Fire crews fight to save Leicester’s central station

SOS: Save our station, say Leicester's fire fighters.

SOS: Save our station, say Leicester’s fire fighters.


Fire fighters are asking students to help save the city’s busiest fire station.

Leicester’s central station – which covers De Montfort University campus – is in danger of being closed by cost-cutting.

Fire crews are now petitioning against the move and are asking for signatures from Leicester’s public.

Duncan Rees, Fire Brigade Representative for Central Station and a veteran of 17 years fighting fires, said: “Closing the central station would put lives at risk.”

Leicester city is supported by three fire stations, with the 90-year-old central station on Lancaster Road responding to the most incidents.

But under new proposals from Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service, central station and another station in Kibworth will be closed by 2020, costing the city 11 fire engines and dozens of jobs.

The plans want to replace the lost engines with three fast response vehicles and have city incidents handled by a fire station in Wigston.

Standard fire engine crews will also be reduced from five to four.

Emergency response times will also be revised from five minutes from call-to-arrival to a 10-minute travel time maximum.

Mr Rees said: “You can’t make it from Wigston to the city centre in 10 minutes, even with the sirens blaring and the lights flashing, with or without traffic.

“Leicester will be losing three of its busiest fire engines in these cuts. They will be replaced with fast response vehicles, which are, compared to a fire engine, just two men with a bucket.”

Leicester’s students will also be affected by the cuts, with the central station covering both De Montfort University campus and the University of Leicester campus

The station also covers most of the city’s student accommodation, high-rise apartments and terraced housing.

Amie Chapman, De Montfort’s Student Union Vice President, said in a statement: “From a DMU perspective, by 2020, should Central Fire Station close as proposed…we would be compromised should a catastrophe occur on campus.

“This is not so far-fetched when you consider the Hawthorn Building flooded in 2012 and given the burst pipe close to campus in 2013; sometimes incidents just cannot be predicted or controlled.

“One call from a large university or college, stadium or hospital is a call for help from hundreds, maybe even thousands of people.”

Central station received a £4.6million renovation five years ago.

The cuts, under the proposed ‘integrated management plan’, aim to fill a £3million shortfall in the service’s budget.

Nick Rushton, who chairs the county’s combined fire authority, said: “We need to change from a fire service to a rescue service and we have got to balance the budget.

“You can’t have a medium-term financial strategy with a hole of two-and-a-half to three million in it at the end.”

Mr Rees stressed the danger posed to students by the cuts, saying: “It’s important to maintain fire safety in the city. We all make stupid mistakes and fires in high rise student flats, while not common, are a serious danger.

“Central station is the only station that makes fire plans to deal with incidents in high rise flats in the city. Without central station, tackling those incidents will be so much harder for fire crews.”

Fire crews will be in Leicester city centre every weekend and hope to gather 12,000 signatures. The petition will be passed to Mayor Peter Soulsby at a decisive meeting in February.

For more information on the proposal or to find a consultation meeting near you, visit

History fans celebrate the 600th anniversary of Agincourt

By Lily Thake

History fanatics gathered to celebrate the 600th CRISPINanniversary of the battle of Agincourt this Sunday.

The free event took place at Leicester’s Jewry Wall Museum from 11.30pm to 3.30pm on October 25.

It was set-up to commemorate Henry V’s victory in battle over the French in Agincourt on October 25 1415.

Sharon Collins, committee member of ‘Friends of Jewry Wall Museum’ and fellow re-enactor, said: “This event is vital to maintaining and keeping the museum alive. We hope it will encourage more people to visit.”

Guests eagerly queued at the lunch stand for their free samples of a selection of Ploughman’s lunch.

They were also invited to take part in activities for a small charge, such as holding birds of prey and having a go at archery.

The experience included free demonstrations on medieval armor, gruesome surgery and combat techniques.

The museum is run by Leicester City Council and since proposals of cuts, ‘Friends of Jewry Wall Museum’ have been actively promoting it.

Mrs Collins said: “Our aim as a committee is to keep Jewry Wall open and renovated. We hold events three or four times a year roughly.

“I helped with the food today, we had to create authentic recipes for the Ploughman’s in a modern kitchen, which was insightful.”

Several reenactors were dressed in medieval clothing and on location to offer their expertise on specific aspects of history.

Matthew Heaver, a recent graduate of Wolverhampton University and avid history fan, came dressed as a medieval knight.

Mr Heaver said: “The group of reenactors here have taken part in the film Fake Heart, which is a low budget film. I featured in Born of Hope, a fan made Lord of The Rings prequel. We have all had our own share of experiences.”

To close the event, the battle of Agincourt was re-enacted and the brutal hand-to-hand tactics of medieval battle were revealed.

Tom Simon, a local visitor said: “I love history and my son loves birds. There is free food, a nice variety of activities and I think it is a good chance for a decent day out for the whole family.”

New DMU facilities revealed in The Watershed official opening


By Lily Thake

Sports teams and societies gathered to celebrate the opening of a new DMU student facility, The Watershed, this Monday.

Vice Chancellor of De Montfort University, Professor Dominic Shellard officially invited DMU’s 100-plus societies to use the space, on November 2 at 12pm.

In his opening speech, Professor Shellard said: “I think this is a massive opportunity to hand over to DSU much better space for sports, for societies. There’s going to be a common room and masses of meeting rooms.”

As a former youth centre, The Watershed was sold to DMU, following a deal with mayor Sir Peter Soulsby, in March 2015 and cost almost £1 million.

After Mr Shellard’s speech the ribbon, tied at the entrance of The Watershed, was cut by the President of the Rowing Club, Jack Laugher.

The opening is particularly good news for Mr Laugher and his club, as the space provides indoor facilities equal to any major rowing university in the UK.

Mr Laugher said: “The Rowing club is doing so well but we are restricted by a lack of facilities. To have our own indoor space in this venue is huge for us.”

Visitors were supplied with free snacks, given a tour around the building, and a chance to view the Rowing Club’s live indoor action on the machines.

A comments box was also supplied for visitors to give opinions on what the empty second floor space should be used for.

Leighton James, Secretary of the Hockey Team, said: “This is pushing the university in the right direction and although the venue is mainly setup for the Rowing Club, it can be utilised for other sports teams like us.”

He added: “It will be especially great to house our new indoor hockey.”

The building is situated just off Upperton Road, near the River Soar, Leicester and has a sports hall, common room, office space, changing rooms and meeting rooms.

The interior can be used by DMU societies for activities and meetings, catering for numerous sports such as indoor cricket, netball, basketball and volleyball.

Jade Bolton, Secretary of DMU Saints cheerleading team, said: “We are appreciative of the new space and so grateful.

“It’s important to come to the event and show the people who opened it that we appreciate the venue and the work they have put in to get it here at DMU.”

Leicester centre launches as main hub for Documentary Media Month



The Wot Space at Highcross launched it’s centre to host a variety of events for Documentary Media Month on Wednesday at 6pm.

Leicester’s sixth film festival will include with free film screenings, workshops and inspirational talks across the city this November.

The ‘global citizens’ theme this year will focus on real people’s lives, places and events around the world.

The pop up Documentary Media Centre will be the main hub for information and events.

Doc Media Centre Founder John Coster said: “The whole idea of this is to get people interested in documentary film. We also want to address the fact that not all documentaries have to be about such heavy issues.”

Mr Coster set up the space and has relied on donated camera equipment and the use of free silent disco headphones.

He added: “The headphones have allowed us to screen multiple films in the space at once and the projector to get films about big issues on to the big screen.”

The events will cover four areas: film, photography, audio and new media.

They will be focusing on how the media treats marginalized groups such as the homeless, gypsies, migrants and disabled.

The Reportage Club taking place throughout the month at the Media Centre will feature appearances from special guests.

Photographer Kajal Nisha Patel will host a discussion and showcase examples from her portfolio on Thursday November 5.

BBC Radio Leicester presenter Ed Stagg will be giving a talk about his career on Thursday November 19.

Alex Faulkner, media production graduate said: “As a photographer I’ll probably attend the Reportage Club but being interested in documentaries and film in general, all the events sound interesting.”

Other events include a screening of Agora, a documentary focusing on the Greek/EU crisis and a 48 hour docfilm challenge.

Mr Coster said: “One of the aims of this centre is to bring together a range of people from the public to students to academics. It’s rare these sets of people will come together for discussions.”

DMU Programme Leader for Communication Arts Ben Archer said: “As a new course, we’re keen for our students to get interested and participate in community media so this film festival will be excellent for them to get involved with.”

For a full list of events visit or follow @DocMediaCentre on twitter for updates.

The festival ends November 30.

Black History celebrations commenced at De Montfort University


Black History Month was celebrated in style at De Montfort University, with a series of events held this week.

The Launch event began on Tuesday at 3.30pm in DMU’s Campus Centre Atrium and was hosted by its Chief Operating Officer Ben Browne.

The afternoon included live performances from a range of talent within DMU and included DMU Steppers, Indian and urban dancing, a Poetic recital and singing.

The purpose of the event was to celebrate the contributions made to society by Caribbean, Asian and African people and focus on problems facing the black community.

Mr Browne said: “This is a national event which we celebrate every year. It is important to recognise the contributions black people have made and to counter any stereotypes which are out there. It is also important to consider what black people contribute to society.”

In partnership with the event, the Disability Advice and Support team spread the word about sickle cell disease on campus.

The Advice team were on hand to raise awareness about a myth that sickle cell is confined to African regions.

At the beginning of the event, Mr Browne made a speech and mentioned the success of black history so far.

He referred to recent announcements surrounding new DMU Chancellor, Baroness Lawrence as a ‘historic moment’ for black history.

Finally, after a spectacular variety of performances from the DSU clubs and societies, drinks and canapes were served.

James Thompson, who sang at the event, said: “It is a privilege to be able to perform for Black History and I like what it presents. It’s all about being proud of where you come from. Your heritage doesn’t determine your legacy.”

This week has seen a whole host of events held in aid of Black History, from an Equality and Diversity seminar on Wednesday, to a Film screening this afternoon.

The last event will be hosted by Dr Rupert Gammon on Friday October 23 at 1pm in the first floor of the Queens Building.

Dr Gammon will consider the work he is undertaking in Africa to bring electrical power to off-grid communities and reflect on African power.

For further information visit the DMU events page: