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
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
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
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
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.
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
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
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
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 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
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
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
"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
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.
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
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.