As 2014 begins, Guardian reporter Gayle Rouncivell looks back at some of the big events that happened in the Lancaster district during 2013. Here we focus on the first six months of the year, with July to December to follow next week.
A postman told of his ordeal as it was revealed more than 50 mail workers have been attacked by dogs in Lancaster and south Cumbria in less than four years. Local postman Phil Lumb, 44, blamed irresponsible owners for failing to control their pets. His leg was bitten by a dog in September 2012.
A city taxi driver uncovered a speed limit bungle after launching his own investigation. An FOI request revealed that speed limits on two busy stretches of road in Lancaster and Bolton-le-Sands cannot be legally enforced. The A6 had been reduced from 40mph to 30mph at Bolton-le-Sands and from 50mph to 40mph near Lancaster University. But the council admitted the limits are unenforceable because traffic regulation orders had not been put in place.
A teenager told how she “went through hell” after a catalogue of medical errors resulted in her having part of her left leg amputated. Lauren Mackereth, 19, had her leg removed below the knee five years after breaking her ankle playing netball at school.
A mother’s life was saved twice by the same surgeon. Catherine Henderson, 62, suffered life-threatening injuries in two separate accidents and made a miraculous recovery both times. And she revealed that th esame surgeon saved her life on both occasions, despite being treated at two different hospitals and the accidents happening years apart.
Snow arrived in Lancaster just for a day, catching people by surprise but giving people of all ages the chance to drag out their sledges and head for the slopes.
A Heysham woman claimed to have a light bulb which had been working for 130 years. Beth Crook, 79, said the light dates from 1883 and is believed to be among the world’s oldest.
Secretary of State for Transport Patrick McLoughlin gave the green light for the construction of the £123m 4.8km Heysham-M6 link road. Work is scheduled to start in July with completion due in December 2015.
Lancaster’s HMV store was to close, with a Morrisons Local food outlet expected to replace it. The new store would be the third convenience style supermarket in the city centre in the last two years, following Tesco in King Street and Sainsbury’s in Penny Street.
Popular homeless man George Lowery died in Williamson Park after living there for five years.
George, 54, was originally from Tyneside. He had been due to move into a flat close to the park in just a few weeks.
A firm responsible for billion pound projects across the UK was named as the new leaders of the transformation of Lancaster’s canal corridor development. The site is the subject of a new £75m retail and business scheme, under the guidance of British Land, who took over the reins from former developers Centros, who had their own plans turned down by the Secretary of State following a public inquiry.
More than £400,000 is to be spent on a new family liaison centre and garden of contemplation at Lancaster’s St John’s Hospice. The hospice received £429,529 from the government, which will go towards a new department to make the early days of care for those with life-limiting conditions easier.
Lancaster is set to get a makeover as part of a £1m investment to boost trade and improve the look of the city centre. The major new plans – part of the Lancaster Square Routes scheme – include new surfacing in Market Square, new high quality seating, a centrepiece in Market Square, new signage and lighting and facilities for promoting arts and events.
Lancaster MP Eric Ollerenshaw voted in favour of allowing gay marriage. He was among 366 MPs to vote in favour, despite 161 opposing the government’s plans. The bill would allow same-sex couples, who can currently hold civil ceremonies, to marry.
A leading consultant at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary said he finds it “embarrassing” to do his job due to management failings. His damning indictment of the local health trust in the wake of a survey which found that staff morale was at an all-time low. The unnamed consultant said the hospital cuts were having a “divisive” effect on staff.
Parents launched a campaign to save their children’s nursery after being told it was to close in the summer. Westbourne House Day Nursery owners CfBT Education Trust said the business had become “challenging to manage in the current commercial climate.”
The trust which runs the Royal Lancaster Infirmary faced falling back into a state of crisis, according to its own senior medical staff. A damning new report written by the Medical Staff Local Negotiating Committee warned that cost-cutting proposals at the trust would have serious consequences for patient care.
One local newborn was so keen to enter the world, he wasn’t going to hang about – instead, he was born on his mum and dad’s toilet floor in just eight minutes. The baby, who was given Lou as a middle name in honour of his unusual birthplace, was delivered six days early by his stunned dad Dan Hunt, who took instructions over the telephone from the emergency services.
The father of a Lancaster soldier killed in Iraq welcomed the announcement that families can bring damages claims against the government. Mark Thompson, whose 21-year-old son Kevin died in 2007, said the move was “a fantastic result for all the families.”