In the final part of our three-part special, Tom Acey and Nicole Sherwood look back on the stories that made the news in Lancashire towards the end of the year.
Sword in the Stoney-gate found in Preston
The story behind the sword found in the ground behind Preston’s historic Minster remains a mystery. The blade was discovered by a city street cleaner, who pulled the handle from some land in Stoneygate when the cleaning crew were operating in the city centre. The un-named worker for Preston City Council handed the sword over to the police. Officers and social media have joked that the worker could be heir to the throne, as Arthurian legend goes. Preston police posted on Twitter a photograph of the sword and said: “Found stuck in ground by @prestoncouncil worker. Currently stored at police station whilst the finder researches his right to the throne!”
The sword appears to be a three-foot replica of a Medieval two-handed sword. A Preston City Council spokesman confirmed one of their workers found Preston’s ‘Excalibur.’ He said: “Sometimes they do come across unusual objects, but this was clearly something that needed reporting to the police.”
Fury over lengthy closure
Fulwood residents were furious to learn that their road would be blocked off for nine months due to work on a new housing development.
Homeowners on a rural section of Lightfoot Lane said they found out by chance that Lancashire County Council issued a temporary traffic order banning people using the lane.
Jean Fisher, 86, who has lived on the lane for more than 60 years said: “It’s disgusting. Surely they could have sent us a letter at the very least.”
Work was scheduled to begin in October, but the project was pushed back until January 2018. The lane is likely to be closed until October 2018, but some residents feared that it may become permanent and not reopen.
Women’s football team finally gets FA approval
Preston team Dick, Kerr Ladies received the formal seal of approval at the FA Women’s Football Awards – 96 years after the FA banned all women from playing on their grounds.
Dick, Kerr Ladies – the team credited with launching women’s football in Britain – were named the winners for the Contribution to Women’s Football award.
“When they mentioned Dick, Kerr Ladies and put their photograph up on the screen I just thought, ‘Wow that’s nice,’ said Gail Newsham who wrote a book on Dick, Kerr Ladies and accepted the award with UCLan student Alison Hitchen. “But when they said we had been given the award in celebration of 100 years in football we were totally shocked.”
One hundred years ago on Christmas Day, Dick, Kerr Ladies played to a crowd of 10,000 at Deepdale. The FA banned women’s football due to the growing popularity
Large bill for county potholes
More than £7m a year is being spent fixing Lancashire’s pothole problem, it was revealed.
An investigation found that Lancashire’s roads are the worst in the North West with more than 79,000 reported potholes fixed in 2016. “This is a product of councils in the 1990s not spending their money on the roads that they should have done,” a spokesman from road experts AA told the Post. “This is the chicken coming home to roost.”
In 2016, £29,075 was spent on compensation for motorists affected by pothole riddles road.
Lancashire County Council said they expect to spend around £4m on repairs to potholes and funding for planned maintenance to help prevent them in the first place.
Irene keeps on crossing to hold service record
A Longridge lollipop lady became the longest serving crossing patroller in Britain.
Great-grandmother Irene Reid has helped school pupils and parents cross the road for 49 years. In 2012, the 77-year-old was given an MBE for her services and has crossed the road from Berry Lane outside Longridge Church of England Primary School approximately 1.3 million times. After almost five decades as a lollipop lady, Irene has no plans to stop now. “I’m not retiring anytime soon -they will have to wrench that lollipop out of my hands.”
Irene first started as lollipop lady when she was 28, in March 1968.
Road to the future as bypass opens
The long-awaited Broughton Bypass opened in October.
The £32m road – designed to reduce traffic through Broughton by 90 per cent – finally opened 40 years after it was first mooted. Work on the road began in January 2016, and drivers were given the green light to use the 2km route after an official opening ceremony by MP Jake Berry.
Concerns about congestion were first raised in the 1960s. Ken Fleuriot, the first driver on the original Preston bypass, was first on the new, driven by Norman Oldfield in a classic Jaguar.
81-year-old pensioner, Derek Webster, s for years, said: “At my age I didn’t think I’d be around to see it. But it’s finally happening.”
The James Tower Way, named after a local war hero, is expected to end decades of congestion and exhaust pollution in the village, and reduce the number of vehicles passing through from the village 25,000 to 2,500.
Bus lane cameras return
The Fishergate bus lane cameras were in action once again. After they were first introduced, County Hall was ordered to refund around 30,000 penalty tickets due to inadequate signage. But after new signs were put up, the cameras were switched back on ahead of the busy Christmas shopping period.
“We don’t want anyone to get caught out by these cameras, which is why we introduced a short grace period,” said Coun Keith Iddon, the LCC cabinet member of highways and transport. “We’re happy if we don’t make a penny from them, as it means that people are doing the right thing.”
Teddy bear necessities
When Annie Tate died in August at the age of 97, she left son Tom Shorrock her collection of teddy bears.
Annie, a great-great-grandmother, and mum-of-seven had collected teddy bears for years, leaving behind a huge collection of bears. There were teddies of all shapes and sizes, large and small, including one dressed like Santa and another one kitted out like an England football fan.
Chorley man Tom’s hope was that a reputed charity can contact him and take the whole collection – around 100 strong - and distribute them to those who need them. most.
He said: “She loved teddies and was collecting them for years and years.
“We never had a problem choosing presents for her on her birthday or at Christmas time - one thing she was always happy with was a new teddy!”
Flooding hits again
The county was again hit by flooding in November as record rainfall saw flash flooding.
Garstang, Lancaster, Galgate, the Fylde coast and parts of Wyre were hit by overnight floods following a day of torrential rain.
Although thankfully not as bad as the major flooding that followed Storms Desmond and Eva in 2015, many people were badly hit. In Galgate, the water reached two-feet deep in some properties. Resident Claire Coultas said: “I went to the shop at about 9.20pm and I was joking about the water, but by the time I got back it was up to the window ledge.”
The kitchen and front room are devastated. We’ve lost everything."
Huge insurance quote puts brakes on firm
A young Preston entrepreneur opened up about the challenges facing his business from a quote of £10,000 for vehicle insurance.
Preston entrepreneur Josh Skorczewski said he has been quoted premiums of more than £10,000, pricing him out of driving for his own company.
The 21-year-old and his similarly aged business partners at Advantage Productions UK fear the firm may have hit a glass ceiling through no fault of their own.
Josh, who has recently passed his driving test, told the Lancashire Post: “We’re having to struggle on because we simply can’t afford that much each year.”
It’s a Turner up for the books!
Preston artist Lubaina Himid made history when she became the oldest winner ever of the prestigious Turner Price.
The UCLan lecturer became the oldest winner at 62, and also the first black woman to win the £25,000 prize.
She said she would use her winning to help support emerging artists, although added that she might also buy a pair of shoes, and thanked the people of Preston for their support.
Virgin takes on NHS contract
Lancashire County Council made national headlines when it awarded a £104m contract for healthcare services including school nurses to a private company.
Virgin Care triumphed over NHS bids to take on the county’s Health Child programme, for 0-19-year-olds, over the next five years.
The move sparked a storm of protest from people concerned that this was privatisation of the NHS ‘by the back door’.
Labour leader Coun Azhar Ali said: “This is a massive contract and it has major ramifications for healthcare in Lancashire.”
But Shaun Turner, LCC’s cabinet member for health and wellbeing, said: “They will deliver modern services that will help us narrow the gap in health between different groups and communities, while integrating more closely with other children’s and family services.”