As we start off a brand new year, we take a look back at some of the stories to make the news across the Lancaster district in 2018.
The health trust which runs the Royal Lancaster Infirmary scooped more than £1m in parking charges last year. University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Trust is now among trusts across the county expected to have their car park fees investigated by a health scrutiny committee. UHMBT collected £1,077,000, of which £735,000 came from visitors and £342,000 from staff.
Plans were drawn up for a new “artisan village” near Lancaster. The proposals feature up to 1,000 new homes on farmland near Ellel. The development would include 950 homes, a retail and leisure site, a 100-bed hotel, school, church and retirement village.
Hero Keiton Sharp forced his way into a blazing house to rescue a mum and her two terriefied children. Keiton, 21, spotted the fire in Edenvale Crescent as he walked home from the shop, and has now been praised by firefighters for his actions. “I just did it without thinking,” he said. “I had to save their lives.”
A woman died the day after being told there weren’t enough beds at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary, her family claimed. Tereena Nicholson, 59, died just hours after a visit from her GP, who – her grieving family said – told them that she faced 24 hours waiting on a trolley in the corridor. The family was demanding answers from health professionals.
Up to 500 fracking wells could be drilled in the Hala, Bowerham and university areas of Lancaster, an expert predicted. The chartered engineer and leading authority on fracking said Lancaster was next on the list if commercial quantities of shale gas were found at another site in Lancashire. US-based company Warwick Energy had already bought a shale gas exploration licence for the Lancaster area.
Lancaster was named as the fourth most affordable city to live in the UK. According to the Lloyds Banking Affordable Cities review, the typical cost of buying a home in a UK city has reached its least affordable levels in a decade. The average house price across cities equated to seven times typical national earnings – but in Lancaster the figure was 4.8 times.
Lancaster University staff were to stage 14 days of strikes in a row over pensions. Lecturers, researchers, library and IT staff, administrators and student support staff were all expected to set up picket lines at the university gates in what the University and College Union called the biggest strike ever seen at the Lancaster campus.
An urgent appeal was launched to save one of Lancaster’s most significant historic landmarks. The Grade 2 listed St John the Evangelist Church was under threat from a serious case of dry rot which was spreading through the building, causing plaster to fall from the celing and window frames to break up because they could no longer support the weight of the stained glass. Historic England said it was no Lancaster’s most significant heritage asset under threat. The Churches Conservation Trust, which owns the building in north Road, said it would need to raise £28,000 to prevent further damage.
A young Morecambe woman was aiming to make her dream of walking unaided – just like her twin sister – come true. Shauney Huntriss has cerembral palsy and is fundraising to pay for life changing selective rhizotomy surgery. The 22-year-old, who lives in Westgate, hopes the operationwill give her a new lease of life and allow her to live ‘normally’ like her sister Hollie. She needs to raise £40,000 for the operation.
Lancaster had the first female Bishop in Lancashire. Rev Dr Jill Duff, 45, was named as the next Anglican Suffragen Bishop of Lancaster. The married mother of two boys said she was “thrilled and humbled” to be appointed the eighth Bishop of Lancaster.
The parents of a Lancaster toddler who died from meningitis paid tribute to their son while warning people to be aware of the signs of the disease. hector Kirkham, who parents Charlotte and Lee described as “gorgeous, cheeky and happy”, was taken to the Royal Lancaster Infirmary but died later that day. His symptoms of sickness and a temperature only presented 12 hours before he passed away.
A new and improved state-of-the-art CCTV system was installed in Lancaster and Morecambe. The advanced technology replaced the district’s existing CCTV cameras and has adopted a 4G wireless connection, allowing more cameras to be added without incurring additional infrastructure and support costs. The cameras will provide vital evidence to help police in the event of a crime, and will also be used to monitor public areas to assist in managing events and identifying issues relating to litter, vandalism and dog fouling.
Bullseye host and Lancashire radio broadcaster Jim Bowen was laid to rest at a private funeral in milnthorpe. The former teacher, TV presenter, musician and Radio lancashire host died aged 80 at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary after suffering recent poor health and two strokes. His funeral took place at Beetham Hall Crematorium in Milnthorpe and was attended by close family and friends.
Plans to build a new £4m wedding and conference venue at Williamson Park were being developed. Councillors agreed to spend £210,000 on working up designs for the new building, which would be situated on the current Pavilion Cafe site near the Ashton Memorial. An initial feasibility study had been completed for building a new structure, which would include a café, retail, toilets, education suites and a wedding/conference centre – with an estimated cost of £4m.
A former Lancaster University student from Morecambe was revealed as the brains behind multi-million pound plans to bring Cornwall’s Eden Project north. Ian Hughes drew up detailed plans for an Eden Project development and heritage centre on Morecambe Prom in April 2013, after looking at how other seaside towns across the country had turned themselves around. Ian, 56, said he was “just thinking outside the box” and then set to work on a detailed draft document for the former Dome site, which he presented to senior leaders at Lancaster University.
Foodbank use in the Lancaster and Morecambe area significantly increased over the last year, new figures revealed. Issues with Universal Credit, insecure or casual work, zero hour contracts, benefit changes and low pay all contributed to the rise, Morecambe Bay Foodbank said. Between April 1 2017 and March 31 2018, 5,947 three day emergency food supplies were provided to local people in crisis by Morecambe Bay Foodbank, compared to 3,842 supplies in the previous year. Of this number, 2,313 went to children. Lancaster MP Cat Smith described the situation as a “national disgrace”.
A “terrified” Lancaster man faced deportation due to a “Home Office decision-making lottery.” Asylum-seeker Solomon Yitbarek faced imminent deportation to Ethiopia, where he feared imprisoned for his peaceful democracy activities. Solomon had been living in Lancaster since 2016, having arrived in the UK legally on a spouse visa in 2013. He applied for asylum following the subsequent separation from his partner.
Dad-of-two Andy Makin made his own way more than 1,300ft down Clougha Pike after breaking his ankle at the top of the hill. Andy, 40, snapped a bone in his right ankle after stumbling while taking a photo at the peak of Clougha on Saturday morning. However, he said he felt he couldn’t justify the cost of calling out the air ambulance to rescue him – and so managed to get himself down the 1,355ft high hill before driving home.
Plans to create a winter wonderland in one of Lancaster’s historic squares were revealed. Exciting proposals had been drawn up to build an ice skating rink in time for Christmas. The plans, put forward by Hannah and Martin Horner from The Borough pub, would see a real ice skating rink being created in Dalton Square, with the Queen Victoria Statue as its centrepiece. The rink would have capacity for 200 people at any one time, and would be open between late November and early January.
The future of a centre at the heart of a Lancaster community was under threat after it was forced to close due to vandalism. Thousands of pounds worth of damage is thought to have been caused at Marsh Community Centre – but those connected with the Willow Lane centre vowed to get it back on its feet as soon as possible. Damage was caused to the kitchen units and appliances, furniture was thrown around the centre and turps was poured across the floor.
Galgate flooding victim and mum-of-four Claire Lloyd said she was at breaking point – seven months after her home was left under 4ft of water, she was still living in temporary accommodation. Lancaster City Council said it was doing all it could to help Claire rebuild her life.