Story shorts - 23/03/12

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A round-up of news in brief from across Lancashire

Plans for future nearing completion

Ribble Valley Borough Council is holding a special meeting on April 4 to determine how many new houses will be needed up to 2028 and where they might be built. There will be a six-week consultation before planners vote.

Mechanical fault caused explosion

A probe into the explosion of a brine well in the Lancashire countryside has found it was due to mechanical failure. Halite Energy, the company behind plans to store natural gas under the River Wyre, said the problem had been caused by “mechanical not geological failure.” The explosion took place on land close to Back Lane at Preesall.

Crow is top in schools

A UK-wide survey of wildlife in schools has revealed that the carrion crow is the most common visitor to Lancashire school grounds. Schools in the county are taking part in the RSPB’s Big Schools’ Birdwatch reported seeing an average of 4.91 per school. The starling and blackbird came in second and third place respectively with averages of 4.38 and 3.99 per school. Almost 90,000 school children and teachers stepped up for nature by counting birds in this annual survey. Nearly 3,000 classes from over 2000 schools were involved across the UK in the last two weeks of January. Almost 1,800 county teachers and pupils took part.

Fire call out to offender’s cell

Firefighters tackled a blaze in a jail cell. The fire broke out at Lancaster Farms young offenders’ institution at 11.45am yesterday. Clothing was set alight in a wardrobe, smoke logging a cell.

Fun breakfast

Young visitors to Leyland Garden Centre can enjoy meeting the Easter bunny next month. The centre on Southport Road near Ulnes Walton will run breakfast events from April 6 to 9.

Hospital success

A team responsible for supporting future health professionals at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals has received the top score in the North West for the service they provide to undergraduates. The team of four practice education facilitators was recently assessed by the North West Strategic Health Authority and awarded a score of 96%, compared with the regional average of 74%. The team was assessed on a range of criteria.

Debate over empty shops

A group of property experts will meet to discuss the growing number of empty shops in Preston next week. Preston Council is hosting a forum on the subject at the pavilion on Avenham Park next Thursday. A number of landlords, traders and property agents from across the city will be at the event which begins at 8am.

New office for Preston Bus

Preston Bus has moved its information office at the city’s bus station. The company has opened into new premises opposite Stand 35 at the bus station. It follows a move from a kiosk adjacent to the bus station’s newsagents. The company runs services throughout Preston from its depot on Deepdale Road.

Apprentices drive for firm

A building firm has launched a drive to take on new apprentices at its offices in Preston. Seddon, which has an office on the Roman Way Industrial Estate in the city, is looking to take on 75 apprentices. To apply, visit

Business owners offered support

Entrepeneurs are being offered money to help cash in on Lancashire’s woodlands. Lancashire County Council and the Forestry Commission is offering grants for firms to managed woodlands in the county and set up businesses based in the forests. Commission spokesman Kevin May said around half of the county’s woodlands were under-managed. He said: “It’s a missed opportunity.”

Baby hurt in head-on crash

A woman and her baby had to be taken to hospital after their car collided with another vehicle. The accident closed Ashton Road, Lancaster, shortly before noon yesterday. The driver of the other car was also taken to hospital.

Guest house set for change

A former guest house is to be turned into a private home. The owner of the former Walton Bridge Guest House, on Victoria Road, Walton-le-Dale, has submitted plans to turn it into a seven-bedroom home. The plans will be decided by planning officials at South Ribble Council.

‘Budget boost is not new’, says rail campaigner

A rail campaigner said improvements to lines serving Preston announced by Chancellor George Osborne this week is “old news.”Aidan Turner-Bishop, chairman of the city’s branch of lobbying group Transport 2000, said the improvements unveiled in Wednesday’s Budget involved the electrification of track between Manchester and Blackpool. Engineers from Network Rail have recently carried out surveying work on the track to get work underway. Mr Turner-Bishop said: “This was first announced by the Labour transport spokesman, Lord Adonis, in 2009, so it is old news. “It is a welcome investment because it will allow services to run quicker between Preston and Manchester.”