Taking a look back at 2012

Coun Jon Barry with local residents Gill Aitken, Bryan Maudsley, Pat Tansley and Sandra Greaves and part of the fence that has been erected.
Coun Jon Barry with local residents Gill Aitken, Bryan Maudsley, Pat Tansley and Sandra Greaves and part of the fence that has been erected.

It’s been an interesting and varied year in the Lancaster district, and over the next two weeks we look back at some of the biggest stories of the last 12 months. First up this week is what made the Guardian headlines from January to June.


* LANCASTER City Council reaffirmed their desire to build a second bridge across the River Lune.

But a bid by city councillors to secure a windfall from a housing developer towards the cost of the bridge carrying a guided busway from the quayside to Morecambe Road looked set to fail.

* THE licensee of a city centre bar apologised after his bar was closed by councillors by 28 days following incidents including violent assaults and abusive behaviour towards staff at a rival pub.

Daniel Binnie admitted that mistakes had been made at Swank, in Penny Street.

The closure followed two separate violent incidents in which a man was kicked unconscious outside the premises and another man had his jaw broken while he was in the bar’s toilets.

* HUNDREDS of metres of spiked metal fencing is being erected around a wooded area in Lancaster that residents have used for generation.

The fence has been erected by the landowner, a Bermuda-based company headed by a Hong Kong businessman. The site of several acres sandwiched between St George’s Quay and Willow Lane, known as Freeman’s Wood, has been an adventure playground for youngsters for at least 50 years.

* A NEW housing development south of Lancaster could play a vital role in delivering a proposed science park expected to create 1,000 jobs.

The 46 hectare greenfield site north of Bailrigg Lane could unlock funding to help deliver the neighbouring science park, which received outline planning permission in 2009.


* A RIVAL developer is challenging a decision to give Booths the go-ahead for a new supermarket south of Lancaster.

Commercial Estates Projects wants a judicial review into Lancaster City Council’s decision last May to grant planning approval for the store on council-owned land at Lawson’s Bridge off the A6. Its move comes after Booths opposed its plans for a larger supermarket next door, claiming the store’s scale would affect city centre retailers.

* CITY councillors weighing up whether to cut CCTV coverage on streets in the district are now being asked to consider splashing out on new town hall cameras.

Cuts were mooted in a bid to save £46,400, but that could be swallowed up if the council agrees to spend up to £78,800 on security at council-owned buildings.

* A YOUNG man suffered a brain haemorrhage and was in a coma for a month after falling through his employer’s roof as he fixed a leaky skylight.

Jamie Heywood made a miraculous recovery following the accident in February 2011. His employers,carpet retailers A Cut Above, were fined £15,000 for breaching health and safety legislation.

* SMOKE detectors saved the lives of a couple and their three young children after fire swept through their home.

The blaze is believed to have been caused by a wood burner in the dining room of the Greaves Road house.

* INDEPENDENT shops in Lancaster are fearing for their future after being forced to compete with supermarket chains opening on their doorstep.

Some convenience stores in the city centre have already experienced a drop in trade after a Tesco Express opened in King Street last year. And there were fresh concerns for how they would cope when Sainsbury’s open their new Local store in Penny Street in October.


* THE parents of a Lancaster woman murdered by her husband say they feel they have been given a life sentence after being told he could soon be living near them.

David Bonnell was given a life sentence for beating Tracey Bonnell to death in 1997.

Bonnell is expected to be released to a hostel just 40 miles away.

And Tracey’s parents, Ken and Marie West, say their feelings should be considered when the decision is made.

* DEVELOPER Centros this week unveiled new £100m plans for a scheme which would transform the canal corridor area of Lancaster.

Centros has been given the chance to revisit plans for the site after councillors agreed to extend their development agreement by five years.

The develop previously had a controversial scheme rejected by the Secretary of State following a public inquiry in 2009.

* AN investigation has revealed that workers have been selling scrap metal from Lancaster council homes and pocketing the profits.

Ten members of the council’s repairs and maintenance staff admitted selling items such as copper cylinders, cabling and even storage heaters to Morecambe Metals on White Lund, according to a source.

Morecambe Metals confirmed the transactions took place but said they were unaware of any wrong-doing by council employees.

* THREE generations of a Lancaster family were left devastated after finding a loved one’s grave covered in tonnes of soil.

The grave of Fred Issac was covered in a huge mound of soil and rocks at Scotforth Cemetery.

Flowers and a temporary cross had been removed and covered by the soil.

The city council said the problem arose when mud from a neighbouring grave was removed during excavation and placed on the grave.


* MARKET traders have accused the city council of “stabbing them in the back” over new proposals which could see the authority pay for redevelopment of the building.

New proposals include the possibility of a joint redevelopment with the chance for the traders to sub-let part of the building.

* A MAN whose partner fell into a marina jumped into the water in a bid to save her life.

Morris Reynolds plunged into Glsson Basin Marina in an attempt to save his partner Valerie Delooze, 65, but she sadly died.

* THE owner of Freeman’s Wood claims that a “reasonable person” would not consider the area to be woodland.

The Property Trust Plc has lodged an objection against a Tree Preservation Order made by the city council in order to prevent the cutting down of trees on the site.

A planning proposal for the land includes housing, office and leisure space.

* MOTORISTS could face more traffic misery on their way into Lancaster city centre – after a tunnelling machine belonging to contractors became trapped underground during a major sewer upgrade.

The embarrassing hitch means the one-way A6 at Owen Road will again be reduced to a single lane, according to Bob Whitehead, owner of the neighbouring Fireplace Warehouse.


* RAW sewage leaking into the River Lune has prompted the city council to warn bathers of a “deterioration in water quality” in Morecambe Bay over the Bank Holiday weekend.

Dead fish were seen floating in the river, and raw sewage coats the surface of the water between the Millennium Bridge and Greyhound Bridge.

United Utilities said a sewage pipe had been accidentally drilled into.

* ANGER is building over a decision by County Hall chiefs to remove timetables from bus stops.

Bus timetables are being replaced with posters advising passengers to either phone or text to find out journey times.

Pensioners and Green Party members are leading the condemnation of the move, which will save the county council just £100,000.

* DRAMATIC photos of a massive blaze on St George’s Quay were taken by passers by and used as part of the fire brigade’s investigations.

The fire which swept through the disused Lancaster building was being treated as arson.

About 60 firefighters tackled the blaze, which was in a building earmarked to form part of the Luneside East regeneration project.

* A RIVAL road route is to be considered during a new examination of plans for the £123m Heysham-M6 link.

Supporters and opponents of the controversial road, which would link junction 34 of the M6 with the existing Heysham bypass, have been making their final arguments ahead of hearings to decide whether the scheme should go ahead.

But the planning inspector will also consider the merits of the Lancaster Bypass Link, which would follow a different route, beginning at a new junction 33a near Lancaster University.

* THE closure of Lancaster Market was announced for September after a compensation deal was agreed between traders and the city council.

The council had been losing around £600,000 a year from the market hall, which is only half full.


* A PRIVATE nursing home is the subject of a police investigation after a complaint was made about the level of care.

Police were called to Hillcroft Nursing Home in Slyne after a complaint was recorded by Lancashire County Council.

Six workers were later arrested and released on bail.

The 36-bed home includes care for frail elderly and those with challenging behaviour.

* THE Lancaster district got into the jubilee spirit with street parties held throughout the area to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.

Several communities closed roads to commemorate the Queen’s special day, while other residents were lucky enough to get tickets for the concert held at Buckingham Palace.

* BOSSES at one of Lancaster’s flagship buildings are grappling with a financial crisis.

Tenants are quitting the Storey Creative Industries Centre because of a hike in service charges. Tenants, whose bills were effectively doubled, refused to pay up.

The Storey’s finances have been shaky since Arpil last year, when it lost all of its grant funding.

* THOUSANDS of people lined the streets of Lancaster and Morecambe as the Olympic torch made its way through the district.