going off.” The devastating strike blew out nine of his windows, shattered two car windscreens and ripped a hole in the roof and front door.

* Morecambe’s eyesore Frontierland was set to be turned into a £17 million retail and leisure park.

Top developers Opus North wanted to build a complex of fashion shops, a hotel, restaurants, a family pub and 376 parking spaces on the former fairground.

If their plans got a thumbs up, the new retail park will create 500 jobs and fill the remaind3er of the 10-acre site.

* Radical measures to highlight and tackle the problem of dog dirt were implemented by Lancaster City Council.

The city council took to Morecambe’s beaches to spray dog dirt with luminous paint.


A right Royal Mail rumpus broke out after posties stopped delivering to an elderly couple - because of cows.

Sheila and Jeff White had lived in their 19th century cottage in Carnforth for 33 years and never had a problem with their post.

But the Royal Mail refused to deliver whenever a herd of cows was in a nearby field, sayingthey would not compromise on the health and safety of postmen and postwomen.

* A violent storm left cars floating on rough seas and members of a gym trapped inside a flooded building.

Powerful waves battered the windows of VVV health and leisure club in Hest Bank.

* David Cameron said the building of the Heysham to M6 link road would be a “game changer” for the district.

Speaking on a surprise visit to Morecambe, the Prime Minister also admitted he had been stuck in traffic coming in from Lancaster - saying this was a sign the road was needed.

* A 40-year-old charity known for helping sick children go on holiday to Disneyland was under threat. The Children’s Holiday of a Lifetime Society pays for children with a serious or life threatening illness to enjoy the time of their lives. But in recent years the number of nominated children had dwindled.