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.

A unique last-minute stocking-filler: How the Barwell Christmas meteorite put Leicestershire on the galactic map

By Alexander Hodgkins-Jones

Gold, frankincense and…meteorite?

You could gift an unusual piece of Leicestershire history this yule-time, a fragment from a meteor which fell over the unsuspecting village of Barwell on Christmas Eve 55 years ago.

Auction houses, meteorite enthusiast forums and even eBay often offer up pieces from the 44kg space rock which spectacularly exploded before showering the village in 1965.

However, with a typical value of more than six times the cost of gold per gram, perhaps the three wise men had the right idea for stocking fillers.

In 2009 a piece of the Barwell meteorite weighing just under one kilogram sold at Auction for an out-of-this-world £8,000.

A chunk of the Barwell meteorite held at the UoL Provided by Dr Marc K. Reichow

“When you look at the Barwell meteorite it just looks like a lump of rock,” said Dr Marc K. Reichow, a geology lecturer from the University of Leicester.

“But it’s actually something really unique.”

The story behind it is just as extraordinary, beginning at the dawn of the solar system and ending on a chilly December evening.

Shortly after dusk on December 24, 1965, a 4.5-billion-year-old meteor shot across the Leicestershire sky in a blazing fireball before announcing its arrival with a sonic boom.

Dr Reichow said: “People saw it as a big bright star and it was quite a coincidence with it being Christmas Eve.”

Travelling at high speed, friction from the Earth’s atmosphere caused the meteor to reach a temperature of 3,000 degrees Celsius, before fragmenting and showering Barwell and neighbouring Earl Shilton with pieces of various sizes.

“A meteoroid, or asteroid if it is very large, is a space object, when it enters our atmosphere it is a meteor and what is found on the ground is a meteorite,” Dr Reichow explained.

What are meteorites? Provided by Dr Marc K. Reichow

Despite the commotion, many residents were oblivious to the arrival billions of years in the making.

Carol-singer Rosemary Leader remarked at the time about picking up a strange piece of rock before tossing it aside.

“I was out carol singing – I didn’t want to carry a lump of rock around,” she said.

The highly dense space rock was “huge” for a meteor, roughly the size of a traditional Christmas turkey, and the largest meteorite fall recorded in the UK.

“Meteorite falls happen every night. The question is which ones will make it to the surface and the vast majority are really small. The size of the Barwell meteorite makes it very rare,” said Dr Reichow.

It was not until Christmas morning that broken windows and smashed roof slates made it apparent an other-worldly visitor had wreaked havoc upon the small village.

Amazingly no-one was injured, although one Barwell man, Percy England, was left with more than just a broken window, a chunk of the meteorite had struck the bonnet of his brand-new Vauxhall Viva.

His son Trevor, speaking to the BBC in 2015, said: “My dad immediately got on to the insurance, but they came back saying it was an act of God.

“The next thing he did was write a letter to the insurance company which began ‘Dear Mr God’.”

He even visited the local priest, requesting the church pay the damages, but to no avail.

Mr England didn’t get a pay-out, but others were soon cashing in.

“We distinguish between a ‘fall’ and a ‘find’,” said Dr Reichow.

“For science a fall like the one in Barwell is very valuable, because we know it has not been contaminated by our elements and had its composition changed.

“A ‘find’ could have been on Earth for millions of years.”

‘Shooting stars’ are a frequent occurrence. Photograph by Jakub Novacek

With news of the Barwell Christmas meteorite spreading, people from across the country descended on the quiet village hoping to sell or donate any fragments they could find to scientific institutions.

One meteorite hunter, Sir Patrick Moore, graciously donated his discovery to the Natural History Museum.

Dr Reichow’s department at UoL holds a palm-sized piece, which he uses for demonstrations, while the largest fragment, the one found by Sir Patrick, is still housed at the Natural History Museum in London.

The interest was so high because the fragments, particularly the larger pieces, offered scientists an insight into the beginnings of our planet, the solar system and even the universe.

Dr Reichow explained: “We think of meteorites as representing different cross-sections of a planet, the core, the mantle, the crust, they are the building blocks of our solar system, the ‘bread and butter’.

“They can help answer the question of what is beyond our planet? How do planets form? The only way to sample other planets is to either travel there or look at meteorites. They give us a glimpse of what is out there.”

Owing to its size, the Barwell Christmas meteorite was able to withstand the scorching heat which typically burns up smaller pieces and destroys the secrets inside.

“Barwell was fairly unique because of its size, that preserves a lot. The bigger it is the less affected its interior is by the heating process,” said Dr Reichow.

“When you cut open and treat these meteorites, they reveal absolutely beautiful features which are very distinct, you have a really nice metal shine, and these are absolutely amazing.”

The Barwell meteorite has helped inform some of the knowledge about how planets form, putting the little Leicestershire village on the galactic map.

Bob Hutchison, a curator at the Natural History Museum, made a startling discovery when he cut a slice from the meteorite 30 years ago.

“Inside, he found a strange stony pebble that had come from an object with igneous textures. He thought it had come from a differentiated parent body [a planet with distinct layers, like Earth], one that had already melted and formed its metal, silicate and crust like a planet but one that was inside a more primitive asteroid,” explained Dr Natasha Almeida, meteorite curator at the Natural History Museum.

Using the Barwell meteorite Hutchison showed that planets were melting and forming large differentiated bodies prior to the formation of primitive asteroids.

Dr Reichow expects more research and discoveries to come from the Barwell meteorite.

“In the 70s and 80s the techniques were very destructive, these are so rare, so you do not want to be cutting into them. But now we have new processes to analyse meteorites so there’s definitely more to come,” he said.

Although significant pieces of meteorite are valuable, the potential for discovery is “priceless”.

The meteorite has put Barwell on the galactic map (red arrow is the approximate location of the primary fall, although pieces were widespread over Barwell and Earl Shilton)

And if you want to make your own discovery, you could hunt for a fragment of Leicestershire and cosmological history yourself.

Dr Reichow said: “Oh, I’m almost certain there are pieces still out there in Barwell after all these years – how many? Who knows?”

Popular pony passes away at Gorse Hill City farm

By Alexander Hodgkins-Jones

Gorse Hill City farm has shared the sad news that one of its popular ponies named Biscuit has passed away.

Biscuit, or Bis as she was known to farm staff, was 27 years old and often mistaken for a horse due to her large size. On Friday(NOV13), the farm announced she had died two days earlier.

“She was one of the most popular animals we’ve ever had on the farm which is a testament to what a beautiful and loving girl she was,” said farm manager Sarah Crockall.

Biscuit had been living on a yard with other ponies since April.

The devastating news comes during a turbulent year for the Leicester-based farm.

In February the farm revealed it was in financial trouble and since then the Covid-19 pandemic has caused further worries.

Despite this, in October the team added cheeky goats Elvis and son Nate and have been running a takeaway service to raise much needed funds.

If you wish to support the farm or plan a visit during December visit their website.