New COVID-19 test centre within walking distance from DMU students’ homes

By Erik Dawson

A new pop up COVID-19 test centre was opened close to DMU campus late last month (NOV27) offering up to 500 free tests a day to the public.

The test centre is located in Upper Brown Street, a short walk from campus and close to many student accommodation buildings.

Upper Brown Street in Leicester City Centre, the site of the test centre.

The close proximity of the test centre to places where students live has left some anxious about the virus.

Second year economics student Kris Maxwell lives on the next street over from the site, less than a 30 second walk away.

“Of course it’s a concern that there will be an increase in people with COVID near my apartment,” Kris said.

“But overall, it’s a good thing that another test centre has been opened, more of them means more people being tested and getting us closer to beating COVID.”

The site will be able to provide free, on-the-spot tests without needing to book an appointment, however drive-through testing will not be available.

Director of public health for Leicester, Professor Ivan Browne, said in an interview with Leicester City Council: “Testing is vital in our fight against coronavirus and helps to protect our most vulnerable residents. Only by identifying where and how the virus is spreading will we be able to prevent our numbers in Leicester from rising further.”

The latest addition brings the tally up to 10 test sites across Leicester helping combat the spread of COVID-19.

Prof Browne added: “We want to make testing as accessible as possible and I would urge local people to take a test and help us take control of this situation so that we can hopefully see an easing of restrictions in Leicester once the national lockdown is over.”

For more information and guidance visit Leicester city council’s website.

VIP Package announced for Leicester Comedy Festival 2021

By Erik Dawson

Leicester Comedy Festival is offering a ‘Leicester Comedy festival VIP pass’ for its newly streamed comedy festival in February 2021.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the annual Leicester Comedy Festival has been forced to move largely onto online streamed performances.

Together with its streaming partners NextUp Comedy, the team are offering a VIP pass for £59, which will include access to more than 60 shows, a free one year NextUp Comedy membership and a mystery gift.

The festival will be taking place from the 3-21 February next year, with appearances from comedians such as Ed Byrne, Ian Stirling and Al Murray already confirmed.

More information can be found on Leicester Comedy Festival’s website.

Leicester City ‘spurred’ on by 2-0 victory over Tottenham

By Erik Dawson.

Leicester City will go confidently into the Christmas break after an impressive 2-0 win against title contenders Tottenham Hotspur last night (21 DEC).

A great performance from the Foxes paired with a defensive error from Spurs wing back Serge Aurier sealed the victory at Tottenham’s stadium.

Former Leicester striker and current Sky Sports Soccer Saturday pundit, Tony Cottee said: “They’ve (Leicester City) been to some really difficult away grounds and they keep getting the three points. They’re right up there.”

The goals came from an unfortunate deflection by Spurs defender Toby Alderweireld and a neatly tucked away penalty by Jamie Vardy in the 49th minute of play.

Midfield powerhouse and DMU student Wilfred Ndidi earned himself a man of the match award after an impressive display in the middle of the park last night.

Manager Brendan Rodgers commented after the game: “I’m so pleased. Right from the first whistle we took the initiative in the game. We wanted to impose our way and show confidence.”

Defender Tim Castagne returned from a two-month hiatus due to injury in the victory over Tottenham Hotspur and seemed glad to be back on the pitch.

In a post-match interview, he said: “It’s good to be back, especially with a win here against a very good side”

He continued: “I think that we didn’t give anything away, and it proves that if we are at our best, we can do anything.”

The vital win propels Leicester into a commanding second position in the Premier League standings over the Christmas break, now it’s up to the Foxes to take that momentum forward into the new year and last half of the season.

Gates Garden Centre cancels breakfast and afternoon with Santa

by Khrista Davis

Breakfasts and afternoon teas with Santa at the Gates Garden Centre have been cancelled due to the coronavirus lockdown tiering system.

The ‘Breakfast with Santa’ was due to start on Saturday (NOV07) and then occur every day in December.

The garden centre in Oakham has had to close its Courtyard Coffee Shop where the event would have run from, to comply with the Tier 3 restriction that Leicestershire was placed under in November.

Tickets were £14.99 per person (adults and children) but unfortunately tickets have had to be refunded to those who had booked even though the event was almost sold out!

Marketing manager of Gates Garden Centre, Ali Bailey said: “Seeing Santa at Gates is a family tradition for many. We usually offer a Santa’s Grotto experience which involves seeing the live reindeer before an enclosed Winter Wonderland Walk and then each family sees Santa individually in his Grotto and then move into the Elves toyshop to select a gift.

“However, with Covid measures we did not feel we could operate this safely this year and so chose to offer a far reduced capacity group Breakfast with Santa instead in our Courtyard Coffee Shop. Either are great for families of all types.”

They were offering a Standard, Vegetarian or Vegan Breakfast and were accommodating for other food allergies too.

The adult breakfast consisted of: 1 sausage, 2 bacon, black pudding, scrambled eggs, 1 hash brown, ½ tomato, sauteed mushrooms, baked beans, roll and butter, unlimited tea coffee or orange juice.

The child breakfast consisted of: 1 sausage, scrambled eggs, 1 hash brown, baked beans, roll and butter, unlimited orange juice; alongside a gift from Santa.

With traditional afternoon tea from finger sandwiches to cakes and clotted cream!

She added: “Though we have offered a Santa Experience at Gates for 20 years, it’s the first time we have offered it in this Breakfast with Santa format.

“Customers were very excited about it and looking forward to the event. They, and we, were devastated when we had to cancel, as many families come annually to see Santa at Gates and many have been coming for generations.”

The garden centre looks forward to welcoming the public back to visit Santa at Gates in 2021.

DMU and Chamber use AI to improve East Midlands profile

by Khrista Davis

De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) and East Midlands Chamber have been granted £121,000 from Government funding to build a new Regional Business Intelligence Unit.

Funded by Innovate UK and the Economic and Social Research Council, the unit will aim to increase efficiency across the East Midlands region, identify and focus on business strengths and hope to gain more of an investment.

East Midlands Chamber and DMU are in a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP), a type of partnership and project in which researchers and academics work together with businesses.

DMU with its great deal of academics and resources in areas such as business intelligence, economics and enterprise will be able to seek out new opportunities in the digital economy with the Chamber and hopefully create a data powerhouse that will advance the profile of the East Midlands and identify it as a prodigious region to do business.

Professor David Rae, director of DMU’s Centre for Enterprise and Innovation, said: “We know the East Midlands voice is less strong than other regions. Having the Chamber as the business partner in this, with its networks across the three counties of Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire, will ensure we can work together at a regional level and create a comprehensive business intelligence unit.

“This should contribute to revitalising the region’s economy after the shock from the pandemic and the possible business impact of Brexit.”

By improving the economical and enterprise factors this will allow the East Midlands to inform policymakers and more so, local, and individual businesses as well as surrounding communities.

The Regional Business Intelligence Unit should be able to enable the East Midlands to compete with other regions such as Manchester and Leeds and boost its own environmental and business performance.