Melton West to elect new councillor to Leicestershire County Council

By Luke Williamson

Melton West will appoint a new councillor to Leicestershire County Council after Alan Pearson decided to not stand for re-election due to health issues.

The seat will be contested by four candidates on Thursday, May 6, to replace Conservative Party councillor Mr Pearson.

The new Tory candidate running in the ward is Mark Frisby, looking to retain the seat for his party in this county council election.

His competition comes from Labour Party candidate Philip Allnatt, Alastair McQuillan of the Green Party and Independent candidate Marilyn Gordon.

Mr Frisby has run for election to Melton Borough Council before as an independent candidate, and has made the switch to the Conservative Party after losing by just four total votes in the 2019 borough election.

Mr Allnatt is an experienced politician who has served on Wiltshire Council where he held a number of positions including the Chair of the Budget before moving to Melton.

The Green Party representative, Alastair McQuillan, is known to voters in Melton after standing in the 2019 General Election.

He was unsuccessful in his bid to become the Rutland and Melton Member of Parliament, achieving just 4.9 per cent of the vote share, but was still the most voted for Green Party candidate in the East Midlands.

Former Mayor of Melton Marilyn Gordon is also standing for the County Council after a number of years away from politics, where she has repeatedly stood as an independent candidate.

The Ward is relatively new, with the first election for Melton West being in 2017 after the boundaries for Leicestershire were redrawn.

One of the first issues voters will want addressing is a planned ring road through two of the town’s busiest streets

The infrastructure of the town’s roads are a main concern to residents, with the proposed southern link to the Melton Mowbray Distributor Road still yet to even be agreed to.

The funding for the road is still to be decided upon and the incoming councillors will have to make a decision on this to allow building to start on the road.

The Government had offered £15 million to help the construction of the road but the deadline to accept it passed before the turn of the year, but it would be down to the councillors to get this money pledged again.

Other local economic issues are also high on the agenda for all candidates in the Melton West Ward, especially after the Coronavirus pandemic.

An increase in local services is also a priority, with members of the electorate wanting to see more frequent, and an eco-friendlier, bus service running into the town centre.

The Leicestershire County Council Election is on the Thursday, May 6, where all 55 seats are up for re-election.

Melton West Ward Factfile.

Melton West is relatively a newly established ward, from the redrawing of the boundaries in 2017. Alan Pearson, the outgoing county councillor, held the seat in the Melton South Ward from 2013, with that particular seat being held by the Conservative Party from 1997 until the present day.

In the previous election, there was just a turnout of 24.8 per cent, when Mr Pearson defeated Stef Blasé of the Labour Party and Liberal Democrat candidate Sam Asplin in a landslide victory, achieving 60.6 per cent of the vote share.

Melton Mowbray was recorded as Leicestershire’s only market town in 1086 Domesday Survey and is the third oldest market in England.

Dickinson and Morris Ye Olde Pork Pie shop is situated right on the border of the East and West Wards, and is the oldest and only remaining bakery producing and selling authentic Melton Mowbray Pork Pies on the same site of the original shop opened by John Dickinson in 1851.

The Melton West Ward includes the Borough Wards Melton Dorian, Melton Egerton and Melton Sysonby.

Leicester City Council offers outdoor seating grants to support local businesses

by Abigail Beresford

Leicester City Council has created outdoor seating grants to help local hospitality businesses.

Restaurants and cafes in Leicester are able to apply for grants of up to £4,000 to use to buy outdoor furniture to allow customers to visit.

With pubs, restaurants and cafés only able to offer outdoor service until at least May 17, the council hopes to get more local businesses open and provide support for them.

Non-essential shops and restaurants reopened earlier this month (APR12), as lockdown measures begin to ease nationally.

To be eligible for the grant, the businesses must be:

  • Hospitality businesses which pay business rates to Leicester City Council or receive small business rates relief
  • Defined by the Companies Act as a micro or small business, so not chains or multinational groups
  • Providing an established table service food offer; and
  • Holders of an approved street café licence or applying for a new temporary licence.

The grant scheme is already proving to be in popular demand, with nearly £150,000 already given out to 72 businesses.

“Hospitality businesses have had such a tough time and deserve our support, especially smaller, local businesses,” said Councillor Kirk Master, Assistant City Mayor for neighbourhoods, in a statement.

“We hope these grants will provide an important first step towards getting our local economy back on track.”

Cafes and restaurants had been closed for almost four months, after the country entered its third national lockdown in January 2021. 

However, thousands of local businesses are at risk of closing down due to struggles consequent to the pandemic.

People are being encouraged to shop more locally to show support to their local businesses.

Due to popular demand, businesses are being encouraged to apply as soon as possible to avoid disappointment.

For more information and to apply for the grant visit www.leicester.gov.uk/streetcafegrants.

A local cafe in Leicester City Centre with outdoor seating

Leicester’s e-bikes prove to be ‘wheelie’ good way to get around

by Abigail Beresford

The launch of the new electric bikes in Leicester this January has proved to be a hit with students and residents of Leicester.

The scheme was announced in November 2020, with e-bike provider Ride On pairing with Leicester City Council to install 500 e-bikes up and down the city.

Leicester’s new ‘wheelie’ good way to get around

The bikes have proved to have a positive response, giving people in Leicester a new form of exercise and an affordable way to travel efficiently.

“I’ve found the bikes as a great way to get around town, being so quick and easy. It gives you a new way to see the city and get from A to B in a matter of minutes,” said Toby Green, 20.

The £600,000 scheme aims to encourage people to get around the city in a sustainable way, in a way to reduce carbon emissions to help the environment.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced in December 2020 the new target in reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 68 per cent by 2030.

“Getting ubers all of the time is expensive, especially as a student. Having a new way to get around the city that’s cheap, efficient is amazing,” added Toby.

“Hopefully, when the weather picks up I can travel slightly further distances on them. It’s not particularly pleasant using them in cold, wet weather.”

With warm temperatures expected in early April, the usage of the bikes is expected to increase, with residents of Leicester expected to enjoy the new spring season.

The 500 electric bikes are now available to hire from 50 locations within the city centre.

Police raid parties and issue fines as students flout lockdown restrictions in Covid-hit Leicester

By Laura Murphy and Sarah Danquah

A student who was fined £800 for contravening lockdown laws and attending an illegal party says he doesn’t regret going to the party – he only regrets getting caught.

The 19-year-old student, who was visiting his girlfriend at DMU from his uni in London, was arrested by police after they broke up a huge party in student accommodation.

The incident happened on Saturday night (FEB27) at Inka Studios in Percy Road, near to the University of Leicester. There were more incidents nearer to DMU the previous night.

“We just wanted to be around people and didn’t really think about the virus,” admitted the 19-year-old student, who did not want to be named. 

Young people gather in the street after police put a stop to their illegal party.

“The police turned up at 4 am and shut everything down. I’m not really around people so who could I really pass the virus on to? All the people that are vulnerable are currently being vaccinated anyway.

“If you’re willing to break the law, though, you should be able to face the consequences.”

‘Several illegal parties’

It was one of several illegal parties students held in the city last weekend, according to Leicestershire police. Leicester currently boasts the second highest number of coronavirus cases in the East Midlands.

Similar parties were broken up by police in student households in Dover Street, Marquis Street and Tudor Road, near DMU, on Friday night.

Police estimate more than 100 students had attended the parties and that 35 people were issued with £200 forced penalty fines.

The Friday night party seemed to start in one house and move to others, say neighbours, as the police attended and broke-up gatherings.

Harvey Mills, the director of Cloud Student, the company that owns the student property in this area, said calls were made to police and they attended promptly. Mr Mills called on DMU to crack down on students breaking restrictions.

Residents of Tudor Road were disgusted at the blatant disregard for the rules.

“Some of us have lost our jobs so it’s quite disturbing seeing all these people being inconsiderate and not caring about what is happening around them,” one resident said.

Another resident who witnessed the partying said students were being irresponsible. “Parties like these occupy the police at the weekend,” she said. “The police shouldn’t have to deal with students being inconsiderate.”

A police spokesperson said they will be patrolling the Tudor Road area to prevent other gatherings from happening. 

Will it stop the gatherings? It might not. One student who ran from las weekend’s party and was not caught remains unrepentant.

“I wanted to have fun. I am tired of staying of indoors. I feel like Covid is never ending,” she said.

“I’d definitely go to a party again – not this week but probably next week.”

We asked DMU to comment on this, but they did not respond.

Gyms to reopen brings joy to students

by Abigail Beresford

Gyms are set to reopen on April 12 in England, as part of the Prime Minister’s roadmap to lead the nation out of the coronavirus lockdown.

The Prime Minister led an announcement yesterday (Feb22) to Parliament, setting out the new plans of easing the lockdown, to pave the nation towards normality once again.

Due to previous restrictions, the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Leisure Centre in Leicester had to close its doors to members, despite plans to reopen its doors again in the early new year.

With hopes for gyms reopening on April 12, and recreational sport to recommence as of March 8, there is a glimmer of hope that the nation is slowly moving back to a sense of normality.

“I really struggled throughout the lockdown period without sport and the gym. It was always a stress relief for me, and without it I just found myself getting more and more stressed out,” said De Montfort University student Billy Johnson, 20.

“The news today really did boost my mood today. It’s always great to have something to look forward to, and this is it for me.”

To keep students and other gym users engaged, the QEII gym has been streaming live fitness sessions on their Facebook page by fitness instructors, leading sessions that include yoga, Pilates, boxercise and many other sessions.

“I attend some of these classes regularly or look back on old sessions that I’ve enjoyed. It’s great that they’re easy to access – it’s really given me something to do over such a long period of time where I’ve been able to do nothing,” added Johnson.

To get involved and to keep up to date on information, visit the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Leisure Centre’s Facebook page on https://www.facebook.com/DMUleisure.