Saturday, 27 April 2013


This article appears in today's Leicester Mercury:

Vaz hopeful of a mango extravaganza
City MP Keith Vaz remains confident of staging the country's first mango festival in Leicester – with just 10 days left to get it organised.
The Leicester East MP wants Belgrave's Golden Mile to stage an extravaganza in tribute to the national fruit of India over the early May bank holiday weekend, mimicking the famous International Mango Festival held, in Delhi, every June.
A meeting involving the police, the city council officials and business representatives was held yesterday to discuss plans for the event.
Mr Vaz said afterwards: "I am extremely grateful to the city mayor for the support given to the proposal to have the first mango festival in Leicester.
"If it's going to go ahead, a lot of hard work needs to be done in the next few days. I am optimistic we will meet the deadline. We're not staging the Olympics, it's only a mango festival."
Mr Vaz has arranged the delivery of six giant wooden elephants to Leicester, which would form a key part of the festival.
An appeal was issued in the Mercury on Wednesday for people to look after the elephants in the run-up to the event.
Mr Vaz said: "I am delighted so many organisations have contacted my office and offered to look after one of the elephants.
"We will be having an X-factor style contest, the E-factor, if you like, to consider exactly where to put them, as we have more offers than elephants.
"The collective view is that we have everything we need to make this happen."
Dharmesh Lakhani, chairman of Belgrave Business Association, attended the meeting.
He said: "It is a very exciting opportunity for Leicester. I believe the costs will be met by the mango growers of Maharashtra. The elephants will be something different for the city.
"I think it is a good idea, but there isn't much time to get it organised, just 10 days."

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