Traffic measures put in place to improve pedestrian safety outside schools

By Shantelle Gondo

Traffic measures have been put in place to improve safety for pedestrians outside eight schools.

Leicester City Council carried out work during the COVID-19 pandemic to widen pavements, improve pedestrian access and reduce traffic flow outside city schools.

During the morning and afternoon school run times, streets outside schools will be completely closed to all vehicles – these schools include North Evington Bridge Junior School, Sandfield Close Primary School and St Thomas More School in Knighton.

Headteacher at St Thomas More School, Charlotte Crosse, said: “We have really welcomed the road closure at St Thomas More.

“It has made our families feel much safer as they bring their children to and from school. It has also helped boost the number of children walking, cycling, and scootering to school. 

“Hopefully it will have had a big impact on helping to reduce the air pollution near school each day.”

The road improvements have made streets safer and much quieter in the morning and end of the day especially for school children, and the city council is looking to make these changes permanent.

Work will also be completed to formalise the existing ‘School Keep Clear’ markings outside schools and include both single and double yellow line restrictions to deal with the issue of pavement parking.

In order to make all these changes permanent, the council’s Transport Improvement Works capital budget programme would have to fund around £90,000.

For more information visit: https://news.leicester.gov.uk/news-articles/2021/december/proposals-to-make-schools-pedestrian-safety-measures-permanent/

Ice rink back in Leicester

By Shantelle Gondo

Due to the festive season and popular demands, a real ice rink is back in Leicester this Christmas.

The ice rink located in Jubilee Square is for all ages.

A special group discount will be also available for groups of four or more people and the rink will be available for Christmas parties and private events.

This year, special quiet sessions and several themed sections will be added, including:

  • The snowman
  • Christmas discos
  • Leicester Tigers and mascot Welford
  • Filbert Fox on ice

Tickets can be purchased online or in person at the Jubilee Square ice rink office.

For more information visit: https://www.visitleicester.info/whats-on/jubilee-square-ice-rink-p725121

New 20mph zone soon to be placed around residential streets around a city school

By Shantelle Gondo

New speed restrictions are due to be introduced in streets around a city school in Leicester.

The 20mph zone will be introduced in the roads to the west of Ashton Green Road, near Glebelands Primary School.

This speed restriction is one of the newest measures which has been brought into Leicester City Council’s new road safety scheme.

Work will cost around £6,000, which will be funded by the council’s Transport Improvement Works budget.

The Glebelands scheme will also include:

  • Hogarth Road
  • Rowlandson Close
  • Lawrence Close
  • Hoppner Close
  • Bevan Road
  • Monks Crescent and many other roads around the same area.

For more information, visit: https://news.leicester.gov.uk/news-articles/

A Chorus Line at Curve: ‘My exclusive, behind-the-scenes chance to watch the mesmerising Christmas show take shape’

Chorus of approval: the cast of A Chorus Line at Curve. Image by Marc Brenner.

From read-throughs to rehearsals to curtain up, De Montfort University Journalism student Maykel Valladares followed the rise of Curve’s critically acclaimed Christmas show – and blogged about it for the Leicester theatre’s website. How did she land the role? Here’s her story

It’s July 2020, mask mandates are put into place and people are still encouraged to stay at home in the state of Utah. I needed to find something to keep me busy, so I registered for a summer semester of school. I spent a lot of time sewing since I was pursuing a fashion degree.

One day I was cutting and ironing a significant amount of fabric and I wanted to play something on the television so I wasn’t working in silence. I saw that the popular Broadway musical “Hamilton” had recently been made available on Disney Plus, so I decided to turn it on. As it went on, it was no longer background noise. I became hooked on the story, the dancing, and the music. This was the start of my obsession for musical theatre.  

Fast forward to October 2021. I have taken the leap to live in England and I’m studying Journalism at De Montfort University in Leicester. Even though it’s a dream come true to study abroad, I knew I had my work cut out for me.

During the first week of classes on the Arts and Entertainment Journalism module at DMU, I found out about an internship that was available at Curve Theatre in Leicester, as a blogger for their big Christmas production of A Chorus Line. The blogger would get to sit in on rehearsals and help give a glimpse of what goes on behind the scenes.

A chance for me to practice my writing and I get to watch a musical? Sign me up!

I applied and got an interview with Fiona Moore, the press and digital manager at Curve. She’s incredibly sweet and was kind enough to offer me the position.

Utah to Les-tah: Maykel at Curve

I started on November 1, the first day of rehearsals. You could feel the excitement radiating off this new cast. As I looked around the rehearsal room, there were mood boards hung up all over and a miniature model of what the set will look like. I loved seeing the 1970s inspirations the set and wardrobe designers were using.

That first day, it was just the cast getting to know each other and doing a reading of the script. They all sat in a circle and even though there was no singing and dancing, they were animated and were starting to become their character. Honestly, I would pay just to watch that.

‘It has been a privilege to learn about how much work it takes to bring a production together.’

Maykel Valladares

Every week I would check back in with the cast seeing how the show was progressing. Going to rehearsals was the highlight of my week. For me, watching them learn the songs and dances helped me grow my appreciation for theatre. I would get lost in their voices and was mesmerised by the energetic choreography.

I had never really thought about the hours of work that go behind a big production like this. You just go in, take a seat, and almost just assume that they have always know what they are doing. That’s not the case. They forget lines, they miss steps, they have to repeat everything. What impresses me is the dedication and discipline to practice for hours on end to perfect their craft.

Hats off: A Chorus Line at Curve, Leicester. Image by Marc Brenner.
Mirror man: Adam Cooper as Zach. Image by Marc Brenner
In the air tonight: the mighty Carly Mercedes Dyer as Cassie. Image by Marc Brenner

During most rehearsals, director Nikolai Foster would stress the importance of understanding the story of A Chorus Line. It’s a story of these actors from all different backgrounds just trying to pursue their passion. The audience won’t be able to relate if the actors themselves can’t relate to the story.

“This is a story about your childhood being over and moving towards the future,” said Nikolai, “Embrace it with your energy and connect the story to you.”

The relatability of A Chorus Line is what makes it one of my favourite musicals. I love Nikolai’s reason for bringing this show to Curve.

“We are being made stronger by the trauma and the anxiety by the sheer terror of what we’ve all been through,” said Nikolai.

Going to the theatre is what gives me an escape from the uncertainty of life. Even if it’s just temporary, seeing the characters of this show singing about the struggles of growing up makes me feel like I’m not alone. I think everyone will be able to relate to some aspect of this show.

It has been a privilege to learn about how much work it takes to bring a production together. It feels like just yesterday it was the first rehearsal and it was just a simple reading. Now, it’s the highlight of the holiday season for all those who watch it. 

A Chorus Line runs at Curve, Leicester, until Friday, December 31. Read Maykel’s blog for Curve here. And book tickets for the show here: https://www.curveonline.co.uk/whats-on/shows/a-chorus-line/

Is it time for Leicester City to ditch the clappers at the King Power Stadium?

On good days, the clappers at the King Power Stadium can sound like an invading army marching in lockstep over gravel.

On bad ones – and there have been plenty of them of late – they sound more like a bored giant, listlessly popping outsized bubblewrap.

Love ‘em or loathe them – and if you do loathe them, this next line may well make your teeth itch – the clappers are woven into the extraordinary recent history of Leicester City.  

Although the club had dabbled with clappers at the ground before, the story begins in earnest back in April 2015, when Nigel Pearson’s malfunctioning Leicester City were adrift at the foot of the Premier League table, without a win in eight games, and nailed on for the drop. The atmosphere, needless to say, was gloomier than a goth’s jumper drawer.

When fans streamed in to the King Power Stadium for the match against West Ham – braced for yet more misery, no doubt – they found a cardboard clapper jammed into each home seat. The game started, the noise levels rose sharply, and a suddenly reanimated City bagged all three points.

Everyone City fan knows what happened next. The team went like the clappers for the rest of the season, pulling off the greatest of great escapes to stay in the Premier League. And everyone with even a passing interest in sport knows what happened the season after that: the 5,000-1 outsiders stunned the sporting world to become champions of England.

And whether it was correlation rather than causation, the dramatic switch in fortunes coincided with the introduction of the clappers. For the club, the clappers had turned into a version of lucky pants. They weren’t going to get rid of them now. Whatever the cost.

The financial cost, that is, not the potential environment one. At the time it was reported that the clapper bill for each home game was £12,000. In the unlikely event the price hasn’t changed in the subsequent seasons – and allowing for the lockdown which kept fans out of the stadiums – a hasty estimate suggests Leicester City have now spent more on clappers than they splashed out for Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy combined.

Maybe that didn’t matter when the clappers seemed to be helping to work a little magic on the team … but the spell appears to have been broken. And while there may be far bigger issues facing the club at the moment – not least the calamitous defence – is it finally time to make a clean break and ditch the things? Leicester City fans James Kendrick and Jayden Whitworth have their say. And you can have yours too in our poll, below.  

James Kendrick: ‘What makes Leicester City so special is its uniqueness. There’s no other club like it and that includes the clappers’

Since Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha bought Leicester City in August 2010, no other club in English football has been on the journey the Foxes have. From being promoted back to the Premier League, the Great Escape, winning the Premier League, FA Cup, and Community Shield to our opportunities to experience European football … all this was down to Vichai and his son Top. 

And I think that this almost unbelievable rise can be symbolised in one object, the clapper. Which other owner in world football would pay to have one put on every seat in the stadium before every home game? The Leicester owners have been clear from the start, they wanted to become a top six Premier League Club and the clapper was one of their ways of getting there. 

Without 30,000 people banging away on their clapper every game, motivating the players and pushing them forward would Leicester fans have had all the amazing moments that we have?  While this is a question to which we will never know the answer, I’m inclined to believe the answer is no.

What makes Leicester City so special is its uniqueness. There’s no other club like it and that includes the clappers. They make Leicester stand out from the crowd and they help to provide a unique matchday experience that everyone will enjoy.  

Yes, they have their downsides and critics, but they help create an atmosphere that gets everyone involved including young children.  

The clapper doesn’t prevent fans from singing their normal songs and chants or prevent a natural atmosphere from being created, clappers just help everyone else get involved, pick up the beat of the songs and join in.  

Sitting near the family stand in Leicester City’s crucial Europa League home game against Legia Warsaw and seeing people of all ages able to join in around the stadium by clapping along will have been a big boost for the players in their push to win the game and the benefits were seen in the way the team performed. 

Used properly, clappers can be a real force for good. They’re not a magic bullet that ensure you win every game, but they encourage the crowd to get involved and back their team for the full 90 minutes and that can only produce more positive results. 

There’s still a long way to go on this incredible journey for Leicester City and I’m looking forward to backing them all the way and having a lot more clappers to add to my collection. 

Jayden Whitworth: ‘I can’t understand why the club are so hell-bent on keeping them – bin them off’

In an era where Leicester City have got things spot on and have continuously set an example for the rest of the league, the clappers have been a rare occasion when we have perhaps got things slightly wrong.

Now I’m all for a clapper on special occasion (granted they’ve been more frequent over the last few years) whether that be when we are holding our first FA cup aloft; being crowned Premier League Champions or the dizzy heights of that remarkable Champions League campaign back in 16/17. They prove to be great filler for my box of ever-growing Leicester City memorabilia – we all have one, don’t we? But I draw the line there. There is no need for them anymore. They’ve run their course.

If I cast my mind back to when they were introduced at the home match against West Ham, the game that kickstarted the great escape, I remember thinking they were quite a novel, inventive idea. A great way of boosting the atmosphere at the King Power. As seasons past their effect dwindled. They even lost the biweekly clap along to Uptown Funk – something I’m certain all Leicester fans miss, right? They now must be binned off. There is no rhythm to them anymore, they just create a right racket. Come the end of the game, they are just discarded in and around the stadium and the streets of Leicester. Most of all they are having an adverse effect on the atmosphere in the stadium.

What I fail to understand is why the club are so hell-bent on keeping them. If the club are so set on boosting the atmosphere on matchdays, it baffles me as to why time and time again the club were so set on constantly rebuking any notion of introducing safe standing or an organised singing section, one not too dissimilar to the one up at Celtic Park.

I pity the poor sods that every week have to fold them, clamp it together with a rubber band and then stick one on all 30,000 odd seats. Only for the full-time whistle to sound and then have to go and pick them all back up again. In the current climate as well, you’d think they’re a COVID super spreader. The less things for people to get their fingers on the better.

Get rid. Use your hands – it’s what they’re for.