This week’s letters in the Lancaster Guardian.
Adopted home is alive and kicking
In response to Mr Paul Kondras who wrote so scathingly in last week’s letters page ‘Lancaster is not so hot’, I feel compelled to speak up and defend the city which has become my home.
I have lived in Lancaster for 13 years now, moving originally from Bury, to become one of Mr Kondras’ derived students. I worked my way through university, as did many of my peers, and I spent my hard-earned money in the shops, restaurants and arts facilities of the city – fuelling the city’s economy, surely?
I now work as a nurse in the city’s hospital, working within an institution that provides a service to the residents of Lancaster and beyond. I am giving back to the city that trained me, as are the numerous other vocational professionals who emerge from our two fabulous universities.
Mr Kondras feels that the students of Lancaster offer nothing to the culture of the city, yet the number of different British accents, and the number of different nationalities who land on our streets each October can surely do nothing but add to the rich tapestry of our historical city.
Our arts and music scene is alive, a glance through the Lancaster Guardian’s entertainment pages pays testimony to this. We may not have the all-singing, all-dancing Brewery Arts Centre of Kendal, yet our Dukes theatre, the Grand theatre, the Gregson centre and numerous pub venues give Lancaster’s arts and music scene a sense of uniqueness.
Lancaster’s empty market hall is an eyesore, nobody can deny that, yet the grass is not always greener. He speaks of Bury’s “thriving” market. Has he visited recently? The market may still be there, but it far from thrives. Bury, along with many other towns and cities across the UK, has far more empty shop units than Lancaster does. Lancaster town centre is alive with shops and hustle and bustle – we don’t have the range of high street shops found in the bigger cities, but we do have many independent traders and businesses, which again are what make our lovely city just that little bit different.
Mr Kondras writes with such longing for the cities that outshine our own – Liverpool, Norwich, Sheffield…. Perhaps he should consider relocating?
Lancaster is my adopted home, I stayed here because I fell in love with the city and I am proud to be raising my son here.
Guests have only good things to say
Re ‘Lancaster is not so hot’ in last week’s letters page, is this a jaundiced view?
We have run a B&B for the last 12 years so have talked to more than 15,000 guests and cannot recall anyone having a bad word to say for Lancaster, in fact quite the reverse. The majority have been from overseas and their reaction is usually that this city is really quite unique.
Compared to the other cities quoted by Mr Kondras, what impresses visitors is the compactness of the city and just how much is crammed into such a small space including a royal castle, two theatres, the Williamson legacy of museums, monumental civic buildings and the park, not to mention an excellent selection of eating places and watering holes to suit all tastes.
Visitors also find it amazing that within a few minutes of the city centre you can walk out into open countryside along a river, or a canal, or out across Fairfields.
Two things impress the tourists and those who don’t know Lancaster. Firstly, the general sense of antiquity with ancient ginnels, monuments, the Georgian terraces and cobbled streets. Secondly, it is a frequent comment how much friendlier people are in Lancaster than in the bigger cities. Tourists always mention how easy it is to find people willing to talk to visitors in this city.
The student population is not all bad. After all the two universities are major employers. The numbers of graduate returnees we see cannot be bad for trade and act as an advertisement for the city. Using retail and industrial buildings in the city centre for student accommodation frees up the smaller family homes further out for first time buyers and young families.
With regard to Mr Kondras’s comments about middle class aspirations, a gentleman who might be typical of this group told the public inquiry into the Canal Corridor Scheme, very firmly, that turning Lancaster into another “anytown” would mean that his sort of people would abandon the city.
Planning delays to date have saved Lancaster from becoming yet another cloned city, first with the Chelverton shed retail scheme and then the Centros identikit retail proposals.
The new situation with the castle coming into a much fuller part of the tourist ambit and British Lands’ assurances about working with heritage groups to make sure that Lancaster’s special sense of antiquity is going to be safeguarded rather than destroyed gives huge hope for the future.
The future planning objective for Lancaster should be to be the last un-cloned city in the country, something that would guarantee its uniqueness.
Visitors that we see are usually here because of the universities or because they’re on their way to the Lake District. What has to be changed is to persuade people to come to Lancaster because of what the city itself offers. Our experience is that no-one is ever disappointed.
Open your eyes amd emjoy
Paul Kondras at first calls Lancaster a “drab little town” and then writes glowingly of “the amazing music, art, culture and coffee” which thrive throughout Lancaster and Morecambe. Creativity – music, art and culture (and coffee) do not thrive in a drab, hostile environment.
Lancaster and Morecambe are vibrant cultural communities. Last week I attended, with great enjoyment, two events of international standing (a concert at Lancaster University featuring a BBC New Generation artist, and a performance by a globally acclaimed theatre group at the Dukes Theatre).
If I had had the time I could have filled in other evenings in the week with first-rate live jazz at one or other of the city’s live music pubs or watched newly released well-reviewed films at one of the city’s cinemas.
In the previous week Lancaster expressed its brilliance in four days of the city’s Light up Lancaster, celebrating a whole spectrum of creative activity, and for the next month the City Museum is hosting an exhibition of national or even international importance showcasing the Silverdale Hoard.The Experian report in ranking highly the city’s vibrancy did so in the context of its population of young people, who contrary to Paul Kondras’ remarks, do contribute considerably to the culture, and as consumers (as conceded by Paul Kondras), to the economy of Lancaster. The student presence attracts a range of cultural events, musical, artistic and theatrical, and without them a city inhabited by “middle-class taxpayers” would be drab indeed.
Empty shops are certainly a depressing sight with their sharp reminder of the difficult economic times experienced right across the country.
I have not recently had the opportunity of visiting Birmingham, Cardiff, Newcastle, Norwich or Sheffield, but Liverpool and Bristol have their share of empty shops as does Manchester.
This does not affect the spirit of liveliness in these centres or in Lancaster.
There are 100 and more reasons to love and enjoy Lancaster – I recommend that Paul Kondras opens his eyes and ears to what is all around him.
Festival went off with a bang
On behalf of Lancaster City Council and Lancaster Arts Partners, I would like to express our thanks and gratitude for all the splendid press coverage that your newspapers gave to the Light Up Lancaster event which took place over four days from October 29 to November 2, in particular Lancaster’s Fireworks Spectacular.
Light Up Lancaster has been a phenomenal success for the city, with businesses and the council’s Visitor Information Centres stating record figures and takings.
The combined marketing and press coverage worked wonders with approximately 7,000 visitors to the city on Friday night and more than 12,000 in the city on Saturday night, plus sell out Waterways performances.
Once again, thank you for promoting this event and for all your support in ensuring everyone around the city had a safe and enjoyable time.
Assistant Marketing Officer
Lancaster City Council
Campaigners are rightly informed
What a terrible week for the people of Lancaster & Morecambe – news that TSLM’s right to appeal has not been granted.
But thank goodness for a system that allows people to have a say in what goes on in their area.
So many people, like myself, were horrified when TSLM explained the details of the scheme – something that hadn’t been done competently by LCC.
If the people in Morecambe and Heysham who support the scheme really want better transport links, they should either support sustainable transport measures, or live nearer to existing trunk roads.
How selfish, expecting the rest of Lancashire to pay hundreds of millions of pounds, and give up our countryside, so you can get to work five minutes earlier (at best)!
And if businesses were so desperate to be closer to transport links they would use the ‘Total Fitness’ site on Caton Road – but look what a white elephant that has been! This road is not going to be Morecambe’s Fairy Godmother, waving its concrete wand and developing a business utopia. It is more like the Ugly Sister, wickedly creating a concrete jungle.
Before claiming to support this road, ask yourself if you honestly know all the facts. Have you seen the exact LCC plans, with heights of bridges and cuttings?
Have you looked at LCC’s traffic forecasts, and seen where traffic numbers are going to rise?
Have you been to LCC exhibitions and questioned the council representatives about the details of the plan?
Have you seen the budget forecasts for the £123million?
If you can’t honestly say yes to these statements, then maybe you should think twice before believing LCC’s hype and supporting the road.
People who are against this proposed road are not nimbies, they are merely correctly informed.