Tag Archives: Lancaster City Council


Musical subtext readers will be aware of the Lancaster Music Co-op. Founded by former students in 1985 in a semi-abandoned former coachbuilder’s premises, the Co-op has run as a not-for-profit rehearsal rooms and recording studio for 33 years. A lot of people credit the Music Co-op as being the reason that Lancaster has a disproportionately large live music scene for its size (and can thus support large tourist-attracting events such as the Music Festival).

But the Music Co-op is under threat, having recently been handed an eviction notice from Lancaster City Council because their building is unsafe, mainly due to the state of the roof (although curiously – they have six months to depart so there is clearly no immediate danger to life and limb). So what, you might ask, why should we care if a bunch of musos can’t manage their building properly? The wrinkle in this story is that the Music Co-op is an island of creativity in a sea of car parks that has picturesquely been designated the ‘Canal Quarter’ (see subtext 179). And also: the building is owned by the City Council.

The City Council have kept the Music Co-op on an rolling 2-week lease with a peppercorn rent for 30+ years, a lease that effectively prevents them from accessing any funding to develop the premises or the enterprise, as what funder wants to give money to a project that could be kicked out with two weeks notice? And each developer (Centros Miller, British Land) that has been involved in the regeneration of this area of Lancaster has dangled different carrots in terms of rehoming the Co-op or fixing the building. As owners of the building, the Council have done no repairs themselves.

There is an ongoing campaign by the Music Co-op to rescind their eviction notice, which went viral last month, with national press attention and support from The Lovely Eggs (who started at the Co-op), Phill Jupitus, Marc Riley, Sleaford Mods, John Robb and Billy Bragg amongst others. Thousands of people signed a petition to save the Co-op; local MP Cat Smith has called on the Council to sort things out; and within the Council itself a cross-party group of Councillors is pushing for the rescinding of the eviction notice and for constructive talks about how the Co-op can be supported.

Want to know more? You can watch ‘Glass Roof’, the documentary made to celebrate 30 years of the Music Co-op, here: https://youtu.be/UuHCa-khx-Q (get ready to spot at least one member of LU staff, and the most ingenious indoor rainwater diversion device ever!). If you’ve got the urge to donate, you can contribute to their crowdfunder here: https://www.gofundme.com/save-lancaster-music-co-op



In a blow to the Labour Group on Lancaster City Council, Cllr Oscar Thynne, John O’Gaunt ward councillor and current Lancaster student, has relinquished the Labour whip and gone independent.

As you might expect, the announcement of his defection on Facebook hasn’t gone down well with local party members, with the level of abuse and indignation (some of which came from senior figures who should know better) reaching fever pitch. Cllr Thynne’s Facebook page vanished shortly thereafter.

The biggest  objection from local Labour activists was that, as Cllr Thynne had effectively changed his party allegiance without forcing a by-election, he was depriving residents of the opportunity to elect a councillor ‘who represents the party of their choosing.’

Fair enough…

… Although why local Labour members didn’t fulminate in the same way when Cllrs Andrew Kay and Sam Armstrong defected from the Greens to Labour without a by-election is anybody’s guess. Are the residents of Bulk and University & Scotforth Rural wards not entitled to a councillor who represents the party of their choosing or something?



It’s election time on campus! Again.

University & Scotforth Rural ward residents will soon choose two new councillors to serve in place of Cllrs Sam Armstrong and Lucy Atkinson, who are stepping down. Polling day is on Thursday 17 May and the successful candidates will serve for just under a year, before they’re up for re-election again in May 2019 along with all the other councillors. There are eight candidates: two each from the Conservatives, the Greens, Labour and the Liberal Democrats.

subtext is pleased to see plenty of posters on campus – and equally pleased that so far no-one has wrongly tried to Enforce The Poster Code and remove them.

Aside from a vaguely warm feeling about democracy, though, why should those not living in the ward be interested? Well, there are two reasons to look out for the result. Firstly, the turnout. The last time there was a by-election on campus (see subtext 156), the turnout was a whopping 7.12% and the winner was elected with fewer than 100 votes cast, something that usually only happens in areas heavily depopulated due to war.

Secondly, control of the city council hangs on the result. If Labour wins both seats, it’ll have 31 out of 60 seats and retain overall control of our district. But if Labour fails to win either seat, it’ll be reduced to 29 out of 60 seats, and will need the support of other parties or independents every time it wants to get a proposal through the council.

Independents such as Cllr Oscar Thynne, who Labour members have done a sterling job of keeping on side thus far.