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Birstall Post May 2007 (286)

Pic: (l-r) Maria Lee, Chair of Midlands Co-op's Leicester Member Relations Committee, Kian Gravelis (3), Hollie Lewis (3) and Julie Parker, Playgroup Leader

Playgroup’s birthday

CHILDREN AND staff at the Rainbow Co-operative Pre-school playgroup in Birstall held a birthday party to celebrate the playgroup's 21st birthday.
The playgroup is located at the Co-op Sports & Social Club on Birstall Road. Playgroup Leader, Julie Parker, said: "We couldn't let 21 years pass without shouting about it and both the staff and children are looking forward to the birthday celebrations. Our aim is to provide the children with a warm and welcoming atmosphere in which to learn and develop and we are committed to constantly improving the facilities we are able to offer.
"We put a great deal of effort into fundraising and thanks to staff, parents and other local organisations we have been able to expand our range of toys and resources. The most significant improvement has been our new outdoor play area, which was part funded by a Making a Difference Community Dividend grant from Midlands Co-op, and now complements our indoor facilities. We launched this with a teddy bears' picnic last summer and the children enjoy playing on the equipment whilst getting some exercise at the same time."
The playgroup sessions for 2-5 year olds take place Monday to Friday in term times from 9.30am to 12noon. There are currently places available. Anyone interested in a place for their child or who would like to find out more about the playgroup should call Julie Parker on 0116 2675264 or mobile 07793 630612 or Trish Goodrich on 0116 221 0185 or mobile 07733 394236.

Costly graffiti clean up

THE POLICE, the Parish Council and the village cricket club all contacted the Birstall Post in April, concerned about the increasing problem of graffiti in the village.

Pic: Doug Topley & Stuart Jones survey the damage

The Parish Council say they are spending thousands of pounds a year on the problem. Parish Clerk Hugh Knight said: "Our staff deal with it on a constant basis on any flat surface, litter bins, fencing and play equipment. It is a major drain on resources and the problem should not be understated."
Birstall Village Cricket Club's pavilion is on the School Lane playing fields and is regularly targeted. Chairman Doug Topley said: "We spend all day getting it ready for the season and not it's graffitied all over, it makes me sick. These people ruin it for everybody."
Vice Chairman Andy Corbett said: "We are back to square one just one week after getting it looking decent for all the travelling teams. Doug and I were on the park assessing the damage when a concerned member of the public saw how upset and angry we were and offered a substantial cash reward to secure one or more convictions."
PCSO Mark Butler is appealing to residents for information about the culprits. He said: "There have been numerous amounts of graffiti around the village and someone must know something about it. We all have to work together to stop this as it is becoming a blight on our village."
If you have witnessed any graffiti or know the identity of anyone writing 'tags', contact PC 0815 Chris Falle or PCSO 6611 Mark Butler on 222 2222. Information about the cricket pavilion graffiti can also be given to Doug Topley on 2928214.
Local shopkeeper Cynthia Baker who owns Friends in Soggy Homes on Wanlip Road is offering the side of her shop as a dedicated graffiti wall. "I have recently suffered with graffiti on my wall on the corner of Lambourne Road" she said. "For 15 years it's been clear but all of a sudden it's getting covered. We feel it would be better if it was a graffiti wall, perhaps on a fishy theme, and I've suggested it to the Police. The young people would have to maintain it themselves though."
Last year there was a conviction for graffiti in Birstall - a teenage boy sent a letter of apology to the Parish Council and the cricket club and spent a day removing graffiti from the pavilion.

A SERIOUS graffiti artist has contacted the Birstall Post and puts another perspective on this issue:
With the Police now targeting graffiti as a major issue in the village of Birstall, I would like to offer the reader an insight into graffiti and what it means to a serious graffiti artist and a way forward.
My name is Genesis. I am 32 years old and a resident of Birstall for 23 years. Somewhat surprising that may sound in that graffiti is seen as something that bored, drunken, hooded youths do on a Friday night. Not the case. Many graffiti artists I know are in their 20s and 30s, although I will state they are not active in Birstall. So why do I do it? I see myself as a form of street artist with my work showing inner meaning as opposed to a scrawl on a wall. I would rather brighten somewhere derelict or somewhere that is not belonging to a home owner which would add value to the area. I also see it as an area to display my opinion and also challenging the viewer to think. We are made to think a thousand times a day by adverts and corporate visions telling us what to eat, think and sleep.
Graffiti can be seen as a menace but it can also be seen as an art form. In many places, beautiful pieces of work have been composed brightening up many dull areas of their community. Personally I prefer full visual pieces representing an artist's full talent as opposed to a what is known as a 'tag'. However the tag is more than just a scrawl on a piece of wall to the untrained eye.
The village of Birstall is being 'blighted' by what is commonly known as a tag. This is a nickname or street name used by an artist sometimes to reflect their idea of themselves or how their friends may see them. Tags are the lowest form of art to a graffiti artist in that they basically are used to show to others where an artist has been or, more commonly, shows to others most noticeably that this is their turf and area. A lot like a dog or a cat will spray to mark their territory.
Tags will always be present and although with the rise of the ASBO, seen as a form of trophy as opposed to a deterrent, a true graffiti artist will not be deterred by this. Part of a solution maybe is to provide artists with an area to display their tags or 'pieces' in a more purer form. An area of a youth club, school, perhaps even the recent ugly wooden boards that are being used by workmen renovating the old off-licence on Sibson Road within Birstall or even the development off Vaughan Way within the city centre on a bigger scale. As mentioned you will never eradicate tags but by giving an artist an actual outlet to display their talents, you then provide a sense of pride and belonging in their community. Strange but ask a 'hoody' and you may never know they might not want to be seen as an outcast.
One of the most common misconceptions is that graffiti is associated with a drug taker and a criminal. Did you know that graffiti can be traced back to the days of Pompeii? Graffiti is a part of history and will always be used as a way of freedom of expression. A criminal will steal your car, your possessions to fund a lifestyle of drug-taking, commit a violent act upon your person or worse, or will commit an act of fraud and many more. The village tagger's crime is the composition of words or numbers on a bus shelter, telephone box or power box.

Parish Council notes

A FULL meeting of Birstall Parish Council was held on April 2
Councillors expressed disappointment that there was no attendance by a Police representative at the meeting or at last month's meeting. It was agreed to write to the Police about this and other concerns with policing in Birstall.
It was reported that a recent incident of broken glass being found on the School Lane playing field was the worst ever seen there. Graffiti is an ongoing problem and the Council agreed to remove it whenever possible from parish council property.
It was reported that a recent grant application for £2500 for play equipment had been unsuccessful. The Council agreed to repair safety surfaces damaged by vandals.
Councillors requested that a quarterly report on the cost of criminal damage be prepared.
It was agreed that sports fees be unchanged for the following year.
Cllr Roger Wilson reported that he will not be standing for re-election to Birstall Parish Council at the elections this month.


PARISH COUNCIL elections are held every four years but there will be no elections on May 3 as there were fewer candidates nominated than there were seats on the council.
In these circumstances, all the individuals nominated automatically become councillors after the close of nominations.
The following individuals are elected to the Parish Council: Sheila Alcock, James Garner, Kevin Wood, Christopher Clarke, Melanie Coley, Stuart Jones, Neville Mays, Iain Bentley, Patrick Cleere, Anthony Fowler, Mary Houghton, Veronica Jones, Serinda Shergill, Jeff Cassidy, Kathleen Grundy, Dennis Marshall, Douglas Topley
There are currently three vacancies on the council. Anyone wishing to become a councillor can write a letter of application to the clerk and they may be co-opted onto the council, or an election will be held if one is requested by parishioners when the vacancy is formally advertised.

Trophy winners

BIRSTALL UNITED Under 13s 2004 youth football team returned with a trophy after competing at a tournament in France over Easter.

Pic: Proprietor of Birstall Cabs Paul Reid with junior
footballers Tom Langton and Charlie Cooper.

The team, who are sponsored by Birstall Cabs, travelled to the Etoile Football Club near Lille.
Team manager Nick Langton said: "Continued sponsorship from Paul and Darren at Birstall Cabs has helped us travel to venues on more than one occasion and it's nice to bring a trophy back along the way."
Last season honours were plentiful with the Under 13s nearly securing the treble. Nick said: "This year Enderby United were unbroken throughout the whole of the season until Birstall came from behind to beat them 2-1 at School Lane. It's been an up and down season for us and we hope to consolidate second place and build for next year. Credit to the lads, that little bit of luck when you need it has not been with us this season."

Gala returns in July

BIRSTALL GALA will be returning this July with all the usual attractions as well as some new ones.
The popular two day event is being held on the School Lane playing field on Saturday July 7 and Sunday July 8.
Saturday is a music event, from 2-9pm, aimed at younger people and showcases local bands.
The Sunday is a family day, from 10am to 10.30pm, and starts with an open air church service, followed by displays, a tug of war and dozens of stalls run by local groups. This year will feature a boxing exhibition by young people from Gunns gym.
On both days there will be fairground rides, food stalls and a beer tent.
On Sunday evening there will be a Proms in the Park free concert with the Hathern band, climaxing with a firework display.
The event is organised by Birstall Parish Council and on the Sunday, Chairman Stuart Jones will announce the winner of the Council's 'Citizen of the Year' award. The award recognises the contribution that volunteers make to the community, and goes to the individual who receives the most nominations from residents. Nominations should be sent to the Parish Council, Birstall Village Hall, Birstall Road, Birstall LE4 4DH or email: info@birstallpc.org.uk

Cemetery group

TWO NEW members joined the Friends of Belgrave Cemetery Group at a make-a-difference day on April 6.

Members of the group also helped visitors find relatives' graves.

Pic: Brian Marshall litter picking

Happy couple

A COUPLE who have lived in Wanlip for 27 years celebrated their Diamond wedding anniversary in March.

Ray and Pearl Martins of Rectory Road enjoyed a family celebration at the Royal Oak, Rothley. The couple have one daughter, one son, four grandchildren and one great grandchild.
Pearl (80) said: "We always go to sleep holding hands. It's important to always discuss things, have no secrets and make sure there's give and take."

Pic: the couple on their wedding day

The pair were engaged aged 18 and Ray, now 81, took leave from his army posting in the Middle East to marry Pearl at St Augustine's Church on Fosse Road.

Longslade improving

LONGSLADE COMMUNITY College is an improving school with many good features according to Ofsted inspectors who visited the school in March.
In 2002 the college failed its Ofsted inspection and was placed in 'special measures' which were removed in 2005. The report states: "the forward looking and judicious leadership of the principal and senior staff has accelerated the college's improvements since the removal of special measures…the college provides a good curriculum with some outstanding features."
The inspectors found that teaching and learning were good overall, with some "outstanding teaching existing alongside the satisfactory."
The proportion of students achieving five or more GCSE grades has increased since the last inspection, reflecting improvements in teaching, the curriculum and students' attitudes to college, says the report. The proportion of students achieving higher grades at A level increased significantly in 2006 and Longslade was one of the most improved schools in the area measured on GCSE results, which are well above the national average.
While recognising the improvement in exam performance the inspectors found: "achievement is no better than satisfactory because across the full range of subjects taken by students it is too variable."
Progress for pupils with learning difficulties and disabilities is described as good by the report.
The report found that the personal development and wellbeing of the students was good and that has been: "a significant improvement in attitudes and behaviour since the last inspection as a result of a strong ethos of mutual respect and most students much enjoy their education. A good proportion of students take opportunities to participate in the wide range of activities organised by the college."
Behaviour management is generally good, say the inspectors. "Incidents that do occur are dealt with promptly and efficiently by staff. However, a small but significant proportion of parents think behaviour could still be better."
The inspectors identified a 'big picture' of an improving college with innovations that are motivating and attracting good quality teachers and support staff. Leadership is forward-looking and judicious and demonstrates good capacity for even more improvement.
Longslade's Principal, Mike Griffiths, said: "Students and staff are extremely pleased that their hard work has been well recognised, but want to get even better over the next few years. Our aim is to be 'Outstanding' next time the Inspectors come visiting - our staff and students are proud of Longslade and have an ambitious vision to become an even more successful and exciting school for the future."
Read the Ofsted report at www.ofsted.gov.uk

Top police visit gym

LEICESTERSHIRE'S CHIEF constable visited a boxing club in Birstall to see for himself how the club is working to deter young people from committing crime in the area.
Matt Baggott was invited to Gunns' Gym on Birstall Road by its owner, Carl Gunns, and the Neighbourhood Beat Officer, PC 815 Chris Falle. The gym was set up to provide something for local youngsters to do, keep them off the streets and deter them from getting into antisocial behaviour and crime. Mr Baggott met with young male and female boxers and took the opportunity to talk to Mr Gunns. He also visited the new training gym on Front Street.
PC Falle said: "I am really pleased that Mr Baggott accepted Carl's invitation to see the club which has gone from strength to strength under Carl's leadership. Only a few years ago there were very few members, now there are up to 1,000 young people using the facilities.
"Mr Gunns dedicates a lot of his time to helping young people and volunteers a lot of his energy to the project. He only charges the young people a nominal fee of £1 to use the facilities; he raises the rest of the money from voluntary donations or his own money.
"The local youths have a great deal of respect for Carl, as he does for them, and he is well known within the community. He doesn't allow the young people to behave badly, be disrespectful or to swear. Not only do they get fit, they develop a useful skill and have a lot of fun at the same time."
Carl Gunns said: "Matt was very impressed with the kids, how hard they train and the impact the gym has had on the community. He couldn't get over how hard some of the girls were punching the bags. I was grateful he took the time to visit us, the kids put on a great exhibition."

Wild water canoeists

THREE CANOEISTS from Birstall will be representing Great Britain at wild water competitions this year.

Pic: Jamie and Jessica Oughton with Rob Vincent (centre)

Jamie and sister Jessica Oughton are now both in the GB Senior team and will be racing at the European championships held in Bosnia later this month.
The pair, aged 19 and 18, are now at the top of the GB rankings and are aiming to become world champions in their sport.
Sixteen year old Rob Vincent of Kilby Avenue trains at the Soar Valley Canoe Centre in Belgrave with Jamie and Jessica and has been selected for the GB Junior team. He will be travelling with the GB team to compete at an event in south Carolina in the United States this July.

Police report

THE SUMMER is fast approaching and the nights are getting lighter and longer, with this in mind the Police are more than aware of the issues facing the village in relation to antisocial behaviour and groups of youths hanging around being intimidating and rowdy.
This sort of behaviour has remained a beat priority over the past year and during that time many hours have been spent by officers interacting and tackling this problem. From my own interaction with the youths in and around Birstall I can confidently say that the majority are well behaved, polite and well natured. However there still remains the small core of youths who insist on being verbal, abusive and get drunk in groups. It is this core that we continue to tackle.
I feel that an update on the actions we are taking is necessary at this point. We have a comprehensive list of those congregating in the village, they are all moved on when necessary, dispersed under antisocial behaviour laws and evidence is now being collated which will enable us to take legal action, beginning with the standard warning letters and working to Acceptable Behaviour Contracts in conjunction with local authorities and Youth Support services.
A special unit at Charnwood Borough Council has been set up to tackle these very issues. They to some extent have much more powers to deal with these issues than the police do, so to support them, any incidents of antisocial behaviour (ASB) reported to us are also inputted by me straight on to the Charnwood Borough Council's own computer data-base. We take a multi-agency approach to these issues, and all local agencies have a legal obligation to play their part, that includes the parish council, police and Charnwood Borough Council. In extreme cases if an offender persists in ASB and ignores warnings the process could result in their homes being the subject of a possession order, ultimately rendering their families homeless! I must stress this is usually avoided and is a last resort after family involvement and official warnings but is nevertheless a real possibility. The reason I raise this is that parents too have a responsibility to ensure their children behave, even when away from home. This is not to scare anyone but really to ensure that everyone is kept informed of the potential end results of ASB in the community, youths and parents alike.
To try and reduce the ASB in the village what I would welcome from you all is ideas as to new and exciting things that could be done to focus youths in Birstall. I must admit that I am already very impressed with the activities out there in the village, where lots of people give of their own time and efforts to benefit the youths, however some still say… "There is nothing for us to do around here" or "It's boring". So far, though, none have come up with ideas as to what they would like to do! So, if you are a parent or if in fact you are a youth in the village why not leave me or PCSO Butler a message and give us some ideas what you would like to see in the village that isn't here now, we can always give it a try!
On the damage front, if I dare raise the issue! Two further arrests have been made in relation to specific incidents of damage and I will let you know how the investigation unfolds. The crucial thing is that no-one ever seems to witness the acts, and so we end up with no lines of enquiries. Some tags have now been identified by hours of enquiries and work by officers and other members of the community, but as you are no doubt aware the amount of damage in the village is immense, obviously further work will be done and as I write operations for the forthcoming months are under discussion.
Finally, I would like to thank you for your continued support and assistance, it is never taken for granted, and although we are sometimes stretched with resources we are always keen to tackle the issues that mean the most to you and as such need to know what you feel should be the priority for the police, if you think we need to be tackling something else then leave me or PCSO Butler a message and we will try to discuss this with you in person, or let your local neighbourhood watch know and they will pass it on to us.
From PC Chris Falle (0815), PCSO Mark Butler (6611).

To leave a voicemail for Chris or Mark, dial 222 2222 and follow the instructions to leave a message.

May 2007 Birstall Post continues here
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