From the Guardian files

Lancaster University.
Lancaster University.
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What was happening around the district five, 10 and 25 years ago this week.

5 years ago

Staff, parents and pupils vowed to fight to save Skerton Primary after education chiefs revealed that it could close. Lancashire County Council’s cabinet member for children and schools agreed to review the school’s future. Parents received the bombshell news in a letter and had begun their campaign to keep the school open.

A five-foot-long snake was not normally what you’d expect to find on the loose in Williamson Park – but that’s exactly what happened to one dog walker. The bright orange snake, thought to be an albino gopher, was discovered at the back of the park. Brave park employees rescued the non-venomous snake and it was being looked after in the reptile house until its owners were found.

Silverdale actress Emma Atkins returned to Emmerdale, after a four-year absence, in a shock episode. Emma, who originally played Charity Tate in the ITV soap between 2000 and 2005, had signed a six-month contract with the show’s bosses.

The long-term future of the character was still to be decided but Emma, who grew up in Silverdale and attended Our Lady’s RC High School in Lancaster, was delighted to be back in the popular soap.

10 years ago

Hundreds of elderly and disabled people were among those who would suffer following the announcement that Lancaster and District Voluntary Vehicle Service (VVS) was to fold. The organisation, which had served Lancaster for more than 20 years, would cease to operate in December because three key members of the group had resigned.

Around 20 groups, including the Homebound Club, Autumn Club, the Lancaster District Stroke Club, Arthritis Care and the Thursday afternoon service at Bowerham Reformed Church, all used the buses to transport people from their front door to the respective club or centre.

Lancaster Police Station was set for a £4 million upgrade. A new cells block was to be built along with offices to house a specialist public protection team.

The public protection unit would house officers working in specialist areas like domestic violence, child abuse and rape. Facilities would also be available for staff from agencies like social services also involved in such investigations.

The new cells – or custody suite – at the station, would serve both Lancaster and Morecambe. Originally a central location on White Lund was being considered.

25 years ago

Attempts to “sell” plots of land on Lancaster’s Marsh Estate for £1 each could result in the city council suffering Government penalties, the housing committee was warned.

A scheme was worked out in consultation with tenants to get rid of open areas on back streets, Tarmac areas and spaces bordering gardens. These open areas had become eyesores, prone to vandalism, graffiti and rubbish dumping.

The plan involved fencing off the areas, bringing them within the boundaries of residents’ gardens. But in some cases land would also have to be allocated to owner-occupiers who had bought their council houses.

The value of the land given to owners could be about £500, but if the council insisted on payment, this might put the whole scheme at risk.

Housing chiefs therefore proposed to dispose of the land for the nominal sum of £1.

Lancaster University was blooming all over – and it got a top award to prove it.

The campus won first place in the large accommodation section of Britain in Bloom competition beating 60 other establishments including some of the region’s leading hotels.

The prize was also given for the overall appearance of the Bailrigg grounds and the cleanliness and maintenance of buildings and courtyards.