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.

Leicester Comedy Festival announces its return in 2021 with COVID-19 safety measures

By Adam Rear

The Big Difference Company, the charity in charge of producing the Leicester Comedy Festival, has announced that both Leicester Comedy Festival and The UK Kids’ Comedy Festival will be running in 2021.

Running from the February 3-21, the star-studded line-up for the 2021 festival includes big names such as Ed Byrne, Angela Barnes, Larry Dean, Stewart Lee, Zoe Lyons, Al Murray and Iain Stirling, as well as over a hundred more confirmed acts and many more to be announced in the future.

Al Murray: One of the headline acts for the upcoming 2021 Leicester Comedy Festival

Tickets will be available online and, in following with Government guidelines, the NHS Test and Trace system will be in use throughout the venues, as well as other safety measures.

Geoff Rowe, founder and Director of Leicester Comedy Festival & The UK Kids’ Comedy Festival, is hoping to shake away the winter blues in 2021.

“We are frankly delighted to be back in 2021 with our two festival programmes.  Since the end of our most successful festival to date back in February this year, the world has changed beyond all belief and there have been times when, like many people, we weren’t sure what the future would hold.”

A variety of additional safety measures will be put into place, including reduced capacities of shows, socially distanced seating and extra time between shows will be allocated for additional cleaning.

Big Difference is also excited to announce the return of an exciting fundraising event called the Stand-Up Challenge, which is due to take place in June 2021.

The headline name for the upcoming summer event is Jon Ashworth, Shadow Secretary of State for Health and Social Care and Member of Parliament for Leicester South.

“They laughed when I said I was going to do stand-up, well they ain’t laughing now,” he said.

“I can’t believe I’ve agreed to do stand-up. But it’s all for charity and sitting opposite Boris Johnson in the Commons has given me plenty of material.”

The Leicester Mercury Comedian of the Year Competition has been postponed until June 2021. Fans of the event fear not, a ‘Best of Leicester Mercury Comedian of the Year’ show will be held on Saturday, February 22, showcasing the return of previous festival comedians who either won or were nominated in previous years.

For more information about tickets, dates, acts, safety measures and more, head to www.comedy-festival.co.uk and www.ukkidscomedyfestival.co.uk.

Small shops across Leicester prepare to close down for the second national lockdown

By Adam Rear

Businesses across Leicester and the rest of England are preparing for the latest national lockdown which started today (THU,NOV 5).

Unlike schools, colleges and universities, most small businesses will be closing down for at least the next four weeks, as per Government ruling, to help try and reduce the spread of the Coronavirus.

The national lockdown will be coming into place due to the worrying rise of COVID-19 deaths and cases.

The UK Coronavirus death toll soared by almost 500 today, the highest daily total since May 19.

The Midlands Plug, a small business on Hinckley Road selling American confectionary and CBD goods, has started to move its business online in order to try and stay afloat during the lockdown.

“With the rush preparing for lockdown we are very busy getting ready,” staff said.

“You will have to bear with us as we have just launched the website. There is a lot for us to test, sort out, update and fix.”

The Midlands Plug getting ready for the latest national lockdown

If you are over 18, check out its new online service here https://www.themidlandsplug.co.uk/.

Demonstrations against new Polish abortion laws reach Leicester

By Beatriz Abreu Ferreira

Hundreds of people in solidarity with Polish women have confirmed their presence at the Piekło Kobiet (Women’s hell) peaceful demonstrations, which will be happening on Sunday at midday at the clock tower.

The Piekło Kobiet demonstrations started as a direct reaction to the new abortion laws in Poland approved by the Constitutional Tribunal on the 22nd of October, which made abortions for fetal abnormalities against the Constitution.

Polish abortion laws were already one of the most restrictive in Europe, only permitting terminations in case of a threat to a woman’s health, in the case of incest or rape, or for fetal abnormalities – which represented the vast majority of legal abortion but has now been made illegal.

Karolina Ciechaowska, organiser of the demonstration in Leicester, said: “I’m a mother of two daughters, and I still have family and friends, who also have daughters, back in Poland. And personally, as a women, it all just made me really angry.

“As I couldn’t be there with the Polish women to show my support and I knew these demonstrations were happening in London and Edinburgh, I started looking for similar things in Leicester but I couldn’t find it so me and another Polish girl decided to started it by ourselves. 

“What we plan to do is just gather there with our signs. There will be no screaming or shouting, we don’t want any abuse or violence. If we have enough equipment we might do a couple of speeches.”

The organiser of the event also plans to ensure social distancing will be respected and the group has been keeping contact with the police.

“I really want the police to be there, and to be aware of the numbers so they can prepare themselves. They have been really supportive.

“And we have been getting a lot of hate. I have been sent threatening messages on my private Facebook which is really not nice… I have family here, people can see what I look like… Our safety is as important as everyone else’s,” she continued.

The main aim of the demonstrations is to raise awareness about the issue and show support with the Polish women protesting on the streets.

“Many of my British friends have no idea of what is happening in Poland. And there is a big Polish community in Leicester.

“I think spreading the word can only do good, especially when there are so many Polish people coming over here.

“It’s important that people know this is, amongst many others, a reason why so many people, especially young people, are coming here. They are not coming here to take the jobs, they are trying to escape this government and looking for a life with more rights,” Karolina added.

To find out more about the peaceful demonstration in Leicester please visit: https://fb.me/e/2j8GI9ojx

Leicester’s new Taco Bell push back their opening date

By Adam Rear

Mexican food lovers in Leicester will have to wait a little longer to taste Taco Bell’s authentic cuisines as they announce a delay in their opening.

Taco Bell UK announced on Monday (OCT 26) that the opening is being delayed.

In the statement released on Twitter, Taco Bell UK said: “Hey Leicester! We know you’re hungry for tacos, but you’ll need to wait a little longer… see you on the 16th November – it’ll be worth the wait!”

Situated on Gallowtree Gate, where a GAME store used to be, the fast food chain was originally opening its new 49th UK Taco Bell in Leicester on November 11, creating 35 new jobs.

Sit-in and take away options will be available from the new opening date, as well as the option for home delivery and click-and-collect.

Taco Bell Leicester getting ready to open on November 16