US Congressmen visit De Montfort University in Leicester


By Rachael Pengelly

TWO former US Congressmen spoke to students in Leicester today about their many achievements but also the frustrations of trying to govern one of the largest democracies in the world.

Sam Farr and Dan Benishek both left their positions in the US Congress this year and travelled to De Montfort University (DMU) in Leicester as part of the annual Congress to Campus scheme.

Students from all over Leicestershire attended the day-long event at DMU’s Hugh Aston building which included discussions on many different topics.

Mr Farr used to be the Democratic Congressman in California whilst Dan Benisheck was the Republican Congressman for a district in the State of Michigan.

The series of events was organised in collaboration with The Eccles Centre for American Studies which hosted events at the British Library on Monday and Tuesday.

The US visitors then visited DMU on Tuesday evening for an open Question and Answer session centred around Donald Trump’s first year as President of the United States.

Dan Benishek, said he was excited to be part of the day.

“I always like to talk to young people, going to schools in my district at home was fun because they have a lot of young people who don’t know a lot about politics and they’re curious.

“It’s fun to talk to them to hear their perspective too. So, this is an opportunity to do that after I am out of Congress so I was happy to take time from my schedule to do it.”

One of the students who attended from all over Leicestershire was Katie Mills, an A level student studying Politics at Pingle Academy in Derbyshire, said: “It was amazing and I learnt a lot it was incredible to have the opinions of someone on congress.”

Jack Vines a second year Politics and International Relations student at DMU, said: “I found today to be particularly interesting. You get to find out very different sides of being a congressman and how different aspects of US politics affects them.”

Clodagh Harrington, one of the event organisers, said: “I think Congress to Campus 2017 has been a roaring success.

“I was very interested to see how the whole trump issue would be managed and discussed and I think that has worked really well in terms of we had some really meaningfully different world views from our two visitors a very progressive California democrat and a genuinely Conservative Michigan Republican.

“The purpose of it all is to get people speaking and talking and questioning their own views. In this era of partisan polarisation and Brexit and it’s kind of us and them. If people are actually thinking, okay there’s another way to view this, it might not be my way, at least now I’m thinking I might understand another person’s perspective a little bit better, then that is our job done here.”

Mr Benishek told the Leicestershire Press: “I like coming to the United Kingdom anyway, I am sort of a fan of the UK. My wife and I came here on holiday years ago and she didn’t have the opportunity to come this time but hopefully we will be back again. A chance to have a few beers in the pub and talk to some folks. It was a good opportunity for me.”

White Poppy sellers cause a stir on campus

By Ruairi O’Connor and Luke Smith

The controversial White Poppy was being sold at De Montfort University today (Nov 8th)  by two students outside the new Students’ Union Building.

The White Poppy is distributed every year to thousands of supporters by the Peace Pledge Union (PPU).


On its website, the PPU says: “There are three elements to the meaning of white poppies: they represent remembrance for all victims of war, a commitment to peace and a challenge to attempts to glamorise or celebrate war.”

The lead distributor, Reece Stafferton, a 20-year-old Drama Student at DMU, said: “I abstain from wearing the red poppy, not because I am against remembering war victims, but mainly due to the controversy surrounding the Royal British Legion.”


White Poppy distributors Niall Webb and Reece Stafferton

He highlighted the high salary for the RBL’s Director General (Charles Byrne), which he did not think was right for a charity.

Third Sector reported that the Director General of The Royal British Legion earns over £140k per annum.

When asked whether he was against the ideologies of the Red Poppy, Mr Stafferton said: “I am against some of the militarism surrounding the Red Poppy.

“For instance, it is often pushed onto school children and supported by large organisations, like the scouts, who promote and sell it.

“The government as well holds some quite strong opinions about the Red Poppy and supports the Royal British Legion a lot more than other charities.”

Mr Stafferton added: “To me it represents all the victims of war, not just the soldiers, but the civilians too.”


Police to broadcast second anti-rape video tonight

By Matt Hardiker

A new anti-rape video by the Leicestershire Police is aiming to highlight how the loss of evidence can have a major effect on the opportunity to achieve a successful prosecution.

The second part of a two-part film about a fictional rape is set to air tonight (Wednesday, November 8) on social media channels.

The first part, which went online last week, has been viewed by more than 110,000 people and launched a major new campaign about rape.

Screen Shot 2017-11-08 at 15.43.35The second part will be aired at 7.45 tonight on the force’s website, Facebook page and via other social media channels.

It aims to show the events leading up to the attack from the perspective of the Jury.

Assistant Chief Constable Julia Debenham said: “These two films deal with very different issues arising from a fictional rape case. The second part in particular deals with perception and myths, and I believe will make everyone watching it examine their own thoughts and perceptions of what constitutes rape.

“We estimate that only one fifth of all rapes are actually reported to the police, and of that number we are currently only managing to successfully prosecute one in every ten. Perhaps this second film offers an explanation into what that might be the case.”

ACC Debenham added: “The reaction from the public to the campaign has been overwhelmingly positive, and I’m really pleased that the films to date have caught people’s imagination and attention.

“I hope that lots of people will tune in at 7.45pm tonight and watch the second part of our fictional film.”

The second film has been classified by the British Board of Film Classification as a 15 certificate.

Leicestershire Police aired a similar video earlier this year called “Kayleigh’s Love Story” which aimed to tackle child sex abuse and exploitation.

The video went viral within a day and has since been viewed more than 35 million times, receiving the 2017 EVCOM Gold Award in the Social Media category along with six other awards.







BBC Radio Leicester celebrates 50 years as the UK’s first local radio station

By Sophie Sandberg

It’s been 50 years since the first ever local radio program broke the silence in people’s households and was aired from BBC Radio Leicester.

There are now 40 BBC Local Radio stations around the UK but the first broadcast was aired on BBC Radio Leicester at 14.45 on November 8, 1967.

Celebrating not only the success of the station itself but also the success of local radio, a heap of events was arranged to mark this momentous day, including a one-day conference hosted by De Montfort University’s Leicester Media School and the MeCCSA Radio Studies Network.

“I think it’s a really special anniversary because being the first BBC Local station to reach this milestone and it reflects 50 years of life in Leicester and Leicestershire and making people smile,”said Kamlesh Purohit, the Deputy Managing Editor at BBC Radio Leicester.

“Local radio has in many ways been the voice of the people and in many ways, a companion to people in a way national radio can’t.”


Mr Purohit has been working at BBC Radio Leicester for 31 years and has seen a huge change in how radio is being perceived and produced over the years.

“The world of local radio is rapidly changing the way radio is being consumed,” he added, “young people are not consuming media in the same way they used to and we need to adapt to that without losing the magic of local radio.”

Among the industry experts taking part in a panel discussion about the diversity in BBC Local Radio was Gloria Abramoff, Managing Director at Tonic Productions, which provides content for radio, TV, brands, and charities.

She said: “I can only hope that local radio stations will go back to connecting much more closely with their audiences and make sure that their staffing reflects their audiences in order to understand them a bit better to create more authentic content and embed themselves in the community.”

Leicester’s high street traders call for more support from city council

by Ollie Heppenstall

Traders in Leicester city centre have voiced their concerns about various restrictions which are making it harder for small businesses to survive.

Their complaints follow the admission yesterday by Save Our High Streets guru Mary Portas that she had failed to revitalise the nation’s high streets after setting out to do so in 2011.

23484687_1327100580751031_2010732724_oWith Leicester having felt the effects of various high street closures including the Fenwick department store, Irish clothing shop, jewellers Francis and Gaye and the popular restaurant Meatcure, small business traders say there is much work to be done in Leicester’s own high streets to help the businesses in them.

Some of the concerns voiced include:

  • Inadequate parking facilities and expensive public transport
  • High business rates
  • Shops and businesses needing a licence to distribute promotional material, which can be expensive

23432346_1327100557417700_1930825091_oJaya Parmar, part owner of Ye Olde Sweet Shoppe in Hotel Street, said: “It’s not a surprise that a lot of places have closed.

“People shop online thinking it’s cheaper than the high street, and the city council haven’t provided parking spaces or affordable public transport.”

Zach Elliot, who recently started working at popular milkshake bar Shakeaway, in High Street, added: “Leicester’s absolutely a place for big chain companies. The biggest problem is the council, with the business rates being so high.

“It isn’t just the council though, there are a host of issues. One of them is that businesses are charged for any sort of promotional material, and that they need licences to do so.”

23423796_1327100684084354_1879047758_oHe continued: “I used to work at Fan Club, and they spent thousands and thousands on promotional material.

“Many struggle to achieve what big businesses find easy.”

In response, a spokesman for Leicester City Council said: “Neither public transport fares nor the setting of business rates are anything that the city council has any say in – that’s down to the bus companies and the government.

“Businesses do need a licence to distribute flyers etc, and have done since 2008, but this is mainly to tackle littering caused by flyers and posters in the city centre.”