660 homes & new school planned
660 NEW homes and a 1200 place secondary school are planned for an area of open space off Greengate Lane.
Leicester City Council has identified the 48 ha site for development in its draft local plan, which was put out for public consultation on September 14. You can make your views known on the plan until December 7, when the consultation period ends.
A further plot of land, 4.86 ha next to the 17th tee on Birstall golf course has been identified as employment land, it has no highways access and is currently agricultural land. Other parts of this field have been identified for employment land as part of the Ashton Green development.
53 new homes are planned for a 2.78 ha site behind Park Road, adjacent to the railway. The site is currently a part of Birstall golf course.
The draft plan states: “the allocation leads to the loss of green wedge but is outweighed by the strategic opportunity of the two sites, as a natural extension of the already approved and partially delivered main Ashton Green development [3000 homes].”
The draft local plan says the timeframe for the development is 2023 for the school, 6 to 15 years for the housing and 6 to 10 years for the employment land.
The plan also identifies land south of Thurcaston for 611 new homes.
The draft local plan covers the period 2019– 2036 and states that 29,104 homes will be built in Leicester, with 30% affordable housing on greenfield sites.
Birstall’s Borough Councillors and County Cllr are urging residents to take part in the consultation process. Group spokesman Cllr Roy Rollings said: “Birstall and Wanlip residents may have wondered why they received details about the emerging Local Plan which is being produced by Leicester City Council. Leicester City Council are proposing to allocate land for development on the outskirts of Birstall, including on Birstall Golf Course and land at the top of Greengate Lane. It is vital Leicester City Council hear from residents of Birstall and Wanlip as part of this consultation process. This is a strategic document and now is the time for us to influence the direction of it. Please do take a look at the documentation you have received and respond if you wish to do so. More information is available online.”
The plan also identifies three other sites for development:
• Land west of Anstey Lane
• Western golf course
• Land at Leicester General Hospital.
The consultation is available online at consultations.leicester.gov.uk. It includes the draft Local Plan and details of all proposed sites for potential development across the city, as well as an interactive map that sets out all the sites in detail. People can click on the sites and make individual comments on them.
City mayor Peter Soulsby said: “A Local Plan is something every local authority has to have in place, by law. It covers the way we plan to develop the city over the next 15 years. Without such a plan, it would be harder for us to protect wildlife and our built heritage, make plans for a greener and healthier city, or effectively accommodate the growing needs of our city.
“We know that we have a number of challenges ahead – not least the climate emergency and our responsibility to protect our environment for future generations. That is why our new Local Plan is more important than ever.
“We originally prepared to consult on the draft Local Plan back in March, but the coronavirus lockdown caused us to postpone. We’re now ready to launch our comprehensive consultation, which will run from today [Monday, September 14] until December 7, to give people plenty of time to comment.”
Face-to-face meetings for people to give their views are not possible at this stage, due to coronavirus. However, people are invited to comment online and can look at copies of the Local Plan in city libraries, the majority of which have now been reopened.
All the comments and suggestions received will be considered before a final version of the plan is produced for further consultation.
The plan will then be used to inform planning policy and decisions in the city.
To take part in the consultation, visit https://consultations.leicester.gov.uk/
Woman found on road
TWO TEENAGERS, one from Birstall, have been charged with kidnap and other offences after a woman was found lying seriously injured on the A6 carriageway.
Rocco Sansome (18) of Wanlip Lane, Birstall, has been charged with kidnap and possession of a class B drug.
Chay Bowskill (19) of Empingham Drive, Syston, has been charged with kidnap, grievous bodily harm and criminal damage.
Officers shut the northbound lane between Mountsorrel and Loughborough at around 10.45am. The southbound lanes were shut later to allow an air ambulance to land. The woman was taken to the Queens Medical Centre, Nottingham.
The Police have issued an appeal for motorists to get in touch if they have dash-cam footage or saw the woman in the road.
Pop-up cycle lanes removed next year
THE POP-UP cycle lanes on the A6 in Birstall will be in place for a further 6–9 months, say the County Council.
The measures were put in place by the County after it made a successful bid for money from the governments Emergency Active Travel Fund. This funding is being made available in two tranches: the first is for temporary schemes, the second for permanent measures.
In a response to an enquiry made by Birstall Parish Council, Laura Shepherd at Leicestershire County Council said: “Leicestershire County Council has submitted a bid for the emergency active travel tranche two funding to enable us to deliver more permanent measures to encourage active travel such as off-road cycling facilities. We expect an announcement in September and if successful, we will be running a full consultation with all stakeholders including residents, the Parish Council and County Councillors in the autumn. Please note that the tranche two schemes will be different altogether to tranche one and it will not be a case of simply making the temporary measures, as now implemented, permanent, they will also be subject to a full consultation.
“It is likely that the tranche one temporary scheme will be in place for 6–9 months until the tranche two schemes can be delivered, but during this time we will continually monitor and review measures to ensure they are fit for purpose and make any adjustments deemed necessary. We will be monitoring cycle lane usage, traffic flows, queues, pedestrian movements, air quality and the impact on side roads throughout this period.”
Trevor Pendleton, cabinet member for Highways and Transport, told the Birstall Post: “We are awaiting a decision from the government on whether we have been successful in our bid for further funding. We will be undertaking a full consultation with residents and members on any proposals shortly after the announcement.”
The County says restricted timescales set by the government meant there wasn’t any time to consult the public on the temporary scheme implemented in August.
Birstall’s County Councillor Iain Bentley objected to the pop-up cycle lanes as soon as they were announced. He said: “I have been assured during a meeting at county hall that in 6 to 9 months this temporary scheme will be completely removed and the road reinstated exactly how it was before. I am pleased about that but think the scheme has been an absolute waste of money.”
The government’s emergency active travel funding aims to create an environment that is “safe for both walking and cycling” and to “promote cycling as a replacement for journeys previously made by public transport”.
In a letter to local transport authority officers, Robert Furness, from the Department of Transport, said: “Active travel allows people to get around while maintaining social distance and will have an essential role to play in helping us avoid overcrowding on the public transport systems as we begin to open up parts of our economy. We have a window of opportunity to act now to embed walking and cycling as part of new long-term commuting habits and reap the associated health, air quality and congestion benefits.”
The government allocated £250 million to the fund.
Students return to school in Birstall
BIRSTALL’S SCHOOLS welcomed back students in September.
Shreekant Raivadera, Chair of Governors at the Cedars Academy, reports:
The school staff have enjoyed having our learners back on site. They have been fantastic, showing genuine kindness and maturity in dealing with a new way of working.
We’re aware that some parents and residents have had issues at the start and end of school days. The measures we put in place at each school aimed to make it as safe as possible for pupils to enter and leave the site. We’ve asked parents to be mindful of residents but we’re all dealing with the ‘new normal’ so we’ll review our measures as needed and thank parents and residents alike for sharing their feedback with us.
At the start of term, each school spent time ensuring that all learners are aware of the changes and processes needed to ensure that the school runs smoothly and safely.
At Cedars, there has been an introduction to an entirely new way of working with our learners, with a focus on being kind and respectful, working hard and taking responsibility. Students have been presented with the dual challenges of unfamiliar Covid-19 related routines and our increasingly high expectations and, they have risen to these challenges magnificently as we knew they would.
Teaching and learning reviews have largely been virtual, while visits by experts from the Lionheart trust have focused on re-establishing the ethos of each school, covering behaviour, with the idea that a positive environment makes it much easier for learning to be effective.
Across the trust, the younger pupils have been very engaged with the new approach and seemed to be enjoying lessons. The older years groups at are taking a little longer to get their heads around the new way of learning and staff are working hard to help them.
The primary schools had a very positive return with pupils regularly proclaiming, “It’s great being back at school”, albeit mostly because they’re seeing their friends again. Feedback from parents is that their children want to come to school to learn as it was boring being at home.
Staff have been helping the children build up their stamina, it seems months of lockdown has it made it tricky to sustain a full day of learning!
The heads are reporting that pupil year groups like having their own spaces, with especially the year 11s feeling that removing the pressure of being the oldest in school has helped them settle in quickly.
Staff are working with students to identify and address any gaps in knowledge and detailed curriculum plans are in place.
The Lionheart Trust’s on-line learning platform will continue to be developed and used to support learning outside the classroom, for example through the setting of tasks for homework and the uploading of key pieces of work. The primary schools are not setting 'homework' but have set up a 'home learning file’ for each year group.
Should a child fall ill or need to self-isolate for a period of time, the school will ensure that suitable work is set through the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) so that they do not fall behind with the learning of their class.
We’ve had three very kind offers from private individuals in Birstall to sponsor a Chromebook for a child in Birstall, we’re very grateful for any support on this important initiative.
A quick reminder: students without access to the internet and/or a device are significantly disadvantaged – whether education is delivered fully online or if students are on-site.
The Lionheart Academies trust has identified learners for whom lack of device or internet is the reason for them not engaging with online learning and considers this disadvantaged group a high priority.
The Trust has therefore invested over £250,000 to provide these students with the tools they need to learn. We are now fundraising to help cover some of that cost and appeal to any individuals or businesses who may be able to sponsor a Chromebook for £225. Please contact me by email Shreekant.email@example.com and you can make a positive difference to a disadvantaged child in Birstall.
The Government has announced that it will not publish any school or college level educational performance data based on tests, assessments or exams for 2020, however, we’re very pleased to report really positive results for our GCSE students this year.
Learners have gone on to their next steps in education successfully and Cedars Academy results were considerably improved from last year (as were most schools).
You may have been personally involved with the rollercoaster ride of exam results, but thankfully the final decision was to rely on teacher assessment rather than the algorithm.
Staff were asked, back in March, to create the Centre Assessment Grades based on how well a student was likely to do, on a day in which health, emotional issues etc, didn’t get in the way of them performing. Schools have worked really hard to improve results year on year, and we were happy with the results.
Beyond GCSE results, parents may be interested in a measure called “Progress 8”, which aims to measure the progress of secondary pupils across a selected set of 8 subjects from the end of primary school to the end of secondary school. The range of this measure is -1 to +1 and Cedars Academy is now at 0.25, which shows that pupils achieve higher than the national average.
All Cedars Martin Sixth Form 2020 graduates have gone on to higher/further education or training and the sixth form is off to a great start in 2020 with XX students starting their A-level courses.
Keep calm and carry on baking
THE FLOUR dusting has settled on 2020's Great Birstall Bake Off, and with 43 entries and a great array of prizes up for grabs, it was all a great success, raising £1200 for Macmillan Cancer Support.
One of the organisers, Rebecca Kay, said: “We didn’t know what to expect this year, but we were overwhelmed by the amazing entries and the amount of money raised in this difficult year.”
Most categories were well supported, with both genders and all ages competing for the most prestigious prize in Birstall's bakery calendar. The judging panel says they were astounded by the selection, in particular the ‘Under 16’ entries which were more creative than ever.
But the Bake Off competition was only the start, with all the entries being sold to raise money for the Macmillan Cancer Support's World's Largest Coffee Morning. The cakes were sold on the morning of Sunday, September 20 at the White Horse in Birstall. Good weather enabled the organisers to host the event outside in the pub garden.
Rebecca said: “The Covid situation did not dampen the enthusiastic turnout and many customers booked a table. We had a system in place to make sure there was social distancing and there wasn’t a queue in front of the cake. The coffee and cake flew out and so far £1200 was raised- a truly staggering figure.”
The raffle stand had excellent prizes from some of the Horse’s key suppliers: there was a gin tour and glasses from local producer Burleighs and a bottle of North 42 gin, also from Leicester. St Martins' coffee roasters also donated a hamper of their products and bottles from Matthew Clark and boxes of chocolates too from Makro and the Co-op.
Suppliers also provided most of the winners' prizes of family boxes of biscuits and bottles of prosecco. The winners also received mugs or water bottles from Macmillan, White Horse Vouchers and of course the much-coveted winners' rosettes.
The organisers send their thanks to the following for their contributions and donations: Silly Prices, Amy Harrison - graphic designer, also to Brakes, Creed, Trust Inns, and Dominic of Norths of Rothley, all White Horse suppliers, and to the children who took part in the colouring competition.
Special thanks also to the judging panel, Janet Vaughn and Kath Jones from the Birstall WI, previous winners Katie Morsli, Stephen, Xander and Rueben Lewin, Cat and Charlotte Hanlon, James, Olive and Maple Foy, Phil Craxford, Amy Moore and Zoe White, Chef at the White Horse, of course following WI guidelines for appearance, texture and flavour.
Lastly, the organisers Charlotte Foy and Beccy Kay would like to say a huge thank you to everybody who took part, those who generously donated their baking and to everyone who came on Sunday to eat cake and raise this tremendous amount for Macmillan.
Watch this space and our Facebook page for details of 2021's Great Birstall Bake Off, but until then - keep baking!
Winners’ List and their entries:
Cupcake / Traybake – Evie and Lola Fletcher –Mint Aero Rocky road
Best Decorated – Liana Condello – Leaf and berry chocolate cake
Best Under 16 – Maya Hernandez – Buzy Bee Lemon Cake
Best Cake – Katie Bateman – Thank you NHS Rainbow Cake
Best Biscuit – Reggie Sutton- Strawberry, Lemon and Chocolate Macarons
Best Bread – Andrew Gardner – North East Loaf
Best ‘Free From’ – Sophie Kordewicz – Vegan coconut Cake with Rum frosting
Best Savoury – Anna Beams – Cheese Straws
Sweet Pastry – Cat Hanlon – Chocolate tart
Birstall’s Best Baker – John Tointon – Was honoured for his continual support of the Bake Off over many years and excellent entries in 2020 He received a large bottle of Bells whisky, and White Horse Vouchers.
Santa fun run
LOUGHBOROUGH ROTARY Club has organised a Santa Fun Run & Walk in the town for the last fifteen years.
An event is not possible this year, so the club is planning an 'Alternative' Santa Fun Run, where people will sign up and get a Santa suit and set themselves a challenge, to raise much-needed funds for a charity of their choice.
Linda Thompson, Virtual Chairperson of the 'Alternative' Santa Fun Run, said: “Everything is different this year! Take part in our ‘Alternative’ Santa Fun Run in 2020, by setting yourself a challenge over the twelve days of Christmas, and raise much-needed funds for your favourite charity. Sign up on www.santa-fun-run.co.uk, put on your Santa suit, and start making a difference! Even your dog can participate in his/her best ‘Santa paws’ outfit, and win a prize at the same time.”
Reduce waste and refill plastic bottles
YOU CAN reduce plastic usage by choosing to refill your plastic containers when they are empty.
Concerned about the issue, Sandra Woodward of Thurcaston has started Weigh Hey Charnwood. She said: “I am passionate about eco-friendly products and wanted to reduce my plastic usage too - so Weigh Hey refills were the perfect fit. My kids use a lot of shampoo and shower gel so I was looking to save money too!
“Choosing a refillable can significantly reduce the amount of single-use plastic you use and save you money as you're not buying the plastic packaging!
“Packaging from cleaning and body care products are among the least likely to be recycled in the UK. They can only be recycled a limited number of times before they can’t be used any longer and need to be sent to landfill.
“I use everything I stock so I can advise on all products and am happy to give a sample of any new products you'd like to try.
“Please contact me by email, phone or Facebook. I live in an accessible location in Thurcaston for you to collect your refills or I can deliver locally. Any bottle or jar will do as you get a label. I have some spares too. Cash, PayPal or BACS is available and fill-ups are while you wait. Which is not too long, I promise!”
Parish Council notes
A FULL meeting of Birstall Parish Council was held via Zoom on September 14.
It was reported that the county council had responded to the parish council’s letter about the temporary pop-up cycle scheme. The county says it will monitor the scheme which will be left in place for six to nine months. A second tranche of government funding is available and the county says it will conduct a full public consultation before introducing any permanent measures utilising that funding.
It was agreed to wait for the future public consultation before taking any further action.
The council agreed in principle to assist with the organisation of a Remembrance event at the War Memorial this November after it was notified by Charnwood that the Royal British Legion’s guidance to its branches nationwide was that local branches should not organise events this year due to Covid-19.
Councillors considered the proposal from Councillor Jeff Green, passed at the August meeting, that the council set up a working party to consider ways it could improve, and new ideas and new ways of working.
Working parties must have a minimum of three councillors, they are not subject to the strict rules of a formal council meeting and cannot make decisions, but can put forward recommendations to the full council.
It was agreed that Councillor Keith Hampton draws up the terms of reference for a working party and that any councillor can volunteer to participate. Councillor Hampton said: “The most important thing is that we maintain an open dialogue and that people feel comfortable about contributing and feel they can join and leave [the working party] as they please.”
The council has received three Freedom of Information requests in June from the same individual. They were not happy with the responses and requested an internal review, which was undertaken. The requestor was not satisfied with the internal review responses and indicated they would complain to the Information Commissioners Office (ICO).
The clerk’s report states that dealing with the FOI requests had cost the council 42 office hours.
It was agreed, having taken advice from the council’s data protection officer, that the council refer itself to the ICO for a free audit of its FOI arrangements. Parish clerk Sue Coulson said she would welcome an audit as it would show if the council is doing things right or if any improvements were needed.
The council considered requests received from local groups for funding and grant aid. It was agreed to award £1000 to Acorn under-fives for outdoor space, £300 to Gunns’ Gym for equipment, £200 to the Birstall & Wanlip WI, £600 to the Diabetes self-help group and £600 to Birstall Playgroup for Children with Special Needs.
The next meeting will take place on Zoom on October 12.
Group’s thanks and support
THE HELPING our Community and the Birstall NHS Scrubs groups have continued to support our community and the local hospitals.
Group co-founder Rosie Rollings reports:
Many hours have been spent tracking down some of the forgotten key workers in our community. Following a generous donation from funds raised for key workers by Nazrin Began we were able to reward our refuse collectors, street cleaners and all of our posties.