Celebratory Sikh parade to travel Leicester’s streets

By Jason Cowlishaw

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Credit: Leicester Mercury

Holy hymn singing, gracious food giving, decorated floats and colourful clothing displays will fill the streets of Leicester this weekend.

The annual Nagar Kirtan procession will commence at 11am on Sunday November 27 at the Guru Tegh Bahadur Gurdwara Temple and is designated to settle at the Guru Nanak Gurdwara Temple around 3pm.

Leicester assistant city mayor for culture, leisure and sport, Cllr Piara Singh Clair, said: “Thousands of people take part in this procession every year, to mark one of the most significant events in the Sikh religion.”

The event is a large-scale celebration of the birth of Sikhism’s first Guru and founder, Guru Nanak Dev Ji.

Guru Nanak’s birthday takes place on November 14 and he is a crucial figure in the Sikh religion as he was the first of the ten Gurus.

Harinder Singh, 64, who is a voluntary education officer at the Guru Nanak Temple, said: “It will be an incredibly energetic event with lots of happy smiling faces, hymn singing and a huge sense of togetherness.

“The procession comprises of people from all different walks of life, ranging from school children to the elderly.

“It doesn’t matter what your age, ethnicity or religious beliefs are, everyone is welcome to drop in or out of the parade whenever they like.”

Nagar Kirtan has been celebrated in Leicester for more than 20 years and is often referred to as one of the city’s most colourful cultural events.

Harinder, who is a devoted teacher of Sikhism, said: “There will be a large variety of free food offerings available to anyone interested.

“Traditional delicacies ranging from sweets to samosas will be easily accessible on the day.”

Temporary rolling road closures will take place as the crowds move across Leicester and the planned route is as follows, starting on St Peter’s Road, Sparkenhoe Street, Swain Street, St George’s Way, Charles Street, Northhampton Street, Granby Street, Gallowtree Gate, East Gates, High Street, St Nicholas Place, St Nicholas Circle and finally settling on Holy Bones.

Last year an estimated 10,000 Sikhs took part in Leicester’s Nagar Kirtan and it’s anticipated that involvement this year will be even bigger.

For on-going and regularly updated travel or traffic changes search twitter handle @ATCLeicester.

Leicester shops take action to prepare themselves for Black Friday rush

By Luke Cowley

Shops in the Highcross Shopping Centre in Leicester are bracing themselves for Black Friday, with some taking precautionary actions to reduce the rush of customers.

The event based around the American holiday thanksgiving, which falls on November 25 this year, has seen stores such as Menkind, House of Fraser and Bodyshop offer their deals for a longer period of time in an attempt to reduce the crowds, while others opted to offer no discounts at all.

Martin Scales, Store Manager at Menkind, said: “We’ve had our deals spread across a whole week because of past incidents where we’ve been really busy all at one time.

“A lot of other stores are doing the same within the centre, or similar, in order to avoid the huge rush that this time of year invariably brings.”

Around 35% of stores in Highcross Shopping Centre have extended their Black Friday deals, with many offering their discounts from Wednesday 23 for a week.

This shift in the schedule of the event deals means the public are also given the opportunity to spread their Christmas shopping across the week while avoiding masses of other bargain-seekers.

Last year, UK consumers spent £3.3bn between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, with £1.1bn being spent on Black Friday itself overall, whilst only £810 million was spent in 2014.

This year an expected £1bn is expected to be spent on Black Friday in the UK.

Jack Purdae, information desk assistant in Highcross, said: “Last year wasn’t that busy, but now we have a lot more shops that people will want to go to and overall the centre has improved a lot in the past year.”

In the past year Highcross has seen popular stores such as Cath Kidston, Skechers and Samsung set up shop in the centre.

Speaking of the Black Friday rushes, Andy Gossage, a Deputy Regional Manager at GAME said: “You have to be prepared for this time of year, otherwise it can be a nightmare time of year.

“Retailers have to deal with this peak period in the most fitting way for themselves.”

Highcross will be open from 9am until 9pm this Friday, November 25 while Haymarket Shopping Centre will be open from 7:30 until 7pm.

For more information on Black Friday in Highcross visit: http://www.highcrossleicester.com.

Secondary school’s expansion moves into next phase of programme

By Joel Wood

Plans to expand eight secondary schools in the Leicestershire area has moved into its next stage of the £45 million project.

The expansion programme will create 2,500 extra secondary school places, the same as building two new schools, and aims to be up and running by September 2018.

Amy Robinson, 24, DMU student and mother of one, said: “With the demand for schools at such a high level, and especially being a first-time applicant for schools, the plans to increase capacity make life a lot easier.

“Our son is the eldest child so just applying isn’t enough, we have to go to extra lengths to be able to up our chances of our first choice being accepted.

The planning and design phase will cost the council £920,000 which will be deducted from the Basic Need capital funding pot.picturee1

Amy added: “Having the extra schools, classes and teachers would help a lot, if the proper measures regarding child safety and teaching standards were followed.

“It’s no good throwing loads of extra money if the quality for our children isn’t up to scratch.

“As a mum, I think that adequate school places for every child is priority, however there are always other things that can be improved.”

Babington, Crown Hills, English Martyrs, Judgemeadow, Rushey Mead, Soar Valley, St Paul’s and The City of Leicester schools will all receive these extensions onto the original buildings.

All schools will receive an extra 300 new places with Soar Valley and Rushey Mead receiving slightly more.

Councillor Sarah Russell, assistant city mayor for children, young people and schools, told Leicestershire City Council: “We’re working closely with the schools and will aim to keep disruption to a minimum while we do any work.

“Moving up to secondary school is a big step for young people, and choosing a school is an important decision for families.

“We want to do all we can to make the whole process as easy as possible.

“We know that there are applications for free schools to open in the city.

“This will help to ease the pressure on places, but our forecasting shows us we will still need more.

“Building work takes time, which is why we’re pressing ahead with these plans now, releasing the funding in phases as we go along.”

Construction is scheduled to start in Autumn 2017.

Concerns over plans to close Leicestershire hospitals

By Olivia Whaley

Residents across Leicester have shared concerns after more NHS cuts were announced for the county.

Three community hospitals across Leicestershire are to close in an attempt to save the health budget of £400 million.

Student Tom Cole is amongst the many who feel their priorities are not being met.

He said: “There are currently plans to spend around £300 million on refurbishing Buckingham Palace, yet there are also plans to make big cuts to such vital services. It seems absurd.”

He added that the news ‘just didn’t sit right with him’.

If the suggested sustainability and transformation plan goes ahead it could result in the closure of hospitals in Melton Mowbray, Hinckley and Lutterworth.

These changes will see the hospitals moving their services to the Leicester Royal Infirmary and Glenfield sites.

It is also estimated that 1,500 hospital jobs will be lost by 2020 and the number of acute hospital is thought to drop to 1,697 from 1,940 by the same year.

Theatre performer, Georgina Hall is also cautious of the proposed cuts. She said: “It is already so difficult for people to access hospitals in the area. These cuts are going to make it even harder for people needing help.”

She added: “I understand that it is necessary to cut budgets, but this seems extreme. You can’t put a price on people’s health.”

The proposed plans are part of the existing programme, Better Care Together, which was introduced by the Managing director of the West Leicestershire clinical commissioning group, Toby Sanders, earlier this year.

Mr Sanders said: “Over the past two years we have been focused on developing our services hand-in-hand with clinicians, patient representatives and our partners in local government.”

He added: “Our plan draws upon and builds on that work, and we will be sharing and discussing the details widely with people across the community to further inform and develop plans over the coming weeks and month.”

The new plan also includes a new birthing centre at Leicester General Hospital, which will provide in-patient maternity services from midwives and doctors.

A spokesperson for the University Hospitals of Leicester stated that the plan is a working draft and they are encouraging people to give their feedback on the proposals. To do this, visit www.bettercareleicester.nhs.uk.

Ring of Honor wrestling take Leicester city by storm

By Mark Farmer

Ring of Honor the professional wrestling company were in Leicester city for the first time on Saturday 19 November.

The promotion left the crowd baying for as they performed for more than 2000 people.

The team, who are currently touring with their ‘Reach for the Sky Tour’, performed at Leicester Community Sports Arena for their penultimate UK date.

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The match took place at Leicester Community Sports Arena

The boisterous crowd were treated to seven wrestling matches, where World Champion, Adam Cole, and World Tag-Team Champions, The Young Bucks, competed.

The show also featured a promotional talk from match commissioner Nigel McGuinness, who studied at University of Leicester more than 20 years ago.

Chants of ‘this is awesome’ and ‘this is wrestling’ were deafening throughout the arena during the main event as The Young Bucks, comprised of brothers Matt and Nick Jackson, fought British duo, Matty Scurll and Will Ospreay.

One spectator, Tony Thiedeman, 21, a self-proclaimed wrestling fan of more than 10 years, described the main event as one of the best he had ever seen.

Tony said: “The event was incredible. It was such a great advert for the sport of wrestling and to be able to see it with my own eyes was fantastic, especially the main event that will generate a lot of talk.”

He added: “I can’t remember the last time wrestling like this was in the city, and shows like that help put the sport on the map, not only in Leicester but in the midlands, too.”

20-year-old Nathan Finlow, who sat at ringside, said: “The whole night was faultless. The matches were very entertaining and I’d expect to see some of those guys in the WWE very soon.”

He added: “I don’t think even they [WWE] could have put on a tag-team match as good as the main event tonight.”

World Wrestling Entertainment is the biggest wrestling promotion in the world and has seen the likes of CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, Seth Rollins make the switch from Ring of Honor.

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Many of the crowd thought the games were better than WWE

AJ Styles and Kevin Owens the current World Champions and Universal Champions respectively also originated from Ring of Honor

The group has now finished its UK tour as they completed two other dates in Liverpool and London.

They will now to return to America for a further eight shows.