From the Guardian files

LLancaster City Council was told to improve the safety of its play areas in 2010.
LLancaster City Council was told to improve the safety of its play areas in 2010.

What was happening around the district five, 10 and 25 years ago.

Five years ago

February 5 2010

Play areas across the Lancaster district could close while others may have equipment removed, following a warning from council insurers. Lancaster City Council had been asked by its insurers to take immediate action to improve the safety of its play facilities or remove them if that was not possible. And the authority said it simply could not afford to upgrade all the play areas which needed work. One of the main problems was that some of its 74 play areas did not have special safety surfacing to soften the blow when a child fell.

Your people in Lancaster were caught up in a new ‘legal high’ drug craze sweeping the country. Police arrested seven students at a city nightclub after compulsory searches by door staff revealed they were carrying white powder. The substance, believed to be Bubble – a street name for mephedrone – had been sent away for analysis. This was the first time police had made arrests in Lancaster in connection with the drug, which could be bought legally over the internet, where it was advertised as plant food.

A champagne bar in Lancaster city centre was set to be given the go-ahead by planners. The champagne bar and coffee boutique were the latest additions to plans for the new Travelodge hotel in Lancaster. It would be a coffee bar during the day and champagne bar at night and would be open to hotel guests and the general public.

Ten years ago

February 4 2005

A year after 21 people lost their lives in Morecambe Bay, the subsequent criminal investigation had turned into one of the largest ever seen in Britain. Operation Lund had cost Lancashire Constabulary more than £1.5 million and still had 30 full-time officers working on the inquiry.

A family day out turned into an ordeal when a local couple and their young son were trapped in a lift 165 feet above ground for more than five hours and watched as firemen carried out three failed rescue bids at the Glasgow Science Centre. As a treat they visited the observation platform on the top of the 416-foot rocket-shaped tower on the site. But the descent all went wrong when their glass-sided lift broke down.

Council tax payers wouldn’t be able to make cash payments at Lancaster and Morecambe Town Halls in future as both offices were to close with a saving to the city council of £300,000. Residents were being asked to switch over to direct debit payments – which already accounted for 57 per cent of transactions – or to pay by bank card via the internet.

Cost of repairing the Millennium Park bridge at the Crook O’Lune near Halton almost doubled to £880,000. Engineers first thought £460,000 would be needed to make the 1889 structure safe. But the lowest tender to Lancashire County Council was £880,000, the highest £1.2 million.

Twenty-five years ago

February 2 1990

Workers throughout the district downed tools in a ‘15 minutes for justice’ demonstration in support of struggling ambulance staff. In Lancaster, people from city centre shops and offices gathered to show solidarity with local crews in their campaign for a pay formula in line with other emergency services. And collection buckets for suspended colleagues filled fast as passers-by kept up a stream of donations.

Dockers at Heysham Harbour had a close escape when a massive dockside crane toppled into the water. The incident happened early in the morning when the quayside was deserted. Two hours later dockers would have been unloading a ship, which was damaged by the falling crane. The veteran fail-mounted crane collapsed and fell into the dock between the freighter Scarab and the harbour rug Gary Gray.

Lancaster’s battling patients rights group issued a hard-hitting report on the state of the local health service, which it said was working at fever-pitch to cope with demand. An uncompromising annual report by Lancasrter Community Health Council said that the NHS was threatened in the 1990s with “ill-conceived, untested and destructive changes”.

The Royal Albert Hospital’s agricultural smallholding saw the first new-born. Three pedigree Tamworth piglets were the first to be bred at the smallholding, a practical and commercial enterprise which provided occupational training and experience for people with special learning needs. The piglets were just one of the recent additions, along with some lambs, to the smallholding, where there was an assortment of cattle, sheep, turkeys, chickens, wildfowl, peacocks and pheasants.