Thursday, 31 October 2013

Secondary school place closing date - TODAY

Parents who haven't applied for a secondary school place must do so today.
 
Applications for children who transfer in the autumn term 2014 need to be in by 31st October and Leicestershire County Council is encouraging parents not to miss the closing date.
 
The transfer process is not automatic and is the same for a local authority school or a recently-converted academy.
 
If parents apply late - even if they live next door to the school - their child is unlikely to get a place.
Anyone expressing a preference for a non-catchment school is urged to also apply for a place at their child’s catchment school.
 
Ivan Ould, Leicestershire County Council cabinet member for the children and young people's service, said: “It is very important that all parents apply on time to give their children the best possible chance of being offered a place at their preferred school.
 
"Last year, we were very successful in meeting parents' preferences but as always, late applicants run the risk of disappointment as schools do become full.
 
"Applying online is easy, cost-effective and secure and by reducing stationery and postage costs, it also saves the council money."
 
Online applicants will receive an email acknowledging receipt and be able to view the decision on 3rd March 2014. Parents can also apply by post if they wish.
 
To find out more, please visit www.leics.gov.uk/admissions , email admissions@leics.gov.uk or call 0116 305 6684.

Monday, 28 October 2013

County Council considers changes to school holiday dates

Do you have a child who attends, or may be due to start, a Leicestershire school?

Maybe you work in a County school?

If so you may be interested to know that Leicestershire County Council is consulting on school term and holiday dates for the school year 2015/16 onwards.

Options being considered are maintaining the current, established pattern of holidays that have been in operation in Leicestershire for many years, or, following the same holiday pattern of other neighbouring local authorities.

You can respond to the consultation by clicking here .

Some schools, such as Academies, will not be bound by term date changes but in all likelihood many will adhere to county term dates.

County Councillor for Whitwick, Leon Spence said: "I would urge all parents to make their views known. We all know how expensive going on holiday can be and how parents are discouraged from taking holidays during term time. By responding to the consultation parents can have a real say in how term dates are planned for in the coming years."

The consultation will close at 5pm on 6th January 2014 and approved dates will be published in April 2014.



Sunday, 27 October 2013

Labour members select Jamie McMahon to fight North West Leicestershire

Jamie McMahon
Labour Party members in North West Leicestershire have yesterday, Saturday 26th October, selected Jamie McMahon as their candidate for the next general election. 

Local party members made their choice following a hustings meeting which was held in Coalville. Jamie is the regional director of a children’s charity and works to protect vital public services children.  

An experienced campaigner Jamie is determined to use his experience to stand up for local people and protect communities in North West Leicestershire from the unfair cuts of the Tory-led government. 

Following the selection Jamie said: “I am honoured that party members in North West Leicestershire have selected me to stand as their candidate for the next general election. 

“What’s clear to me is that local people are paying the price of the Tory-led government’s failure to tackle Britain’s cost of living crisis. Local people are hurting under a Tory government that has seen prices go up faster than wages month after month. People need a Labour government to stand up for them and I’m determined to make that happen.  

“I will stand up for North West Leicestershire and will make sure that every voice is heard and every corner is fought. I’ll work hard to attract new investment into our local town centres, ensure investment in our public transport and will work to control new developments across the constituency. 

“I believe we need to get to grips with the damaging impact of youth unemployment and as an MP one of my first tasks would be to organise an apprenticeship and jobs fair to bring employers and young people together.  

“North West Leicestershire cannot afford five more years of the Tories. We need an MP that will stand up for them and who will put North West Leicestershire first, not someone who will support the failed policies of David Cameron and George Osborne.  

“The general election may be eighteen months away but I’ll not rest. Starting from right now I’ll be out there listening to the views of local people and will be fighting hard for a better deal for North West Leicestershire.” 
 
Whitwick County Councillor, Leon Spence, said: "Jamie will be a first rate candidate fighting for the best interest of the residents of Whitwick and Thringstone at the general election. I'm looking forward to welcoming Jamie to our community and supporting him as he works to become our MP."

Leicestershire County Council publish savings consultation results

Results of the county council’s consultation into how it can save £110 million and reshape services have been published.
 
Over 7,200 county residents, council staff and stakeholders gave their views over the summer. They identified which services they wanted to protect, which they wanted to spend less on and their views on Council Tax levels - 69 per cent favoured a rise.
 
Residents said that the top 10 services the council should save money from are:

1) street lighting
2) grants to communities
3) funding for agencies
4) travel to schools
5) grass cutting
6) early learning
7) children’s centres
8) funding for businesses
9) school support
10) museums
 
The top nine services on this list had more than 50 per cent of respondents saying they wanted to make a reduction, either “a great deal” or “to some extent”. Together, these nine services account for around £32 million of spending.
 
Residents said that the top 10 services the council should protect are:

1) gritting*
2) older people, community services*
3) older people, prevention*
4) roads and paths*
5) mental health
6) older people, residential services*
7) physical disabilities
8) learning disabilities – community services
9) trading standards
10) safety maintenance
 
For five of the services above (*), more than half of respondents said the service should not be reduced at all. These five services account for £64 million of spending.
 
Most of the services that people wanted to protect – especially care services – have some of the council’s largest budgets. The exception is gritting, which is the top priority for residents but has a relatively small budget.
 
Residents had the following views on new ways of working:

• 92 per cent agreed with working more with partners, such as the NHS, district councils and police, to redesign services together
• 33 per cent agreed with letting the private sector run services and 45 per cent disagreed
• 73 per cent agreed with letting residents and community groups run services and 18 per cent disagreed
• 70 per cent wanted to reduce the number of public sector organisations
• 45 per cent supported charging for services and 37 per cent disagreed
 
Residents had the following views on Council Tax levels:

• overall, 69 per cent of residents supported a rise
• five per cent wanted a rise of more than three per cent
• 14 per cent of people wanted a three per cent rise
• 50 per cent wanted a 1.5 per cent rise
• 31 per cent wanted no rise
 
Whitwick County Councillor, Leon Spence said "The results are exceptionally useful in understanding what services local people feel are the most important.
 
Councillor Spence however added a note of caution "We must be careful that we fully understand the data that the consultation provides with us when planning services, for example we need to be mindful that there is an under representation in responses from younger people and conversely an over representation of older residents."
 
The full report is available at www.leics.gov.uk/future
 
Of the 5,000-plus residents who took part, more than 3,000 completed the paper survey in the council’s newsletter, Leicestershire Matters and the remainder completed the form online.
 
The consultation findings will be considered by the council’s scrutiny commission on November 6th and by the cabinet on November 20th.
 
Budget proposals will be published in January and the full council will take a final decision on February 19th.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

£30 to empty your green waste bin? 92% of you say 'no thanks'

As North West Leicestershire District Council consult on charging taxpayers £30.00 a year to empty their 'green waste' wheelie bin I asked what YOU would do if a charge is introduced.

Of the 138 people who voted in the poll a massive 92% said that charging is wrong with 75% (104 people) saying that they would simply put their garden waste into their household refuse, meaning the council would potentially become liable for a significant increase in 'landfill tax'.

Just 10 people who took part in the poll agreed that charging was the way forward, and of those only 5 people (or 3%) thought that £30 a year was 'about right'.

Councillor Leon Spence said 'Although the poll sample is relatively small if it is representative, and there is no reason to believe it is not, it would suggest that potential income for North West Leicestershire District Council would be far less than the £150,000 that has been projected.

'In fact, if take up across the district was around the 3% the poll suggests then the scheme could end up costing the council money.

'The Conservative administration at Whitwick Road need to think very carefully before introducing a green waste charge. There is a real chance that alongside the environmental damage that could be caused the council could also suffer financially.

'I'm well aware of the council's financial position but savings or charges should only be made where there is a clear business case for doing so.'

Friday, 11 October 2013

Campaigners delight - Whitwick Green Wedge saved as Judge dismisses appeal

Whitwick County Councillor Leon Spence has tonight expressed his delight welcoming a decision by High Court Judge Mrs Justice Lang DBE to dismiss an appeal by developers wanting to build thousands of houses on the Whitwick Green Wedge – the last piece of land separating the village from Coalville.

Councillor Spence said "So many people have worked so hard for this decision today. Campaigners, councillors and members of the public all working together to protect the identity of our community. Today is a real victory."

Builders William David and Jelson Homes went to the High Court to try to overturn decisions – by both a Government Planning Inspector and North West Leicestershire District Council – to refuse a housing scheme on Stephenson Green (known locally as the Whitwick Green Wedge).

Both firms argued the refusals were unlawful. But their attempts to overturn the rulings were thrown out.

Eric Pickles MP – Secretary of State for communities and local government – had already upheld the inspector’s decision in August 2012.

The Judge said the inspector was entitled to conclude that the council’s proposed ‘Area of Separation’ policy was intended to prevent ‘coalescence’ and maintain the physical separation of settlements.

Read the full judgement: http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Admin/2013/3058.html

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Cat deaths in Thringstone

Crime number: LN/0540713-6
 
Police are appealing for information regarding a number of cat deaths in Thringstone.

The victim who lives in Melrose Road has recently found five of her cats unexpectedly dead near to her home between Tuesday October 8 and yesterday (Wednesday October 9, 2013).

Police have liaised with the RSPCA and further examination of the cats will be taking place to determine how they died.

PC Adam Thompson from local neighbourhood team: “There is a possibility that the owner of the cat was targeted and her cats were deliberately harmed and we would ask anyone who may have any information in relation to this to please contact police.”

Anyone with any information is asked to contact PC 337 Adam Thompson on 101, follow the instructions to leave a message for a police officer and when prompted key in the officer's identification number 0337. Alternatively, contact Crimestoppers, which is free and anonymous, on 0800 555 111.

Calls to 101 cost 15p for the entire call from both mobile ‘phones and land lines. Please note some mobile ‘phone service providers may charge for the Crimestoppers call.

Book and pay online at Hermitage (and Hood Park) leisure centres!

You now have even less excuse for missing that exercise class or gym session – because you can book from your bed if you want!

Wednesday 2 October marked one of the biggest changes to the way customers book and pay for sessions at Hermitage and Hood Park Leisure Centres.

For the first time, people booking fitness classes, courts and health suite sessions can now pay when they book.

A council spokesperson, said: “Customers can now book courts, fitness classes and health suite sessions 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 7 days in advance over the internet.

“If you still prefer to ring up to book then you’ll also be able to book all fitness classes from 8am – instead of having one booking time for morning classes and another for evening classes.

“And with more people booking online, it means smaller queues at our leisure centres – so we can serve you faster in person too.”

To use the online booking facility customers need a Login ID and PIN. Email hermitagelc@nwleicestershire.gov.uk or visit www.nwleics.gov.uk/pages/leisurebookings to find out more.

If you need to cancel with more than 24 hours notice you’ll be able to move to another time, or get a credit to use at any time in the following three months.

You can now book and pay online for:
- Badminton
- Squash
- Fitness classes
- Health suite
- Short tennis
- Astro turf pitch (Hermitage Recreation Ground)
- 3G hybrid 5 a side pitches (Hood Park Leisure Centre).

Council Tax cheats face crackdown

People currently getting a discount on their council tax bills are being asked to prove they are entitled to a 25% reduction – or risk losing it.

North West Leicestershire District Council is contacting every resident currently claiming the Single Person Discount – and will take action against anyone attempting to cheat the system.

A district council representative said "Every year councils get a lot of applications for the 25% Sole Occupier Discount. Sadly some of these applications are not genuine and – just like benefit cheats – these people are breaking the law by claiming reductions in their bills.

"Some fraud of course, will be unintentional and the district council will consider each case based on its own merits. In some cases, the mismatch may be due to someone moving out recently – or if there is a carer resident.

"We will investigate people who choose not to declare the change – and remove their discount if necessary. These people are taking advantage of our genuine council tax payers.

"Council Tax cheats can now be prosecuted in the same way that benefit cheats are – through the court system – and made to pay back the money they owe.

The council spokesperson added “Our residents expect value for money for their council tax. Many families are struggling as the economy takes time to recover. But at a time when we must make difficult decisions about how we pay for essential services, it’s even more important we do all we can to stamp out fraud in the district.”
Anyone sent a letter must reply within 14 days – or risk losing their 25% discount.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Could a Leicestershire super council save £25 million a year or erode democracy?

In recent weeks, as Councillors continue to deal with the financial challenges facing local authorities, many of us have been talking about the future of Local Government in our County.

A number of Councillors have suggested that one way to save money would be to merge the services provided by District Councils, such as North West Leicestershire District Council, with the County Council. It is argued by those who are suggesting the idea that up to £25 million pounds a year could be saved after transition costs have been recouped.

On the other hand many people are worried that merging councils will dilute local democracy and accountability, that it is vitally important that local people determine the services they receive at a local level.

As your County Councillor in Whitwick and Thringstone I would love to know what you think.

Do you think we must keep our district councils? or, Is having just one unitary council the way forward?

If you have a view about the future of Councils in Leicestershire please feel free to leave a comment, alternatively why not take part in the poll on this site?

Friday, 4 October 2013

Fancy yourself as a Brownlee? 'Try a Tri' for free in Whitwick on Sunday 13 October

Triathlons are hard – only for the very fit. But why not ‘try a tri’? Swim 200m, cycle 3km and run 1.5km in a fun competition around Hermitage Leisure Centre on Sunday 13 October.

Enter by Friday 11 October for the event – either as yourself or as part of a team.

Come along with work colleagues in teams of two or three and compete against other local workplaces to get the lowest combined time – and win a leisure centre prize.

Download an entry form from https://www.nwleics.gov.uk/pages/news

Or find out more from Chris Mawbey on 01530 454606 or e-mail Christopher.mawbey@nwleicestershire.gov.uk.

Claim your free tree by 28 October - thanks to the National Forest

The overwhelmingly popular North West Leicestershire Free Tree Scheme is back again for 2013 – and this year we’re branching out…

We’ve teamed up with the National Forest Company to offer every home and community group in North West Leicestershire a chance to grow their own trees.

The scheme has already seen local people plant thousands of trees all across the district – all part of our ‘Green Footprints’ commitment to make us all feel prouder of our district.

And new for this year is our Hedge Fund – but not the sort favoured by London bankers!  We have a limited amount of packs available – containing mostly hawthorns and a smaller number of other suitable hedge trees.

To find out more about what trees are available this year – and to place an order, please complete the form at www.footprints.nwleics.gov.uk/free-tree-scheme-2013

The closing date for applications is Monday 28th October and the collection day is Sunday 24th November – please put the date in your diary, as this will be the only opportunity for you to collect your trees.

The district council will confirm the collection point information by email. For more information contact Wendy May on 01530 454769 or wendy.may@nwleicestershire.gov.uk

Kids Run Free to launch monthly events in Whitwick TOMORROW!

Sports charity Kids Run Free will be launching its newest event in Coalville on October 5th 2013.

The FREE event at Hermitage Leisure Centre, Whitwick kicks off at 9am. It’s for children of all ages to take part in a series of fun running activities.

More than 150 children are expected to attend this free event. Children of all abilities and ages are welcome.

Kids Run Free is a charity inspiring children to become passionate about sport, exercise and health. The charity organises free monthly running races for children of all ages and abilities. Based in Warwickshire the charity organises monthly events in Solihull, Leamington Spa, Coventry, Birmingham, Stratford, Nuneaton and Leicester.

Coalville will be eighth location that Kids Run Free operates events in.

For more information contact Joanna Welch at Joanna@kidsrunfree.co.uk or visit http://www.kidsrunfree.co.uk

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

The National Forest - Lives Transformed

A delightful new short film about the development of The National Forest and how it's affecting the lives of young people.

Voluntary Group's staggering litter pick success

From Nita Pearson - Friends of Thringstone

Friends of Thringstone is a voluntary group who, as well as planting and maintaining 5 flowerbeds, regularly pick up litter in the village and surrounding woodlands. 
 
Records kept by the group show that since June, they have removed a staggering 734 bags of litter from the area.
 
Cllr Leon Spence,  District Councillor for Thringstone and County Councillor for Whitwick and Thringstone, said
 
'This is community action at its best.  Friends of Thringstone have a dedicated team of litter pickers who go out in all weathers picking up litter which others drop, making our village so much nicer as a result.
 
'They recycle where possible, and all cans they collect are donated to a local hospice as part of their fund raising appeal. 
 
'They also have a large community litter pick every quarter. The next one is 19 October meeting at 10am from The Green as part of the Make A Difference campaign. 
 
'The group have all the equipment people would need to help with this work, and everybody is welcome.'

£30 Green Waste charge - Have you voted yet?

North West Leicestershire District Council have revealed plans to charge £30 a year to empty your brown 'green waste' wheelie bin.

What do you think?

How do other local residents feel about the charge?

Why not vote in our online poll to give your views? or, submit your comments direct to the district council here.

Why not leave a comment below, I will forward all attributable comments to the council offices?

Thringstone Pantomime and Drama Society - Dick Whittington

Dick Whittington is a really great pantomime for all the family, with lots of comedy, catchy songs and fabulous costumes. This year there are many new members on stage, and their youth and enthusiasm should really give the show a lift. Most people will know the story of ‘Dick Whittington’, but if you don’t, there is a synopsis on the web site. Rehearsals are now well under way – and it promises to be a great show.
 
Performance dates in January 2014 are Friday 17th, Saturday 18th (matinee and evening), Sunday 19th matinee, Monday 20th, Thursday 23rd, Friday 24th and Saturday 25th (matinee and evening). Evening performances start at 7.30pm and matinees at 2.15pm.
 
Once again TPADS have held ticket prices to only £8.00 for adults and £7.00 for children with a senior citizen concession night at £7.00 on Monday 20th. We also offer a discount of £1.00 per seat for all bookings of 15 or more ordered and paid for at the same time. It’s great value – where can a family of two adults and two children see a live show, with fabulous costumes and scenery, for only £30.00? Many societies are now having to charge much more, but as TPADS is a community-based group, where everyone gives their time and talents for free, in spite of rising costs we can manage to keep ticket prices at a sensible level.
 
Tickets are now on sale. You can order by ringing the ticket line – 01530 834575 – by email to  tickets@tpads.org.uk – or via the web site. We do request that once ordered, arrangements should be made to pay for and collect tickets within two weeks, unless special arrangements are made (such as for large groups, etc.) As well as the normal postal method, tickets can be collected and paid for at the Community Centre within two weeks of ordering. The community centre however cannot, themselves, issue tickets which should be ordered by one of the methods indicated.
 
Matinee performances are always very popular, and so early booking is advised for matinee tickets. We also have to emphasise that a ticket must be purchased for everyone who attends any performance, and that the show is not generally recommended for under-3s. Also we are unable to admit parents with babes-in-arms.
 
We do hope that you will decide to come and support us. As many of you know, through our front-of-house raffles we also support a variety of local and national charities, and we are continuing this with ‘Dick Whittingon’.

Alan Price for TPADS

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Child Sexual Exploitation - Could you spot the signs?

New guidance is set to help young people and parents across Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland spot the signs of child sexual exploitation.

Since Monday 100,000 leaflets have started being sent out as part of a new thought-provoking campaign called 'could you spot the signs?' launched by the two local safeguarding children boards.
 
The advice outlines what child sexual exploitation is, the tell tale signs to look out for and where to find help or report concerns.
 
Exploitation is a form of abuse which can affect young men and young women and often victims don't recognise what is happening to them.
 
Although child sexual exploitation is unusual, it's thought that there is under-reporting across the country.
 
The drive - which is supported by local agencies including Leicestershire Police, Leicestershire County Council, Leicester City Council, Rutland County Council, the NHS and district and borough councils - is designed to raise awareness and encourage people to talk about the issue which is often seen as taboo, and report concerns.
 
Paul Burnett, independent chair of the Leicestershire and Rutland Local Safeguarding Children Board, said: "We want to reassure parents that although child sexual exploitation is rare, it's an issue we take extremely seriously.
 
"National research suggests under-reporting is an issue across the UK and we're keen to raise awareness by starting a conversation. Often the victims are not aware they're being exploited and we hope that this simple but powerful campaign will help people recognise the tell tale signs and encourage them to speak up if they have concerns."
 
David Jones, independent chair of the Leicester Safeguarding Children Board, said: "Child sexual exploitation, although rare, can devastate lives, so the safeguarding boards in Leicester City and Leicestershire and Rutland take this seriously.
 
"Preventing child sexual exploitation is everybody’s business, not just the police or social workers, and it is hoped the leaflets and information launched by both boards today will raise the profile across all communities."
 
The campaign includes sending flyers to taxi companies, B and Bs, pubs and other sections of the leisure industry.
 
Running until next Easter, it will also involve a theatre group visiting schools in the new year, online web chats and community engagement. It includes a series of seminars starting on 1st October which are being run by Leicestershire Police to help parents spot the signs of online sexual exploitation and protect their children.
 
The local safeguarding children boards are independent bodies who ensure that agencies are working together effectively to protect children.
 
Over the last 12 months, the two boards have:
 
  • trained over 500 teachers, social workers, police officers and other practitioners to help them spot the signs and know what to do if they suspect abuse
  • created a new child sexual exploitation action plan which councils, police, health and other agencies have signed up to .

From this week, the guidance for children is being sent out to schools. Copies of the leaflet for parents will be available from libraries, children's centres and local agencies.